Thursday, October 8, 2009

News from Postville

Monday, July 27, 2009
I heard great news from Violeta at St. Bridget’s in Postville. Seven more women had their GPS “bracelets” removed today! I was struck by the change in expression in their faces from the “before” and “after” pictures. What has it been like to have been shackled to those things for close to 15 months? They finally removed them because of a doctor testifying to the physical and psychological impact that they have had on them. Was a doctor needed to state the obvious? Their lawyer, Sonia’s, dogged insistence that they be removed also bore fruit. She had repeatedly argued before the court that the devices were not what were keeping these women here. They have proven themselves worthy of trust, following up on every single request from the court, and are here basically awaiting resolution of their cases. If their cases would not be resolved, they are likely to want to return to their home countries anyway, rather than try to risk working here without documents. Who knows what will happen now and how long it will be before they hear on their cases. In the meantime, what’s important is to celebrate the moment. To recognize the importance – for these seven people – of having those things off. A sign that someone is listening. A hope that their limbo may some day end. And at the same time, I am sure it is a difficult adjustment. The fear that their plea is not as clear. The symbol of the “bracelet” has been a unifying image for them. What will they call themselves now? Only a few are now “las mujeres con brazalete.” Their plight has spoken of the injustice they have faced. Thankfully they have been released of that burden, but the absence of the physical evidence belies the reality of their on-going limbo and entrapment…
Luis Argueta spoke of flying with a group of people being deported to Guatemala. Divided, as usual, by gender. First he traveled with a group of women. This was the first time they were ever on an airplane for most of them – the contrast of their journey here on foot and then being flown back. The cycle of loss and disappointment, and the difficult future that awaits them. I spoke with my parents about Maynor, one of the men who was detained in Postville and then deported after serving a full year sentence. My family knew his family from years earlier.  He has yet to find work and has been back in Guatemala since March…

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