Saturday, February 25, 2006

INB 2/25/06: Missouri Construction Raid, NY Court OKs Compensation

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 7 - February 25, 2006

1. Missouri Construction Site Raided
2. NY Court Upholds Compensation
3. TPS Extended for Central Americans
4. CCA Gets Arizona Jail Contract

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


On Feb. 22, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents
arrested 56 unauthorized immigrant workers at a Schreiber Foods
construction site in Carthage, Missouri, after executing a
criminal search warrant at the site against a subcontractor,
Reich Installation Services Inc. of Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Reich
employed 28 of the arrested workers; the other eight were
employed by Top Flight, another subcontractor at the site. Those
arrested all said they were from Mexico; they were being held in
the Christian County jail and were expected to be processed for
deportation over the next few days. Carthage Police Department
and Jasper County Sheriff's Department assisted ICE with
executing the warrant, which authorized the seizure of Reich's
computers and business, financial and personnel records.

One of the contractors raided in Carthage has been busted three
times in the past four months, said ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok.
Reich worksites in Pennsylvania and Nebraska were raided by ICE
agents last November and December. According to an affidavit
filed in the case, undocumented immigrants picked up in Nebraska
led ICE investigators to the Carthage worksite. According to the
affidavit, two insiders told investigators that over the past
three years, Reich has "consistently undercut industry
competitors by as much as 30%." [ICE News Release 2/22/06; News-
Leader (Springfield, MO) 2/24/06]

"Reich Installation Services has been associated with at least
two other US sites where illegal aliens have been arrested within
the last year," said Elissa Brown, ICE special agent-in-charge of
the Chicago office. Brown oversees the ICE Office of
Investigations for Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky
and Wisconsin. Reich Installation Services Inc. designs and
installs custom warehouse distribution systems in large factories
and warehouses. [ICE 2/22/06] Schreiber announced last August
that the $27 million distribution center would be its largest
distribution site in the US. [Joplin Globe (Joplin, MO) 2/23/06]


In a 5-2 decision on Feb. 21, the New York Court of Appeals--the
state's highest court--ruled that out-of-status immigrants are
eligible to recover lost wages that result from workplace
injuries. "Limiting a lost wages claim by an injured undocumented
alien would lessen an employer's incentive to comply with the
Labor Law and supply all of its workers the safe workplace that
the Legislature demands," Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote for the
court. The court's ruling came in two lawsuits, one brought by
Mexican laborer Gorgonio Balbuena and the other brought by Polish
laborer Stanislaw Majlinger. Balbuena had sustained a serious
head injury while working on a construction site; he sued the
site's owners, IDR Realty LLC and Dora Wechler, who in turn sued
his employer, Taman Management Corp.

Taman argued that under federal immigration laws Balbuena was not
eligible for future lost wages because of his status as an
undocumented immigrant. Reversing an earlier ruling which allowed
Balbuena to be compensated only with what he would have earned in
Mexico, the Court of Appeals said Balbuena could be compensated
for lost future US wages. State labor law "applies to all workers
in qualifying employment situations--regardless of immigration
status--and nothing in the relevant statutes or our decisions
negates the universal applicability of this principle," wrote

The Court of Appeals reinstated a state Supreme Court ruling
saying nothing in US immigration law prevented Balbuena from
receiving lost wages since there was no proof he used fraudulent
documents to get his job. The Immigration Reform and Control Act
of 1986 "does not make it a crime to work without documentation,"
Graffeo wrote. Taman Management attorney Reed Podell said his
client is considering an appeal to the US Supreme Court.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer had joined as an
intervener on behalf of both plaintiffs, arguing that barring
lost wage claims would make it more financially attractive for
employers to hire illegal aliens and would diminish the incentive
for companies to comply with state labor laws. [New York Sun
2/22/06; AP 2/21/06]


On Feb. 23, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced
it was extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an
additional 12 months for nationals of El Salvador, Honduras and
Nicaragua. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a
division of DHS, "will provide additional information about the
re-registration process and answers to frequently asked questions
upon publication of Notices in the Federal Register soon,"
according to a press release. The extension covers approximately
225,000 Salvadorans, 75,000 Hondurans, and 4,000 Nicaraguans who
have already been granted and remain eligible for TPS. The
extension will expire on Sept. 9, 2007 for Salvadorans and on
July 5, 2007 for Hondurans and Nicaraguans. [USCIS Press Release


On Feb. 24 the Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation
of America (CCA) announced it had reached an agreement with the
city of Eloy, Arizona to exclusively house ICE detainees at the
1,500-bed Eloy Detention Center. As of Feb. 23, the Eloy facility
held about 920 detainees, including some 50 for the Bureau of
Prisons (BOP). The BOP prisoners will be moved out by the end of
February. [CCA Press Release 2/24/06 via Business Wire]


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