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Breakdown in Postville

In the little town of Postville in northeastern Iowa, the failure of the American immigration system was on display this weekend. Three members of the Congressional Hispanic caucus heard 40 women tell the story of how they landed in a legal limbo.

The women, detained in the May 12 raid that resulted in the arrest of 397 workers were released to take care of children or because of medical conditions, according to Iowa Independent’s Lynda Waddington. Now they can no longer at the Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse that formerly employed them nor can they leave the area because of pending charges.

The women’s stories evoked tears, a sympathetic protest march of more than 1,000 people and a counter-demonstration by foes of illegal immigration.

Immigration agents "came in here and they prosecuted individuals within days," said Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), "but yet [the government] has not done anything to the one that was guilty – and that’s the Agriprocessors company. We need to haul them in. Prosecute them."

Three lower-ranking company officials have been charged with immigration related offenses but the owners of Agriprocessors have not. "They are the poster child for how a rogue company can exploit a broken immigration system," one union official told the New York Times.

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