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Communities Divided after Meat Plant Immigration Raids

Residents of Greeley, Colo., like many towns affected by raids on meat plants last week that led to the arrest of more than 1,000 allegedly undocumented workers, are debating the impact of immigrants on their communities.

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  • TOM BEARDEN, NewsHour Correspondent:

    On Friday night, several hundred people turned out for a special mass at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Greeley, Colorado.

    REV. BERNIE SCHMITZ, Our Lady of Peace Church: I never expected the 12th of December to change my life and the life of our parish and our community in the way that it has.


    They gathered for mutual support in the wake of last Tuesday's raid on the Swift and Company meatpacking plant in Greeley, a town of 90,000, about an hour's drive north of Denver.

    Federal agents from ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, arrested 261 people; 28 are being investigated for alleged identity theft. It was one of six such raids in six states, which netted a total of more than 1,200 people.

    Many of the people arrested in Greeley were quickly taken to undisclosed detention centers. Some were flown out of the state, and some were immediately deported.

    Father Bernie Schmidtz told the congregation he was deeply disturbed by the raid, which took place on the same day as the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a day particularly significant to Hispanic Catholics.


    I was crying for Greeley, for the community here, not just here, but the community of Greeley that I've come to love.


    Father Schmidtz said this is a trying time for the families of those arrested, because many don't know where their relatives are.


    There are families that are hurting, in some cases, because they can't get information. They don't know where people are at. They're unsure what they're going to do, and fear, and, "What am I going to do next, and how am I going to pay my bills?"

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