Friday, December 29, 2006

INB 12/29/06: Chicago Activists Harassed, Kids Protest in DC

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 45 - December 29, 2006

1. Chicago Activists Harassed
2. Kids Protest in DC
3. RICO Lawsuit Targets Swift

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Dec. 15, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested Mexican immigrant Martin Barrios on an outstanding deportation order at his home in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn, Illinois. A spokesperson from Centro Sin Fronteras, a Chicago-based immigrant rights group, said Barrios was arrested around 6:30 am while still in his pajamas, in front of his US citizen wife and their three US-born children. Barrios has lived in the US for 18 years; he was ordered deported after a legal representative improperly filed an application to adjust his status.

Barrios went public with his story last April, granting an interview to the Chicago Sun-Times. At the time, he was hopeful about a bill sponsored by US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) that would have allowed him and 35 other Illinois residents with "mixed status" families to remain in the US. That bill has not passed. Barrios' wife, Araceli Barrios, declined comment on Dec. 18, noting that her husband lost his job after the Sun-Times interview came out.

ICE spokesperson Gail Montenegro said Martin Barrios has "exhausted all opportunities for appeals," but was being held at Dodge County Detention Facility in Juneau, Wisconsin, pending a last-minute request from Chicago's Mexican Consulate to review his legal records for any basis for a final appeal. "From our standpoint, he's here in defiance of an outstanding deportation order," she said. [Chicago Sun-Times 12/19/06, 12/21/06]

In a Dec. 27 press release, Centro Sin Fronteras said it fears that ICE may also be planning to arrest Elvira Arellano, an activist who has been resisting deportation from the sanctuary of the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood since Aug. 15 [see INB 8/19/06]. According to church pastor Rev. Walter Coleman, neighborhood residents saw US Marshals taking photos on the night of Dec. 26, "behind the church in the alley and across the street in front of the church." "I can only assume that the photos are part of routine to execute a warrant to enter the church building in pursuit of a fugitive," Coleman said. "Evidently ICE is continuing its pattern of end-of-year high-profile raids," said Coleman, referring to the agency's Dec. 12 arrests of 1,282 workers at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in six states [see INB 12/15/06].

Centro Sin Fronteras issued a "red alert" on Dec. 27, calling on supporters to continue pressuring federal officials to declare a moratorium on raids and deportations until immigration reform legislation is passed. [Chicago Sun-Times 12/27/06; AP 12/29/06] Church members said they would resume a 24-hour vigil that includes prayer and standing watch at windows and doors and from the rooftop. The church's glass doors are kept chained and covered with heavy curtains. Coleman said church members wouldn't resist in the event of a raid. "We are going to pray; that is the only weapon we have," he said.

Mark Gregoline, deputy US marshal for northern Illinois, said on Dec. 27 that his agency is not involved in the case. ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok denied that ICE was involved in any surveillance at the site. [AP 12/29/06]


About 30 activists from Chicago, including 15 US citizen children whose parents are facing deportation or have already been deported, arrived in Washington by bus on Dec. 21 to urge President George W. Bush to declare a moratorium on raids and deportations until Congress approves an immigration reform plan. The protest also drew attention to the situation of hundreds of children whose parents were among workers detained in the Dec. 12 ICE raids at Swift meatpacking plants.

The activists from Chicago's Adalberto United Methodist Church, Centro Sin Fronteras and other organizations held a noon press conference and prayers at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill, then walked to the White House for a three-hour prayer vigil, bearing signs of protest, symbols of Christmas and an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The kids chanted: "Born in the USA, don't send my mommy and my daddy away."

The protesters asked Bush to stay the deportation of Chicago activist Martin Barrios, scheduled for Dec. 22. Among the children who spoke to reporters were Barrios' two youngest children, as well as Saul "Saulito" Arellano, the eight-year-old son of Elvira Arellano, who is living with her in sanctuary at the church and has become a spokesperson for the movement to stop the deportations. [United Methodist Reporter 12/21/06; Notimex 12/21/06]


On Dec. 15, a group of 18 former employees at Swift & Co. filed a $23 million lawsuit charging the company with conspiring to keep wages down by hiring undocumented workers. The plaintiffs are all naturalized US citizens or legal residents of Latin American origin who worked at the Swift plant in Cactus, Texas. [EFE 12/21/06] The lawsuit uses the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) in charging Swift with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy to manipulate commerce. "When the Swift plant opened in Cactus, wages were approximately $20 an hour," plaintiffs' attorney Michael Heygood told reporters in Texas. "Now, the average wage is approximately $12 to $13 an hour." [Washington Times 12/19/06] Several union officials said Swift began improving its wages, benefits and bonuses in the weeks before the raids. "They're trying to staff up their plants and they've been raising their wages the past few weeks," said United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) spokesperson Jill Cashen. [AP 12/19/06]


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".)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

INB 12/21/06: Krome Detainees Protest

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 44 - December 21, 2006

1. Krome Detainees Protest
2. US and Canada Deport 99 Africans
3. Maine Activist's Home Raided
4. Swift Raids Protested

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Dec. 8, Haitian and Jamaican detainees at Krome Service Processing Center outside Miami in Dade County, Florida, refused to leave their dormitory to protest delays in obtaining travel papers from their consulates, immigration officials said; these delays have delayed their stay in detention awaiting deportation. The protest led Michael Rozos, field office director for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Florida office of detention and removal, to visit the Krome dormitory and speak to the detainees there on Dec. 8, accompanied by a "disturbance control team," said ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez. She said team members were "dressed appropriately."

While the detainees were frustrated at the delay in travel papers, some also talked about "the amount of people at Krome," Gonzalez said. A Haitian detainee attributed the tense atmosphere to crowded conditions. "There are just too many people here right now," he said. "We all are just desperate to get out." Krome's publicly-stated capacity of about 580 detainees has been exceeded for months. Gonzalez admitted on Dec. 14 that the number of detainees at Krome was 927. Gonzalez said 120 detainees would be transferred elsewhere on Dec. 19 and 50 others would be deported soon.

In late September, dozens of detainees signed a letter to the Miami Herald complaining about conditions at Krome. Another 255 detainees complained in a November letter that overcrowding at the facility is "causing a lot of tension that leads to confrontations, unsanitary dorm, showers, and clogged toilets...."

Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) executive director Cheryl Little said Krome "is becoming more and more overcrowded. It's getting dirty inside, and people are getting ill because of it." Little said one of her lawyers went to Krome Dec. 8 and was told by a guard that there was a "riot " and that the facility was in "lockdown." Little said the lawyer "was told that he couldn't go in, and that he better check before coming over the weekend because it might still be in lockdown." Gonzalez said there was no lockdown, and visiting hours were normal over the weekend of Dec. 9.

Ralph Latortue, the Haitian consul in Miami, went to Krome Dec. 13 for an annual holiday visit with Haitian detainees. Latortue told the Miami Herald that 60 of the 83 Haitians at Krome complained of mistreatment, lack of medical attention and overcrowding. He said some detainees, particularly those with criminal records, complained about delays in travel documents. Under current Haitian government regulations, Latortue said, authorities in Port-au-Prince must pre-approve the return of Haitians with criminal records, and the process can take months. Latortue said 75% of the 83 Haitians at Krome have criminal records.

Latortue said that during his meeting at Krome, some of the Haitian detainees told him about an incident on Dec. 8 that involved an "altercation with guards." At least two detainees who were witnesses told a FIAC lawyer that a guard pushed and "punched" a detainee, as other agitated detainees watched, according to Little. A worker at the facility who asked not to be identified said guards interrupted some immigration court proceedings during the episode.

ICE spokesperson Gonzalez said the dormitory protest was peaceful, with Haitian and Jamaican detainees refusing to leave their pod or dormitory to take meals. But Gonzalez acknowledged that an allegation was later made "against a guard." She had no details. "We take all allegations very seriously and it will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken," Gonzalez said.

Jamaican consul Ricardo Allicock visited Krome on Dec. 11 to meet with the more than 50 Jamaican detainees there. Allicock said many of the detainees were frustrated that they would not spend the holidays with their families back home because they have yet to be deported. The majority of the Jamaicans there have been waiting less than two months to be deported, he said. (Miami Herald 12/16/06)


Over the weekend of Dec. 16, ICE officers returned to the US after deporting 82 Nigerians and 17 Liberians on a joint charter removal flight conducted with the government of Canada. It was the largest US deportation flight to Africa in two years. The flight used chartered commercial aircraft and was staffed by officers of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations. Eight of the Nigerians were deportees from Canada; escorting officers from Canada accompanied the flight. The others deported on the flight had been housed at detention facilities across the US; they were brought to the Batavia Federal Detention Facility near Buffalo, New York, shortly before the flight. More than 60 of the deportees had criminal records. (ICE News Release 12/19/06)


On Dec. 14, more than a dozen ICE agents raided the home of longtime immigrant advocate Ben Guiliani in South Portland, Maine. The agents were seen carting out numerous boxes of evidence and computer equipment, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. A friend and fellow activist said agents also showed up at Guiliani's office elsewhere in the city. Guiliani said he was out of state when the agents showed up at his house, but that family members were home. Nobody has been charged or arrested, he said. The immigration agency notified South Portland police of the operation shortly after 9 am, but did not provide specifics of the investigation, said Police Chief Ed Googins.

A US citizen of Mexican descent, Guiliani has headed the Maine Migrant Workers Advocacy Group and has involved in workplace lawsuits against Wal-Mart and the former DeCoster egg farm, alleging bias and discrimination against Latino workers. He helped win major improvements in working and living conditions at DeCoster. He currently heads a firm called Azteca Consulting Associates Inc., which is involved in a variety of government and business matters, including import and export, Hispanic relations, labor search management and safety consulting, according to incorporation records. (Portland Herald (ME) 12/15/06)


On Dec. 14, dozens of activists in Des Moines, Iowa took part in a rally protesting the arrests by ICE of some 90 immigrants at the Swift plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. The Marshalltown raid was one of six such raids on Dec. 12; in all, ICE agents arrested 1,282 workers at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in six states, claiming the sweeps were part of an investigation into identity theft [see INB 12/15/06]. ( 12/15/06) On Dec. 17, clergy members spoke out at an evening service in Des Moines called to protest the raids. About 200 people came to Grace United Methodist Church to hold candles and pray in solidarity with detainees and their families. The "Making Room at the Inn" event included multilingual speeches, prayers and hymns. "Jesus was not mindful of Social Security numbers, or countries of origin, or of native languages," said the Rev. Barbara Dinnen of the Las Americas Comunidad de Fe of the United Methodist Church. (Des Moines Register 12/18/06)

In a letter to President George W. Bush on Dec. 20, Iowa governor Tom Vilsack complained that ICE officials were not responding to family members' inquiries about loved ones detained in the Swift raids. "To this day, the whereabouts of some of these people are still unknown," Vilsack wrote. "Considering the hardship this has on their families, silence as to their condition is not acceptable." Vilsack urged Bush to also disclose the identities and locations of the detainees to community leaders and faith-based leaders in the six states "so officials can better address the needs of family members left behind." Vilsack referred to a morning news conference on Dec. 20 in which Bush called for immigration reform, saying that "such changes... will come too late for the families with children who are searching for their parents today." ICE spokesperson Jamie Zuieback responded that privacy concerns prevent immigration officials from publishing the names of detainees, but they will work with Vilsack "on matters of specific concern." (Des Moines Register 12/21/06) A day earlier, Dec. 19, Vilsack and Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, the top officer of the Iowa National Guard, wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, calling ICE's actions in the raids "completely unacceptable," saying agents undermined the public's trust in government, potentially jeopardized the safety of law enforcement personnel in Iowa and could have compromised undercover operations. Vilsack and Dardis said they will not cooperate with federal immigration officials in the future unless they act more responsibly and provide better coordination with state officials. (Des Moines Register 12/20/06)

On Dec. 15 in Colorado, immigrant rights advocates gathered in Greeley, Durango, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction and other communities to hold candlelight vigils and join hands to support the families separated by the raids and protest the treatment of the 260 workers arrested in the Dec. 12 raid at the Swift plant in Greeley. "This tragedy is not about 'identity theft' or 'criminal activity' as...ICE contends," wrote the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition in a press release announcing the vigils. "It is about women and men working to feed their families and provide for a better life." (Denver Daily News 12/19/06; Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Press Release 12/14/06) On the evening of Dec. 18, a crowd of 75-100 people from across the region gathered at the office of El Comite de Longmont in Longmont to protest the raids. The group lit candles and marched down Main Street before rallying on the steps of the Longmont Safety and Justice Center. Many carried signs that read, "No human is illegal." Others spoke of a basic human right of people to try to improve their life and that of their family, regardless of borders. (Greeley Tribune 12/19/06)

In San Antonio, Texas on Dec. 21, Latino activist groups held a news conference to condemn the raids and call for an end to such worksite enforcement until Congress can come up with comprehensive immigration reform. (San Antonio Express-News 12/21/06)

On Dec. 15, over 200 people picketed outside the ICE offices in Chicago to protest the raids. The protest was initiated by the March 10th Movement, and members of the Centro Sin Fronteras, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Mexico Solidarity Network and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union also took part. The UFCW represents workers at five of the six raided Swift plants. (Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) 12/21/06)

On Dec. 20, more than 30 people rallied in below-freezing temperatures outside the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah to protest ICE's arrests of 154 workers during the Dec. 12 raid at the Swift plant 60 miles away in Hyrum. A union member held a sign demanding "workers' rights, human rights" for undocumented laborers. "We see this as a racist act of state terrorism," said David Hansen, a member of the advocacy group Brown Berets in Salt Lake City. The protesters wore yellow bracelets to symbolize the ones ICE apparently used to mark brown-skinned workers during the raid at the Swift plant in Hyrum; white workers were given blue bracelets and were not required to prove their citizenship, witnesses said. ICE spokesperson Lori Haley said she knew nothing of the yellow bracelets, but denied that ICE agents targeted Swift employees because of their skin color. A handful of members of the anti-immigrant Utah Minuteman Project held a counter-protest across the street, waving signs that read, "defending our borders, culture and language." (Salt Lake Tribune 12/21/06; KCPW News 12/21/06)


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".)

Friday, December 15, 2006

INB 12/15/06: 1,282 Arrested in Meatpacking Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 43 - December 15, 2006

Special Issue: 1,282 Arrested in Meatpacking Raids

1. Mass Arrests in Six States
2. Singled Out by Skin Color
3. The Investigation
4. The Union's Response
5. Why Now?

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at

*1. Mass Arrests in Six States

On Dec. 12, some 1,000 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents carried out simultaneous dawn raids at six meat processing plants in six states and arrested a total of 1,282 immigrant workers, most of them Latin American. (AP 12/12/06, 12/14/06; ICE News Release 12/13/06) The raids took place on a day celebrated by Mexican Catholics as a day of action honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe. Many of the arrested workers had attended an early Mass before their shifts to celebrate the day. (Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 12/13/06)

The sweep, which ICE dubbed "Operation Wagon Train," targeted plants owned by Swift & Co. in Greeley, Colorado; Grand Island, Nebraska; Cactus, Texas; Hyrum, Utah; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minnesota. Five of the six raided facilities are unionized; only the one in Hyrum is not. (AP 12/12/06; ICE News Release 12/13/06)

ICE promoted the raids as a crackdown on identity theft, alleging that workers had used the stolen identities of US citizens and lawful residents to get jobs at Swift. Yet all 1,282 workers arrested were charged with administrative immigration violations, and only 65 were also charged with criminal violations including illegal re-entry after deportation, identity theft or forgery. ICE declined to say how many workers faced charges specifically relating to identity theft. (Denver Post 12/14/06; ICE News Release 12/13/06) The arrested workers were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Peru, Laos, Sudan, Ethiopia and other countries of origin which had not yet been identified as ICE was still processing the detained workers.
The investigation is ongoing. (ICE News Release 12/13/06)

No civil or criminal charges have been filed against Swift or any current employees. Swift had been participating since 1997 in the Basic Pilot worker authorization program, under which businesses check the legal work status of new employees against government databases. Swift said it believes the raids "violate the agreements associated with the company's participation over the past 10 years in the federal government's Basic Pilot worker authorization program and raise serious questions as to the government's possible violation of individual workers' civil rights." (AP 12/12/06; ICE News Release 12/13/06)

Swift & Company, founded in 1855, is the third largest fresh meat processor in the US, behind Tyson Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions, with sales of $9 billion a year. Once the meat-processing business of agriculture giant ConAgra, Swift is now indirectly owned through various holding companies. (AP 12/12/06)

In Grand Island, Nebraska, Police Chief Steve Lamken refused to allow his personnel to take part in the sweep. "This is our community," Lamken said. "When this is all over, we're still here taking care of our community. And if I have a significant part of my population that's fearful and won't call us, then that's not good for our community." (Rocky Mountain News 12/13/06)

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who had reviewed evidence beforehand, believed the Dec. 12 operation was supposed to take place on Dec. 11, but speculated that ICE officials put the operation off a day after learning that Japanese officials were touring the Greeley plant on Dec. 11. The foreign officials were there to review Swift's response to having recently shipped beef to Japan without proper documentation. (RMN 12/13/06)

*2. Singled Out by Skin Color

"Maria," an employee at the Hyrum plant who is a US-born citizen, said she was singled out for questioning along with other brown-skinned Latinos during the raid, while people with lighter skin were plucked out of line and given blue bracelets to indicate they were legal workers. "I was in the line because of the color of my skin," she said. (Salt Lake Tribune 12/13/06) Attorneys who spoke with witnesses to the raid in Minnesota were also told that white workers who said they were US citizens were directed away immediately, while people with brown skin who said they were US citizens were required to prove it. (Message from Minnesota immigration attorneys 12/13/06, posted on Detention Watch Network list)

Confianza, an association of Hispanic ministers, said in a statement: "[i]t is deplorable that Americans who happen to have brown skin and work at Swift were also 'rounded up with the idea to sort it out later,' as one local community leader described the situation." (RMN 12/13/06)

*3. The Investigation

In a federal investigation that began in February of this year, ICE claims to have uncovered large numbers of unauthorized immigrants who may have used the Social Security numbers of lawful US citizens or residents to get jobs at Swift. "We have been investigating a large identity theft scheme that has victimized many US citizens and lawful residents," ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez said at the plant in Greeley. "The significance is that we're serious about work site enforcement and that those who steal identities of US citizens will not escape enforcement," ICE chief Julie L. Myers told reporters in Washington. (AP 12/12/06)

Sam Rovit, chief executive of Swift, said the company learned of the ICE investigation in March, when ICE subpoenaed information on all the employees working at Swift's Marshalltown plant. But Rovit said the company was "rebuffed repeatedly" in its offers to cooperate. "We have complied with every law that is out there on the books," Rovit said in an interview. (New York Times 12/13/06; RMN 12/13/06) "Current law limits an employer's ability to scrutinize the background and identity of new hires, and--as Swift learned first-hand--employers can, in fact, be punished for probing too deeply into applicants' backgrounds," the company said in a statement. In 2000, the Justice Department's Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices filed a complaint against Swift, alleging that the company's Worthington, Minnesota plant engaged in a "pattern and practice" of discrimination by more heavily scrutinizing the documents of job applicants of were believed to look or sound "foreign." The department sought civil damages of $2.5 million. After two years, Swift settled the claim for about $200,000. (AP 12/12/06)

"At no time did the government, with us, try to communicate the nature of their concerns," said Sean McHugh, Swift vice president of investor relations. "We tried to reach out to them and say, 'Look, if you're concerned, if you're trying to identify or remove or arrest criminals, let us know and we'll bring them to you.'" In September, the agency granted Swift a meeting, "but details were few and far between," McHugh said. "By mid-November, ICE informed us they intended, with or without our cooperation, to effectively shut down six of our plants," McHugh said. (RMN 12/13/06) Swift then fought unsuccessfully in a Texas court for a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement action. (RMN 12/14/06) "The company ... did attempt to stop us from doing these raids by going to court," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Swift also conducted its own probe of suspect employees, and more than 400 were fired, quit or fled, said Chertoff. "We don't know where those 400 workers are," Chertoff complained. (Denver Post 12/14/06) "We do wish they would have talked to us before deciding to terminate those individuals," ICE chief Myers said at a news conference. "We regretted they took that action."

Swift said ICE gave the company the go-ahead to question workers' documentation. "At no time has anyone from ICE told any Swift official that they cannot take action against employees who Swift determines, on its own, are unauthorized," ICE Investigations Director Marcy Forman wrote to company attorneys in an October letter supplied by Swift. "We started interviewing people and said, 'Are you really who you say you are?'" said Don Wiseman, general counsel at Swift. "A whole bunch of them said, 'No, I'm really not' and they voluntarily quit." Swift sent others to the Social Security office to get letters verifying their status. "Most of those people didn't come back, either," Wiseman said. (RMN 12/14/06)

Myers and Chertoff said Swift generally cooperated in the months leading up to raids. "We asked the company not to reveal we were coming in advance," Chertoff said. (RMN 12/14/06)

*4. The Union's Response

On Dec. 13, officials of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), which represents workers at five of the six raided plants, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Denver's US District Court, asserting that ICE had violated the constitutional rights of the workers it detained. The union sought to have the workers released or be able to communicate with its attorneys. US District Judge John Kane ordered ICE to respond by Dec. 18. (Denver Post 12/14/06) The filing claims that those arrested are being denied access to lawyers and that their whereabouts are unknown. (AP 12/14/06) "Our members are on buses and we don't know where they are," said UFCW spokesperson Jill Cashen. "Children have been left stranded. Parents have not been given the opportunities to make arrangements. We are struggling to reunite families." (Chicago Tribune 12/13/06)

"Essentially, the agents stormed the plants, many of them in riot gear, in an effort designed to terrorize the work force," said Mark Lauritsen, director of a UFCW division. Lauritsen, in a statement, described Swift workers as "innocent victims in an immigration system that has been hijacked by corporations for the purpose of importing an exploitable work force." The union said it has advised all the detained workers to exercise their right to have an attorney and to remain silent until they confer with legal counsel. (RMN 12/13/06)

*5. Why Now?

Labor analyst David Bacon said that with the latest raids, "the administration is sending a message to employers, and especially to unions: Support its program for immigration reform, or face a new wave of raids." Bacon noted that in the period leading up to the passage of the 1986 immigration law (which included an amnesty), immigration agents used high-profile workplace raids "to produce public support for the employer sanctions provision later written into the 1986 immigration law." ("Justice Deported," David Bacon, The American Prospect (web edition) 12/14/06)

Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff said on Dec. 13 that the raids were "a way of emphasizing the fact that getting this issue of comprehensive immigration reform right is ultimately going to save everybody a big headache." Chertoff said the government hopes the Swift operation will spur Congress to act on a comprehensive strategy for immigration reform that includes a temporary-worker program and safeguards against the use of forged or stolen identities. Chertoff also said he hoped the raids would "be a deterrent to illegal workers, [and] cause them to say that, you know, this happened in Swift, it could easily happen somewhere else,' Chertoff said. "In fact, I'm pretty much going to guarantee we're going to keep bringing these cases." (Denver Post 12/14/06)


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".)

Friday, December 8, 2006

INB 12/8/06: 30 Arrested at Omaha Factory

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 42 - December 8, 2006

1. NE: 30 Arrested at Omaha Factory
2. NC: Mall Kiosk Workers Arrested
3. TX: Two Arrested at Air Base
4. NJ Cops Sought ICE Arrest

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Dec. 5, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 30 immigrant workers in raids at two buildings of the Plastrglas company in Omaha, Nebraska. The workers are from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. The company manufactures and distributes architectural shapes from plaster reinforced with glass fibers. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said on Dec. 6 that an investigation is under way to determine whether the company knowingly employed unauthorized immigrants. Counts said the raid was the first workplace raid in Nebraska this year. [AP 12/7/06]

Just a few weeks earlier, in a weeklong sweep from Nov. 15 to 21, ICE agents arrested 25 "immigration status violators" along the Iowa-Nebraska border as part of "Operation Return to Sender," a national initiative targeting people who have failed to comply with final orders of removal. Twenty of those arrested had final removal orders; the other five merely lacked immigration status. Three had criminal convictions. Six of the arrests were in Omaha, 12 in Sioux City and seven in South Sioux City. [ICE News Release 11/22/06]


On Dec. 5, ICE agents arrested 16 people employed at kiosks at the Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, North Carolina. ICE started investigating the employees after Fayetteville police received a tip that they could be involved in terrorism, said Tom O'Connell, resident agent in charge of the ICE office in Cary. Police then contacted ICE and the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). One of the 16 arrested workers is from Turkey; the other 15 are Israelis. All are between the ages of 18 and 25. O'Connell said ICE does not believe any of them are terrorists.

According to O'Connell, the 16 men arrived in the US about a week earlier and were here on valid tourist visas, but because ICE found out they were working without authorization, all 16 will be deported. O'Connell said agents are still investigating at least one of the companies' owners. The workers typically did not receive wages but were paid a percentage of what they sold at kiosks during a shift. [Fayetteville Observer 12/7/06]


On Dec. 6, ICE agents arrested two Mexican workers hired for construction jobs at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. The workers allegedly used counterfeit documents which appeared real enough that Air Force guards allowed them on the base. After a check revealed the documents were false, a search for the two men ensued. The operation caused a backup at the Randolph gate as Air Force personnel and ICE agents checked the IDs of everyone who tried to leave. In the same sweep, agents picked up three US citizens working at construction sites on the base who had warrants out for their arrests, said ICE spokesperson Jerry Robinette. [San Antonio Express-News 12/6/06]


On Nov. 22--a day before the Thanksgiving holiday--Edison, New Jersey mayor Jun Choi and police chief George Mieczkowski issued a statement about the immigration arrest last Aug. 2 of Indian national Rajnikant Parikh. Agents from an ICE "fugitive operations team," allegedly acting on a 2005 deportation order, had arrested Parikh as he participated in a protest rally at the Municipal Complex in Edison, New Jersey. Some 75 members of the local Indian community were at the Aug. 2 rally to support Parikh in his claim against Edison township police officer Michael Dotro. Supporters of Dotro were counter-protesting at the rally. Parikh had accused Dotro of attacking him without provocation and arresting him without cause at a July 4 gathering for a fireworks display. Choi and Mieczkowski have backed Dotro, claiming the officer acted in self-defense. Dotro was also cleared in a separate investigation by the police department's internal affairs bureau.

The township's investigation was launched after Parikh's supporters questioned whether Edison police arranged the ICE arrest in retaliation for his claims against Dotro. ICE spokesperson Jamie Zuieback had confirmed at the time that his agency "did coordinate closely with the police department."

The investigation revealed that the arrest was triggered when an Edison police officer engaged in "information-sharing" with ICE, without informing his supervisors. A second officer learned of the collaboration and also withheld the information from supervisers, the investigation found. Township officials declined to name the two officers involved, but said the pair will receive "counseling" regarding their actions.

Choi and Mieczkowski said the investigation confirmed their claim that they had no prior knowledge of the planned arrest. The two officials called Parikh's arrest "unfortunate," and said the timing and location of the arrest were "inappropriate." "Measures have been taken to avoid an incident like this happening again," their statement said.

Parikh remains in immigration detention at Hudson County jail, although his wife, Julie Patel, is a US-born citizen, and Parikh apparently had a valid work permit at the time of his arrest. Parikh's lawyer, Jonathan Saint-Preux, said his client was a victim of a misunderstanding and is currently appealing the immigration case. Parikh also faces criminal charges in relation to the July 4 incident. [Home News Tribune Online 8/5/06, 11/23/06; India Daily 8/4/06]


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".)

Friday, December 1, 2006

INB 12/1/06: Raids in Kentucky, Atlanta, NYC & NJ

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 41 - December 1, 2006

1. More Kentucky Construction Raids
2. Atlanta Airport Raid
3. More Raids in NYC, NJ

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Nov. 29, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 32 suspected undocumented workers--including one woman--in northern Kentucky. Thirteen of the workers were arrested at two parking lots near a construction site in Covington, Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati, Ohio. The other 19 were arrested in a parking lot at the Home Depot store in Florence, in Boone County, Kentucky, where they were waiting for transportation to the Covington construction site. ICE spokesperson Gail Montenegro said those arrested were taken to the Boone County jail. They were to appear in US District Court in Covington on Nov. 30.

The immigrants had been contracted to do commercial drywall work for the Spectrum Interiors firm. Dugan and Meyers is the main contractor on the Covington construction site, where a $55 million, 21-story condominium project--the "Ascent at Roebling's Bridge"--is being built. "Home Depot was a pickup location where they all got in a van and went to Covington," explained Tom Scheben of the Boone County Sheriff's Department.

Scheben said the ICE agents are "not trying to pick up one or two here or there. They're trying to get large numbers and they're trying to get the people who are employing them." The arrests followed a coordinated investigation by ICE, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Labor, and the US Marshals Service. ICE was also assisted in the investigation by the Florence, Covington and Lexington police departments, the Boone County Sheriff's Office, the Kenton County Sheriff's Office and Boone County Jail. [ 11/29/06; Cincinnati Enquirer 11/30/06; Cincinnati Post 11/30/06; ICE News Release 11/29/06]

Between May 9 and June 2, ICE arrested at least 89 people in the same area of northern Kentucky in a raid targeting immigrants employed by subcontractors for the Fischer Homes construction firm [see INB 5/14/06, 5/21/06, 6/18/06]. Five Fischer Homes supervisors were indicted on federal charges in connection with the arrests, but on Nov. 15 US District Court Judge David Bunning dismissed the charges because a key witness, subcontractor Nelson Trejo, could not be found. Trejo had said he would cooperate with federal prosecutors in exchange for a lighter sentence. Two other subcontractors who made similar deals are still facing charges. Fischer Homes as a corporation was not implicated or charged in the case. [ 11/29/06; Cincinnati Enquirer 11/16/06]


On Nov. 29, ICE agents arrested six undocumented Mexican immigrants who worked installing drywall at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. They worked for T.C. Drywall, Inc. of Alpharetta, according to ICE. The workers had security badges that gave them access to restricted areas of the airport, including the tarmac. None of the men was considered a security threat. They were arrested in Hartsfield's south terminal as they arrived for work in the morning. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution 11/29/06] The operation was conducted with the assistance of the Hartsfield Department of Aviation and the Atlanta Police Department and coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration. [ICE News Release 11/29/06]


In a seven- or eight-month investigation ending Nov. 30, ICE agents joined with officers of the New York City Department of Probation in arresting 81 immigrants with prior criminal records in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. The raids were part of "Operation Retract," an ongoing effort by ICE's New York office to arrest immigrants on probation for prior misdemeanor or felony convictions and place them in removal proceedings. Of the total number arrested, 45 were legal permanent residents and 36 were out of status. All but nine of the arrested immigrants were from either Latin America (52) or the English-speaking Caribbean (20). They came from the Dominican Republic (28), Mexico (13), Jamaica (10), China (5), Trinidad (4), Colombia (4), Guyana (3), Ecuador (3), El Salvador (3), Korea (2), Antigua (1), Barbados (1), India (1), Grenada (1), Honduras (1) and the United Kingdom (1). ICE agents transported the immigrants to detention facilities where they will be held during removal proceedings. [ICE News Release 11/30/06]

On Nov. 29, ICE arrested 45 immigrants in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan who according to ICE are "child predators and criminal alien sex offenders." The arrests were made under ICE's "Operation Predator" and were separate from those made under "Operation Retract," although the arrested immigrants were also on probation in New York City for prior misdemeanor or felony convictions. Those arrested were citizens of Bangladesh, Bosnia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Romania and Trinidad. [ICE News Release 11/29/06]

Another 137 people were arrested in New Jersey between Nov. 13 and 18 in "Return to Sender" raids, which target people with prior removal orders. ICE said 54 of those arrested had been ordered removed by an immigration judge; the other 83 were simply without status. Only 17 of the 137 had criminal records. Those arrested came from 21 countries, including Poland, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Pakistan, Egypt, India, Slovakia, Costa Rica, Albania, Macedonia and the United Kingdom. [Press of Atlantic City 11/21/06; ICE News Release 11/20/06]


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".)

Friday, November 24, 2006

INB 11/24/06: Workers Win at Smithfield, Somali Man Deported

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 40 - November 24, 2006

1. Workers Win at Smithfield
2. Somali Man Deported
3. "Return to Sender" Hits NYC

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Nov. 18, Smithfield Packing Company reached an agreement with workers at the company's pork-processing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, putting an end to a two-day walkout [see INB 11/17/06]. The agreement was brokered with the help of the Catholic Church and its attorneys after the company received thousands of calls from activists and religious, civil rights and immigrant rights organizations, demanding that the workers' rights be respected. The strikers returned to work on Nov. 18.

The company agreed not to retaliate against the strikers, and to rehire dozens of workers who had been fired because of allegedly mismatched Social Security information. (The firings had prompted the walkout.) Those workers with mismatched data will be given more time to resolve the problems, and will be able to continue working in the meantime. Smithfield's Human Resources Department will designate a staff member to help process "no match" Social Security issues and respond to questions. The company also agreed for the first time to meet with a group of workers elected by the workers themselves to further negotiate about plant issues and employee concerns, starting on Nov. 21.

In other Smithfield operations where workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), contract language provides for a systematic and constructive process for workers and the employer to resolve issues such as immigration and work status. [Justice at Smithfield Message 11/18/06]


On Nov. 2, Mohamad Rasheed Jama was deported from the US to his native Somalia. He managed to call his lawyer from the plane in Newark, but the courts were closed. The next day a federal judge heard an emergency motion in his case, but ruled that Jama was already outside US jurisdiction. US immigration officials apparently flew Jama to Nairobi and handed him over to Kenyan officials, who flew him to Mogadishu. There, Islamist militants accused him of being a US spy and began demanding money.

Jama had lived in the New York City area for 28 years, since he was 18. He was convicted in 1989 for owning an unlicensed gun and ordered deported in 1993. He had been in immigration detention in New Jersey since October 2002. Jama's deportation came a week after his volunteer lawyers filed a habeas petition on his behalf, arguing that his continued detention in Middlesex County Jail was unlawful because "it is simply beyond dispute that effecting his removal to Somalia would be impossible."

Jama's deportation is the first to Somalia to be publicized since a failed attempt to remove Minneapolis resident Keyse Jama (no relation) to Somalia in April 2005 [see INB 4/24/05, 7/23/05]. Keyse Jama was released from US immigration detention in July 2005; he fled to Canada in January 2006 and applied for political asylum there.

On Jan. 12, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the Keyse Jama case that the absence of a functioning government--as in Somalia--is not an impediment to removal [see INB 1/15/05]. At a federal appeals hearing in Seattle this past October, a Justice Department lawyer said three people had been deported to Somalia--after allegedly having volunteered to go--since the Supreme Court ruling.

Jeffrey Keyes, the Minneapolis lawyer who argued the Supreme Court case, suggested that the latest deportation appears to be a warning that "if you use habeas, you'll be on the next flight." [New York Times 11/22/06]


Between Nov. 14 and Nov. 17, ICE Fugitive Operations Units arrested 70 immigrants in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. Of the total, 27 had been ordered removed by an immigration judge and 43 were simply present in the US without immigration status. ICE described those arrested as including "criminal and non-criminal aliens," but declined to say how many of them had been accused or convicted of crimes. The arrested immigrants are from Albania, Algeria, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Panama, Pakistan, Poland, Sierra Leone, Trinidad, Uzbekistan and Yugoslavia. All were transported to detention facilities in New Jersey and placed in removal proceedings. ICE's Detention and Removal Office announced the arrests on Nov. 17 as part of a national initiative dubbed "Operation Return to Sender." [ICE News Release 11/17/06]

The New York sweep coincided with a separate Nov. 15 ICE sweep across eight US states and Washington, DC, in which 33 people were arrested. That sweep targeted Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, including an unknown number of Brooklyn residents, in connection with an investigation into the misuse of religious worker visas. Those arrested were charged with administrative immigration violations; some may also face criminal prosecution on visa fraud charges. Another six immigrants were arrested because they happened to be at the raided sites and were found to lack immigration status. [ICE News Release 11/15/06]

At least five Pakistani immigrants were picked up in the recent ICE raids in New York City. They include Baza Koohi, a Pakistani community leader and advocate for New York City residents affected by immigration detention. "Immigration violations are a civil offense, yet we are treated as convicted criminals," said Mohammed Razvi of the Council of People's Organization (COPO). "Racial profiling since 9/11 is devastating our community," said Kavitha Pawria of DRUM-Desis Rising Up and Moving. [International Action Center Press Release 11/23/06]


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".)

Friday, November 17, 2006

INB 11/17/06: Smithfield Workers Strike Over Firings

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 39 - November 17, 2006

1. NC: Workers Strike Over Firings
2. Florida Construction Raid

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Nov. 16, at least 550 workers walked out of the Smithfield Packing Company plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Workers at the facility, the largest pork-processing plant in the world, said the walkout was seeking respect and better working conditions, but was also fueled by anger over Smithfield's recent decision to fire a number of immigrants who the company claimed had presented false Social Security numbers. About two-thirds of the plant's 5,500 workers are Latino immigrants. [New York Times 11/17/06; Fayetteville Observer (NC) 11/17/06; Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia) 11/17/06]

Last Jan. 5, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 13 workers at two Smithfield Foods' packing plants in Smithfield, Virginia [see INB 1/21/06]. According to Smithfield spokesperson Dennis Pittman, several months ago US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asked Smithfield to join a program to verify employees' names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and gender. About 600 of the Tar Heel facility's workers were found to have unverifiable information. About 100 of these were called in and asked to verify the information, and 75 were fired because their documentation could not be confirmed. Gene Bruskin, director of the union's organizing drive, said Latino workers brought a lawyer to the plant on Nov. 16 to dispute the legality of the firings. The company wouldn't meet with the lawyer, and that led to the walkout, said Bruskin. [FO 11/17/06]

Smithfield officials said the strike had only slowed production a little. Pittman said 350 workers walked out during the morning shift, and 200 during the afternoon shift. Several employees involved said the numbers were about 700 in the morning and 500 in the afternoon, for a total of 1,200. Leila McDowell, a spokesperson for Justice at Smithfield, a coalition of labor and immigration groups, said that by 4pm, some 800 workers were outside blocking access to the plant. "No trucks were getting through and no hogs were getting slaughtered," she said.

The United Food and Commercial Workers has been seeking to unionize the Smithfield employees in Tar Heel, and has launched a campaign with the support of the Justice at Smithfield coalition, targeting the company's abuse of worker rights. McDowell said the walkout was spontaneous. Pittman claimed the union instigated the strike, and was trying to use it to pressure the company to give in to the unionization campaign. The company has been fighting off a union drive for a decade. Workers cite harsh treatment, production line speeds and widespread injuries as key problems at the plant. [NYT 11/17/06; FO 11/17/06; DP 11/17/06]

Smithfield has been accused in the past of threatening Latino workers with deportation if they supported the Tar Heel union push. "They often use firings and the threat of firings as a form of intimidation when workers start standing up for their rights," said McDowell. "The constant abuse and intimidation just boiled over today," she said. [DP 11/17/06]

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in May that Smithfield was guilty of threatening workers trying to unionize more than 10 years ago. The court required the company to post notices and mail letters stating it will never assault, interrogate or intimidate workers seeking to organize.

Plant worker Keith Ludlum said he hopes this is the first of many stands workers take. "I think it's fantastic," he said. Dressed in a yellow, waterproof suit with "Union Time" written on his blood-spattered jacket, Ludlum said all workers want is a fair work environment. "We just wanted to be treated like human beings," he said. [FO 11/17/06] Ludlum was fired in 1994 after trying to organize a union at the plant; he won his job back recently after a 12-year court battle. [Workers Independent News 9/29/06]

The Justice at Smithfield campaign is urging people to send messages in support of the workers, demanding that Smithfield not retaliate against strikers, and that it stop the firings and abuses in Tar Heel and respect the workers' right to organize. Letters can be sent to Smithfield Board Chairman Joseph Luter and Smithfield CEO C. Larry Pope through . Smithfield can also be reached at 757-365-3000, 888-366-6767 or . [Justice at Smithfield Urgent Alert 11/16/06]


On Nov. 14, ICE agents arrested 40 Latin American immigrant workers employed by subcontractors at the Ocean Towers construction site in Palm Coast, Florida. The workers are from Honduras, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru. They were employed by two subcontractors: Owen Electric Co. Inc. of St. Augustine and Weston Coatings of Daytona Beach, according to ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez. The companies are being investigated.

The US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida may prosecute three Honduran workers for felony reentry after deportation. The other 37 workers were placed in deportation proceedings and transferred to various ICE facilities in Florida. Bill Knox, project manager for construction contractor ACI Construction Services, called the arrests "a minor speed bump" on the project. Subcontractors "have already brought in people from other places to take care of what took place." [ICE News Release 11/16/06; Daytona Beach News-Journal 11/17/06]


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".)

Friday, November 10, 2006

INB 11/10/06: Focus on Election Results; Texas Shrimp Company Charged

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 38 - November 10, 2006

Special Issue: Focus on Election Results

1. Voters Reject Many Anti-Immigrant Campaigns
2. Georgia: Republicans Gain, Voters Split
3. Arizona Vote: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
4. Colorado Vote: More Ballot Initiatives
5. Election Results Elsewhere: A Mixed Bag
6. Texas Shrimp Company Charged

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


In the Nov. 7 national and state elections, voters throughout the US tended to reject candidates who campaigned solely or primarily on an anti-immigrant platform. In exit polls, fewer than one in three voters considered immigration "extremely important" in their decision; those who did consider it important only narrowly favored Republican candidates. According to the exit polls, about six in 10 voters said they believe undocumented immigrants working in the US should get a chance to apply for legal status; 61% of those supporting a path to citizenship voted for Democratic candidates. [Washington Post 11/8/06]

Exit polls also showed that more than 70% of Latinos voted Democratic in races for House seats, while only 27% voted Republican--an 11-percentage-point drop from the last midterm election in 2002. [Wall Street Journal 11/8/06]

"The immigration issue upset many Hispanics--the tone of it, the rhetoric, the reactionary solutions, the building of the wall," said Miami pollster Sergio Bendixen, who tracks Latino voting trends. He called the House GOP's enforcement-heavy approach a "very, very bad tactical mistake" that could weaken the party for years to come. [Houston Chronicle 11/9/06]

"With respect to immigration, the Republican Party handed the Democratic Party a gift," said Democratic activist Andrea LaRue, co-chair of "The GOP's mishandling of this issue has alienated the fastest growing group of new voters in the nation. Democrats now have a clear opportunity to realize a demographic realignment of historic proportions and redraw the nation's electoral map for a generation." [ Press Release 11/8/06]

However, as Roberto Lovato of New America Media noted, "The crop of House and Senate members-elect includes many Democrats whose positions on immigration hardly differ from the "border first" Republicans they ousted. [ from New America Media 11/9/06]

"Let's be honest: There are divisions within the Democrats; it will have to be bipartisan," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, which advocates for immigrants' rights. [Los Angeles Times 11/9/06]

Cecilia Munoz, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, which supports a path to citizenship for out-of-status immigrants, said she believes there will be a very different atmosphere on Capitol Hill next year. The election results showed, she said, "that all of the noise made by the anti-immigrant faction in Congress is just that, noise. It doesn't appear to have the kind of support that these Republicans thought it would." [Orange County Register 11/9/06] "The most vitriolic anti-immigration candidates went down in defeat," said Tamar Jacoby, with the conservative New York think tank Manhattan Institute. [Miami Herald 11/9/06]


In Georgia, Republican governor Sonny Perdue easily won reelection, and the Republicans made gains overall in the state. [AP 11/8/06] Last Apr. 17, Perdue signed a state law that fines employers for hiring undocumented workers, requires companies with state contracts to fire any employee who is not a legal resident and requires state offices to verify an employee's status before paying unemployment benefits or workers' compensation. [WP 5/3/06] Perdue capitalized on his support for that law during the campaign. Still, exit polls in Georgia show 53% of voters believe out-of-status immigrants should have a chance to apply for legal status, while 43% said they should be deported. The responses did not run strictly along party lines. [AP 11/8/06]


In Arizona, Democratic governor Janet Napolitano, who has vetoed several anti-immigrant bills passed by the state legislature, easily won re-election. [Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) 11/8/06] Two Arizona congressional races were defeats for anti-immigrant candidates. Democrat Harry Mitchell, a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, defeated hardliner Republican incumbent J.D. Hayworth. [ Press Release 11/8/06] And Democrat Gabrielle Giffords ended 22 years of Republican congressional representation in Southern Arizona, handily beating rival Randy Graf, a co-founder of the "Minutemen" vigilante group who had focused his campaign almost exclusively on opposition to "illegal" immigration. Graf even lost in Cochise County, where anti-immigrant sentiment is big and he was expected to do well. Giffords supports a path to citizenship for out-of-status immigrants, but campaigned as tough on border issues and opposed to "amnesty."

Still, Republican Jon Kyl was reelected to a third term in the US Senate, defeating challenger Jim Pederson; according to an AP exit poll, Kyl's supporters rated his hard-line stances on immigration and anti-terrorism as the most important factors in their decisions. [ADS 11/8/06]

And at the same time, by a nearly 3-1 margin, Arizona voters approved four state ballot initiatives that will make life harder for immigrants. Proposition 100 bars the release on bail of out-of-status immigrants charged with serious felonies. Proposition 102 blocks out-of-status immigrants from being able to obtain punitive damages in lawsuits--limiting awards to actual damages. Proposition 103 establishes English as the official language of Arizona. And Proposition 300 blocks undocumented immigrants from accessing state-subsidized programs including adult education and child care. [Arizona Republic 11/9/06] All four initiatives passed in all of the state's 15 counties.

Elias Bermudez, president of Immigrants Without Borders in Phoenix, said his group will organize a weeklong work stoppage and economic boycott on Dec. 12 to protest the passage of the ballot initiatives. He said he will also go on a hunger strike.

In Tucson, Latino voters casting ballots at a precinct were approached by "vigilantes," according to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). MALDEF staff attorney Diego Bernal said Latino voters were stopped as they entered and exited the polls by three men, one carrying a camcorder, one holding a clipboard and one a holstered gun. [ADS 11/8/06]


Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, a national leader of anti-immigrant Republicans in Congress, was reelected to a fifth term. [Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 11/8/06] But Democrats Bill Ritter and Rick Perlmutter, both advocates of comprehensive immigration reform, handily won their races for governor and Congress, respectively, defeating anti-immigrant hardliners. [ Press Release 11/8/06]

Colorado voters narrowly approved two ballot measures on immigration. Referendum H, which denies a state tax credit to employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers, got 50.8% of the vote, according to unofficial returns. Referendum K, which directs the state attorney general to sue the federal government to demand enforcement of immigration laws, got 56%. [RMN 11/9/06]


In Pennsylvania, Democrat Bob Casey, a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, defeated incumbent hardliner Republican Rick Santorum by 18 percentage points. Santorum had attacked Casey on immigration during the campaign, even launching a negative website, "" [ Press Release 11/8/06] John Hostettler, the Indiana Republican who chaired the House Immigration Subcommittee, was defeated, as were Chris Chocola (R-IN), Anne Northup (R-KY), Melissa Hart (R-PA), Charles Taylor (R-NC), Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) and Richard Pombo (R-CA). Many of those defeated are members of the anti-immigrant "Immigration Reform Caucus" headed by Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo.

In New Jersey, Republican Tom Kean Jr. lost to Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, a strong supporter of immigration reform. In Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson (D) easily defeated challenger Katherine Harris, who had attacked him for his position on immigration. And in Delaware, Sen. Tom Carper (D) decisively defeated challenger Jan Ting, a former immigration official. [Immigrant Legal Resource Center 11/8/06] New Hampshire Rep. Charlie Bass was another "enforcement-first" Republican who lost his seat. [AR 11/9/06]

Democratic candidates for governor in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Wisconsin were attacked during their campaigns for supporting "illegal immigration," yet they all won their races. [ILRC 11/8/06] "The myth that members of Congress need to be afraid of immigration might have been put to rest, because no member of Congress was punished in this election for supporting pro-immigrant legislation," according to Josh Bernstein, federal policy director of the National Immigration Law Center. [LAT 11/9/06]

On the other hand, two Republican senators who had supported immigration reform efforts were defeated: Lincoln Chafee (RI) and Mike DeWine (OH). [ILRC 11/8/06] And several Democrats won with anti-immigrant campaigns: Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill won a Senate seat after campaigning as tough on immigration; and Virginia Democrat Jim Webb unseated Republican Sen. George Allen after accusing him of voting to allow more guest workers into the US. In Pennsylvania, Democrats Patrick Murphy and Chris Carney won House seats after campaigns in which they accused their Republican opponents of being soft on immigration. [LAT 11/9/06]


On Oct. 11, the US Attorney's office indicted Hillman Shrimp and Oyster Company, its owner and four employees for an alleged scheme to recruit and hire unauthorized immigrants to work at the Houston-area supplier of Gulf Coast oysters and shrimp. Manager Antonio Ramos Gonzalez, the company's agent in charge of submitting applications for work visas for temporary workers from Mexico, was charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, encouraging and inducing undocumented immigrants to enter and illegally remain in the US as seasonal employees for the company, using false identification documents and making false statements to a federal agency. Gonzalez is also charged with three felony counts of visa fraud relating to three of the employees.

The indictment also charges company owner Clifford Hillman and three other employees--Steve Taylor, Wendy Taylor and Derenda Campbell--with conspiracy to hire and recruit undocumented workers, a misdemeanor violation, from 1999 through late June 2004. The scheme allegedly involved the use of false identification documents and false statements to secure H2-B visas for temporary employees doing seasonal work, and the filing of falsely certified employment eligibility forms. [Houston Chronicle 10/12/06]


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".)

Friday, October 27, 2006

INB 10/27/06: Bush Signs Border Bill; Raid in Missouri

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 37 - October 27, 2006

1. Bush Signs Border Bill
2. Raid at Missouri Produce Company
3. "Return to Sender" Raids Spread

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Oct. 26 at a White House ceremony, President George W. Bush signed a bill authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile US-Mexico border in what was viewed as an effort to boost anti-immigrant Republican candidates just before the Nov. 7 elections. "We have a responsibility to enforce our laws," said Bush. "We have a responsibility to secure our borders. We take this responsibility serious." [AP 10/26/06]

The House of Representatives passed the Secure Fence Act on Sept. 14 by a vote of 283-138 [see INB 9/16/06]. [New York Times 10/27/06] The Senate approved it on Sept. 29 by a vote of 80-19. [Washington Post 9/30/06]

The law authorizes the construction of at least two layers of reinforced fencing around the border town of Tecate, California, and across nearly the entire length of Arizona's border with Mexico. Another expanse would cover much of the southern border of New Mexico, and in Texas the fencing would cover the border areas between Del Rio and Eagle Pass, and between Laredo and Brownsville. The entire fence is supposed to be completed by the end of 2008. The law also orders the Department of Homeland Security to install surveillance cameras along the Arizona border by May 30, 2007. The homeland security secretary is to achieve "operational control" of the US border within 18 months using unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar and cameras.

The bill includes no money for the fence, although a homeland security spending measure the president signed earlier in October included $1.2 billion toward the border project's cost, including access roads, vehicle barriers, lighting and high-tech equipment. The entire fence project is expected to cost some $6 billion.
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing border agents, said Oct. 25 that Customs and Border Protection statistics for the year ending Sept. 30 show arrests at border crossings down 8% nationally, but up in the San Diego sector--the area of the border with the most fencing. [AP 10/26/06]


On Oct. 19 in Union, Missouri, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents executed criminal search warrants at Happy Apples and Lochirco Fruit & Produce and at two residences owned by the Happy Apples business owners. Agents arrested 33 immigrants in the raids; one is from Honduras, the rest are from Mexico. In an investigation sparked by a confidential lead, ICE determined that many Happy Apples employees were living and working in the US illegally, and many were residing in apartments owned by their employers. "Business owners and managers who knowingly employ or harbor illegal aliens are committing felonies, and may be criminally prosecuted," said Pete Baird, assistant special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Kansas City, which oversees the states of Missouri and Kansas.

Franklin County and Warren County Sheriff's Offices helped ICE with the operation. The Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General; Department of Labor; Department of State; and Defense Criminal Investigative Services are assisting ICE with the ongoing investigation. [ICE News Release 10/20/06]


ICE agents arrested 163 immigrants from 11 countries in Lee and Collier counties in southwest Florida during the week of Sept. 18. The raids were part of the national "Operation Return to Sender," targeting immigrants who have failed to comply with deportation orders, or who have criminal records making them eligible for deportation proceedings. [Miami Herald 9/26/06]

ICE agents arrested 111 immigrants between Oct. 12 and 18 throughout the state of New Jersey. Of the 111 people arrested, 65 were targeted because of outstanding removal orders; another 46 were only violating immigration rules. Only 34 of the 111 people arrested had prior criminal records. The 111 immigrants were from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Ecuador, Syria, India and Peru. [ICE News Release 10/19/06]

Between Oct. 16 and 19, ICE agents arrested 49 immigrants--including nine women and at least one minor--in "Return to Sender" raids in southwest Idaho. Agents arrested 22 people in Boise on Oct. 16, and 27 others over the subsequent three days in the towns of Nampa, Caldwell, Meridian and Eagle. All those arrested were from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador; 31 of them had been removed to Mexico as of Oct. 20. ICE officers in Denver planned the sweep, which was executed by officers based in Boise, Denver, Helena (Montana) and Salt Lake City, with help from local law enforcement agencies including the Boise Police Department, Nampa Police Department, Caldwell Police Department, Canyon County Sheriff's Office, and Ada County Sheriff's Office. [ICE News Release 10/20/06]

ICE agents arrested 16 immigrants from Albania, China, Czech Republic, Ghana, India, Mexico, Nigeria, and Poland in the Chicago metropolitan area between Oct. 16 and 19 under "Operation Return to Sender." Thirteen of the 16 had prior criminal records. ICE was assisted in the operation by the US Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force. [ICE News Release 10/20/06]

ICE agents arrested 44 immigrants from Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia and Pakistan in Austin, Texas, in mid-October as part of "Return to Sender." [News 8 Austin 10/16/06]


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".)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

INB 10/21/06: Deport Flight to Pakistan; Buffalo NY Farm Raided

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 36 - October 21, 2006

1. Deport Flight Sends 76 to Pakistan
2. NY: Buffalo Area Farm Raided
3. AZ: Raid at Yuma Construction Site
4. Lawsuit Challenges Detention
5. IL: Local Ordinance Postponed

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Oct. 11, a chartered Boeing 757 jet arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan, from New Jersey carrying 76 deportees, including two women. Some had served criminal sentences in the US, but most were deported for having violated immigration rules. The flight was accompanied by 18 US Marshals and immigration officials. The deportees were handcuffed throughout the entire trip, from the time they left US detention centers until an hour after the plane landed in Islamabad. During the flight, one of the women deportees fainted and had to be revived with first aid, including oxygen. Upon arrival, the deportees were detained for about three hours while officials from Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) recorded their statements and took fingerprints. The FIA also confiscated the deportees' passports, and threatened to fine them if the passports were found to be false. [DAWN (Pakistan) 10/12/06; Daily Times (Pakistan) 10/12/06]


On Oct. 4, special agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 28 Mexican immigrants working for Torrey Farms in Barker, New York, 40 miles east of Buffalo. The workers were living in a building owned by Torrey Farms. All 28 were placed in ICE custody and scheduled for removal hearings before an immigration judge. An ICE investigation found the workers had used false social security numbers to get their jobs. [ICE News Release 10/4/06]


On Oct. 10, about 50 agents from ICE and the Border Patrol, with backup from local police and a helicopter, raided the construction site for a new high school in Yuma, Arizona. The agents detained seven workers for questioning and served search warrants on the offices of a site contractor. All those detained were employed by contractors working on the $50 million Gila Ridge High School. Five of the seven workers gave up
their right to appear before a judge and agreed to be repatriated, said ICE spokesperson Russell Ahr. The other two will face deportation hearings. Their nationalities were not given. [AP 10/12/06]


In a class-action lawsuit filed on Sept. 25, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and the Stanford Law School Immigrants' Rights Clinic charged that ICE routinely holds immigrants longer than six months in defiance of the Supreme Court's June 2001 ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis. "These people have been kept away from their families, their communities and their lives for years--without even a hearing to determine if their prolonged detention is justified," said ACLU staff attorney Ahilan Arulanantham.

Two of the six plaintiffs named in the suit were released after the suit was filed. On Oct. 6, the ACLU asked US District Judge Terry Hatter to order the immediate release under supervision of the remaining four named plaintiffs, or grant them bond hearings. Arulanantham says immigration officials purposely avoid defending their policy in court, releasing only detainees whose attorneys file challenges. In order to force the issue to a hearing and prevent ICE from simply releasing the named petitioners and moving to dismiss the case as moot, the ACLU included as additional
plaintiffs any unknown detainees in the same circumstances.

ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice said the Zadvydas ruling does not apply to immigrants who are fighting deportation. The agency is required to detain immigrants convicted of certain felonies or considered to be flight risks or threats to public safety or national security, Kice said.

Arulanantham said Justice Stephen Breyer's majority opinion in the Zadvydas case applies to a much broader group of immigrants. Arulanantham said that in any case two of his clients, Ebrahim Mussa and John Rasheed, were no longer fighting deportation; judges barred their removal because they might be tortured in their homelands, but the government is prolonging the legal battle with appeals. As for the mandatory detention of convicted immigrants, Arulanantham said Mussa and Rudolph Stepanian
were convicted of crimes but have been released; only one of the four remaining plaintiffs has any prior convictions.

Niels Frenzen, director of the University of Southern California (USC) Law Immigration Clinic, said he believed the Supreme Court "was probably looking at people whose appeals were completed" in its Zadvydas ruling. But if the immigration agency "is cutting people loose just because the case is filed," perhaps government lawyers have concluded the ruling does apply to these immigrants, he added. [Los Angeles Times 10/10/06; Washington Post 10/10/06 from AP; ACLU Southern California News Release 10/9/06]


On Oct. 3, the Village Board of Carpentersville, Illinois, postponed discussion of a proposed anti-immigrant ordinance after nearly 3,000 people showed up to oppose it. On the advice of the village attorney, the Board deferred a meeting on the measure until a larger location is found. The proposed ordinance would deny a business permit to any employer found to have knowingly hired undocumented workers; fine landlords $1,000 if they rented apartments to undocumented immigrants; and make English the official language for village documents, forms and signs.

A similar ordinance in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was approved by local officials but challenged in court by the ACLU. Under court orders, Hazleton halted plans to implement the ordinance and is considering a different one, according to the ACLU. [Chicago Tribune 10/4/06]


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".)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

INB 9/23/06: House Passes More Anti-Immigrant Bills; More Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 35 - September 23, 2006

1. House Passes More Anti-Immigrant Bills
2. Day Labor Raid in Connecticut
3. Colorado Air Base Raided
4. GA: 30 Arrested in Workplace Raid
5. WA: Industrial Laundry Raided
6. IL: Chinese Buffet Raided
7. FL: Raid on Prison Roofers
8. Mississippi Country Club Raided
9. "Return to Sender" Hits Michigan

NOTE: Immigration News Briefs will not be published for the next three weeks. It will resume on Oct. 21.

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 now archived at


On Sept. 21, the House of Representatives voted 328-95 to approve HR 6094--the "Community Protection Act of 2006"--an anti-immigrant bill which would allow indefinite detention, overturning the Supreme Court's June 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis ruling. The bill would also allow noncitizens to be quickly deported if the government believes they are gang members, and would bar suspected gang members from obtaining political asylum. The same day, the House voted 277-140 to pass HR 6095--the Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006--which would authorize state and local police to enforce federal immigration law, expand expedited removal, limit appeals and lawsuits in immigration cases and revoke the Orantes injunction, which protects Salvadorans from expedited removal. A third bill, passed unanimously, would impose a 20-year prison sentence for creating or financing a tunnel under the US border.

The Senate is due to consider these measures during the week of Sept. 25. On Sept. 22 the Senate was debating a border fence bill approved by the House on Sept. 14 [see INB 9/16/06]. It is possible that proponents of the enforcement bills will seek to attach them to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bills which have already passed both houses and are being reconciled in committee. Advocates are urging people who support immigrant rights to contact their senators immediately to express opposition to these bills. [National Immigration Law Center (NILC) Urgent Update 9/21/06; Los Angeles Times 9/22/06; Washington Times 9/22/06; AP 9/22/06]


On Sep. 19, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 11 out-of-status day laborers from Ecuador who were waiting for jobs near Kennedy Park in Danbury, Connecticut. Danbury police helped ICE with the sweep. Police Capt. Robert Myles said his agency alerted ICE after receiving numerous complaints from residents, and after warning the day laborers to stay out of the roadway and in Kennedy Park. "The daily warnings which were given for a period of over two months were ignored and [ICE] was called for assistance," said Myles.

"If they are having problems, why don't they call leaders and community organizations and have a meeting to pass this information down and find a solution?" asked Wilson Hernandez, founder of the Ecuadoran Civic Center in Danbury, on Sept. 20. A day after the raids, the number of day laborers at Kennedy Park was down by about 80% over previous days. [Danbury News Times 9/20/06, 9/21/06] Danbury mayor Mark Boughton is a fierce proponent of tougher immigration policies; with New York's Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy he co-founded the Mayors and County Executives for Immigration Reform, a lobbying group that calls for stepped-up enforcement measures and federal compensation to local governments for costs associated with immigration. []


On Sept. 20, ICE agents arrested 120 immigrant workers at a housing-construction site at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado. The raided site is within a mile of what the Denver Post called "top-secret global-surveillance and missile early-warning facilities." At least 45 ICE agents took part in the operation, in partnership with officials from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI).

Air Force officials on the Buckley base blamed their contractor, Texas-based Hunt Building Co., a leading provider of military housing including facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hunt's superintendent on the project, Bruce Jackson, said he had no idea the workers were undocumented. "Certainly not," Jackson said. Hunt has 24 subcontractors, said Stephanie Shuhayda, Jackson's office manager. Jeff Copp, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Denver, said ICE will work with military special investigations officials "to identify the culpability between the subcontractors and employees and anyone else involved." The investigation that led to the raid was carried out over several months with help from federal labor officials and Aurora police, Copp said.

The $78 million, 353-unit housing project is immediately adjacent to the military base, but not actually on it. According to Abel Madera, a masonry subcontractor at the site, US military officials "know a lot of illegal people don't have IDs," so they set up the construction project to give workers access without having to pass through military checkpoints. Hunt officials said once the housing is completed, a wall will be built around it and it will then become part of the military base. The project began in January 2005 and was scheduled for completion "sometime next year," according to Shuhayda, the Hunt office manager.

An ICE news release said the arrested workers were all men, ages 18 to 50, from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Officials with the Mexican consulate in Denver said they were told by ICE that 98 immigrants, including three minors, were put on a bus to Mexico the day of the raid, Sept. 20. ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok confirmed that 98 of the workers were returned to Mexico because agents determined they had no criminal records. Three workers were found to have outstanding criminal warrants and were turned over to the Aurora Police Department. [Denver Post 9/20/06; Rocky Mountain News 9/20/06; El Paso Times 9/22/06; ICE News Release 9/20/06]


Early on Sept. 14 in Alpharetta, Georgia, ICE agents and local deputies arrested 30 men from Latin America who were employed by Forsyth Curb Co. Inc., a company specializing in curbs and gutters. According to the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, 20 of the workers are facing charges of first-degree forgery and identity theft because they used false documents to get their jobs; the other 10 are in ICE custody facing deportation. Sheriff's Capt. Paul Taylor said in a statement that the operation was "the result of an ongoing investigation " by his office and ICE. "It's a great example of local, state and federal agencies working together," said Taylor. The raid stems from an investigation last January in which Forsyth Sheriff's officials arrested six people for producing fake immigration and Social Security documents. A federal grand jury indicted the members of the alleged forgery ring in April. In July authorities gave the owner of Forsyth Curb Co. notice that employees were using bogus identification, Lt. Col. Gene Moss said. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution 9/15/06; Gainesville Times 9/15/06]


On Aug. 30, ICE agents arrested 26 Mexican immigrant workers in a raid at Northwest Health Care Linen, an industrial laundry in Bellingham, Washington that supplies linens to Puget Sound area hospitals. The agents had a sealed civil search warrant, according to ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice. The raid followed an audit of I-9 forms and other employment records; Northwest Health Care Linen owner Jim Hall said the agent investigating his business promised to give him a list of employees with questionable documents within 60 days. Instead, agents carried out the raid, an "extremely emotional event," said Hall, that could have been avoided. The company was shut down for two hours as armed agents in bulletproof vests interviewed workers, according to Hall. As of Sept. 1, 21 of the workers remained in custody at ICE's Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. The other five were released to care for children, Kice said. All face possible deportation. [Bellingham Herald 9/2/06]


On Sept. 20, ICE agents arrested 16 employees in a raid at Buffet City in Springfield, Illinois. The arrested workers are two women and eight men from China, and six men from Mexico. The restaurant's co-owner, Xiang Hui Ye, was also arrested and is being held by the US Marshals Service; on Sept. 21 he was charged in federal court with concealing or harboring "illegal aliens" and hiring or recruiting them for employment. The raid came a day before the Illinois Times named Buffet City as its readers' favorite buffet restaurant.

According to an affidavit by ICE special agent Brian Withers, Hui Ye provided housing for the workers in apartments near the restaurant. The affidavit says the restaurant underpaid workers $266,366 over a two-year period, as found in a review of Buffet City payroll information by a US Department of Labor (DOL) investigator. The affidavit says the investigation began on Jan. 15, 2005, when senior special ICE agent Tom Merchant received a phone call from a man who said he had been fired from Buffet City because he had told Hui Ye that he did not like working with "illegal aliens." The restaurant was placed under surveillance later that month. In April 2005, Merchant received a request for assistance from DOL investigator Fred Wrightman, who said he had received a complaint from a Buffet City employee about wage violations. In December 2005, five undocumented Mexicans who had worked at Buffet City were arrested near the restaurant. [State Journal-Register (Springfield) 9/22/06]


On Sept. 7, ICE arrested 15 immigrants employed by a roofing contractor doing work at the Federal Correctional Institution in South Miami-Dade, Florida. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officers at the facility initially detained three workers there on suspicion of fraudulent documents; the BOP officers then contacted ICE, which dispatched investigators. ICE Miami spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez said 13 of the detained men were from Mexico and two were from Guatemala. They all allegedly used fraudulent documents to get their jobs. All 15 were transported to the Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade and put in deportation proceedings, Gonzalez said. [Miami Herald 9/17/06]


On Sept. 13, ICE agents served warrants on the Country Club of Jackson, Mississippi, and arrested 18 suspected out-of-status workers there. All those arrested were employees of the country club, according to ICE spokesperson Temple Black. "Any folks ... who are a menace to the community, we will turn over to the US attorney for prosecution," Black said. The rest will be issued a "notice to appear" before an immigration judge, who will review their case, said Black. [Clarion-Ledger (Jackson) 9/14/06; WLBT 3 (Jackson) 9/13/06]

Eleven workers were arrested Aug. 23 in a similar raid at a country club in Little Rock, Arkansas [see INB 9/2/06].


In "Return to Sender" raids from Sept. 8 to 13, ICE agents arrested 55 people, 11 of them with prior criminal records, in the area around Lansing, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek in western Michigan. Those arrested were from Burma, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Turkey and Yugoslavia. One man with a prior criminal record faces charges for having reentered after being previously deported. Most were detained in the Calhoun County Correctional Facility for processing and deportation. While ICE claimed all those without criminal records had ignored deportation orders, Grand Rapids Attorney Richard Kessler, who specializes in immigration law, said some were merely "in the wrong place at the wrong time," detained because they were at the home of the individuals being sought. The sheriff's offices of Calhoun and Kent counties provided "significant assistance" to the operation, ICE said. [Grand Rapids Press 9/16/06; AP 9/14/06]

From October 2005 to August 2006, ICE fugitive operations teams arrested more than 24,000 people nationwide, of whom "more than 9,000" had criminal convictions, says ICE. According to ICE, "more than 6,800" of those arrested have been removed from the US. ICE currently has 45 fugitive operations teams across the US and expects to have 52 by the end of 2006. [ICE News Release 9/11/06]



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".)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

INB 9/16/06: House Passes Border Fence Bill; Raids in CA

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 34 - September 16, 2006

*1. House Passes Border Fence Bill
*2. Raids Shake Northern California

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 now archived at


On Sept. 14, the House of Representatives voted 283-138 in favor of a bill calling for construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing along several sections of the 2,000-mile US border with Mexico: around Tecate and Calexico, California; along most of the Arizona stretch; and in heavily populated areas of Texas and New Mexico. All but six House Republicans joined 64 Democrats in approving the bill. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent "all unlawful entries" into the US within 18 months after the bill is enacted; urges DHS to allow Border Patrol agents to forcibly disable fleeing vehicles; provides for more cameras, ground sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles; and orders a study on security at the northern border with Canada to determine whether a fence is needed there. [Los Angeles Times 9/15/06; Washington Times 9/15/06] The fence measure was already included in HR 4437, which passed the House last Dec. 16 [see INB 12/17/05]. The nearly 2,000-mile US-Mexico border currently has about 75 miles of fencing. [Washington Post 9/15/06]

The bill doesn't include funding for the fence. Republicans estimate the cost at more than $2 billion, and say it will be covered in a later spending bill. Democrats estimate the fence would cost $7 billion, based on information from the DHS on costs per mile of a double-layer fence. "This is nothing more than political gamesmanship in the run-up to the midterm elections. Sounds good. Does nothing," said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). [AP 9/14/06]

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview that House Republicans' plan to push tough border security measures through Congress before the Nov. 7 elections might help the party in some districts, but not others. "On balance, I'm not certain it's a political winner," said Lugar. [Chicago Tribune 9/15/06]

Republican legislators promoted the fence bill as the first phase of a larger border-security package they unveiled Sept. 14. The broader package would increase the number of Border Patrol agents, step up prosecution of immigrant smugglers and criminalize the building of tunnels under the border. It would also cancel the 1988 Orantes injunction, a provision protecting Salvadorans from expedited removal. [New York Times 9/15/06; LAT 9/15/06] DHS has been actively pushing for an end to the Orantes injunction since last November [see INB 2/5/06].

With Congress focusing on enforcement and DHS stepping up its crackdowns on employers who hire out-of-status immigrant workers, some business owners--especially in the agricultural sector--are getting nervous. "The status quo is killing farmers," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). "They are desperate. I've never seen anything like it." On Sept. 13 farmers, restaurant owners and other businesspeople dependent on immigrant labor staged a rally outside the Capitol in Washington, DC to press their concerns. [LAT 9/15/06; Capital Press (Oregon) 9/15/06]


On Sept. 7 and 8, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 107 immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and India in a sweep through the northern California towns of Watsonville, Hollister and Santa Cruz. The raids were part of "Operation Return to Sender," which according to ICE targets "criminal aliens, foreign nationals with final orders of deportation, and other immigration violators." Only 19 of the 107 people arrested had prior criminal convictions. One was turned over to the Fresno Police Department on an outstanding arrest warrant. By Sept. 11, at least 87 of those detained had already been removed from the US. [ICE News Release 9/11/06; Santa Cruz Sentinel 9/10/06]

Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action (COPA), an interfaith coalition in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, held a meeting on Sept. 9 at Our Lady Star of the Sea church in Santa Cruz to inform its members about the raids. At least four members of the church's congregation were arrested in the raids, according to Barbara Meister of COPA. Most of those picked up in the sweep were men who had been brought to the US by their parents while they were children, according to lawyers Doug Keegan, of the Santa Cruz County Immigration Project in Watsonville, and Alisa Thomas, based in the Santa Cruz suburb of Live Oak. [Santa Cruz Sentinel 9/10/06; Register-Pajaronian (Watsonville) 9/11/06] Thomas said those deported also included a mother of seven children, whose youngest child, 18 months old, went into convulsions and was hospitalized while the mother was being taken to Mexico. The children were left in the care of their father, who works two jobs. If the mother had been allowed to plead her case before an immigration judge, said Thomas, she probably would have been granted a stay. [R-P 9/11/06]

COPA also organized a Sept. 13 press conference at Resurrection Catholic Church in Aptos, another Santa Cruz suburb where arrests took place, to denounce the raids. "Questionable laws are being enforced in an inhumane way," said Patrick Conway, pastoral associate at the church. "While we call for legislators to reform immigration laws, we cannot stand by silently while this is being done to our families." Among some 50 community members participating in the press conference was the owner of a residential care home in Live Oak, who spoke about the deportation of a Mexican man who cooked meals for the home's residents. The deported man's wife, a caregiver at the same home, also attended. Ralph Porras, assistant superintendent of Santa Cruz City Schools, said the raids have sparked "apprehension in the Latino community about the safety of their children." The fear has apparently led some people to keep their children home from school. [Santa Cruz Sentinel 9/14/06]



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".)