Friday, July 11, 2008

Interpreting the Largest ICE Raid in U.S. History: A Personal Account

Erik Camayd-Freixas, Ph.D
New America Media, July 11, 2008

Editor's Note: A Spanish-language interpreter in Postville, Iowa battled with his own ethical decisions about how to stay neutral during the largest single-site raid in U.S. history. He says nothing could have prepared him for the prospect of helping our government put hundreds of innocent people in jail.

POSTVILLE, Iowa -- On Monday, May 12, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., in an operation involving some 900 agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a raid of Agriprocessors, Inc., the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant located in the town of Postville, Iowa. The raid – officials boasted – was “the largest single-site operation of its kind in American history.” At that same hour, 26 federally certified interpreters from all over the country were en route to the small neighboring city of Waterloo, Iowa, having no idea what their mission was. [...]

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Also at:

An Interpreter Speaking Up for Migrants
By Julia Preston, New York Times
July 11, 2008

WATERLOO, Iowa — In 23 years as a certified Spanish interpreter for federal courts, Erik Camayd-Freixas has spoken up in criminal trials many times, but the words he uttered were rarely his own.

Then he was summoned here by court officials to translate in the hearings for nearly 400 illegal immigrant workers arrested in a raid on May 12 at a meatpacking plant. Since then, Mr. Camayd-Freixas, a professor of Spanish at Florida International University, has taken the unusual step of breaking the code of confidentiality among legal interpreters about their work. [...]

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A note from Dr. Camayd-Frexais:

“My new friends from Postville involved in the relief effort inform me that they are still dealing with a very tough humanitarian crisis. So, please, if you have any opportunity for fundraising, this is the address where donations can be sent:

St. Bridget’s Hispanic Ministry Fund
c/o Sister Mary McCauley
PO Box 369
Postville, Iowa 52162″

Amalia Anderson, Project Director, Main Street Project, adds that you can also donate at the Lutheran Disaster Relief website:
Go to "donate" and choose Postville from the pull-down menu.

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