Sunday, March 5, 2006

INB 3/5/06: Gov't Settles Abuse Lawsuit; Raids Hit Cape Cod

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 8 - March 5, 2006

1. Government Settles Abuse Lawsuit
2. Raids Hit Cape Cod

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On Feb. 27, the US government filed a settlement in US District
Court for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, agreeing
to pay $300,000 to Ehab Elmaghraby, a native of Egypt who was
arrested in a sweep of Muslim men following the Sept. 11, 2001,
terror attacks and was held for nearly a year at the federal
Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn. Elmaghraby was
eventually convicted of credit card fraud but cleared of any
links to terrorism; he was deported in 2003 and now lives in

On May 3, 2004, Elmaghraby and co-plaintiff Javaid Iqbal, a
Pakistani native held at MDC for nine months, sued former
attorney general John Ashcroft and Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) director Robert S. Mueller III in the
Brooklyn federal court, accusing them of personally conspiring to
violate the rights of Muslim immigrant detainees on the basis of
their race, religion and national origin. The lawsuit also names
officials from the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and guards at
MDC [see INB 5/15/04].

Elmaghraby said he reluctantly decided to settle because he is
ill, in debt and about to have surgery for a thyroid ailment
aggravated by his treatment in detention. Iqbal is still pursuing
the lawsuit. Iqbal was one of several detainees who returned to
New York this year to give depositions in their lawsuits under
conditions of extraordinary security, including the requirement
that they be in constant custody of federal marshals and not call
anybody. Elmaghraby did not go to New York because of his ill
health and because the settlement was close, said one of his
lawyers, Haeyoung Yoon of the Urban Justice Center.

A number of similar lawsuits have been filed; Elgharaby's case is
the first the government has settled. The settlement agreement
must still be approved by the federal judge in the case, John
Gleeson. The government did not admit any liability or fault in
settling the suit.

Gleeson ruled last September that Ashcroft, Mueller and other top
government officials must answer questions under oath in the
lawsuit. "Our nation's unique and complex law enforcement and
security challenges in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks do
not warrant the elimination of remedies for the constitutional
violations alleged here," Gleeson wrote. Government lawyers filed
an appeal of that ruling on Feb. 24.

A 2003 report by the Justice Department's inspector general found
widespread abuse of noncitizen detainees at MDC following Sept.
11, 2001. In their lawsuit, Elmaghraby and Iqbal charged that
while at MDC they were kicked and punched while shackled, cursed
as terrorists and subjected to multiple unnecessary body-cavity
searches, including one in which correction officers inserted a
flashlight into Elmaghraby's rectum, making him bleed.

BOP spokesperson Traci L. Billingsley said the BOP began its own
investigation in April 2004, after federal officials declined to
prosecute. She said 10 guards and supervisors at MDC had been
disciplined: two were fired, two demoted and eight received
suspensions ranging from 2 to 30 days. She listed the offenses as
"lack of candor, unprofessional conduct, misuse of supervisory
authority, conduct unbecoming, inattention to duty, failure to
exercise supervisory responsibilities, excessive use of force,
and physical and/or verbal abuse." [New York Times 2/28/06]


On Feb. 21, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents
arrested nine Brazilian immigrants in the Cape Cod area of
Massachusetts while searching for three men wanted on outstanding
warrants of removal. Barnstable police collaborated with ICE
agents in the raids. The nine detainees were taken to Boston,
where half of them were released with an order to appear in court
at a future date. "When we're seeking several fugitives, as we
were, and we happen upon other people breaking immigration laws,
we are not going to release them," said ICE northeast regional
communications director Michael Gilhooly. "We are going to arrest

Local Brazilians believe the ICE raids stemmed from the Feb. 3
arrest by Barnstable police of two Brazilian men who worked at a
Dunkin' Donuts shop. The two were charged with having urinated
and spit in coffee served to customers--particularly police
officers. ICE northeast regional communications director Michael
Gilhooly said two of the three men named in the removal warrants
were also facing charges brought by Barnstable police; Gilhooly
would not confirm whether the charges were for the coffee-
tampering incidents. But Cape Cod Online reports that two of the
men named on the removal warrants have the same last names as the
two Dunkin' Donuts suspects. One of the two was arrested Feb. 21
in Hyannis; the other was picked up in Florida on Feb. 23.

Barnstable police would not say whether they had contacted
immigration officials about the Dunkin' Donuts case. Barnstable
police also arrested five men during the week of Feb. 20 for
using fake Brazilian driver's licenses. All of them were
initially pulled over for traffic violations.

The last large immigration sweep on Cape Cod took place in
September 2002, when 35 Brazilian nationals were arrested in
early-morning raids by what was then the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS). There are an estimated 15,000 to
18,000 Brazilian immigrants living on Cape Cod, according to
leaders in the Brazilian community. [Cape Cod Online 2/24/06]


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