This story could just as easily be written in Arkansas, about a mass bust at a meat packing plant in a small Iowa town.
Current and former officials of the Department of Homeland Security say its raid on the largest employer in northeast Iowa reflects the administration's decision to put pressure on companies with large numbers of illegal immigrant workers, particularly in the meat industry. But its disruptive impact on the nation's largest supplier of kosher beef and on the surrounding community has provoked renewed criticism that the administration is disproportionately targeting workers instead of employers, and that the resulting turmoil is worse than the underlying crimes.
"They don't go after employers. They don't put CEOs in jail," complained the Postville Community Schools superintendent, David Strudthoff, 51, who said the sudden incarceration of more than 10 percent of the town's population of 2,300 "is like a natural disaster -- only this one is manmade."
He added, "In the end, it is the greater population that will suffer and the workforce that will be held accountable."
Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) said enforcement efforts against corporations that commit immigration violations have "plummeted" under the Bush administration. "Until we enforce our immigration laws equally against both employers and employees who break the law, we will continue to have a problem," he said.