"Immigrant Rights & American Values:
Seeing with New Eyes ~ Postville: an Interpreter's Experience"
Presented by Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas
Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas, a federally certified interpreter who translated at federal hearings in Waterloo, Iowa, after the 2008 immigration raid at Agri-Processors, Inc., a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, will speak to audiences throughout eastern Iowa in March. "Immigrant Rights and American Values," the theme of his presentations, reflects his reaction to the hearings and the opinions he has expressed before Congress and in numerous essays published in the ensuing months.
Dr. Camayd-Freixas recounts his courtroom experiences after the raid as the saddest procession he has ever witnessed. He has lectured around the world and will share his experience and insight with audiences in five Iowa cities including presentations on the campuses of the University of Northern Iowa, Mount Mercy College and Clarke College, thanks to the organizing efforts of six congregations of Catholic Sisters based in the region. Aside from the Iowa City luncheon in March, the presentations are free, open to the public and pre-registration is not required.
Dr. Camayd-Freixas will speak at a public event in Clinton at The Canticle, 841 13th Ave. North, on Monday, March 8, at 7 p.m.
On Tuesday, March 9, he will be in Cedar Falls visiting the University of Northern Iowa and participating in two public events. At 2:00 p.m. in the UNI Center for Multicultural Education (109 Maucker Union) Dr. Camayd-Freixas will take part in an informal discussion about some of his recent articles. He will speak at 7:00 p.m. at St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center (1019 W. 23rd St.). His evening presentation in Cedar Falls will be filmed for inclusion in "The Postville Project: Documenting a Community in Transition" (a collaboration of the UNI Rod Library and the Luther College Archives) and for future use by the sponsoring organizations.
On Wednesday, March 10, Dr. Camayd-Freixas will address the noon meeting of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council at the Congregational Church, 30 N. Clinton St., Iowa City ($8/$9 - reservation required), and then travel to Cedar Rapids and give a public program at Mount Mercy College at Basile Hall, Flaherty Community Room, 1330 Elmhurst Drive, at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, March 11, Clarke College will host Dr. Camayd-Freixas' public presentation in the Jansen Music Hall in the Atrium, 1550 Clarke Drive, Dubuque, also at 7 p.m.
Dr. Camayd-Freixas, a Harvard-trained communications analyst, was one of 26 interpreters who started the court hearings at Waterloo on May 13, 2008, and one of approximately 16 interpreters who stayed the whole two weeks. Shortly after his experience, he composed an essay entitled Interpreting after the Largest ICE Raid in US History, which has been read by thousands and made its way to Congress. In his essay, he recalled his courtroom experience: "Driven single-file in groups of 10, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through, the slaughterhouse workers were brought in for arraignment, sat and listened through headsets to the interpreted initial appearance, before being marched out again to be bused to different county jails, only to make room for the next row of 10."
In his statement at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Dr. Camayd-Freixas identified 13 problems in the judicial process that he observed, including inadequate access to legal counsel and no meaningful presumption of innocence at initial appearance.
Dr. Camayd-Freixas is Professor of Latin American Literature, Director of Translation Studies, and Founder of the Research Initiative on Immigration Reform at Florida International University, Miami. He has published and lectured worldwide on language, literature, and cultural studies. A literary critic, social theorist, and expert in forensic linguistics for federal and state courts, he has trained more than 3,000 interpreters in professional ethics and standards of practice, and regularly works on Spanish television broadcasts of presidential speeches, debates, and special events. He has interpreted internationally for eight different heads of state, including President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI.
Dr. Camayd-Freixas' presentations are sponsored by a Peace & Justice Coordination Committee whose members include leaders from local religious congregations: Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Ia.; Davenport, Ia.; the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Family, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, Ia.; and, Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary, Sinsinawa, Wis. Co-sponsors include Mount Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, Ia.; Sisters of Mercy West Midwest; Clarke College, Dubuque; First Presbyterian Church, Cedar Falls, Ia.; Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration, Cedar Falls; Sisters United News of the Upper Mississippi Valley; Peace & Justice Center of the Cedar Valley-a ministry of Cedar Falls Mennonite Church; St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center, Cedar Falls; UNI American Democracy Project, Cedar Falls..