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Immigration raid devastates Iowa town

POSTVILLE, Iowa, May 12 (UPI) -- An immigration raid on a packing plant in Postville, Iowa, caused a chain reaction that shuttered businesses and left many unemployed, residents said.

One year ago, 389 illegal workers were arrested at Agriprocessors Inc., a kosher meatpacking plant. Since then, Agriprocessors has filled for bankruptcy, the town is nearly insolvent and its population has declined by half to about 1,800 people, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

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The raid devastated the nation's kosher meat supply and hurt livestock farmers who supplied the plant, the Times reported. In Postville itself, the fallout has hurt everyone from businesses to schools, said former Mayor Robert Penrod.

"It's like you're in an oven and there's no place to go and there's no timer to get you out," said Penrod, who resigned earlier this year because he felt overwhelmed by the town's problems.

Advocates of stricter immigration laws said Postville grew too dependent on illegal workers. Critics, however, said the raid and its subsequent damage, illustrate enormous problems within the U.S. immigration system.

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