Court Interpreter Exposes Immigration Raid Flaws

By Allison Johnson 7-15-2008

Catholic social teaching tells us the dignity of the human person is the foundation and measure of a moral society. If the U.S. were put to this test based on our treatment of immigrants, how would we fare? If the recently released evidence from the heartland of Postville, Iowa is any indicator, I'd venture to say we're in danger of flunking.

In an exclusive New York Times interview and 14-page essay, federal court interpreter Erik Camayd-Freixas recounts the ICE raid at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville this past May in disturbing detail. In what is considered a groundbreaking departure from the code of silence observed by court translators, Dr. Camayd-Freixas' eyewitness account exposes the flaws in the "fast track" legal proceedings which took place in temporary trailers on the grounds of the National Cattle Congress. The majority of workers detained, mostly Guatemalans and many illiterate, did not fully understand the criminal charges brought against them.

As stories like this come pouring in, I am deeply saddened and angered by the flaws in our current immigration system that allows such traumatic enforcement tactics and hasty legal processing in the first place. I also give thanks for Erik Camayd-Freixas who spoke the truth so that all may know the full story. It's now up to us, based on the facts we know, to do something about it. If we are to live into the vision of a moral society, we need more people willing to stand up for the sake of those on the margins.

Click here to read the full essay.

Allison Johnson is the policy and organizing assistant for Sojourners.

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