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Rough Cut
Guatemala: In the Shadow of the Raid
U.S. immigration raid leaves lasting mark
 

 

Greg Bronson and Jennifer Szymaszek

Greg Brosnan and Jennifer Szymaszek are a multimedia production team based in Mexico City. The couple are freelance video producers for The New York Times. Brosnan has also been a print journalist for Reuters in New York, Guatemala and Mexico, and more recently has written for publications including Business Week and The Houston Chronicle. Szymaszek is also a freelance photojournalist, working mainly for The New York Times.

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Length: 16:00

Editor's Note: On the two-year anniversary of the immigration raid at a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa -- one of the largest workplace raids in history -- FRONTLINE/World broadcast an update to the original web story, which aired on PBS on May 11, 2010. The report takes an affecting look at the human cost of the crackdown on both sides of the border.

By the time Willian Toj reached El Rosario, news of his arrival had spread and most of the Guatemalan village had gathered to welcome him back in gloomy silence.

Friends and relatives comforted him as he returned to his shack with his family in tow. Like Toj, others from El Rosario had left the village to find work in the United States. Many were supporting entire families by wiring money home from one small town in the American Midwest. They too would soon be deported, penniless and laden with debt.

On May 12, 2008 U.S. Federal agents arrested nearly 400 undocumented workers in a raid on Agriprocessors Inc., the country's largest kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, a small farming town in northeastern Iowa.

It was one of the largest single roundups in U.S. immigration history and dramatic images flashed across the nation as workers were led out in chains. The plant's management was jailed on charges ranging from harboring illegal workers to bank fraud.

Meanwhile, up a winding dirt road in Guatemala, an economic disaster was unfolding.

Alejandra Zamora suffers from Alzheimer's. Her daughter Rosita stopped sending her money after she was arrested in the Postville raid. PHOTO: Jennifer Szymaszek.

More than 200 of those detained are thought to be from El Rosario and San Jose Calderas, two villages just a few minutes apart in Guatemala's poverty stricken western highlands. The money they were sending back to their relatives had mostly sustained both villages. Now these breadwinners were either in jail or under house arrest in Postville, and awaiting deportation.

The raid had severed an economic lifeline linking the heart of the United States to one of the poorest corners of the Western Hemisphere, with an impact that had far-reaching consequences.

But this is not just a story of the hardship felt in rural Guatemala. Postville itself also faced economic collapse after losing much of its population and its main employer in the raid -- all in the middle of the worst recession in decades.

The raid was carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.

Many criticized the agency for how it handled the raid and the prosecutions that followed, and questioned whether the government's detention and deportation policies were effective or humane. ICE responded that "While we understand that our actions have an impact on communities, the responsibility for any disruption lies squarely with the law violators," adding that it had been a highly successful raid "carried out exactly as planned."

An abandoned trailer that used to house workers from the raided meatpacking plant on the edge of Postville. PHOTO: Jennifer Szymaszek.

There was a Congressional review on the conduct of the Postville raid in July 2008.

When the administration changed hands, Homeland Security began reviewing all of its immigration and border security programs and policies, and has said that it would continue targeting criminal aliens and employers that flout the law. On the campaign trail Obama said that immigration sweeps were ineffective and placed all the burdens of a broken system onto immigrant families.

Immigration policy has been shifting more toward workplace enforcement and prosecuting those employing undocumented workers.

A month after the raid, my production partner Jennifer Szymaszek and I were in Postville, interviewing women fitted with immigration tracking anklets and facing deportation, amid the neatly trimmed lawns of small-town Iowa. They opened their doors and put us in touch with the families they had left behind. They were our connection to Guatemala, where we headed next.

We expected to find anxiety in the villages as a result of the raid, but were surprised by the extent of the impact -- in home after home we visited, people told us stories of personal tragedy and hardship stemming from the events of May 12.

But it was Toj's story that showed most acutely the risks and grim realities for illegal immigrants heading to America to work. The 30-year-old father of four had only been working at the Iowa meat plant 15 minutes when authorities arrested him. He owed $7,000 to smugglers who arranged his transit to the U.S. The chances of him paying the money back were slim and he was already in danger of losing his ramshackle home. He had hoped to send money back to treat his mother's cancer, but now he was powerless to help her.

-- Greg Brosnan

This project was made possible with grants from the Institute for Justice and Journalism at USC Annenberg, which includes Ford Foundation funding, and from the Washington D.C.-based Fund for Investigative Journalism.


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REACTIONS

Shamal Jayakody - New York, NY
I myself am an immigrant from Sri Lanka. I totally understand the poor immigrant's heart-breaking stories. Thank you for posting this. I have seen the worst of this. Sri Lanka had a Civil war and everybody was trying to flee to Western countries. We cannot help all the poor families. But there are many success stories as well. There are more than 10 million illegal immigrants in America. Most of them doing much better than their counterparts in their own country.

RoSean Howard - Denver, CO
It doesn't make sense to close a business. How can anyone in Postville defend immigration if your town closed down?! Wouldn't you rather have immigrants working than no one working? Seems to me, the win/win situation is when everyone is working.

David Owens - Decatur, Georgia
Now how about doing a story on the impact of illegal immigration on American workers? What have you people got against hiring American citizens and paying them decent wages?

Karla Robles - Los Angeles, CA
How can I help them, is there any way to contact the families in Guatemala?

Robert Wilmott - Clemson, SC
I am sure that I am not the only one who would love to see a follow-up to this excellent report. Perhaps in 6 months to a year we could see a follow-up of what happened to the people in this story. Thank you for this timely report.

Cleveland, Ohio
I cannot stop thinking about this story--and I know that others want to help the family. I know I do. But, what about all the families in the two villages? What could we do collectively to help them with microloans for microbusinesses? For healthcare, for education, for basic neccesities? While the momentum and interest is strong, please will the filmmakers or PBS set up some type of official fund that we can contribute to and be assured it will be carefully used for the betterment of those villagers?

Andrew Markoff - Hallandale Beach, Florida
Heart wrenching. I wish that every American could see that story.

- Postville, IA
What a way to stimulate the local economy, hire workers to come perform the labor and have them wire the money back to their home country! No wonder we are in a recession.

Beth Sanchez - Albuquerque, NM
I have not been able to not think about the families documented on Frontline this past Friday. These people are us. This is exactly how most of us non-Native Americans or descendants of slaves came to America---wanting to take care of their families and escape the conditions that they were unfortunate enough to be born in. In America we act like we are entitled to the opportunities we have, which are present simply because we are born in this country. People born in impoverished countries are no more responsible for their situation than we are for ours. I work hard and have opportunities and have a good life. They work hard, have no opportunities and suffer. Shame on us for not making it possible for them to have a decent life. I also, like the first person who posted, want to know if there is a way to help these families. PBS please direct us.

FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
We are forwarding your emails of offers of help to the reporter, who has contact with the family.

Mary-Alice Strom - Marysville, WA
My husband and I watched this last night. It was difficult to watch because of the pain we felt. I can't justify what the government did in this film for any reason, let alone protecting American jobs because people are people regardless of whether they are Americans! So many people are truly heartless in their stance toward the victims of our immigration mess.

My husband and I are retired people who owe everything we have to the labor union my husband belongs to. We deplore what is happening in the US, to the jobs, the middle class. But treating immigrants worse than vermin is NOT the answer and America will never recover from what is happening to the middle class and the poverty here until we realize that we are ONE with all the workers/people in the world. I only wish you made it easier for me to share this on Facebook because I think more people should see this sort of thing.

My husband and I are faithful watchers of Frontline and Frontline/World. I am sure you do a lot to shape our consciences. We do not know anyone who watches this program or who gets the kind of information that we get. Many people we know are tea partiers or worse. I am going to paste your link on my Facebook page, but I doubt that anyone will be moved to watch. Thank you for what you do to keep us informed. I believe you make us more human.

David Skrzynski - Royal Oak, MI
Is it possible to get Toj's mother some financial help for treatment for her cancer? I would be willing to help.

D Leo - Tempe, Az
I was saddened with the plight of these people portrayed in this documentary. A few things come to mind about what I observed: why are people who don't have enough to eat and live in crowded quarters having so many children. It would seem they are bringing more human beings into the world just to suffer. I suggest if you want to help these people you need to control the over population problem that seems to be at the core of the problem. People shouldn't have more dependents than they can afford to feed and house properly.

Second: go after the people who are profiting on the plight of these people; put them in prison and take there profits and give it back to those they exploited.

Third: why couldn't the meat packing plant continue to stay in operation employing the many Americans looking for work? It was a functioning operation and all the things needed to keep it going were in place minus workers. Please enlighten me. Thanks

brooklyn, ny
heartbreaking! Another video on the rude prosecutors and judges on Rubashkin?

san francisco, california
i hope someone came forward to help the Guatemalan lady with the tumor.

THANH DUC - FREMONT, CA
I am so saddened by this story......please someone at Frontline, let us know how we can contact William so we can provide some financial support. and the others in his town. whether you support immigration laws or not....this is a human factor now...these are good people who have the unfortunate situation of being born in the wrong place and economic circumstance.....how can we as human beings watch others suffer and stand by without doing nothing. the sad reality is that we sometimes treat our pets being that we treat other human beings.....Frontline , please provide a way for us to help financially....thank you.

Pensacola, FL
This show was crappy investigative journalism. They didn't talk about who recruited these people since they where caught in the same town and came from two neighboring towns. If the boss solicited these people he needs to face charges of trafficking illegal immigrants. If it was someone else that person needs to face charges.

AJ Mudinball - Clinton, ut
Most of the comments seem to believe that we should allow many more immigrants. Please Google "immigration gumballs." It is a great illustration of the numbers behind the immigration issue. The best way to help those people is to help them in their country. Thank you!

Dwayne Fink - Tempe, AZ
We in Arizona did not learn from the immigration solutions tried in Postville, Iowa and in Prince William County, Virginia. Our Republican controlled legislature passed, and our Republican governor just signed the most stringent state-immigration law to-date in these United States. And, if you can believe the polls, the public overwhelming supports this hateful law.

Already, before the law goes into effect (in August), the costs are being incurred or anticipated: nation-wide organizations of all sorts are canceling meetings scheduled for Arizona, sports teams are talking of boycotts; then there is the added police force needed and the special training required by all; law-suits are coming out of the woodwork like termites; businesses that need these people are closing down. Arizona will be Prince William County and Postville, Iowa, all over again. Hate has driven out love - and common sense.

Mission Viejo, California
It's very sad. But should we continue our consumption of cocaine to avoid impacting all the poor Colombian villages that are supported exclusively by the drug trade?

The immigrants were breaking the law, the plant owners were breaking the law. If one of these illegal immigrants had brought typhoid with them and contaminated the kosher food coming out of this plant, the public outrage would have been enormous.

Let's stop being hypocritical. The immigration process has a purpose: limiting the burden of the needy and preventing the entry of disease and crime.

sandrita mason - Los Angeles, california
While Guatemalans are discouraged from coming to the U.S., why not encourage Americans to go to Guatemala? Americans need affordable health care. And, more and more of them are traveling abroad to get the care that's too expensive in the U.S.. Why can't the government of Guatemala encourage entrepreneurs to set up health facilities all over their country: hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, cutting edge wellness centers, etc. for low and middle-income foreigners? Mind you, this is intended to be a jobs program for Guatemalans. That should be mandatory for any health facility the Guatemalan government approves. Give them decent paying jobs at home.

Beatriz Tercero - Guatemala, Guatemala
Hi, I�m Guatemalan and I know USA has his own problems, but it has better opportunities for immigrants than our countries. We work 12 hours and we earn the same salary... well, with the exception of business men or corrupt politicians. The biggest problem in our countries is THE CORRUPTION. The poorest people in Guatemala have a lot of children but they don�t have access to programs to get information on how they can plan their families, some people have never gone to school and other have eaten corn and beans all their lives or have worked in the same thing for 20 years or more and the basic salary is not enough to continue with the expensive life in the third world as some people say. I know that some immigrants go to USA to escape justice. They should pay for their acts. But good immigrants (we�re the majority) just want an opportunity to work. We don�t want anything free...we want to be part of your economy and support our country and our families economy. We want a chance.

alberto quezada - hammond, indiana
I think some of those comments about immigrants being a burden to our society make sense, but for me this is a matter of human nature, where laws and sense can't be applied. Ask yourself a question: what would you do if you were on their shoes, stranded in extreme poverty in Guatemala? Would you rather die of hunger and watch your love ones suffer from the lack of the most basic human needs or would you go north to try to get a better life for your family???????????
They didn't choose to be poor neither to be there, also they are just looking to get a better life for their families, just to have something to eat. They are not looking to be rich or have a better car or better house like we do, they just looking to have a roof over their heads and something to eat for their families.
We all know we would do the same if we were on that position. now think about, would you blame immigrants now ?

Kathi Thomas - Austin, TX

The fact is, the US helped to overthrow Guatemala's democratically elected president in the 1950's, because he wasn't "our style" of democratically elected guy (we've done this all over the world, by the way.) We have continued to prop up governments favorable to us, because it benefits business here.
The US is culpable for many of the injustices in Guatemala and much of the world, because it has been to "our" advantage to have a huge pool of cheap labor; folks who are willing to risk their lives to come here for a chance at a decent job that will help their families, while being paid considerably less than the going wages. However, $7 a hour beats $1-2 a DAY!
Before our borders got so hard to cross, folks would come here and then go back to visit regularly, meaning that their ties stayed in their home countries. Now that it is so hard, is is more difficult to maintain those ties, and the undocumented workers are staying here in increasing numbers.
If you're coming from Latin America, if you don't have family already here or have a case of "asylum" possible, then there is no "line" in which to get. You're simply told "no." For those with family, it is often 8-13 years to wait for a visa.
Would you wait that long if your kids were starving, if your mother had cancer and you couldn't afford treatment for her on your $1-2 a day?
My fellow Americans need to educate themselves on our governments policies through the years- it has been that of "me first, and the hell with you," and that is not a case that helps anyone in the long run.
If you want to see more about this, check out http://www.abusedthepostvilleraid.com/. Be sure to watch the clip on "De facto deportees"- it is truly heartbreaking.

(anonymous)
Our media is only interested in doing bleeding heart stories liked this one, and often refuses to expose the truth that within the same family of the "just came here to work hard" there are criminal relatives that are harmful to Americans and the American way of life. Why isn't Fronline willing to do a counter segment to show the violence, corruption and control by religion that exists in Central American countries and Mexico?

Of course, to neatly frame it in the context of abject poverty works to rally the base and garner your sentimental instincts, leaving out all the harsh cruel facts, which overshadow the poverty issue, and focuses on the imperative that our border needs to be sealed air-tight, all immigrants must come legally and be screened for disease, etc; and Americans, our Constitution and laws should be our first priority.

am from a mixed Latino, multi-ethnic background and I assert that these politically correct exposes are dangerous in the long run. I have spoken with many individuals of varied Hispanic backgrounds; the consensus is this is biased and slanted reporting, funded by a a possible Christian agenda. The same Christians who keep the poor around the world in abject poverty by preaching "have more children, God will provide."

Let's see Frontline put their money where their mouth is and do a realistic expose that covers the topic in a far broader story. We are a mixed ethnicity group of producers and writers who are sickened by the continued coverage of the "poor and the oppressed" with no redress to the larger story.

We are ready to show Americans what really is going on with illegal immigration. Is Fronline, along with the New York Times and other pandering media outlets prepared to run the REAL stories?

(anonymous)
Heartbreaking! This video made me cry. That's all I can say.

EVEN DAAE - BERGEN, NORWAY
The world has little chance of avoiding a environmental collapse as long as so many people around the world live in social inequality. The hardships of so many people's lives should be a motivating force for people that are better off to change their behavior and attitudes to how they lead their lives. We need to understand that growing global inequality in a resource-degraded and depleted world inevitably will affect ourselves and our loved ones in the future.

Susan Noack - Scottsdale, Arizona
An excellent profile of two communities connected, yet on opposite sides of the issue. One question to Greg and Jennifer: was there any investigation into the loan operation that funded, and most likely recruited these people for the jobs, only to extort them after deportation for their debts? Are they not part of the chain of opportunistics that fueled Agriprocessor's expansion? Will there be a follow-on to this story? Thank you for putting a very human and personal perspective to this debate.

(anonymous)
Thank you for putting a face on such a complex issue. I find it hard to believe that anyone could watch that video and simply regurgitate Republican talking points about how "they took our jobs". What we need is immigration reform and more importantly a change in the neoliberal policies enacted by the IMF and the US in places like Guatemala that create the push factors in the first place.

(anonymous)
I am a 30-year-old full-time student at the most populous state university in America. Our culture is so entrenched in mass consumption and corporate greed that we Americans easily forget (or never come to understand) just how shockingly poor conditions are in much of the rest of the world. Lack of air-conditioning, cable, a reliable vehicle, a computer etc. is considered 'slumming it'. Lack of clean drinking water is utterly unimaginable. Mexico, along with most Central/South American countries has a diverse topography. ALL OF MEXICO DOES NOT LOOK LIKE CANCUN.
I have worked my way through school with no financial support from my family. Most of those jobs were in restaurants where I got to know the immigrants I worked with. I am now learning to speak Spanish and find that practicing conversing with the Latinos is way more fun than talking to the spoiled, self-important middle-class white kids working in the front of the establishment. These are the people I share classes with, that talk loudly on their cell phones about who got wasted and who went home with another girl.
Patricia was right to call Americans "dirty and rude". I came from these people, I was one of these people until I educated myself about viewpoints and living conditions in various countries.
What gives us the right to turn away and often persecute latinos who are just trying to survive? I seriously doubt that all those displaced people did so solely for the glory of entering our pristine country(sarcasm). They have deep roots and amazing cultures held and passed by strong family and community networks. They see our country as a means of bettering the lives of their loved ones.
Another thing, Latinos are not lazy. I have not met one yet who doesn't work two full-time jobs by pulling double shifts nearly everyday. Amazing, I thought I was tired and aching until my friend Domingo told me that he will go home to eat and then shower for the night shift at another restaurant; and that he rests only on Sunday. As Americans we are spoiled, even the poorest Americans are spoiled.

Mike Hughes - Dallas, Tx
Thank you so much for this heartbreaking report. Is it possible to help Toj and his family? Hopefully, the Obama administration will allow hard working, honest people like these to remain in the U.S. in the future.

Anthony Marsh - Hamden, Connecticut
I have absolutely NO sympathy for anyone involved in this situation.The greedy, avaricious plant owners should spend time in prison for they knowingly hired and exploited ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS for monetary gain.The Guatemalans broke U.S. law when they entered the U.S. therefore should be deported.The legal residents of Postville are equally at fault for tolerating ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS in their midst.The shop owner is morally repugnant having catered to a group that he knew were exploiting ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.I have emphasized ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS because I am increasingly annoyed by the euphemism UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS.

I'm certain that the use of this euphemism is intended to have people view them as relatively innocuous.After all,if they are merely undocumented they are harmless aren't they?

A fallacy is being foisted upon Americans when it is stated by people of questionable authority, but nonetheless ignorant,that ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS do work Americans won't do. A good many of them hire ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS to watch their children,garden,clean their homes etc.,at substandard wages

The FACT that they work for substandard wages is the very reason Americans CAN'T do this work for most Americans don't live ten or more to a small apartment.

DO NOT accuse me of perpetuating a myth,indeed this was related to me by an Ecuadorian ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT when we were employed by TIFFANY&CO. I am a goldsmith who has been displaced by ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS at many places of employment because I could not support my family with the wages that were offered.

Lest anyone accuse me of being anti-immigrant ,know that my former spouse is of one half COLOMBIAN descent,therefore my beloved children are in part Hispanic.I am decidedly anti ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT for the most part because my children were deprived of many necessities because for many years I was unemployed or underemployed and it is certain that this contributed to the divorce of my former spouse and myself.

Gary Hainrihar - Lawton, MI
I found your documentary to be highly biased. You seem to place the blame for the appalling circumstances on US Immigration policy. No mention is made of the two blood sucking entities that brought about the circumstances which led to the plight of these people. 1.) The blood sucking Agropocessor company who built their business model on a wage scale that could only attract illegal immigrant workers. ( $7.00/hr and I bet no benefits) If a living wage were paid I would expect that the jobs in the packing plant would have been filled by Iowans. The fact that they closed after "importing" replacement workers confirms that labor cost was the corner stone of the business plan. 2.) The blood sucking money lenders in Guatemala who profit from the suffering of their countrymen. Why no mention of this? They facilitate the movement of illegals and profit no mater what happens.....did you calculate the interest rate of $ 150.00/mo interest on a $ 7000 loan. That's 25%! ....but no, you did not mention that...just that the US was the villain for denying opportunity. Shame on you. This is not journalism...it is a blatant editorial in its most extreme and offensive form.

Tudi Smith - Blackduck, MN
This is so heart breaking to watch what the government is doing to the human beings in South America. What happened to being humans? Don't we have any feelings or emotions? Or didn't they have any hearts when they all came over here to America in boats? They are called immigrants also.... so where do they get off on calling the Mexicans, and Guatemalans and other races immigrants? I don't see any problem in any one coming to America to work under a visa.

Joey Mack - Ontario, CA
Keep in mind that no one would leave their country of birth if their government was good. Secular democracy, reason, rationality, science and technology. This will turn these countries into places worth living in. That's why we should not let people abandon those countries. They need radical change and freedom to occur!

MO Collins - Santa Monica, Ca
You know people bring up the fact that illegal immigrants take up the jobs that Americans used to get paid to work, but whose fault is that? The companies hiring them. We sort of encouraged illegal immigration by hiring so many for cheap labor, yet we take no responsibility for it and just treat them as disposable when it's no longer a system that works. It's like outsourcing. American companies care more about lowering cost and Americans want things to be cheap.

(anonymous)
Hi, I just want to say that I know first hand how it is to be an undocumented person. I know what he is going through. What I don't like is people who don't even belong the America the country deciding what is best. doesnt even belong to america bcus america is a continent not a country, such as people on this discussion from England. Plus Guatemala is a independent country. We don't have to answer to Spain because we have been free since sSptember 15 1821.

We just came here to support our families and after a couple of years of being here you feel like you belong to this country because you start to celebrate all the holidays. Sometimes you feel like you are home.

pasadena, CA
I wonder if we (American Citizens and legal residents in the United States) would be willing to pay double the going rate for the meat products that we consume. Apparently the meat packing jobs there paid $14 an hour at one time - the going rate for illegal aliens was $7. Along with that decrease in hourly wage came a bonanza at the checkout at the supermarket. I find it interesting how people blame the illegal aliens for coming here - yet don't look to themselves as contributing to this purported "problem".

Wrentham, MA
We still need them, and they are an important part of our economy - and could be even more important. The USA is considered a "humanitarian" country. Wouldn't would be much easier to help people on our own soil instead of putting our money in the hands of other governments that may or may not help their own citizens? Why don't we just open our borders and let them come. Let everyone who wants a chance at the American dream; who has the motivation and ambition to make it happen, have a chance at it. Our own children in many cases don't want the jobs these immigrants take. True, some reform is needed - the tax rate for immigrants should be higher (let's say 40%) than the tax rate for citizens and they should not be allowed to qualify for financial aid or any kind or social security until they become citizens and have worked here for 10 years and become permanent residents (but it would still be taken from their checks.) Additionally, our hospitals should start fining ANYONE who attempts to use our emergency services for anything less than an emergency - why should our emergency rooms be filled with ear infections and sore throats? If everyone was legal, they would be fine-able, track-able, and deny-able - there would be no need for false documentation and hiding. Maybe if the grass wasn't so green on this side of the fence, less would come.Think of how many problems that could solve. Increased revenue from more workers. Reduced expenditures in social programs. Increased funding for social security. A super charged workforce that cares about working hard and moving forward. New, hard working business owners with fierce determination and pride at being American - so many of our own have lost that.

Eagle Pass, Texas
Before we all start pointing the finger at the U.S. let's remember that the governments where these folks are from are not lifting a finger to help them and their embassies could care less. They are happy to shift their unemployment burden on us. And wake up people, if you think you can legalize these folks and they'll keep working for 7 dollars an hour or less. I wouldn't if I were them. Why after being legal would I continue to allow people to exploit me? Do some math, these people are willing to be slaves to exploitation. Does that make it right? When are we ever gonna shift the focus back to how governments sit idle with as many resources as our own and not try to make things better for their own people.

Saul Mendoza - Phoenix, AZ
The report proves the fact that both sides will eventually loose no matter which side you are on, unless an educational program is in place in the surrounding countries. No matter how sympathetic you are to either side, no matter what "solution" the U.S. tries to apply. I have yet to see a true well fare program from the U.S. (who has the resources to do so) that allows people to educate themselves so they can be self sufficient in their country but we have to understand that their lack of education leads to their frustration and therefore they must migrate to give themselves a chance to survive (which is the majority of the cases and reasons why people come to the U.S.) People do not want to leave their country, their family, their life behind. Most people come here not speaking the language, not having any money, not having a house, not having a job and yet people make wonders when they get here. Yes, there are a few rotten apples that will always spoil the party; most of the time because the media blows it out of proportion and sensationalizes one incident.The reason why the Hispanic community is irate is because of the additional degradation, humiliation and satisfaction the majority of people seem to get when a raid or people are taken away and are treated like criminals. Here is an example of what happen to the jobs that were lost. You hear many Americans (who have a SSN) complain about jobs and they did not seize the opportunity of 400 jobs. But if you had showed this opportunity to immigrants from any country they would of taken it.The U.S. government needs to work closer with the Mexican government and sanction Mexico (if necessary) through the UN if they are unable to help illegal immigration once sufficient tools are provided. But remember that only programs work and the department of homeland security is not a program...

shad sluiter - Postville, IA
Great video. I personally know Willian's family, Rosi, Olivia and many others in Postville whose stories are similar. This film captures exactly how people feel here. Those who were not captured in the raid continue to work in odd jobs and haven't seen their children for years. They would love to come work here for six months to a year every few years. They would be willing to pay the customary $5000 smuggler's fee to the US government instead for whatever application form if one existed. The farmers who hire them would also be willing to pay such a fee if it were possible. But the only pathway available now is to pay a coyote.If there existed a way to apply for legal immigration they would have done it. However, the only immigration option legally available is to be sponsored by a husband or parent who is already a US citizen. All others need not apply. There is no legal pathway to work in the US for them.Simply - here's a suggestion for a reform plan.1) Build the wall on the border.
2) Install a door.
3) Sell tickets for the right to work.

WASHINGTON, DC
I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this type of documentary to all of us in the USA, especially how families in Central and South America suffer of poverty and the needs they have to change their lives to come to the USA searching for a better future.

Gio g - toronto, Ontario Canada
I am 35 and 20 years ago at the age of 14 i left my beautiful Guatemala. I went through the United States illegally. I suffered a lot. U.S emigration beat me up so badly that i wasn't able to see and talk and eat for three weeks. I was jailed beat almost to death and when i saw this video it broke my heart and reminds me of the horror that i went through and feel their pain. My heart breaks because we as a human we have the right to live with dignity and God bless Canada for the amazing opportunity to be here.

karen lopez - los angeles, ca
Hello to everyone I'm from Guatemala.
What makes me sad is that people only talk but they don't know what we have to go through. We tried our best to do everything the good way, but they don't care, my sister and my mom they both went to the embassy to apply for a visa many times already and they always get rejected. I have been waiting to see my mom and my sister for eight years already, but there is nothing to do. My mom is to old to travel illegally. My sister is young but I've been telling her, "don't do it, just be patient and wait maybe Obama might make changes." But my hopes are vanishing. I feel so sad and lonely without my parents and my family, I bet to all of you that if Obama gives everybody a way to stay in the USA legally, most of the people will keep traveling to their countries and come to the USA to work only and go back home. That's all we want. We are so tired of being in the USA in darkness, we want to go home! And plus if they fix that situation the economy will go up, because many people will start traveling, I swear that all the immigrants that are in the USA are here because we are not legal and we know that if we go to our country we wont have the opportunity to come back, and that is a big decision to make, because or future could change so badly, we all know if that happened we will go back to the beginning as we were before. We wouldn't have no money for food, we couldn't survive in our countries. Things are hard over there, they don't know what we go through. This life is so sad. Jesus please help us, you made the world for everybody!
But we are fighting against each other, why we can't share, God gives food for everyone there is no need to be selfish.

Elizabeth Galvan - Postville, IA
I am Mexican-American and proud of it. I am so glad that this video was made. I hope it makes a difference. I was in school when the raid happened and we saw helicopters going around the school and everyone was saying: "Oh, cool! Look!" Me and my friends didn't know about the raid and we were joking around about the helicopters and then I was called up to the office and saw two kids crying and saw my dad. I asked him what was going on cause he had a worried look on his face and he was just silent. Then my brother came to the office and the first thing I thought was he beat someone up or something happened to my mom. I kept asking him what is going on and then he said, "the immigration is here." I just was in shock. I never knew it would be possible. It was so scary. Everyone was freaking out. There were rumors that the immigration would come to the houses and that got me more scared. Even though I was born here in the United States my parents were not. Though they have resident cards you never really know what the immigration can do. The next day in school almost no Mexican or Guatemalan kid went to school. It was so sad it made me cry in class. Just thinking of all the people and friends I might never see again and how they worked so hard to get here, its just sad.

R A - Miami, FL
I am saddened by these events. This raid caused a hardship at home and abroad. I still believe that this country was founded by immigrants but illegal immigration was not tolerated back then and should not be tolerated now. Ports were opened in the past for mass exodus. I am all for immigration but it must be accomplished within the boundaries of the law. As for the Mexican lady that expressed her feelings about "gringo's". The Mexican government does not tolerate this from other countries so why is the U.S. described so negatively. The Mexican government should handle it's own issues and wonder why so many are rushing to leave their country. The immigration system in the U.S. is not broken. It needs fine tuning - but it's not broken. We need to keep in mind that companies who hire illegal immigrants are breaking the law. These companies are also taking jobs away from legal immigrants. Illegal immigrants will work jobs at half the rate just because it is exponentially more than they can earn in their country. These companies take away jobs from Americans and "Legal" immigrants. I am a legal immigrant. I came from South America via a student VISA and later became a legal resident in the U.S.. I pay taxes, have bank accounts, own a home, and pay for home and auto insurance. I also helped the U.S. Immigration Service when the Port of Miami was opened in 1980 for Cuban Mariel Boat Lift. I speak Spanish and was able to assist the Immigration Service by translating.

(anonymous)
You also have to understand most of these people thought they were here legally because of the head person, he gave them paper saying now you are a citizen, so they thought they were okay.. So why punish them? They thought they did the right things. It is the other people who forged the papers.. We have a system here that is totally messed up. And not they want the head guy off..

Fort Pierce, FL
I'm curious to meet the lenders and smugglers and landowners and see their lifestyle, hear their values and their explanation for the facts of life in Guatemala. They seemed quite successful at staying invisible in this video, as forces beyond reform. We are slowly bringing order to our borders, but we also need to peacefully bring about reform in Guatemala that provides justice for all, not just for the forceful.

Robin Denton - North Vancouver, B.C.
Thank you for bringing this to the attention of so many people who may be only vaguely aware of the problems faced by the poorest, and their attempt to help their families. Let us all make every effort to organize immigration in a logical, safe and humane way.

ana perla - windsor, canada
Iif it weren't for illegal emigrants the U.S. wouldn't be what it is today nor those other countries. These emigrants want to better themselves and that of their love ones just like any born American, except that Americans are hesitant to work hard for that betterness. Isn't there enough land to make it livevable? These people are here to make a better life and make the economy grow. Wake up America! Why can you accept them and let them build a stronger America? Give them their papers it would benefit all of you.

(anonymous)
While I feel for the families living in desperation and poverty, I cannot for one minute ignore the fact that they broke US law by coming here. Breaking our laws, for any reason, should not, and can not be allowed. It may not sound fair, but we have enough Americans that need our help. We don't need to go looking in other countries for victims.

Louis de la Roca - Barrie, ON
Who are the illegal immigrants? the First Nations? or The European squatters? The people of rural Guatemala are natives who were here before the USA, Mexico, and the rest of America. Lets not forget that it was America that stole Florida, Louisiana, California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, from Spanish Mexico. Poor American Immigrants squatters moved into Mexico and stole half the country. Today the same Americans call Hispanics illegal immigrants.

john - san diego, USA
Guatemala and surrounding nations in the region, have a birth rate of twice or more than that of the United States. This has been the case for more than a few decades. So if the people of Latin America wish to overpopulate the planet, and have done so in their region to the point where their resources cannot sustain their basic needs, we are to feel sorry for them and allow this human sea to spill over?

Yes, on an individual level it is hard to not feel compassion when you look in their faces, when the journalists converse with them, when you think "what would I do in their situation?"
But I sure wouldn't bring 4 to 5 kids into this world if knew I couldn't feed them, but that's what they are doing.

Let me add I am an American in the lower rungs of the economic classes. Like they look toward America, I can open a National Geographic issue and see luxury penthouse apartments in Tokyo, villas on the French Riviera, sprawling cattle ranches in Argentina, Ferraris parked in a garage in Turin- all things I cannot hope to ever possess.

Yet nothing in my mind can rationalize going to these places, breaking their laws and doing whatever I needed to simply because I wanted a better life.

It's sad alright but allowing illegals to stay means less legal immigrants will be allowed in. Do we want such a concentration of those who resort to primal urges rather than those who respect societal order?

(anonymous)
It was around 1974 when my boyfriend (now husband) and I hitchhiked to Mexico and on down to Guatemala. We were given a ride with a very hospitable father and son in a pickup truck through the mountains. We had no language in common, but were able to communicate. In the dark of a pouring rain the truck was stopped by Federales with rifles who wanted money from us because we were Americans. The driver talked with them for quite a while and finally convinced them to leave us alone. How I wish I could have convinced the American "federales" to leave these folks alone to do their work, and I wish I could return the bowl of chili and papaya that were shared with us all those years ago.

Anonymous - Princeton, New Jersey
With no legal way to enter the country, there is also no way that our health professionals can oversee the migration.
That means any disease can move freely; even diseases which escaped from laboratories or entered the world in other scary ways, not just diseases from Guatemala.
Who knows what they brought back to Guatemala, and how it will progress epidemically in the zero-hygiene, zero-medical knowledge environment of the Guatemalan mountains.
I hate to say this, but a slaughterhouse is like a pathologist's Petri dish, or germ incubator. It is a perfect environment to incubate germs of all sorts. Have you seen scars from the new staph bugs? Wow! They eat the living flesh right down to the bone.
Right now, here in Central New Jersey, we're not only dealing with a huge Latino migration, but also an unknown disease which has nearly shut down the local college. The college kids get it and take it home to their families and neighborhoods. It may cause a kind of Alzheimer's, or dementia. It's probably a spirochete.
It's not from Guatemala, of that I am sure, but it could go there and be redistributed through illegal immigration. Let's think about this!

(anonymous)
Imagine the roles were reversed... I move to Guatemala and start a thriving business and bring in Americans to work those jobs.... It wouldn't last a week before the locals came in and "nationalized." Illegal is ILLEGAL!! Look around the world. If you could just wade across the Oceans from Africa or Asia... picture the problem then. Arizona's new laws are a stepping stone to the future.

Cecil Renfield - Gerringong, New South Wales
What a contrast from the videos featuring discussions over the billions of dollars that Wall St. 'steals' and dispenses to the Captains of Industry.

Marco D - Houston, Texas
My wife is from Guatemala, Retalhuleu to be precise. I am all for easier immigration laws but illegal immigration no matter how much sympathy or heart felt we are is not acceptable to allow. There are reasons why we have borders and sovereignty. I read excuses as to how things used to be in the U.S. shall we then be fair to that argument and bring back all the old laws as well that we have since changed? I love Guatemala, I have been all over except the far north. The way to help is through helping the people change their own country. Every country has struggled and Guatemala while the U.S. has intervened in the past has also itself to blame. So many presidents steal money and flee. Education in many of the Indian towns is almost non-existent as priority to make money supersedes all else. Champerico, could be a huge port via pacific side, but nothing is done. England and China have also lied to Guatemala in promising roads for land or resource and nothing is given in return other than money for the gov to steal. I say help the country by bringing business and education so chapin y chapina have a chance. Not all Guatemala is like what you see in the documentary, keep that in mind as well. In a period of 10 years, I have seen a lot of improvement.

Ed Appiah - Rochester, NY
Nice video it helps to humanizes the immigration debate. However I think it would have been better if both sides were presented for example. How these jobs were worked by Americans at a decent wage before the arrival of the migrants.

Lovingston, VA
They are humans as well, and if they can't get the help they need where they come from I say we need to help them ,instead of sending them back and turning our heads the other way. THANK YOU FOR THE VIDEO I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE!

odessa, texas
I am a 14 year old OL/DL and many of our star players here are of Mexican decent; and hell i bet ya anything they are illegal but i love em to death.

(anonymous)
I am a retired federal prosecutor from Iowa, where this was filmed. I was retired when it happened, and prosecuted in another Iowa federal district, so I only know what I read and see.
Though I have pity and sympathy, you must realize that most foreign countries have tougher immigration laws than the United States does. (i.e. Mexico's laws are much more draconian). Also remember that though we feel sorry for the workers who lost their illegally obtained jobs that paid $7 per hour, meat packing jobs once paid $14 an hour for American workers, who now are displaced by this cheap labor.
My wife and I are now live aboard cruisers cruising in the Caribbean helping those we can throughout the islands (my wife is a nurse practitioner) and our hearts go out to these people. But you must remember that there are no simplistic solutions that work as well as helping the growth of locally sustainable businesses and industries that let folks work for themselves and enable them to live in the communities where they are raised if they desire to.

Stephen Willson - Brasilia, Brasil
I have been to both Postville and Guatemala. In Guatemala the people are so kind that I would guess the villagers of the story would give any of us help if we needed. The government of Guatemala has not helped any of these people and in fact as little as 13 years ago the army was
beheading people publicly who were thought to be involved in the guerrilla
movement fighting to get the indigenous people land rights. This army was funded by American money. Many people do not know that the CIA overthrew
Guatemala's president in the 50's for promising land reform then. The U.S. has had its fingers in these peoples lives long before this case of deportation and if more Americans knew this history they would understand why they immigrate illegally to the United States.

Marlon - Vancouver, British Columbia
I wish that some of these close minded so-called Americans could live in the countries of the people they persecute. Only then could
they begin to comprehend the reason people risk their lives just to get a
crummy job in North America. Some make the trip and die halfway. They are
not brave but desperate. My family was illegal once, but we had to leave the states to be given a chance to live without fear. Fear of deportation. Immigration laws only help those that can already afford to come to North America. Lots of those that come over illegally have tried to do things legally
, but there is so much red tape that illegally is there only option. Before
people in US point fingers remember that all your ancestors were immigrants
as well. The difference is that the US welcomed them with open arms. Your
ancestors were in need just like these people. The states said" "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me
All this is engraved on a plaque inside the Statue Of Liberty.Hypocrite America!

Patricia Gonzalez - CHIHUAHUA, CHIHUAHUA
Es curioso, entre a esta pagina buscando otras cosas, y me sorprendi de lo que he leido, es bueno su contenido, felicidades a quienes la hacen!!! y al leer todo lo escrito, me encuentro una vez mas con la tan cacareada xenofobia, el racismo a todo lo que da de los que viven del otro lado de frontera.Curioso tambien, es que piensen como piensan, y sientan como sienten, cuando en otros lados del mundo ellos viven y trabajan sin que nadie los moleste, y no porque porque valgan mucho senores, sino porque en otros lados
somos gente civilizada y les guste o no leerlo, somos gente educada no solo en apariencias, no se nos olvide que tener dinero no lo es todo. Nuestros pueblos tienen lo que muchos no, cultura, historia, raices, no necesitamos disfrazarnos de vaquerita en concurso para distinguirnos.Vivo y soy orgullosamente Mexicana, y he visto como los "gringos" hablan, escriben y despotrican contra todos los que no seamos gueritos (aunque sea por la fuerza del tinte) y sin embargo a ellos se les trata como gente aunque no siempre se comporten como tal (platicamos sobre los famosisimos y siempre nefastos
spring break y demas turistas igonorantes, sucios y groseros. dije ya
que normalmente vienen de E.U???) Bravo por los que piensan que algo se deberia de hacer por ayudar a los qu
e lo necesitan sin involucrar razas, ni nacionalidades. Un saludo a todos
los que piensan y sienten asi (Alessia de Canad=C3=A1, BIEN POR USTEDES).
Y senores, recuerden voltear hacia otro lado, no solo existe el norte,
recuerden lo que dijo Don Porfirio Diaz "Pobre de Mexico, tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de Estados Unidos".Un brindis por la gente buena del mundo, gracias a Dios son muchas mas toda
via, que los racistas.

boulder, colorado
I am 14 years old and u adults need 2 understand b that it is unfair to do things like this to people everyone deserves a chance and I bet it was in the U.S were in this situation we would try to cros the border to Mexico also so u need to think about things and become better people cause ppl like u r ruining the world for future generations... aka my generation....

Seattle, WA
I am also wondering how to send help to these people. Are there any organizations working with them to raise money? Has Toj's mother received treatment yet?

(anonymous)
To those of you who criticize illegal immigration so harshly, I wonder how your ancestors once entered the US? Did they have legal visas when they came from Ireland, England, Germany? Did they ask the Native Americans, the only true Native people of this land, for the legal right to work and live in the United States? May us all remember that this is a land made from humble beginnings. If you are thankful for what you have now, then maybe you should extend that to others. And realize we are all human beings. And we all deserve a chance to provide for our families. I am sure that is why your family came here in the first place.

(anonymous)
As an immigrant it is heart wrenching to see this because you know how familiar to story is. However, having had to wait almost 5 years to be granted a US visa, I have to consider those like myself who went through the process of getting to the U.S. legally.We therefore need to be careful not to go too far in the direction we are heading whereby, immigrant is becoming synonymous with illegal immigrant, they are not one and the same and the classification of illegal serves a very important purpose.
What is needed is an efficient immigration system whereby people can migrate to the US legally to work pay their taxes and support their family back home.

Horace Rumphole - London, England
I'm sorry, but these people are not the responsibility of the U.S. unless we decide so. There are countries in South America that should be fixing this problem, but they would rather lay this at our feed. Latin Americans are cruel people, who care nothing for their indigenous peoples, preferring to take care of those closer to mother Spain.
As to Catholic Church involvement, the Catholic Church is the most wealthy organization of its kind, but they would rather undermine U.S. efforts to control its borders than for the Pope to sell his million dollar robes.

Fr. Roberto Mena - Bainbridge, Georgia
It is a good report. The Catholic Church has to be very ative for future Immigration Reforms to have just laws for everyone.

(anonymous)
I hope that people take a chance to think about this and discover that the reasons that make us come to this country is not another option, it is a need!I

Hollywood, Fla.
What about the Americans who came here legally and can't afford school, homes, medical care and to give their children a decent life? We spend on those that are here illegally on the back of the aged, sick, poor and those that pay taxes, while these illegal intruders are sending BILLIONS to their home country and paying NOTHING here. That is not the way this country started.

Dawa Sherpa - New York, New York
I was wondering if there is any way for me to know what happened to the women with cancer and her treatment ? I am actually interested in raising some money (what ever I can) for her - if she allows - for her treatment.

F.C. Browne - Melbourne, Florida
Your documentary puts a real face on illegal immigration in this country. I really believe if the shoe was on the other foot of U.S. citizens, they would cross too. It comes down to survival for a lot of these people.

(anonymous)
Many ignorant Americans can't see that these people are humans too. They are just trying to live and care for their families. I don't think anyone wants to see their own mother or any family member suffer. Especially if they are sick and nowhere to live. They should concentrate more on drug trafficking not families that are just trying to live a decent life. Thanks for the documentary, we wish to see more.

Phil Kaplan - Tokyo, Japan
Did you notice how many children these immigrants had? The Catholic Church forbids contraception. Too bad we didn't get to see how the chickens and steers get processed. I wonder where everyone's sympathies would lie. That an orthodox Jew could engage in this adds yet another bizarre element to this toxic, tragic mixture.

Kainette Jones - Omaha, NE
While I feel for the families and the immigration system, it clearly needs a lot of work. I find it hard to believe that no one wants those jobs -- I am sure many teens would welcome a job paying $7 an hour (particularly in Iowa). I work with at-risk youth in the Heartland, and trust me -- they want jobs -- so much so that job programs implemented as a result of grant funds were overwhelmed. The need outweighed the resources.

What about the 75% of our minority men and women, young and old who comprise the penal system? They come out seeking gainful employment to keep them off the streets and out of trouble so they can take care of their families and cannot find a job to save their lives. What about OUR families here in the US?

san francisco, ca
There are billions of people living hand-to-mouth in this world. (And too often we forget about far-away Africa, unarguably the most deprived continent on this planet.)

They collapse into sleep every night with a sore back, and get hungry often throughout the day because of a low protein diets. But they're not alone -- they're alongside their family, extended relatives, lifelong neighbors, church, & culture. Things that are priceless.

To pay my way through school I worked many 'undesirable' jobs - cleaning cabins, washing dishes, pulling weeds & picking rocks from fields, and detassling corn. I was never going to make these a career, but there were many other students willing to do agriculture jobs in summer, & the indoor ones during the school year (not to mention many adults I've known who clean houses or wash dishes P/T).

Obviously, work visas are needed. And enforcement of employers has to come earlier, before a community becomes dependent on a business that is operating illegally by hiring undocumented workers. The film had much less value for showing only one perspective. The Guatemalans said they crossed the border to help their families, but it's illegal, and a gamble. Life is hard back home, but staying there to keep your family whole has a lot of value, too.

Ellen Graham - Los Angeles, CA
Sorry, but meatpacking jobs used to be 15 to 20 dollar an hour unionized jobs that were held by Americans. This is all a result of the US looking the other way to allow slave labor.

While I sympathize with people who are victims of greed, I sympathize more with the declining American middle class.

gaithersburg, mD
What gives them the right to be here illegally ? my wife is a legal immigrant and we went through a lot to do it the right way. Why should these people have it different? They broke the law and got caught.

Just because they are poor, do we let every poor person in the USA? Why can't Central and South America fix their own problems, instead of sending their people to the USA fixing the Issue in the first place.

Do we get to pick and choose the laws ? If they get amnesty do i get a refund on what I spent on my wife to do it legally? How can they spend $7K on a smuggler when they could put that money to use back home?

These jobs we done by Americans before we built this country not illegals. Who is paying for all these kids ? The immigration system is slow but not broken they should enforce the laws -- just like me and my wife had to obey.

I'm sorry Postsville had these issues but they based their economy on illegal immigrants hoping not to get caught. How are these people really helping the USA by sending their earnings back home? Just do a guest worker program; but with 10% unemployment I doubt you will get much sympathy from anyone.

Angela - Memphis, TN
I speak with immigrants both legal and illegal all the time. Their stories are both heartbreaking and inspiring. These are people who take nothing for granted in America. They see the good in jobs that many American citizens spurn. For people who struggled to make $6 for a full day''s work at home, they are ecstatic about being paid hourly wages that most people here can't understand how live on.

America is a nation of immigrants. When we see these people, we're seeing the passion for America and the passion to achieve the American Dream that our own immigrant ancestors had. The only difference is that most of our immigrant ancestors never had to fear being captured and sent back in debt. Instead, they had a chance to succeed.

Stories like this one exemplify the urgent need for immigration reform.

Alessia DiPietrodominici - St. Eustache, Quebec, Canada
When I saw this I was in complete shock and saddened. In fact, in Canada we NEED these workers and are very happy to have them here. The government has implemented a plan to allow Mexicans the opportunity to come to Canada to work. In fact, we have a farm that employs Mexican migrants. We were having a tough time finding Canadians to work on a farm.

My husband and I are both grateful that we have our employees and many come back the following year when the season starts up again. We are responsible to house, feed, pay medical expenses, airfare and we pay them above minimum wage!

There are even immigration officials that come for surprise visits to make sure working conditions are safe and that employees are taken care of. We are so ever thankful because without these labourers we cannot operate our business.

I get tired of the negative attention I hear about illegals in the US taking away jobs; especially those that most do not want to do. I was surprised they were making as much as 7$/hour at the meat packing plant. I have heard horror stories of them making as little as 4$! Also keep in mind that these "illegals" are pumping so much money to the local economy and sending money back home to help their families.

One of my employees told me how he was able to send all his children to school, help his ailing mother and support other members of his family. We all benefit from these hard working individuals who practically sacrifice their life to support their families back home.

Alessia DiPietrodominici - St. Eustache, Quebec, Canada
When I saw this I was in complete shock and saddened. In fact, in Canada we NEED these workers and are very happy to have them here. The government has implemented a plan to allow Mexicans the opportunity to come to Canada to work. In fact, we have a farm that employs Mexican migrants. We were having a tough time finding Canadians to work on a farm.

My husband and I are both grateful that we have our employees and many come back the following year when the season starts up again. We are responsible to house, feed, pay medical expenses, airfare and we pay them above minimum wage!

There are even immigration officials that come for surprise visits to make sure working conditions are safe and that employees are taken care of. We are so ever thankful because without these labourers we cannot operate our business.

I get tired of the negative attention I hear about illegals in the US taking away jobs; especially those that most do not want to do. I was surprised they were making as much as $7/hour at the meatpacking plant. I have heard horror stories of them making as little as 4$! Also keep in mind that these "illegals" are pumping so much money to the local economy and sending money back home to help their families.

One of my employees told me how he was able to send all his children to school, help his ailing mother and support other members of his family.

We all benefit from these hard working individuals who practically sacrifice their life to support their families back home.

Krishna Kumar - San Jose, CA
It is unfortunate that the company who employed them got away lightly. Of course mega corporations have their cronies. I wish the company was penalized and asked to pay for every illegal hired, give them a year's pay, send them back.

In addition to this, the processing departments in the federal side should have come up with costs that will be borne by the company it addition to signing a contract that if they continue these practices in the future their ability to run the corporation will be seized. Of course the illegals should be deported back but in a fair manner.

But it is just like any other burning issue that this nation faces like drugs coming through the borders (in tunnels I might add). Ieffective search mechanisms of transport vehicles crossing through from Canada, Mexico is another issue largely ignored.

Unless all border problems are resolved, how can you be sure if a person with intent to harm this country will not make it?

This story has been said many times, watched many times, felt many times yet this is a transient issue till the next airing of another such case.
As always good job to the team who captured the sense of this burning issue.

Miami, FL
Yes they are impoverished and in a bad situation. My question is, does that give them the automatic right to come in illegally? Also, what would happen if our poor would come into their country and expect them to just let it go?

Jody - Stout, Ohio
An excellent film. So sad for both towns and their families. I kept thinking that it would be so easy for a group of Americans to bail this one family out... and yet, there are so many similar stories.

Even here in America, people suffer from poverty and its effects daily. Something must be done about the immigration issues. A temporary worker permit could help everyone. Donations to assist people in dire consequence is a more immediate need, as is contacting our legislators to support worker visas.

(anonymous)
Thank you so much for this amazing documentary! It really brought tears to my eyes to see what my fellow countrymen are faced with in order to sustain their families. I really hope that the USA changes its laws to help hardworking people that all they want to do is work hard to make a living, which here in Guatemala is impossible.

We are faced with so much violence and poverty that would drive anyone out of the country to seek a better life.

In any case, let's face the fact that hardly any North Americans (born in USA) really WANT those jobs anyways (cleaning toilets, working at factories, washing dishes).

George Cooke - Tavares, Florida
This is a nation of friendly, kind, and generous people, many of whom paradoxically are also racists with not a grain of pity or love for the hated minority of the moment.

Dana Wilson - Memphis, TN
This is an amazing story. This video shows something we Americans often forget -- labor is the backbone of our economy.

We may find ourselves calling human beings "illegals," but you show that these often invisible, hardworking people are as desperate as we are to keep their families healthy and safe. We all have so much in common.

Congratulations and thank you for doing such amazing work!

(anonymous)
Yes temporary work permit is the best route, or how about an exchange work permit, as a humanitarian gesture?

(anonymous)
Thank you for making this video showing why men and women risk their lives to come to the U.S.. You captured the pain and suffering of Postville and Guatemala. I hope this video will help soften the hearts of those who focus on "the breaking of the law".

Mundelein, IL
Part of the story is how do these people live on US $7 in Postville? How do they pay for medical expenses? How do they support the schools and other social services? Their presence depresses the labor costs preventing the ability to support these services. All this so Americans can have a 99 cent value menu.

Richard Mercer - Dorchester, Mass
This situation cries out for immigration reform. If the U.S. would grant temporary work permits, workers from one villiage could work six months, and workers from the other villiage would work the remaining six months. I believe this effort would not only benifit hard working Guatemalan families, but also the economy of Postville, Iowa. I realize the complex issues of U.S. illegal immigration. However, doing nothing at all will continue the revolving door of deportation and desperation for the Guatemalan people. Whats more, it hurts the ghost town of Potsville, Iowa, and the people who needed the jobs the slaughterhouse provided.

Angela Fuentes - Berkeley, California
This documentary is exactly why I became an immigration attorney: To defend immigrants against deportation. Thank you.

David Jenkins - Shelby, NC
Shattering film. I had the great good fortune to spend a couple of weeks in Guatemala with some friends working with a relief organization. They took me way off the beaten tracks and I saw these streets and met people just like those portrayed. It's a magical, exquisitely beautiful and heartbreaking place ... it changes you ... as many have noted the people are for the most part so warm and hospitable that it humbles you forever. As someone else asked, is there a fund? The woman who needs cancer surgery.
... I'll donate two hundred dollars... surely we can do something...

Shaya Manzi - Austin, Texas
Oh people, get real. These people came to the USA illegally. Sure, they owe the scum who smuggled them here thousands of dollars. They broke the law and there are consequences. Why don't you set up a fund to bring a couple million Africans who are in the same predicament to live on your doorstep? Or Indians or Afghans? Get real... Secure the borders and remove the illegals. I am African and I got here legally. Yes, it was tough and, yes, it cost $15,000 and it took 10 years, but now I am a LEGAL U.S. CITIZEN.

Betsy McNair - Santa Cruz, CA
It's heartbreaking to see the suffering in both the US and Guatemala. And to what end? There are simply no winners in a situation such as this. Brilliantly done video, Greg and Jennifer, gracias.

Elizabeth & Stephen Nivet - Berwick, VIC Australia
Thank you for bringing this very sad story to our attention. Our prayers and thoughts are with these suffering people. Please let us know what we can do to help.

(anonymous)
I am Guatemalan and I love my country, but mainly, I love my people. This is just a tiny sample of the life of hard working people, people that give their everything to feed their families and have a decent life. I am proud to say that there are lots of kind and warm-hearted people in my Guatemala who deserve a chance to achieve and make a dream come true, find a decent job and earn enough to provide their families.

Chicago, Illinois
Thank you for sharing. I have experience living in Iowa and also have been to Guatamala to witness the poverty there and the happiness of the people when they live and share.

Jeff Harrington - Lynchburg, VA
My heart is grieved with the knowledge that there are many people in the world right now who are longing for an opportunity to work hard for a simple, decent livelihood... and would consider it a miracle to enjoy an existence like an average American has at his/her disposal everyday. Somehow the systems and rules of mankind fall exceedingly short in situations like these. Injustice still runs rampant in every corner of the earth.

The story of the Guatemalan immigrants motivates me to be more grateful for our nation of bounty and convicts me to become more aggressive in my efforts of outreach to those in the world less fortunate. Every American shares in the responsibility of stewardship with the abundant resources within our reach. It is true..."to whom much is given, much is required." Most of us have been given much, directly or indirectly, and may we not squander it on merely self-oriented activities.

Longmeadow, MA
How can we help some of these people pay off their loans and get medical help. Can't we set up a fund to help them?

mark johnson - hood river, oregon
The story is certainly tragic. I have had the opportunity to visit Guatemala more than a dozen times in the past ten years. I love the people and the culture. But the fact remains that all of the folks that were rounded up in the raid made a calculated effort to enter this country illegally.

When you live life in that reality there are no guarantees. Laws may be enforced. And the consequences may be very harsh on those involved. We are a nation of laws. Some we choose to enforce. May we all promote pro-economic development policies in our governments.

meriden, ct
Your documentary is very engaging and beautifully photographed. One cannot help empathizing with these poor, hardworking people who are trying to work for their families. Well done, Greg and Jennifer.

(anonymous)
Gracias por compartir con el mundo, un pedacito de mi Guatemala. De su gente y de su realidad.Thanks for sharing with the world a small piece of my Guatemala, and the reality of its people.

Sister Mary McCauley, BVM - Dubuque, Iowa
Greg and Jennifer, I remember the day that you arrived in Postville and requested to spend time with some of our people. Your documentary is excellent. It tells a heartbreaking story and calls all of us to do what we can to reach out to the poor and to foster initiatves that promote comprehensive immigration reform.

Thank you for using your special gift to bring to light the pain of our brothers and sisters. Sister Mary McCauley, BVM

Stephanie Borise - Westport, CT
A vivid, shocking tale, expertly told and beautifully filmed.

Thank you for all your work in bringing this tragic story to light. I hope the report will bring help for these hardworking people, both in Guatemala and the U.S.

Heather MacKenzie - Winston-Salem, NC
In the end what good is served by this policy? A US employer and an American city suffers an economic setback; willing hard-working non-citizens are returned all at the expense of US taxpayers. If this does not illustrate the urgent need for temporary work permits for unskilled labor I don't know what does.

The Obama Administration must be rational about finding mutually beneficial solutions to this labor shortage issue in key industries and stop fixating on who is "breaking the law". Employers and employees would happily comply with the law if there was an available avenue for lawful immigration for such workers.

Erik Camayd-Freixas - Miami, FL
I have been privileged to know William, Rosita, and over 100 other victims of the raid, whom I interviewed in court, in jail, in Postville, and in Guatemala, over the past year. I do not pity them. I admire them as human beings, every one of them, for their honesty, work ethic and steadfastness, their humble wisdom and undying faith, their courage, and their absolute lack of bitterness in the face of unspeakable suffering and injustice.

Ilistened to their stories in awe, painful and inspiring, thinking that maybe, just maybe, if put to the test, I too might have the heart to do for my family half of what they have endured for theirs. They are a testament to the human spirit and a model for parents everywhere.

Take Willian's story, multiply it by 400 and you start to get a sense of the Postville tragedy. Multiply it by a million and you begin to fathom the magnitude of our national disgrace.

These men and women are too decent to tell you publicly how they were beaten, chained, mocked, humiliated, criminalized, and incarcerated for slaving away at the Iowa slaughterhouse in order to feed their children, and us. That much is our job, as decent Americans, to reckon with.

The regional head of immigration enforcement said: "Put that at the feet of those who broke the law."

A local citizen of Postville said: "I was shocked to see my friends and neighbors persecuted and tormented. Why? I'm glad people are documenting it, so future generations will look back upon these deeds in disbelief and shame.

Thank you, Greg and Jennifer, for sharing this burden on behalf of all of us.

Kimberly Smith - Surprise, AZ
This video breaks my heart. In a world where there is no shortage of work to be done, no shortage of food to go around, the inhumanity of our broken immigration system seems ironic for the leader of the free world. It is my hope and dream that a better future is ahead for all of us.

Oonagh Purcell - Melbourne, Australia
This is such a powerful story and video showing so vividly the interdependence of a tragic and failed world economy. The solutions are indeed complex - but not beyond our reach. The current status quo for both Villages in this story is untenable and benefits no one.

Luis Argueta - New York, NY
This excellent report shows vividly the impact on the lives of real people, inside the US and abroad, of a broken immigration system that desperately
needs to be righted.

These tragic situations can be put in context if we also look carefully at the forces that fuel immigration: a Cold War US foreign policy that sponsored a 36-year war in Guatemala, unfair free trade agreements, lax labor laws enforcement at home and our own disregard for how food is brought to our table.

Congratulations to Greg Brosnan and Jennifer Szymaszek for a great job.

Angela Zettler - Maplewood, NJ
This is an EXCELLENT video. Thank you for creating it and sharing their stories with us. You movingly captured their despair and the captivity they live under. Thank you for this video.