Saturday, March 18, 2006

INB 3/18/06: Senate Looks at Kennedy Bill; Raids in Boston, Rhode Island

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 10 - March 18, 2006

1. Senate to Consider Kennedy Bill?
2. 60 Arrested in Boston Raids
3. Janitors Arrested at RI Navy Base

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

*1. Senate to Consider Kennedy Bill?

The Senate Judiciary Committee agreed early on Mar. 16 to
consider two legislative proposals which include provisions
for out-of-status immigrants to remain in the US. One
proposal, sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and
Edward Kennedy (D-MA), would allow out-of-status
immigrants to remain in the US for six years if they stay
employed and pay a $1,000 fine. They would then become
eligible for permanent residency by paying another $1,000,
learning English and paying all the taxes they owe. The other
proposal, sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jon
Kyl (R-AZ), would let employed out-of-status immigrants
stay for five years, but they would then have to leave the US,
pay fines and apply to re-enter the country. Sen. Arlen
Specter (R-PA), chair of the Judiciary Committee, set a
committee vote for Mar. 27 on the two bills. Shortly after
Specter announced that his panel was nearing agreement on
the compromise, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN)
said he would introduce his own proposal limited to border
security and enforcement measures on Mar. 27. (AP 3/16/06)

The Judiciary Committee's decision to consider the Kennedy
proposal comes as immigrant rights activists and advocates
carry out actions around the country demanding a positive
solution for out-of-status immigrants. Advocates calling the
Judiciary Committee were told that the phones were "ringing
off the hook," according to a report from the Immigration
Forum. (Immigration Forum Policy Update 3/16/06) Actions
are expected to continue during the Senate's week-long
recess, including a hunger strike and week of actions in the
San Francisco Bay Area Mar. 21-27. (Bay Area Immigrant
Rights Coalition website,

*2. 60 Arrested in Boston Raids

In "Operation Avalanche," a two-day sweep through the
Boston area on Mar. 14 and 15, US Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 60 immigrants,
57 of whom had records of arrests or convictions. In its Mar.
16 news release reporting the raids, ICE did not specify how
many of those detained had been convicted of crimes and
how many had been charged but ultimately acquitted. Three
immigrants who did not have arrest records were detained on
outstanding deportation orders. ICE spun the raids as an
effort to rid the streets of potential offenders and stem recent
violence in high-crime Boston neighborhoods including
Dorchester, East Boston and Mattapan. Of the immigrants
seized in the raids, 43 were lawful permanent residents.

It was the largest such raid in New England since ICE was
formed three years ago, according to Matthew J. Etre, acting
special agent-in-charge of ICE in New England. Advocates
for immigrants criticized the arrests, saying that authorities
had targeted people of color and gave too few details about
the charges. The immigrants arrested came from 21
countries: Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cape Verde,
Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana,
Greece, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica,
Nicaragua, Nigeria, St. Vincent, Trinidad, United Kingdom
and Vietnam. In its press release, ICE did not specify how
many of the arrestees came from each country, although
charts the agency released to reporters before a press
conference announcing the results of the sweep showed that
more than half of those arrested were from Haiti, the
Dominican Republic or El Salvador. Asked if federal agents
had focused on Central American and Caribbean countries,
Etre said: "We do not target any one ethnic group. We are
targeting those individuals who are committing crimes in our
neighborhoods, and violent crimes at that."

Nearly 60% of the arrests took place in one of Boston's
crime "hot spots," 10 sections of the city where more than
20% of the 75 killings in 2005 occurred, said Etre and
Boston police superintendent Paul Joyce. ICE was assisted in
the operation by the Boston Police Department, the Suffolk
County Sheriff's Department, the US Marshals Service, the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the
Middlesex County Sheriff's Department, the Suffolk County
Probation Office, the Social Security Administration Office
of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, the US
Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service, the
Massachusetts State Police, the US Attorney's office, the
Bristol County Sheriff's Department and the Plymouth
County Sheriff's Department. (Boston Globe 3/17/06; ICE
News Release 3/16/06)

*3. Janitors Arrested at RI Navy Base
On Mar. 13, ICE agents arrested four janitors they said were
working illegally for a cleaning contractor at a Navy base in
Newport, Rhode Island. The four workers--three Guatemalan
nationals and one Colombian--are among 140 employees at
Aid Maintenance Co. who are ineligible to work in the US,
said ICE spokesperson Paula Grenier. Aid Maintenance, a
Pawtucket-based janitorial service, contracts with the Navy's
base in Newport and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. A
federal immigration judge will be responsible for deciding
whether the four employees will be deported. Russell Bizier,
the company's operations manager, said he believed his firm
now must fire more than half of its 280 employees. Aid
Maintenance officials check every job applicant's
documentation to make sure they're eligible to work, Bizier
said. The firm voluntarily submits Social Security numbers
to a government database to check their authenticity. Bizier
said immigration officials have told him the company will
not be fined. (Boston Globe 3/16/06 from AP)

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