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Illegal Immigrants In Limbo After Meatpacking Plant Raid

Dozens of illegal immigrants released after a meatpacking plant raid in Postville, Iowa, must wear tracking devices on their ankles and cannot leave the state.

POSTVILLE, Iowa (AP) -- Dozens of illegal immigrants are in limbo after their arrest last May at a meatpacking plant in Postville.

The 45 people were detained in the May 12 immigration raid at Agriprocessors, Inc., then released because they needed to care for their children. The 42 women and three men must wear tracking devices on their ankles.

"(Either) they send us back or they let us go," said Irma Hernandes, one of those who must wear a tracking device. "But now we're just waiting."

Most haven't been told when they'll be charged or deported, but they are not allowed to leave Iowa. Because they can't get jobs, they're dependent on handouts for food and rent money.

About 300 other workers at the plant are serving jail sentences before being deported.

Of the women and men with tracking bracelets, many have spouses who are serving five-month sentences. Others have spouses who have already been deported.

Tim Counts, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said their best course of action would be "stipulated removal," in which the former Agriprocessors workers would be immediately returned to their home countries.

St. Bridget's Hispanic Ministry is largely supporting the 45 people and their children. Their efforts were boosted by about $300,000 in donations, but the money is running out because fewer people are making donations.

The costs for the 45 illegal immigrants still amount to $10,000 to $15,000 a week, and between rent, utilities, food bills and help with legal documents, the men and women must rely on the church for help.

Without another major wave of donations, the church estimates that money for those in tracking devices will run out in late September or early October.

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