Postville is an obscure town in the northeast corner of rural Iowa where the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant flourished for more than a decade. As a result, unparalleled ethnic diversity sparked the curiosity of international media. But Postville’s momentum was stopped in its tracks on May 12, 2008, when Agriprocessors was crushed by a massive US Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid. More than 20 percent of the town’s population was arrested, a battery of criminal charges was levied against the company’s management and a disastrous immigration policy was exposed. The meatpacker’s ensuing bankruptcy contributed to the near economic and social collapse of the town. Today Postville is attempting to survive a near terminal blow. The lessons from Postville’s struggle provide urgently needed insights for small towns all across rural America undergoing rapid ethnic change in the face of new global economics and international migration.
“This is a book that had to be written, and Mark Grey and his colleagues are the right people – perhaps the only people – to write it…..Anyone who wants to understand immigration and diversity – and needs to understand that they aren’t necessarily the same thing – must read this book. So must those who think this nation can survive without immigrants, and those who think any of this will be easy. Postville USA is both a great yarn and a signpost to the American future.”
- Richard C. Longworth
Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism
“An important close-up look at how the global economy, US labor policy and a dysfunctional immigration system have buffeted one community, and how residents drew on traditional Midwestern tolerance to accommodate this change.”
- Jennifer Ludden
Winner, Robert F. Kennedy Award and the Society of Professional Journalists' Award for Excellence in Journalism
"This fresh, thoughtful take on Postville shows a town crushed by greed, federal indifference and a badly flawed immigration system, all fueled by America's demand for cheap food. It is a sobering read."
- Sue Fishkoff,
The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch"and Kosher Nation, (forthcoming) on kashrut and kosher food production."
Mark A. Grey is professor of anthropology at the University of Northern Iowa and founder of the Iowa Center on Immigrant Leadership and Integration. Michele Devlin is professor of public health at the University of Northern Iowa and Director of the Iowa Center on Health Disparities. Aaron Goldsmith, former City Councilman of Postville, received a rabbinical degree from Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim in Kfar Chabad, Israel, and is currently president and owner of Transfer Master Products.
About Aaron Goldsmith
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Published August 31, 2009
Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences.