Migration Matters 2

Speakers made themselves available for further personal discussions with attendees during breaks in the discussions.

Migration Matters 1

Revered David Vásquez-Levy (Pictured) and Luis Argueta told the shared stories of those affected by the Postville raid in 2008 and talked about issues surrounding the current climate of immigration.

The Postville, Iowa raid, immigrants rights and support of immigrants were discussed at the Ames United Church of Christ Saturday.

From 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., attendees listened to David Vásquez-Levy, reverend and president of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, speak about issues surrounding immigration and how he relates them to theology.

Select scenes from fellow speaker Luis Argueta's film “abUSed: The Postville Raid” were shown throughout the lecture.

The Postville raid took place in 2008, when 900 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested almost 400 employees at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant.

Vásquez-Levy encouraged those in the audience to lean on their faith and their faith communities to help embolden them and give them the energy to take action.

“The world does not need our despair, it does not need our guilt,” Vásquez-Levy said. “What it needs is our courage and our imagination in order to bring about change.”

Framing the conversation around migration, Vásquez-Levy said, migration is always brought on by either a push or pull factor, or a combination of the two.

While other economic or political factors influence migration, Vásquez-Levy said, immigration always revolves around a common driving factor.

“There are crises, there are environmental changes, there are political collapses, all of those things are important. There is violence in Central America pushing people, but, ultimately, human history of migration is always tied to trade, it always has, it always will,” Vásquez-Levy said.

Vásquez-Levy made connections to current events of push and pull factors as they related to Bible stories. He said the story of the book of Ruth was comparable to the political unrest in Syria, as they were both rooted in famine and drought.

These push and pull factors had existed in his home county of Guatemala, Argueta said. He said he saw people who moved from the north of Guatemala to the south to pick cotton, working for very little pay.

When Argueta asked one of them why they would pursue this for such little pay, he said the man answered that having only a little is a lot, when compared to nothing. He said he felt similar sentiments to the immigrants who worked in the meat packing plant in Postville.

Portions of “abUSed” were shown throughout the lecture, telling the stories of the children and families that were affected by the Postville raid and detailing the trauma they experienced losing their parent or spouse.

Argueta said in the process of filming his documentary, he originally only planned to spend four days to do a short series of interviews, but he ended up taking 29 trips to Postville in total, because he found brotherhood with the immigrants he spoke with during his visits.

Vásquez-Levy had audience members read excerpts from the Book of Exodus and connect the experience of those in Postville to the pieces of exodus which were read.

The reality of fear, Vásquez-Levy said, was one of the connective themes between Exodus and Postville and the greater narrative surrounding immigration. The Pharaoh, Vásquez-Levy said, dominated the narrative with a false statement that the Israelites were more powerful than the Egyptians and held the ability to overthrow them.

To make the necessary changes, Vásquez-Levy said, one needs a multifaceted approach. He illustrated this point by showing that Moses’s sister engaged Pharaoh’s daughter, a person with privilege and authority, to get Pharaoh to pay to raise Moses, the one who would ultimately upend Pharaoh’s systems of oppression.

Migration Matters 1

Revered David Vásquez-Levy (Pictured) and Luis Argueta told the shared stories of those affected by the Postville raid in 2008 and talked about issues surrounding the current climate of immigration.

Attendees also had the choice to engage in one of two workshops. Sonia Parras Konrad, an attorney and activist who helped obtain 176 U-Visas for immigrants and their families who were targeted in the Postville raid to stay in the U.S. and work, helped attendees recognize how they could use their personal talents to get involved with supporting immigrants in their own community.

Erica Johnson, director of the American Friends Service Committee Iowa Immigrant Rights Program, lectured from from 1:15 to 3:00 p.m. Saturday about recent legislation against immigrants, as well as the climate surrounding immigration at the legislative level and what attendees can do to support immigrant populations.

Three of Argueta’s films on immigration were being sold at the event as well as a t-shirt. 50% of the proceeds from the t-shirts were donated to the ACLU’s Immigrant’s Rights Project.

Vásquez-Levy and Argueta returned Sunday alongside Violeta Alemán, who worked with the response and recovery efforts in Postville, and she became a coordinator in the Immigrant Survivor Advancement Program as a part of a question and answer panel.

Ames community members were given an open forum to ask questions about topics covered throughout the previous presentations and reflect further on what they could do to support immigrant populations nationally and in their own communities.

By giving immigrants more broad paths to citizenship, Vásquez-Levy said, we could begin taking the needed steps to structurally reform our immigration policies.

“Over the last thirty years we have not adjusted our opportunity for people to come in as documented immigrants, but we’ve needed their labor,” Vásquez-Levy said. “So, how do we, as a society, take some responsibility for the fact that these folks are here as undocumented immigrants, and not only blame it on the individual, so, the final thing I’ll say is we need to think of immigration in systemic ways.”

Other topics of discussion included the exploitation of undocumented labor, and how best to assist immigrant communities without silencing their voice with a white savior complex.

Vásquez-Levy also hosted a worship service, which was open to the public, after the panel discussion concluded.

(7) comments

Anna michaels

Just a few examples of the more outrageous costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children & grand children as has been passed on to us.

*Congress debating DACA in is costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Thank the parents and Barrack Obama.

*Cost of educating illegal aliens is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers on average $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the millions spent on bilingual ED, instructors, & day care. School class size are negatively impacted by illegal aliens and our students suffer as a result.

*Taxpayers are funding "in state college tuition" discounts for illegal aliens. (AZ voted to terminate this taxpayer expense.) Cost to taxpayers over a billion dollars annually.

*About one in five inmates in federal prison are foreign-born, and more than 90 percent of those are in the United States illegally. This does not include local jails and state prisons. At roughly $24,000 per year expense per inmate in Prison U do the math.

*$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate, process Illegal aliens in the Criminal justice system.

* Emergency services for city & states increase with illegal immigration (sanctuary cities). Taxpayer pay for every Police, Fire, Paramedic service calls for illegal aliens in their city's. Taxpayers pay for all Hospital emergency room treatments, ambulances, medications. Hospital wait times for citizens are negatively impacted.

*Every child birth by illegal aliens in the US is paid for with tax dollars.In the US, the average cost to have a baby without complications during delivery, is $10,808, which can increase to $30,000 when factoring in care provided before and after pregnancy (July 9, 2018 google.)

* Section 8 housing. Citizens in poverty in many cases wait behind non citizens for housing.

*$2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, & taxpayer funded school lunches.

Jim fox

Feb 23, 2019, 10:21 AM (8 days ago)

to me



Erik Kengaard

Well said

Anna michaels

More caravans on the way. The current migration at our border is costing U.S

taxpayers a Kings ransom. Fleeing persecution? or fleeing for freebies? they sure

don't stay in Mexico when they reach "safety" or ask or offered political asylum in

Mexico. Why? because Mexico will give them NOTHING. So they make the long

journey to our border, our generous Democrats, and our tax dollars. Notice how

many have made the long, difficult, dangerous journey to our country 8-9 months

pregnant? Why would they do that? we all know. Give birth on American soil and

the U.S. taxpayers will not only pay for the birth of you're child but will also give you

state government assistance. The Border Patrol, DHS, ICE our Military & the Army

Corps of Engineers have all endorsed the need for a wall numerous times almost

nightly. However, immigration experts Nancy Pelosi & Chuck Schumer disagree,

saying the wall won't work, oh and they also have zero ideas. I'll go with the

opinions of the border patrol not open borders crowd. Barrack Obama’s own

border patrol chief, Mark Morgan, has repeatedly stated that walls work. They free

up resources to focus on the points of entrances so they can detect more

contraband and illegals.

Democrats view U.S. citizens as acceptable collateral damage to their future long

range goals of flooding the country and taxpayers paying the bill. Democrat

politicians and their voters have put families at risk of being victimized by illegal

aliens as in the cases Kate Steinly (nothing done) then.... Mollie Tibbetts, (nothing

done) and now, Police Cpl. Ronil Singh nothing will be done...who's next? These

victims would be alive today if our border was secured To Democrats/Progressives

/Socialists (whats the difference?) programs like Temporary Protective Status (TPS)

or Deferred Action For Childhood arrivals (DACA) are permanent programs....there

is nothing "temporary or deferred." These programs are designed to admit

refugees (usually from the third world) then Democrats fight to keep them here

permanently using the charge of racism, religion, guilt against anyone opposed.

Simple formula works great.



Erik Kengaard

Well said

Erik Kengaard

By the late 1960s cheap and available land began to become scarce. http://www.tierraproperties.com/short_history_of_los_angeles

Immigrants and Their Descendants Accounted for 72 Million in U.S. Population Growth from 1965 to 2015; Projected to Account for 103 Million More by 2065 - Pew research

Nothing has done more to diminish the quality of life for the United States middle class through higher housing (land) costs, greater competition for jobs, lower wages, higher taxes to pay for greater poverty, mortgage fraud, medicare fraud, tax fraud, other crime, higher taxes to pay for indigent healthcare (hospital closings), higher taxes for cost of public schools, price of college, degradation of the military, depletion of resources, burden on the taxpayer and overall congestion than the INCREASE of and change in the nature (more poor, more criminals, e pluribus multum) of the POPULATION since 1965, driven almost entirely by late 20th century and more recent entry of migrants (immigrants, illegals, h1b visa holders, visa overstays, refugees, etc) their families and descendants.

And recently, a study showed that children growing up in environments with lots of trees were mentally healthier than urban children.

Erik Kengaard

"The first two decades of the postwar period were a time of unsurpassed economic prosperity, stability, and optimism." Feldstein, The American Economy in Transition, Intro. p1
"The three decades . . . from the mid forties to the mid seventies, were the golden age of manual labor." Why were times so good for blue collar workers? To some extent they were helped by the state of the world economy. They were also helped by a scarcity of labor created by the severe immigration restrictions imposed by the [ Johnson–Reed ] Immigration Act of 1924." Paul Krugman, Conscience of a Liberal, Chapter 3 (pages 48-49)

Also see http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html? for more by Krugman

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