Guatemala: A Tale of Two Villages

Guatemala: A Tale of Two Villages

One of the largest immigration raids in U.S. history devastates the economy of a town in Iowa and two small villages in Guatemala. (Frontline)

In one of the single largest immigration raids in U.S. history, federal agents arrested nearly 400 undocumented workers at a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, in May, 2008.

More than 200 of those arrested were from two small villages in Guatemala. The money they were sending back to their families helped sustained the two poverty-stricken villages. Most of the men were deported after the raid and the women were held under house arrest, awaiting deportation.

This short documentary, part of Frontline’s “Rough Cut” series, travels between the small farming town of Postville, Iowa, and the highland villages of Guatemala examining the lives of those most affected by the immigration raid.

In Postville, retail businesses are suffering and the local food bank, which previously served around 40 families, now struggles to help over 150 families on some days.

In Guatemala, the grim reality for those heading to the U.S. for work is captured in the story of a father of four whose first day at work in Postville was the day of the raid. He owes $7,000 to smugglers who arranged his transit to the U.S. and has little hope of ever repaying them, pushing his impoverished family further into debt.

This project was made possible with grants from the Institute for Justice and Journalism at USC Annenberg, which includes Ford Foundation funding, and from the Washington D.C.-based Fund for Investigative Journalism.

CHANNEL: PBS Frontline

Length: 15:06

By Greg Brosnan and Jennifer Szymaszek