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Demonstrators march in Iowa to support Agriprocessors workers

July 28, 2008 | 3:18 pm

An interfaith group rallied Sunday in support of undocumented workers arrested in a raid on a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa.

More than 900 people, mainly Jews and Catholics, called for national immigration reform and support for the nearly 400 undocumented workers arrested in the massive immigration raid two months ago at Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher meat plant.

Spearheaded by Jewish Community Action, a Jewish social action group headquartered in Minneapolis, Sunday’s event was co-sponsored by the local Catholic church along with the Chicago-based Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Jewish Labor Committee.

Seven busloads of Jewish activists from Chicago and the Twin Cities arrived in Postville to take part, including two busloads of teenagers from the Conservative movement’s Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.

“We’re here because we care,” Rabbi Harold Kravitz of Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minneapolis said at an interfaith service that preceded the rally. Biblical heroes Abraham and Sarah were invoked as “the first immigrants” to an overflow crowd that included women arrested in the federal immigration raid for working without proper documents.

“The immigration system is broken, the way we enforce working standards is broken,” said Vic Rosenthal, the director of Jewish Community Action, which brought the largest contingent of out-of-state Jewish supporters.

Funds are being raised to help the families of detained and unemployed plant workers, most of them from Guatemala and Mexico. Leaders of the Catholic and Jewish groups met with a representative from Agriprocessors before the rally, the first of several such discussions.

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