Thursday, February 11, 2010

Notice to Immigration News Briefs subscribers

Unfortunately, because of constraints on my time and priorities, I have had to stop producing Immigration News Briefs.

I encourage you to subscribe to the Immigrant Action listserve, featuring news, information and announcements in support of action for immigrant rights in the United States, at

Immigrant Action messages are also posted at

Back issues of Immigration News Briefs from 2006-2008 and into January 2009 will remain posted here at

(If you are interested in volunteering to get prior back issues of INB--dating back to 1998--on the INB blog site, let me know.)

Thanks for your interest and support.

- Jane Guskin, Immigration News Briefs editor

Sunday, March 15, 2009

INB on hiatus

INB editor Jane Guskin has unfortunately been too busy with other projects to continue putting out Immigration News Briefs on a regular schedule. We hope to resume publication later this year. Apologies and thanks for your support.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

INB 1/17/09: Uprising Quelled in Arizona Prison; Fugitive Raids in Dallas, Miami

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 12, No. 1 - January 17, 2009

1. Uprising Quelled in Arizona Prison
2. Fugitive Raids in Dallas, Miami; ICE Abuses Protested
3. Pallet Company IFCO Settles Criminal Case
4. Restaurant Owners Sentenced in Kentucky, DC
5. Attorney General Limits Appeals

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at


On Dec. 31, immigration detainees jailed in the South Special Housing Unit at Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona, began throwing furniture at prison staff and causing property damage in the unit, according to a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) press release cited in a local news report. At the time of the incident, there were approximately 34 detainees assigned to the Special Housing Unit. According to the news report, staff used chemical agents against the detainees to force them back into their cells. Jail officials placed the entire facility on lockdown status, meaning that detainees were restricted to their cells until further notice.

The Eloy Detention Center is a 1,500-bed facility owned and operated by CCA, the largest private for-profit prison company in the US. CCA contracts with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to house immigration detainees. ICE officials were on site at the facility at the time of the incident. "We would commend CCA for their professionalism in getting a handle on the situation very quickly, and preventing something more serious from happening," said ICE Public Affairs Officer Vincent Picard.

Surrounding CCA facilities were called to assist during the incident and the Eloy Police Department and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel were notified. According to Eloy paramedics who arrived on the scene with two ambulances, only one officer was reportedly injured; he was treated at CCA's Saguaro facility for a bump on the head, and sent to Casa Grande Regional Hospital as a precautionary measure. [Casa Grande Valley Newspapers 1/2/09, 1/7/09]


From Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, ICE agents from three local fugitive operations teams arrested 84 immigrants from Costa Rica, Mexico, Nepal and Nicaragua in the Dallas, Texas metropolitan area. The arrests were made in Argyle, Arlington, Balch Springs, The Colony, Carrollton, Dallas, Denton, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Fort Worth, Garland, Haltom City, Irving, Kennedale, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson and Rowlett. Of the total 84 people arrested, 64 reportedly had final removal orders; the other 20 were out-of-status immigrants encountered during the course of the raids. Forty of the 84 reportedly had criminal histories. ICE was assisted in the operation by the US Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the police departments of Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco and Grand Prairie. [ICE News Release 12/19/08]

In a five-day operation ending Dec. 23, ICE agents arrested 110 immigrants in the South Florida areas of Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa. ICE said 81 of those arrested were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders; the other 29 were out-of-status immigrants encountered during the raids. According to ICE, 24 of the 110 people arrested had criminal histories. Most of the arrests (47) took place in Miami-Dade County; 30 arrests were in Broward County; 15 in Palm Beach County; seven in the Orlando area and 11 in Tampa. Of the total 110 people arrested, 17 were released under the Alternatives to Detention Program because they were verified to be sole caregivers of young children or had medical concerns. The other 93 people were being held in ICE custody. Those arrested came from countries including Guatemala, Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Moldova, Cuba, Bahamas, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Mexico, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and The Gambia. [ICE News Release 12/23/08]

The pre-Christmas raid in South Florida followed similar ICE operations in the same area in November. At a Dec. 9 press conference, several community groups called for an investigation into ICE abuses during a Nov. 19 raid in Homestead. ICE apparently used a human trafficking investigation to obtain warrants for the Nov. 19 operation, in which the agency swept up 77 people, none of whom were charged criminally in connection with the trafficking case. In a complaint sent to R. Alexander Acosta, the US Attorney who helped ICE secure the warrants, community members said ICE agents beat at least six Guatemalan men during the raid; officials at the Broward Transitional Center, where some of those arrested were detained, were so concerned that they called for an official inquiry into the injuries. Jonathan Fried, executive director of the Homestead-based community group WeCount!, said a Guatemalan woman saw agents beat her husband and throw him on the floor in front of their four-year-old daughter. Witnesses also reported several incidents of ICE agents pointing guns to residents' heads, including in front of children; using excessive force in executing search warrants; and using racial profiling to detain bystanders. [News Release from WeCount! & Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center 12/10/08; Miami Herald 12/10/08; South Florida Sun-Sentinel 12/10/08; New York Times 12/9/08] ICE announced in a Nov. 21 news release that it had arrested four "sex traffickers" and "rescued" nine "victims" on Nov. 19 while executing search warrants tied to the investigation of more than a dozen brothels and stash houses in Palm Beach and Broward counties where immigrant women were reportedly forced into prostitution. [ICE News Release 11/21/08] [In a Nov. 25 news release, ICE reported the arrests of 71 people from Nov. 17 to 21 as part of a "fugitive" operation in Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa--see INB 11/30/08.]

ICE spokesperson Nicole Navas announced on Dec. 9 that the ICE agents involved in the Nov. 19 raid on the sex slave ring are under investigation for the alleged abuses. "The ICE Office of Investigations strongly denies all allegations of agent misconduct," said Navas. "However, as is routine protocol, all allegations have been forwarded to the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility for their independent review." Steve Mocsary, special agent in charge of the Office of Professional Responsibility in Plantation, Florida, said the investigation could take months. [Sun-Sentinel 12/10/08] Advocates said the internal probe was insufficient, and called for a robust investigation by the ICE Office of Inspector General or the US Attorney's office in Miami. [NYT 12/9/08]


In a settlement announced Dec. 19, federal prosecutors agreed not to pursue corporate criminal charges against IFCO Systems North America, a wood pallet recycling company headquartered in Guilderland, New York, in the suburbs of Albany. In exchange, the company admitted it had hired unauthorized immigrants and agreed to pay $20.7 million over four years, including $2.6 million in back pay and penalties for having failed to provide sufficient overtime pay to 1,700 of its workers. The company agreed to use the government's "E-Verify" screening program for all new hires, to verify the social security numbers of all current employees through the Social Security Administration (SSA), and to maintain an employee hotline to receive reports of any suspected illegalities at the company. The agreement "severely punishes IFCO for its serious immigration and employment violations; but it also allows the corporation to continue its operations, so that its lawful employees and innocent shareholders do not suffer the consequences of a business failure in this economy," said Acting US Attorney Andrew Baxter.

On Apr. 19, 2006, ICE agents raided more than 40 IFCO Systems locations in 27 states, arresting 1,187 workers on administrative immigration charges and seven current and former managers on criminal charges of conspiring to transport, harbor and encourage unauthorized workers to reside in the US for commercial advantage and financial gain [see INB 4/22/06]. Between February and December 2008, nine IFCO managers pleaded guilty to felony or misdemeanor counts relating to the case in US District Court in Albany. Four other IFCO managers are awaiting trial on felony charges. [Newsday (NY) 12/19/08; ICE News Release 12/19/08]


On Jan. 6, US District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson III of the Western District of Kentucky sentenced restaurant owner Fei Guo Tang to eight months in federal prison and three years of probation. The sentencing followed Tang's guilty plea for having knowingly employed at least 10 unauthorized immigrants for commercial advantage and financial gain. Tang was arrested on Nov. 14, 2007, when ICE agents raided his restaurant, Jumbo Buffet, in LaGrange, Kentucky, just northeast of Louisville [see INB 12/2/07]. During the raid, ICE detained six workers who were subsequently deported, and seized about $59,000 which will be forfeited to the US government. Tang is not a US citizen, and will be subject to deportation proceedings after he completes his prison sentence. [ICE News Release 1/7/09]

Francisco Solano, co-owner of the local Washington DC-area restaurant chain El Pollo Rico, was sentenced on Dec. 17 to three years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to harbor immigrants and commit money laundering, and to arranging his bank transactions to avoid reporting income. Prosecutors said Solano must forfeit $7.2 million derived from the illegal activities, including 13 bank and investment accounts and seven properties in Maryland and Virginia. According to a plea agreement, Solano concealed unauthorized immigrants in homes and businesses he and his wife owned, paying the workers in cash and accepting only cash for rent. Solano was arrested on July 12, 2007, along with three of his family members and nine employees of the family's El Pollo Rico restaurant in Wheaton, Maryland [see INB 7/22/07]. [AP 12/18/08]


In an opinion released late on Jan. 7, Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote that "neither the Constitution nor any statutory or regulatory provision entitles an alien to a do-over if his initial removal proceeding is prejudiced by the mistakes of a privately retained lawyer." The ruling came in the case of three people ordered deported who said their cases had been hurt by attorney errors. Mukasey's ruling is binding over the immigration courts, which are part of the Department of Justice rather than the judiciary. Immigrant advocates said they expected the ruling to be challenged in federal appeals courts. Until recently the Board of Immigration Appeals, the highest review panel within the immigration system, had generally found that immigrants whose lawyers had made critical errors could seek to reopen their cases on constitutional grounds. [New York Times 1/8/09] The Attorney General's decision, Matter of Compean, 24 I & N Dec. 710 (A.G. 2009), is available at The American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) has a summary of the case on its website at [AILF Press Release 1/8/09]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)

ORDER "The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers," (2007, Monthly Review Press) by the editors of Immigration News Briefs and Weekly News Update on the Americas--for details see publisher website:
book website:
authors' blog:
or email the authors at

Sunday, December 28, 2008

INB 12/28/08: Texas Detainees Protest; Raids in Idaho, Georgia, Indiana

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 30 - December 28, 2008

1. Texas: Detainees Protest Death, Seize Hostages
2. Idaho Raid Protested
3. Georgia Poultry Plant Raided
4. Indiana Oil Refinery Raided

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at


On Dec. 12, some 1,300 federal prisoners staged an uprising at the privately run Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas, to demand better medical treatment after a detainee died at the facility, allegedly of natural causes. The Reeves County Detention Center has been run since 2003 by the GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, under contract with the federal government. The medium security prison holds more than 2,400 people, mainly inmates detained for immigration law violations. The uprising took place after the detainee's body was removed from the prison, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper John Barton told the Pecos Enterprise. The prisoners set a fire in an exercise room at the facility and were evacuated to an outdoor yard, where they took two prison recreation workers hostage. The newspaper reported that firefighters had to extinguish bonfires inmates had set to keep warm overnight.

About 30 agents from the Border Patrol's Marfa Sector were deployed to the detention center in response to the incident. The border agents arrived with an assortment of less-than-lethal weapons, an armored vehicle and support from a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air & Marine Huey helicopter. CBP used the helicopter to allow a prison official to conduct aerial surveillance of the compound. The border agents surrounded the facility and guarded the perimeter but apparently did not enter it. After about 17 hours, negotiators from the police department of Odessa, Texas managed to end the uprising and secure the release of the two hostages on the morning of Dec. 13. Barton, the DPS trooper, said there were minor injuries during the standoff; he declined to say who or how many people were hurt. Patricia Dieschler, a DPS dispatcher in Pecos, said there were no injuries to responding law enforcement officers. [AP 12/13/08; CBP News Release 12/16/08; Austin American-Statesman 12/14/08 with info from wire reports]

In other detention news, German immigrant Guido Newborough died of apparent cardiac failure at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond on Nov. 28, a day after being transported to the hospital from the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Virginia, where he had been detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since Feb. 19. Newborough was transported to the hospital a day after the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed his appeal and affirmed a final order of removal against him. [Undated statement from Andrew Strait at ICE, forwarded to the Detention Watch Network listserve on 12/4/08] On Dec. 7, about 15 activists working with a group called The People United carried out a leafleting action at Farmville's annual Christmas parade, followed by a vigil at the Piedmont Regional jail, to protest Newborough's death and blast plans for a new jail in the area. [The People United website, undated, accessed 12/28/08]

On Dec. 8, ICE began transferring all 153 immigration detainees housed at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island to other jails and prisons around the Northeast. The move came without explanation, a day before a team of investigators from ICE headquarters in Washington and elsewhere was expected to arrive at the detention facility to look into the death last August of Chinese immigrant Hiu Lui Ng while he was in Wyatt custody [see INB 8/16/08]. [Providence Journal 12/9/08]


On Dec. 4, ICE agents raided Idaho Truss & Component Co., a wood framing company in Nampa, Idaho, just west of Boise, arresting 16 of the 22 workers present. The workers, all Mexican men, were expected to be placed into deportation proceedings for administrative immigration violations. ICE's investigation began with a tip from the public, said ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers. ICE then initiated an investigation after reviewing the employment records of individuals who were helping build military housing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, about 50 miles south of Boise. Further investigation revealed that some of the workers may have secured employment using false Social Security numbers and other counterfeit identity documents. The company had been providing information to ICE for the past several weeks, said Idaho Truss President Kendall Hoyd. ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Metro Violent Crimes and Gang Task Force based in Nampa and the US Postal Inspection Service. [ICE News Release 12/4/08; Idaho Statesman 12/5/08; Boise Weekly 12/10/08]

On Dec. 7 about 80 people took part in a vigil at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise to support the arrested workers and protest the raid. The vigil was organized by Idaho Community Action Network and Catholic Charities of Idaho. [AP 12/8/08 with info from Idaho Press-Tribune; Boise Weekly 12/10/08] On Dec. 8, a group of about 30 women from Mujeres Unidas de Idaho held a lunch meeting where they grilled two federal prosecutors and Don Buechner, the ICE agent in charge of Boise, about the raid. Buechner told the group that the investigation at Idaho Truss began with an encounter with two unauthorized laborers working at Mountain Home Air Force Base. ICE also received three letters from concerned citizens alleging that Idaho Truss was firing legal workers and hiring illegal workers. "Whether or not that's true or not, that sort of got us into investigating a little further," Buechner said. [Boise Weekly 12/10/08]

On Dec. 9, a federal grand jury in Boise indicted all 16 of the arrested workers on federal charges including possession of counterfeit alien registration receipt cards, misuse of Social Security numbers, and illegal entry or re-entry after deportation. Twelve of the workers immediately pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time served and returned to ICE custody for removal from the US. Three workers are scheduled to go on trial on Feb. 10, 2009 for reentry after deportation. One worker has not yet entered a plea. [ICE News Release 12/12/08; AP 12/12/08]


On Dec. 5, ICE agents arrested 25 workers on immigration violations in a raid on the Sanderson Farms poultry processing plant off of Highway 133 in Moultrie, Georgia, in Colquitt County. The arrested workers were from Guatemala and Mexico. Ten of the arrested workers were released because they were sole caregivers for small children. The other 25 posted bail and were released. All face deportation hearings. No action has been taken against Sanderson Farms; investigators say the company has been fully cooperative in the ongoing investigation. [Moultrie Observer 12/9/08; WALB News 12/7/08]


On Dec. 10, ICE agents arrested 15 immigrants who were employed as contract janitorial workers at the BP oil refinery in the town of Whiting in northern Indiana. ICE said the arrests stemmed from "a two-year critical infrastructure worksite enforcement investigation that is continuing." The 11 women and four men arrested on administrative immigration charges were all employed by United Building Maintenance (UBM) of Carol Stream, Illinois. One of the workers is from Guatemala; the others are from Mexico. All were expected to be placed into deportation proceedings. Each case is also being reviewed for possible criminal charges by the US Attorney's Office, Northern District of Indiana. Two former UBM employees from Mexico were arrested by ICE earlier this year after they were discovered working without authorization at the BP refinery; they are currently facing criminal prosecution in the Northern District of Indiana. "BP Corporate Security has been fully cooperative in the investigation and has provided invaluable assistance to ICE," according to an ICE news release. [ICE News Release 12/10/08]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)

ORDER "The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers," (2007, Monthly Review Press) by the editors of Immigration News Briefs and Weekly News Update on the Americas--for details see publisher website:
book website:
authors' blog:
or email the authors at

Sunday, November 30, 2008

INB 11/30/08: Raids Protested in Minnesota, Michigan

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 29 - November 30, 2008

1. Another South Dakota Dairy Raided
2. Raids Protested in Minnesota, Michigan
3. More "Fugitive" Raids: Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, PA, DE, NJ, NY
4. New Indictment in Agriprocessors Case
5. South Carolina Poultry Workers Plead Guilty

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at


On Nov. 21, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested five Latin American immigrant workers at a dairy farm near Hamlin County, South Dakota. According to officials from ICE and the Hamlin County Sheriff's office, four of the five workers face criminal identity theft charges for using social security numbers that were not their own to get jobs at the farm. The fifth worker, a woman, was taken into ICE custody on administrative immigration violations. Sheriff Dan Mack said the investigation began when the people tried to register vehicles with false Social Security numbers. [KELOLAND TV (Sioux Falls, SD) 11/24/08; AP 11/27/08 with info from the Watertown Public Opinion] The latest raid came less than a month after an Oct. 29 operation in which ICE agents arrested 27 people at several dairy farms in northeastern South Dakota [see INB 11/2/08].


On Oct. 24, about 60 people demonstrated in Minneapolis to protest a recent ICE sweep through southern Minnesota. The demonstration was called by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition. [The Militant Vol. 72/No. 44, 11/10/08] From Oct. 21 to 23, ICE Fugitive Operations Team members arrested 17 people in southern Minnesota's Watonwan County: 10 in the town of Madelia, five in St. James and one each in Butterfield and Lewisville. ICE also arrested two people in Windom, the county seat of neighboring Cottonwood County. Four of the 19 people arrested had been deported previously; five had prior criminal convictions. All 19 were from Latin American countries: 11 were from Mexico, six were from Honduras and one each were from Guatemala and El Salvador. [ICE News Release 10/24/08] ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said six of the 19 people arrested were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders; the other 13 were not being sought but were encountered during the sweep. Counts said several children were among those arrested; "This was because the immigration judge had ordered the entire family deported," he explained. [Minnesota Public Radio 10/24/08] Witnesses to the raids saw ICE agents knocking on the doors of neighboring homes and stopping and questioning people who were not specifically being sought. [The Militant Vol. 72/No. 44, 11/10/08]

In Lansing, Michigan, a group calling itself the No Human Is Illegal Network has formed in response to an ICE sweep that took place in October. The group seeks to educate people about how immigration raids are separating families. About 25 people gathered on Nov. 20 at the East Lansing Public Library for an event to raise awareness about the situation and also to raise money for the families affected by the raids. Immigrants "come here because they just want to work," said Maximo Anguiano, a retired Lansing firefighter and member of the No Human Is Illegal Network. "And most of them pay taxes." [Lansing State Journal 11/21/08] ICE agents arrested 64 people between Oct. 17 and Oct. 20 in the Lansing area; 40 were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders, while the other 24 were found to be present in the US without permission. [Michigan Messenger 10/24/08] The raids took place at the El Azteco restaurant in East Lansing and at an apartment building where undocumented workers were living, according to an article in the Lansing City Pulse. [Lansing City Pulse 11/5/08]


In a five-day operation that ended Nov. 21, ICE agents arrested 104 people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Among those arrested were 94 "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders. Of the 104 people arrested, 23 had prior criminal convictions. [ICE News Release 11/25/08]

In Florida, ICE arrested 71 immigrants in a five-day operation that ended Nov. 21. Sixty were "fugitives"; 18 had criminal histories. ICE agents arrested 33 people in Miami-Dade; 17 in Broward; five in Palm Beach; seven in Orlando and nine in Tampa. ICE released 21 people under supervision as part of the Alternatives to Detention Program because they were verified to be sole caregivers or had medical concerns. The other 49 people were being detained by ICE. Those arrested came from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Peru, Cuba, Honduras, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Jamaica, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Uruguay, and Belgium. [ICE News Release 11/26/08]

Between Nov. 19 and 22, ICE agents worked with federal, state and local officials to arrest 80 people in the Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff areas of north central Arizona. Only 14 of the 80 people arrested were "fugitives" who had ignored final deportation orders or who had returned to the US after being deported. Two of the 80 people arrested had criminal records. Most of those arrested were from Mexico; some were from Guatemala. The sweep was carried out by an interagency task force led by ICE. The other agencies participating in the raids were the US Marshals Service, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office and the Prescott Valley, Sedona and Prescott police departments. [News Release from ICE & Yavapai County Sheriff's Office 11/24/08]

From Oct. 14 to Oct. 26, ICE fugitive operations teams based in Philadelphia arrested 99 immigrants in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Only 37 of those arrested were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation; 14 of them had criminal records. The other 62 people were picked up for being out of status; 27 of them had criminal records. In New Jersey during the same Oct. 14-26 period, ICE arrested 145 "fugitives" (including 65 with criminal records) and 44 out-of-status immigrants (including 22 with criminal histories). In New York City, ICE agents arrested 90 "fugitives" (including 46 with criminal histories) and six other out-of-status immigrants (all with criminal histories) over the same period. [ICE News Release 10/27/08]


In a 12-count indictment issued Nov. 20 and unsealed Nov. 21 in US District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the former CEO and three managers of the Agriprocessors kosher meat company were charged with new counts in connection with the hiring of unauthorized workers at the company's plant in Postville, Iowa. The case is based on allegations that a top manager provided cash for workers to obtain false documents and that lower level supervisors helped employees get new paperwork [see INB 11/16/08].

The new indictment includes three defendants who haven't previously faced federal charges in the case: operations manager Brent Beebe and poultry managers Hosam Amara and Zeev Levi. Beebe, Amara and Levi are each charged with conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants for profit, harboring unauthorized immigrants for profit, conspiracy to commit document fraud and aiding and abetting document fraud. Beebe is also charged with six counts and Amara and Levi with one count each of identity theft, according to the indictment. Beebe was arrested on Nov. 21 at the Postville plant and pleaded not guilty in court the same day. Beebe's trial has been scheduled for Jan. 20, and he has been placed under travel restrictions and fitted with an electronic monitoring device that prohibit him from leaving Iowa. Warrants have been issued for Amara and Levi; their whereabouts are unknown.

Former CEO Sholom Rubashkin is charged in the new indictment with harboring unauthorized immigrants for profit and conspiracy to commit document fraud. He was previously charged with conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants for profit, aiding and abetting document fraud, six counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft and two counts of bank fraud. Also included in the new indictment is human resource employee Karina Freund, who faces a new charge of conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants for profit. She was previously charged with harboring. Rubashkin and Freund have a trial date set for Jan. 20. Freund has been released with an electronic monitoring device. On Nov. 20, US Magistrate Judge Jon S. Scoles ordered Rubashkin detained without bail until trial. [The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)11/21/08; AP 11/21/08; ICE News Release 11/21/08]


On Nov. 19 in Greenville, South Carolina, 12 immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras pleaded guilty in federal court to immigration and identity fraud charges in connection with an federal investigation into hiring practices at the Columbia Farms poultry plant in Greenville [see INB 9/7/08, 10/21/08]. Those pleading guilty on Nov. 19 included Nain Zarate-Camarero and Victor Cruz-Soto, who were arrested outside the plant in July. Three workers who pleaded guilty on Nov. 19 to misusing social security numbers were among 331 people arrested in an Oct. 7 raid of the plant. Seven former plant workers pleaded guilty on Nov. 19 to reentering the US illegally after having been previously deported. [Greenville News 11/20/08]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)

ORDER "The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers," (2007, Monthly Review Press) by the editors of Immigration News Briefs and Weekly News Update on the Americas--for details see publisher website:
book website:
authors' blog:
or email the authors at

Saturday, November 22, 2008

INB 11/22/08: Iowa Restaurants Raided; Colorado Tax Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 28 - November 22, 2008

1. Chinese Restaurants Raided in Iowa
2. Colorado: Local Raids Target Tax Filers
3. Border Patrol Raids Vermont Worksite
4. NJ: 33 Arrested in "Gang" Raids
5. "Gang" Raids in California, Wisconsin
6. Raided Massachusetts Firm Settles Wage Suit
7. McDonald's Franchise Managers Sentenced
8. Long Island Youths Charged in Killing of Immigrant
9. WA: Detention Guards Hired Without Background Checks

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at


On Nov. 18, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested four workers in raids on Peony Chinese Restaurants in Vinton and Toledo, Iowa. The same family owns both restaurants. Two men from Mexico were arrested at the Toledo restaurant; one man from Mexico and one from China were arrested at the Vinton restaurant. All four face administrative immigration violations for being in the country illegally, said ICE spokesperson Tim Counts from the ICE office in Minneapolis. A hearing has not yet been scheduled before a federal immigration judge to determine whether the men will be deported. Counts said the enforcement actions were part of an ongoing investigation. "A 'raid' denotes something random or chaotic--this is neither," said Counts.

State patrol assigned three troopers to Benton and Tama Counties to help ICE. During the raid at the Peony restaurant near the Benton County Courthouse in Vinton, four Iowa State Patrol squad cars and one Vinton police car were parked outside. [The Gazette (Cedar Rapids) 11/18/08; Daily Iowan (University of Iowa student newspaper, Iowa City) 11/20/08]


On Nov. 12 and 13, sheriff's deputies in Weld County, Colorado arrested 13 people in "Operation Number Games," a round-up of suspects who allegedly filed tax returns using suspicious Social Security numbers. Two more suspects were arrested in the sweep on Nov. 14. The suspects were identified from information uncovered in an Oct. 17 search of Amalia's Translation and Tax Services, a business in Greeley that primarily serves immigrants. As of Nov. 14, the District Attorney's office had presented a total of 98 cases. Deputies said they were continuing to search for suspects named on warrants while they wait for a judge to act on additional warrant requests. The investigation is expected to last for a year or more, with possibly more than 1,300 arrests. Weld District Attorney Ken Buck said he believes a majority of the suspects will ultimately be charged with felony criminal impersonation rather than the more serious charge of identity theft.

The raids follow the Aug. 13 arrest of Servando Trejo, a Mexican immigrant who had used the Social Security number of a Texas resident. Trejo told a Weld County Sheriff's Office detective that he bought the ID in Texas after he crossed the border in 1995. He used the ID to get jobs, obtain loans, get a Colorado driver's license and pay taxes, which in recent years he filed through Amalia's Translation and Tax Services. According to Trejo's arrest affidavit, Amalia Cerrillo told authorities she helped Trejo and other clients who came in with false Social Security numbers apply for Individual Tax Identification Numbers from the Internal Revenue Service, and then helped them file tax returns which typically showed both numbers. Investigators said they believe many of the people who filed returns received more money in refunds than they paid in taxes.

Authorities obtained a search warrant for Amalia's by arguing they had probable cause to suspect more potential identity thieves had tax records on file there. The warrant only allowed them to seize 2006 and 2007 records, but in the Oct. 17 search at Amalia's the sheriff's deputies ended up seizing the tax returns of more than 4,000 people dating to 2000. "In looking there, they found other returns that violated the law, in their opinion, so that allowed them to take other returns as a result of them being in plain view," explained Buck. [Greeley Tribune Via Acquire Media NewsEdge 11/14/08; Greeley Tribune 11/15/08]


On Nov. 13, Border Patrol agents arrested five immigrant workers outside the Handy Suites Hotel in Essex Junction, Vermont. The workers were staying at the hotel and working on a construction site across the street for a new Lowe's home improvement store. A Border Patrol unit showed up at the site after receiving a tip. "We encountered these five subjects in the parking lot [and] determined yes in fact they were illegal in the United States," said Special Operations Supervisor Brad Curtis. "Once they're done being processed, they'll be moved over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and they will be put in deportation proceedings," Curtis added. [WFFF News (Burlington) 11/13/08] Construction workers told Channel 3 News that the five immigrants were drywall workers employed by Kal-Vin Construction of Hudson, New Hampshire. Border Patrol agents arrested 14 undocumented construction workers last October near the Lowe's construction site in South Burlington. [WCAX News (Burlington) 11/13/08]


On Nov. 18, ICE agents arrested 33 people in the New Jersey towns of Butler (Morris County) and Bloomingdale (Passaic County) in a sweep targeting people whom local police suspect have been taking part in gang activity, according to ICE spokesperson Harold Ort. ICE identified 12 of the 33 people arrested as violent gang members, six of whom have criminal records in New Jersey, Ort said. The gang members belong to the Mexican Latin Kings and Sureno 13, said Ort. The 31 men and two women arrested were sent to county jails in Middlesex, Hudson and Essex counties; ICE spokesperson Michael Gilhooly said that ICE may decide to transfer them to jails in other states. All those arrested will go before an immigration judge for removal proceedings, Gilhooly said.

"These numbers reveal that about a third of the arrests were [of alleged] gang members, and presumably the [other people arrested] were swept up in dragnets," said Bassina Farbenblum, an attorney with Seton Hall Law School's Center for Social Justice. "The fact that they are labeled by ICE as gang members doesn't necessarily mean they are gang members," she said.

"The government has not been forthcoming with information about the raids or the policies underlying them," said Farbenblum. "We've heard so many reports of unconstitutional practices.... The public has a right to know how [the raids] are being conducted, what the priorities are, whether they're relying on accurate data or whether this is just a waste of resources." The Seton Hall Center for Social Justice filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in December 2007, asking ICE for information pertinent to New Jersey immigration arrests dating back to 2006.

Ort said ICE and local agencies spent more than two months investigating the targeted individuals, including doing surveillance. Ort admitted that none of the suspects committed crimes during that period, and none were picked up on arrest warrants. Authorities seized $10,000 in the sweep, as well as photographs and cell phone images of suspects flashing gang signs, said Ort.

Pastor Steven Bechtold of the Butler United Methodist Church said two of the people arrested in the raids--a man and a woman--are members of his congregation. "Both people are active church attenders who come to worship every week," Bechtold said. "They are active in our Bible study group. They volunteer around the church--sometimes it's doing outside lawn work, washing dishes for dinners. We had very positive experiences." [Star Ledger (Newark) 11/20/08]


On Nov. 19, a task force of more than 60 federal and local law enforcement personnel conducted a pre-dawn raid targeting gang members at 28 locations in the Newhall and Canyon Country sections of Santa Clarita, in Los Angeles County. Agencies participating in the sweep included ICE, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station's Detective Bureau, the City of Santa Clarita/Sheriff's COBRA Unit and the Community Interaction Team (CIT), the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Los Angeles County Department of Probation. A total of 21 people were arrested: four were booked on new criminal charges at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station; 15 were transported by ICE to downtown Los Angeles to face immigration proceedings; and two are being presented to the US Attorney's Office for prosecution on federal felony charges of re-entering the country after deportation. [Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Press Release 11/19/08 via SCVTV; Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek) 11/19/08]

On Nov. 19, federal, state and local authorities arrested 11 alleged "gang members and associates," all of them unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, in a multi-agency sweep in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said the operation targeted the Surenos 13 street gang. One of the 11 immigrants was turned over to federal prosecutors to face charges of re-entering the US after having been deported. Two others were turned over to the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department to face outstanding criminal charges. ICE placed detainers on the two to ensure they are returned to ICE custody for deportation when the criminal proceedings end. The other eight people arrested are in ICE custody pending deportation. [AP 11/20/08; AP 11/21/08 from WGTD-FM]


The manufacturing company Michael Bianco, Inc. has agreed to pay $850,000 to settle a federal class action lawsuit over unpaid overtime and wages at its former factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The settlement includes $613,000 in unpaid wages to be distributed to 764 workers, including some of the 361 immigrant workers who were arrested in an ICE raid at the factory on Mar. 6, 2007 [see INB 3/9/07]. Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), which has provided free counsel to more than 100 of the arrested workers, announced the settlement at a Nov. 18 press conference. GBLS joined with South Coastal Counties Legal Services and attorney Philip Gordon of the Gordon Law Group in filing the lawsuit last year in federal district court in Boston.

The lawsuit charged that Bianco "systematically and intentionally violated the laws requiring time-and-a-half for overtime work by creating a sham second corporation called Front Line Defense Inc." Employees who worked more than eight hours on the same day were required to clock out of day shifts at 5pm from Michael Bianco Inc. and clock back in for evening shifts at 5:30pm with Front Line, the suit alleged. The workers received separate paychecks from Bianco and Front Line. Audrey Richardson, a senior attorney at GBLS, said workers had sought overtime before the raid, but former Bianco owner Francesco Insolia had made it "crystal clear" that he would not pay overtime. In addition to the overtime pay, the settlement requires Bianco to pay wages withheld from workers who were as little as one minute late for work, according to GBLS. The lawsuit alleged that workers were routinely docked 15 to 30 minutes of pay because they had waited in long lines to punch in for work due to an insufficient number of time clocks.

The settlement covers the six named plaintiffs--one current and five former Bianco employees--and all employees who worked for Michael Bianco and/or Front Line Defense between 2004 and March 2007 . The US Department of Labor will supervise and administer the $613,000 in restitution payments to 764 workers, who will receive payments ranging from less than $20 to more than $8,000, depending on the length of employment at the plant and the number of overtime hours worked, said Richardson. Most workers will receive between $1,000 and $5,000. The settlement covers employees who are authorized to work and those who lack work authorization; Richardson noted that federal laws governing payment of wages and overtime cover all workers regardless of their immigration status. The six plaintiffs named in the lawsuit will receive a bonus of $2,000 each for their courage in testifying, Richardson said.

The settlement also includes money for community groups in New Bedford that support and organize immigrant workers, and partial compensation for attorneys' fees and costs incurred by legal services groups representing the workers. GBLS and Organization Maya K'iche, a New Bedford advocacy group for Guatemalan Mayans, will assist in locating eligible workers and distributing checks. The groups have kept in touch with many of the workers who were deported and will work with family members to track down other workers, said Richardson. According to ICE, of 361 Bianco workers arrested in the raid, 168 have been deported; 116 have cases pending in immigration court; 26 have received final deportation orders; and 16 have had their legal status adjusted, allowing them to remain in the US. The situation of the other 35 workers was unclear. [Standard-Times (New Bedford) 11/19/08; Boston Globe 11/19/08; GBLS Press Release 11/18/08]

On Nov. 3, the US Attorney's office in Boston announced that Michael Bianco Inc. had pleaded guilty to criminal charges of hiring and harboring unauthorized immigrants, fraudulently misrepresenting social security numbers and failing to pay overtime. In the same plea agreement, Insolia, the company's president and principal shareholder, pleaded guilty to helping harbor and conceal unauthorized immigrants by allowing the company to submit false social security numbers to the government as if they were real. Insolia accepted a prison term of 12 to 18 months and a fine of $30,000. The company will have to pay a fine of approximately $1.5 million and another $460,000 in restitution for the overtime owed to employees. The restitution in the criminal case will be put toward the settlement of the class action lawsuit. On Oct. 24, Dilia Costa, production manager for Michael Bianco Inc., pleaded guilty to charges of hiring and harboring unauthorized immigrants. The company's contracts administrator, Gloria Melo, pleaded guilty on Oct. 24 to one count of continuing to employ unauthorized workers after the company had reason to know they were unauthorized.

The criminal case against Michael Bianco Inc. was investigated by ICE with assistance from the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, the Department of Defense's Criminal Investigative Service, the US Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General, the US Department of Labor - Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts and the US Postal Inspection Service. [ICE News Release 11/3/08; Standard-Times 11/19/08; Boston Globe 11/19/08]

Eagle Industries Inc. purchased the former Bianco plant in New Bedford in November 2007 and took over the company's Department of Defense contracts to make military equipment for US troops. [Standard-Times 11/19/08]


During the week of Nov. 10, US District Court Judge James Mahan sentenced one current and one former top executive of Mack Associates Inc., a firm that owns 11 McDonald's restaurants in the Reno, Nevada area, to three years of probation each for systematically employing unauthorized immigrant workers. Jimmy Moore, the former vice president of Mack Associates, pleaded guilty to one felony count of inducing an unauthorized immigrant to remain in the US; Moore was also sentenced to 40 hours of community service. Joe Gillespie, director of operations for the firm, pleaded guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting an alien to remain in the US. Anntoinette Richmond, the controller for Mack Associates, and Teresa Theiss, a former payroll clerk for the company, were each previously sentenced to 90 hours of community service and fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count each of continuing employment of an unauthorized alien. The sentences were part of a July 16 plea agreement under which Mack Associates agreed to pay a $1 million fine and was placed on probation for one year.

Plea agreements and documents filed in the case show that executives of Mack Associates knowingly hired unauthorized immigrants and supplied them with false identities in an effort to retain long-term employees, especially restaurant managers. Sometimes, the fake identities were of living or dead acquaintances of the firm's workers, according to the documents. Luther Mack, owner of Mack Associates, was not charged. The case came to light on Sept. 27, 2007 when ICE agents executed federal search warrants and arrested 58 immigrants working at 11 Reno area McDonald's restaurants operated by Mack Associates [see INB 9/30/07]. At least 30 of the 58 workers arrested in that raid have since been deported. The remaining workers were provided with documentation allowing them to remain in the US pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. [Reno Gazette Journal 11/20/08; US Department of Justice Press Release 7/16/08 via Reuters]


On Nov. 20, six teenagers were arraigned in Suffolk County Criminal Court on multiple counts of gang assault and hate crimes in connection with the Nov. 8 killing of Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero in the community of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. A grand jury indictment unsealed on Nov. 20 lays out additional charges against the same defendants for earlier crimes targeting Latin American immigrants. The judge set bail for five of the youths at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond; bail was denied to a sixth defendant who has a prior felony conviction for a 2007 burglary in which an East Patchogue man was killed. A seventh teenager, 17-year-old Jeffrey Conroy, is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 24 on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter as a hate crime; Conroy is accused of stabbing Lucero in the chest, killing him. All seven teens have pleaded not guilty in the attack on Lucero.

One of the defendants, 17-year-old Jose Pacheco, was described by the New York Times as being half African-American and half Puerto Rican. The other six youths are white. Suffolk County district attorney Thomas J. Spota said three of the defendants--including Pacheco--went out driving five days before Lucero was killed with the intent of, in their words, "beaner hopping." They found a Hispanic man that day whom Pacheco admitted to punching and knocking out cold, Spota said. That man has not stepped forward. According to Spota, Pacheco later told the police, "I don't go out and do this very often, maybe once a week." [New York Times 11/20/08]

Another defendant in the case, 17-year-old Jordan Dasch, is apparently of Jewish heritage. In his page on the social networking website MySpace, Dasch featured an image of a Jewish star with a Nazi swastika embedded in the middle, and laughingly referred to himself as a "Nazi Jew," according to information posted on the website of Long Island WINS, an immigrant rights organization that managed to download the page before it was removed from MySpace. [New York Jewish Week 11/22/08; Long Island WINS Blog Post 11/10/08]

Lucero's killing has sparked numerous vigils and protests in Long Island and beyond. More than 1,000 people gathered to honor Lucero in Patchogue on Nov. 14. [Newsday (LI) 11/14/08] Also on Nov. 14, more than 30 people gathered with candles and signs in the community of Nanuet, in Rockland County, New York. [Journal News (Westchester County) 11/15/08] On Nov. 21, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Manhattan office of New York governor David Paterson to mourn Lucero's death and demand the resignation of Suffolk County executive Steve Levy, who is accused of stirring up hate on Long Island with his outspoken stance against undocumented immigrants. [NY1 News 11/22/08]

In Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, three teenagers charged in connection with the fatal beating last July of Mexican immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala appeared in court on Nov. 13 and asked Schuylkill County judge William E. Baldwin to dismiss charges against them or have them tried separately. Baldwin took the defendants' requests under advisement but did not indicate when he would rule. Schuylkill County detectives say that the three youths, along with a fourth teenager who is charged as a juvenile, yelled racial epithets as they beat Ramirez on July 12. Ramirez was hospitalized and died from his injuries on July 16. Two of the three defendants face third-degree murder charges; another is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, criminal solicitation/hindering apprehension or prosecution, ethnic intimidation, corruption of minors, purchase or consumption of alcohol by a minor and selling or furnishing alcohol to minors. All three are free on bail pending further court action. Immigrant rights groups have continued to protest and attend hearings in Shenandoah to demand justice for Ramirez. [Republican Herald (Pottsville, PA) 11/14/08]


During the week of Nov. 3, Sylvia Wong, an administrator in charge of hiring at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, pleaded guilty in federal court in Tacoma to one count of making a false statement. Wong acknowledged lying to federal investigators about her failure to perform background checks when hiring guards for the privately-run immigration jail; she is due to be sentenced in February and faces a maximum of six months in prison.

The Northwest Detention Center opened in 2004 and holds about 1,000 people accused of immigration violations, mainly detainees from Alaska, Oregon and Washington. It is operated for profit by the Florida-based GEO Group Inc. (formerly Wackenhut).

In her plea agreement, Wong admitted that soon after starting work in November 2005, she began hiring guards without background checks "because of the pressure she felt to get security personnel hired at the NWDC as quickly as possible." ICE auditors discovered early in 2008 that 92 security guards were hired without background checks at the Tacoma; ICE didn't catch the practice for two years, court documents show. ICE acknowledges that some of the guards were fired after subsequent background checks. ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers refused to say how many guards were fired, but she insisted the number was small, and that the agency has now "implemented a multitiered vetting process ... so that no contractor or federal employee has sole responsibility to process and approve employment documents." [AP 11/7/08]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)

ORDER "The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers," (2007, Monthly Review Press) by the editors of Immigration News Briefs and Weekly News Update on the Americas--for details see publisher website:
book website:
authors' blog:
or email the authors at

Sunday, November 16, 2008

INB 11/16/08: Raids Protested in Ohio; Iowa Meat Plant Raided Again

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 27 - November 16, 2008

1. Raids Protested in Ohio
2. Iowa Meat Plant Raided Again
3. Election Week Raid in Florida
4. NJ: Detainee Escapes, Others Moved

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at


On Oct. 30, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested two workers at the Casa Fiesta restaurant in Oberlin, Ohio. Two employees of the Casa Fiesta restaurant in Fremont and one employee of Casa Fiesta in Ashland were also taken into custody on Oct. 30, said ICE spokesperson Mike Gilhooly. It was the second raid at the local restaurant chain in less than 100 days; on July 23 ICE agents arrested 58 Mexican workers at eight Casa Fiesta restaurants in northern Ohio, including five workers at the restaurant in Oberlin. The Fremont and Ashland restaurants were also among those raided on July 23 [see INB 8/10/08].

On Nov. 8, about 50 people held a candlelight vigil at Tappan Square in Oberlin to protest the latest raid; about 100 people attended a similar vigil in Oberlin following the July raid. La Alianza Latina, a nonprofit student group at Oberlin College, plans to form a rapid response team to stage peaceful protests and provide legal observation when raids happen, said the group's secretary, Cindy Camacho. "People...should not have to be afraid in the place where they live and work," said Camacho.

La Alianza Latina has been working with community leaders and the Immigrant Worker Project to draft a resolution proposing that the city of Oberlin establish a non-cooperation policy with federal immigration authorities. [Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) 11/8/08, 11/9/08] Oberlin's Human Relations Commission has recommended that the city council adopt the resolution as law; City Manager Eric Norenberg said it would enable all Oberlin residents to seek help from the police or fire department without fear of being turned over to immigration officials. "If Immigration comes to town, the city and the police force would not assist them unless ordered to by law or the court," Norenberg explained. "To me, it's important that our city residents trust us." [Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 11/13/08]

"Oberlin has an historic precedent for this," said Mark Fahringer, chair of the Catholic Action Commission of Lorain County. "They stood up to the slave-hunters with the Oberlin Rescue because the city was part of the Underground Railroad. That's the heritage we have here, and we have a responsibility to live up to it." [Chronicle-Telegram 11/9/08]


ICE agents returned to the Agriprocessors Inc. kosher meat processing plant in the small town of Postville, Iowa on Nov. 4 and arrested one suspected unauthorized worker, an ICE official said. Agents remained at the plant following the arrest, and frightened plant employees and their families quickly fled to the sanctuary of St. Bridget's Catholic Church, which has been providing support to Postville's immigrant population since ICE agents arrested 389 workers at the plant on May 12 [see INB 6/2/08]. "It's appalling that the federal agents chose today, Election Day, to spread fear amongst the residents of Postville," said Marissa Graciosa, director of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement. [Postville is in a mainly rural area in northeastern Iowa. Throughout northeastern Iowa, voters
overwhelmingly supported Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Nov. 4.] [Des Moines Register 11/5/08]

Agriprocessors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Nov. 4, prompting the cancellation of a hearing scheduled for Nov. 5 in US District Court in Cedar Rapids, where the company was to face its biggest lender, First Bank of St. Louis. Agriprocessors owes at least $33 million to First Bank. The bank is seeking to foreclose on the Postville plant and appoint a third party to oversee the company's assets.

The bankruptcy filing says Agriprocessors owes between 200 and 999 creditors. The company owes $845,390 to the Des Moines-based labor company Jacobson Staffing, which had served as its human-resources and recruitment arm. During the last week of October, Jacobson suspended its relationship with Agriprocessors and pulled out its 450 employees, leaving the slaughterhouse with about 250 workers. [AP 11/5/08; Houston Chronicle 11/5/08]

By Nov. 12, all but about 25 of 200 workers who came to the plant from the island nation of Palau had left Postville, said Joanne Obak, one of the Palau workers. The remaining workers from Palau, including Obak, all planned to leave soon. The plant has not processed beef in about two weeks, and shifts in the chicken and turkey departments have been cut back to eight hours a day, workers said. "[T]hose who still have jobs can't make it on eight hours a day," Obak explained. Jeff Abbas, manager of local radio station KPVL, said buses arrived on Nov. 12 to take away the last of the Agriprocessors workers hired by Jacobson Staffing and another recruitment firm, One Force Staffing. [The Gazette (Cedar Rapids) 11/13/08]

On Oct. 30, ICE agents arrested Agriprocessors former chief executive Sholom Rubashkin at his home in Postville. In a criminal complaint unsealed Oct. 30 in US District Court in Cedar Rapids, Rubashkin was charged with conspiring to harbor unauthorized immigrants for commercial gain, aiding and abetting document fraud, and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. Rubashkin was released on $1 million bail after a hearing; he faces a maximum of 22 years in prison if convicted on the federal charges.

According to the complaint, in the days before the raid, plant managers told many workers they would have to present valid identity documents or be fired. Two floor supervisors said they asked Rubashkin for a $4,500 loan to "help the employees who were to be terminated"; Rubashkin allegedly agreed to the cash loan on May 9. One supervisor said he loaned $200 each to about a dozen workers, who paid a line supervisor to buy fake documents. On May 11, the complaint charges, human resources managers worked all day under Rubashkin's supervision to fill out job applications for workers with new fake documents. [New York Times 10/31/08; Wall Street Journal 10/31/08; Washington Post 10/31/08; ICE News Release 10/30/08]

Agriprocessors supervisor Juan Carlos Guerrero-Espinoza pleaded guilty on Aug. 20 to conspiring to hire and aiding and abetting the hiring of unauthorized workers. Another supervisor, Martin de la Rosa, pleaded guilty to harboring charges on Aug. 27. [ICE News Release 8/27/08] The two supervisors were arrested at the plant on July 3 [see INB 7/5/08]. Agriprocessors human resources manager and payroll supervisor Laura Louise Althouse pleaded guilty on Oct. 29 to conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants for financial gain and aggravated identity theft. [ICE News Release 10/29/08] Althouse and human resources manager Karina Freund were arrested in September. Freund, a Spanish translator who helped process work papers, is charged with aiding and abetting unauthorized immigrants. [AP 10/30/08]

On Oct. 16 ICE spokesperson Tim Counts announced that 18 former Agriprocessors workers who were arrested in the May 12 raid had completed their five-month prison sentences for false document convictions at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami and had been released under supervision--with GPS electronic monitors on their ankles--to act as witnesses against Althouse and Freund. Less than a week after the workers completed their prison terms, federal agents had obtained warrants to hold them as material witnesses in the case; a federal judge then ordered that the workers be released with supervision. All 18 workers returned to Postville, where they are to remain for as long as federal prosecutors need them. They are eligible for work permits but will still face deportation after their cooperation is no longer needed. Court papers identified two of the workers as witnesses in the Freund case; the other 16 were listed as witnesses against Althouse. [It was unclear how Althouse's Oct. 29 guilty plea may have affected their situation.] Robert Teig, assistant US attorney for the northern district of Iowa, said his office planned to call as additional witnesses another 13 immigrants who had just finished federal prison sentences in Tallahassee and Miami. Tim Counts said ICE has asked US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to fast-track the immigrants' applications for work permits so they can find jobs. [Des Moines Register 10/17/08]

On Oct. 29, Iowa labor authorities levied $10 million in fines against Agriprocessors for wage violations. About $9.6 million of the fines were for 96,436 illegal deductions totaling $192,597, taken from the paychecks of 2,001 workers for protective clothing that packinghouse workers were required to wear. Iowa inspectors assessed fines at $100 per incident. Agriprocessors was also fined $339,700 for illegally deducting more than $72,000 from the paychecks of 1,073 workers for "sales tax." The company also failed to give final paychecks to 42 workers arrested in the raid, and owes $264,786 in back wages, Iowa officials said. The fines cover violations from January 2006 through June 2008. [NYT 10/29/08]

On Sept. 9, the Iowa attorney general charged several Agriprocessors officials including Sholom Rubashkin and his father, Agriprocessors founder Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, with 9,311 misdemeanor violations of state child labor laws. The charges allege that Agriprocessors illegally hired 32 minors--including seven who were not yet 16 years old at the time--over the eight months prior to the May 12 raid, exposed the youths to dangerous chemicals and allowed them to operate meat grinders, circular saws and other heavy machinery. [WP 10/31/08; NYT 9/10/08]

The Oct. 30 arrest of Sholom Rubashkin appeared designed to appease those who had criticized the May 12 ICE raid in Postville as punishing the plant's workers and not the employer. "Today, we are seeing concrete accountability in Postville, though it should not have taken the destruction of a town and cost more than five million taxpayer dollars to get here," said US Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois who is a strong supporter of immigrants' rights. [WP 10/31/08] Rubashkin's arrest came a day after the New York Times reported: "No federal charges have been brought against senior managers and owners of Agriprocessors." [NYT 10/29/08]


In a five-day operation from Nov. 3 through Nov. 7--the week of the Nov. 4 presidential elections--ICE arrested 96 "immigration fugitives" and 15 "immigration violators" in southern and central Florida. ICE made 43 arrests in Miami-Dade County, 23 in Broward County, 13 in Palm Beach County, 16 in Orlando and 16 in Tampa. [The raids, announced on Nov. 7, were all in areas where Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain.] Of the total 111 people arrested, 20 had criminal records. ICE released 42 people under supervision (presumably with electronic ankle monitors) as part of the Alternatives to Detention Program after verifying that they were sole caregivers or had medical concerns. The other 69 people remained in ICE custody as of Nov. 7. Those arrested were from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Peru, Cuba, Honduras, Argentina, Dominica, Guyana, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Tunisia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, China, Jamaica, Romania, and El Salvador. [ICE News Release 11/7/08; Miami Herald 11/8/08]

On Nov. 6, Florida activists urged President-Elect Obama to call a moratorium on ICE raids until Congress passes an immigration reform bill that includes a path to legalization. Obama's office responded that "our position is well-known" and that Obama's commitment "to immigration reform and all the important issues for Latinos in the US still stands." [New California Media 11/9/08]


On Oct. 25, immigration detainee Mamadou Bah escaped from Delaney Hall, a private detention facility in Newark, New Jersey which was holding 120 immigration detainees under contract with the federal government. Essex County corrections director Scott Faunce would not comment on how Bah was able to get out of the facility. ICE spokesperson in Newark Harold Ort said Bah had been turned over to the immigration agency after being convicted of fraud in Essex County, and that he was picked up by an ICE fugitive unit in Kentucky four days after his escape. Ort declined to disclose Bah's country of origin. Essex County officials have moved the remaining immigration detainees to the county jail and will keep them there while investigators from the county and ICE review the circumstances of the escape. Delaney Hall began taking federal detainees earlier this year under contract with ICE and the US Marshals Service, which pay the facility $105 a day for each detainee, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. [Star-Ledger 11/2/08]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)

ORDER "The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers," (2007, Monthly Review Press) by the editors of Immigration News Briefs and Weekly News Update on the Americas--for details see publisher website:
book website:
authors' blog:
or email the authors at