Pedro Lopez was in 7th grade when a rumor began to spread through his school one morning in 2008. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were raiding Agriprocessors, the meatpacking plant in his small hometown of Postville, Iowa. Soon, Pedro would learn his mother was among the nearly 400 workers detained. 

At the time, Postville was the largest single-site raid in U.S. history. For Pedro, it was the first time he had to reckon with what it meant for him and his family to be undocumented. 


Since the raid, Pedro and his family have acquired permanent residency through the help of an immigration lawyer. Pedro is working towards becoming an immigration lawyer one day, and plans to apply for citizenship.

Top photo: Pedro Lopez (left) stands beside his mother, Consuelo Lopez (right) in May of 2011 at St. Bridget Catholic Church on the 10th anniversary of the Postville raid. Consuelo is carrying the Book of Names — a record of those arrested and detained. Photo by Jim Slosiarek of The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, IA.
Middle photo: Pedro Lopez stands beside his parents at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa on his graduation day in May of 2017. Photo courtesy of Pedro Lopez.

Originally aired August 23, 2019 on NPR’s Morning Edition.