Immigration raid inspires new play

Four years ago, immigration authorities raided a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. It was one of the largest single roundups in U.S. history, resulting in the arrest of nearly 400 undocumented workers.

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Actors Pedro Bayon and Terry Hempleman take on the roles of slaughterhouse workers in the play Clandestino at the Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis.

Photo couresty of Stephen Cartmell

MPR’s Nikki Tundel reports that event is the focus of a new play at the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis.

When the workers left, so did their money. Stores were forced to close. Houses went empty. The school system brought in grief counselors to help children cope with what had happened.

“Kids come to school and their fellow students are gone because they’ve gone away with their families,” Hinkle said. “All these details really show the effect on a community and how interdependent we are.”

The show’s director, Jeremy Wilhelm, hopes “Clandestino” will allow audiences to see beyond the politics often associated with immigration.

“I want them to walk away just trying to tap into the humanity of this thing. There’s a human cost to cheap meat production or cheap anything production,” Wilhelm said. “We’re trying to stay focused on those human stories.

The play is a way to take the story of Postville’s immigration raid out of the news and put it on stage, where, says Wilhelm, it might feel more real.

You can find out more about the Postville raid and “Clandestino” here.

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