Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Guatemala--Emigration and immigration--History; Postville (Iowa)--Emigration and immigration--History; Human rights--Guatemala--History; Human rights--United States--History; Human rights--Iowa--Postville--History; Postville Immigration Raid, Postville, Iowa, 2008;


Guatemala’s long internal conflict, the lack of justice, the general poverty, and continued violence since the signing of the 1996 Peace Accords prompt many people to migrate to the United States in search of jobs and opportunities for their family. Since the 1980s, Guatemalans have settled in Postville, Iowa, a small town that is nationally recognized for the ethnically diverse populations that live and work there. In 2008, it was also the site of the largest Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) worksite raid to date and the following criminal trials were unprecedented. Because of the tragedy in Postville, sources that detail immigrants’ experiences in Guatemala, the process of coming to Iowa, working and living in Iowa, and the aftermath of the ICE raid are available. This thesis argues for a wider scope of the immigration experience to include not only the individual migrant, but their families and the communities in which they settle. It explores how human rights violations suffered throughout the migration and deportation processes affect people, families, and entire communities in Guatemala and the United States emotionally and economically. I have drawn information for this paper from scholarly research, from two educational delegations to Guatemala, one with the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC) in August of 2014 titled, “Women and the Construction of Justice” and the other with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) in March 2015 titled, “Rivers for Life,” and from interviews of Postville residents that I conducted through the “Community Voices: Postville Oral History Project.”

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of History


The Postville Project

First Advisor

Fernando Calderón, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 131 pages)