Category: Immigration

Increasing the Visibility of Guatemalan Immigrants: The Great Raid of Postville, Iowa

Guatemalans have been migrating to the United States in large numbers since the late 1970s, but were not highly visible to the U.S. public as Guatemalans. That changed on May 12, 2008, when agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched the largest single-site workplace raid against undocumented immigrant workers up to that time. As helicopters circled overhead, ICE agents rounded up and arrested …

The Postville Immigration Raid: Like a Great Flood

One spring morning two years ago, disaster struck a poor valley in the highlands of Guatemala. A local woman said it was like “a great flood.” Someone else compared it to an earthquake. But this was no natural disaster—it was man-made and happened thousands of miles to the north, in a small northeastern Iowa farm town. On May 12, 2008, federal officials descended on the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant …

A Mayan Financial Crash: The Case of Nebaj

Next to an ancestor cross, where Ixil priests make regular offerings, lives one of Nebaj’s better-known financial speculators. Doña Alfonsa (not her real name) has eight children and sells food in the market. She doesn’t own a motor vehicle but she does have a cell phone. Her story is well-known because she has repeatedly apologized for it. In 2005, Alfonsa and her husband began asking their neighbors for huge loans. …

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