"Now, We Have No Work. We Are Not Free."


Your morning shot of misery comes from Monica Rohr in aptly-named Postville, Iowa, the scene of an immigration raid that swept, blew, rampaged—pick your hurricane metaphor—the immigrant population that was making the town liveable.

Red ribbons, symbolizing support for the detained workers, still flutter from lamp posts and tree trunks. A sign on one front lawn near the Agriprocessors plant declares: "Immigrants Welcome. Bienvenidos."

"We've got a lot of people here who need help. We can't just throw them out on the street," said the silver-haired mayor. "They're our family. They've made their homes here, had jobs here, raised families here."

As with a disaster, the initial mobilization has been followed by shifting emotions—quiet anger at the federal government's actions; outrage at allegations of abusive working conditions at the plant; and above all, worry.

No one could have predicted this:

The Mexican and Guatemalan families who once pushed strollers along the streets or frequented the downtown stores and restaurants now try to stay out of sight.

In their place are newcomers drawn, as they were, by reports of job openings at Agriprocessors, or recruited by labor agencies contracted by the plant. Many of the new workers are Somali men who keep to themselves and gather to share food and coffee at a storefront on Postville's main drag.

Stories like this remind me of Hazelton, Penn., the town famous for Mayor Lou Barletta's anti-illegal immigration ordinances. Barletta, of course, is now running for Congress.