Stephanie Rose — Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) choice for Iowa Northern District U.S. Attorney — is proceeding on course through the vetting process despite continued protests from immigrant rights groups, a person with knowledge of the nomination process told Main Justice today.
The deputy chief of the office’s criminal division was recommended to President Obama in March. Immigration lawyers and immigrant rights advocates have since questioned Rose’s role in a controversial round-up of 300 undocumented immigrants working at a meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa last year.
American Immigration Lawyers Association Vice President David Leopold has said the prosecutions from the raid weren’t fair because there weren’t enough lawyers to represent the workers. There is also a petition with more than 300 signatures that asks the Justice Department to investigate the Postville raid and questions Rose’s role in the prosecutions.
Harkin in May said Rose didn’t take part in the decision to prosecute the immigrant workers. The raid was conducted during the term of U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth, a Bush appointee who never won Senate confirmation. Read our previous post here.
The persona familiar with the nomination told Main Justice that the questions surrounding Rose’s role in the raids aren’t an issue for the administration. The person said Rose hasn’t been formally nominated yet, because the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has all U.S. Attorney candidates on the back burner.
Obama also hasn’t nominated a U.S. Attorney for the Iowa Southern District. Harkin recommended Nick Klinefeldt for the post in March.
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The vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is crusading against Stephanie Rose’s recommendation to be U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.
Rose, a deputy chief of the office’s criminal division, played a central role in a controversial round-up of 300 undocumented immigrants working at a meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa last year, claims AILA’s David Leopold. The male detainees were housed at a fairground used for cattle shows in Waterloo. The National Cattle Congress was also the site of make-shift court rooms for quickie trials that Leopold said lacked fairness because there weren’t enough lawyers to represent the workers.
In an item posted on AILA’s blog, Leopold wrote:
Rose was among the key assistant U.S. Attorneys who drove the mass prosecutions of nearly 300 undocumented immigrant workers arrested at the Agriprocessors meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa last year. There the government brazenly used the federal identity theft law as a hammer to coerce the workers into pleading guilty to social security fraud, despite questionable evidence, and accepting automatic deportation.
But Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who recommended Rose to the White House, says Rose didn’t take part in the decision to prosecute the immigrant workers. The raid was conducted during the term of U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth, a Bush appointee who never faced Senate confirmation. In an interview with the Iowa Independent, Harkin said:
We looked into this in great detail. We contacted lawyers that were involved on the defense side during the hearings in Waterloo. The lawyers, who provided defense during that event, have come out with a letter in support of Rose’s nomination.
Harkin provided the Independent with a letter signed by 11 defense attorneys for the detained workers. The letter said Rose “was not involved in the major policy decisions that led to the raid. She did not make the decision to fast track these cases, nor did she have any part in how the individuals were to be housed.” The im
But AILA’s Leopold doesn’t buy it.
The argument that Rose “was only following orders” flatly contradicts the testimony of former Senior Associate Deputy Attorney General Deborah Rhodes who told the House Immigration Subcommittee last summer that the Postville prosecutions were planned by the local federal authorities.
The Supreme Court ruled last week that prosecutors couldn’t convict immigrants of identify theft if they couldn’t prove the immigrants knew their false papers contained information stolen from an actual person.