By Janelle Mathews
Lumen Editor in Chief
Luis Argeuta was on campus to promote his movie “abUSed: The Postville Raid” which tells the story of Guatemalan immigrant workers in Postville, Iowa who were badly mistreated by the government during a raid on illegal immigration on May 12, 2008.
According to Argueta, “the most immigrants ever were arrested in this raid at the time with 389 total.” Furthermore, the government spent $5.2 million in executing the plan that “was not very efficient,” Argueta said.
Argueta believes that Postville, Iowa, a small town of about 2,000 people, was selected because it’d “be a media sensation. Who would believe all these immigrants living in such a small town?” As the film shows, the immigrants were poorly treated by the ICE agents and the government in general.
“They [the immigrants] should have been charged with civil charges, but instead, the government chose to level criminal charges against them,” Argueta explained. Charging the illegal immigrants with criminal charges caused them to have a black mark on their records so that they could not get a visa back into the United States after being deported.
Argueta’s passion for the project came after he read Erik Camayd-Freixas’ article published in the New York Times written about the many injustices the immigrants faced from the ICE agents who arrested them. Camayd-Freixas “was a legal interpreter for the government who was called in to assist the ICE agents with the Postville raid; however, Camayd-Freixas broke his code of ethics to tell everything that he saw, heard and experienced during the time he was in Waterloo, Iowa where the immigrants were held on trial at the state fairgrounds,” Argueta said.
After reading this article, Argueta decided to take action and show the immigrants’ side of the story.
Argueta has shown the movie around Latin America and the U.S. since then, mostly at college campuses. Argueta showed the movie in Postville twice where “people were very receptive to the movie and enjoyed it very much. The town of Postville very much supports the immigrants,” said Argueta. There are strong Jewish and Catholic communities in Postville that have been rallying to support the immigrants.
Recently, more revelations about the Postville raid have been made. Many women were sexually abused during the raids, and “the first U visas have been granted to these women so that they can work in the U.S.,” explained Argueta. A U visa is granted to immigrants who have been abused while in the U.S. so that the government can pursue the criminals. Also, the government is looking into the crimes that were perpetrated during the Postville raid.
Argueta is currently making a new movie following up about the new discoveries in the Postville raid called “’The U Turn’ which tells the transformational stories of some of the women and workers who obtained U visas and have faced the fear of their abusers. They have overcome many obstacles in their lives,” Argueta said.