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Towns in the Midwest that depend on immigrant labor are beginning to wonder what might happen if immigration raids come to their communities. The Kansas City Star lists the small meatpacking towns that have been reshaped by immigrant labor — Postville, Milan, Sedalia, Marshall and St. Joseph in Missouri; Dodge City, Garden City, Liberal and Ulysses in Kansas. “They’ve seen large immigrant populations alter their social fabric even as the labor has kept the meat industry running and local economies vibrant,” writes Scott Canon.
A May 12 raid at Agriprocessors Inc. led to the detention of 389 workers; of those, 297 got five-month prison sentences. In other meatpacking towns, Canon found, residents worried about what would happen if similar raid took place in their communities.
“I hate to think what we’d do without them,” said a local prosecutor in Milan, Missouri. “A raid like the one in Postville would have a devastating effect on the families and the communities they live in,” said a Kansas City immigrant rights worker. “These are people who have come here and made real contributions.”