Tiny Town Tries to Recover From Immigration Bust

When an immigration raid brought down the dominant employer in tiny Postville, Iowa, last year, nearly half of the town's population were either deported or lost their jobs. As the town struggles to regain its feet, its learned some tough lessons.
June 5, 2009, 11am PDT | Nate Berg
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"But then federal immigration authorities raided the dominant business in town, a meat-processing plant, which employed almost half the area's 2,300 residents, many of them undocumented workers. Today, one year later, Postville is hanging on by a bib-overall thread.

The slaughterhouse is bankrupt. Scores of homes have been vacated by the workers who were either deported or thrown out of jobs. Retailers are shuttering businesses. Most telling of all, the city council has declared the town a disaster area.

In many ways, Postville represents a classic tale of what can happen when a large employer in a small town runs into trouble. It's a story of how a government raid – however justified – has changed a town. Now, as Postville tries to reinvent itself, it may hold lessons for other towns across the country."

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Published on Friday, June 5, 2009 in The Christian Science Monitor
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