Sunday, April 9, 2006

INB 4/9/06: ICE Pulls Kids Off School Buses; New Raids in New Orleans

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 13 - April 9, 2006

1. School Threats Lead to Student Suicide?
2. ICE Pulls Kids Off School Buses
3. New Raids in New Orleans
4. Senate Compromise Falters

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


A 14-year-old boy who took part in a student walkout on Mar. 28
in Ontario, California--one of hundreds of walkouts around the
country demanding immigrant rights--killed himself on Mar. 30
after a vice principal at De Anza Middle School told him he would
be punished for his truancy. The administrator said he could not
attend graduation, his mother would be fined $250, and he could
be jailed for three years, said attorney Sonia Mercado. Soltero
phoned his mother with the news, but before she could get home,
he shot himself in the head using a gun his stepfather had hidden
in the garage, leaving behind apology notes. "We have to let the
schools know that they can't punish our children for exercising
their rights," said his mother, Louise Corales, in a statement
issued by Mercado. [Press-Enterprise (Riverside) 4/8/06; Press
Release from Civil Rights Lawyer R. Samuel Paz 4/7/06]


US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 49
Mexicans and two Salvadorans on Mar. 30 and 31 in Merced County
in central California. ICE said all those arrested had prior
deportation orders. In at least two cases, ICE seized US citizen
children off school buses before or after arresting their
parents. In Firebaugh, two unmarked ICE vans pulled up alongside
a school bus on the morning of Mar. 31, said Brian Walker,
superintendent of the Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School
District. One van drove in front of the bus, forcing the driver
to stop. Armed ICE agents boarded the bus and took three children
away in a van. The concerned bus driver followed the vans to a
home where he saw agents handcuffing people who appeared to be
the students' parents, said Walker. In Merced, agents took two
students from Franklin Elementary School off a bus after
arresting their parents.

Walker said he called ICE officials to discuss how arrests could
be handled in the future. "[W]e want to share with them that it
can be a traumatizing experience for students to be pulled over,"
said Walker. "We...think it could have been handled differently."

"There was no intention to target the children," said ICE
spokesperson Virginia Kice. "We were arresting their parents. The
parents were concerned about the kids coming home to an empty
house. We didn't want to separate a family."

The timing of the raids, during a week of nationwide protests for
immigrant rights, was a coincidence, said ICE Deputy Field Office
Director Timothy Aitken. "We do this every day," he said. "This
had nothing to do with the protests or the bills in the House and
the Senate." Three of ICE's "fugitive operations" teams conducted
the raids; local law enforcement agencies were not formally
involved, but the Merced County Sheriff's Department helped with
at least one arrest, said Aitken. [Merced Sun-Star 4/4/06]


Over the weekend of Apr. 1, ICE agents and the Gretna Police
Department arrested 68 immigrants from Mexico, Honduras, Peru and
El Salvador in a joint operation in New Orleans, Louisiana. ICE
said the raid targeted criminals, but admitted that only 12 of
the 68 immigrants had criminal records; nine had illegally re-
entered the US after having been deported, and three had
outstanding warrants of removal. [ICE did not indicate why the
others were arrested; presumably they only lacked legal
documents.] [ICE News Release 4/5/06]

On Mar. 17, ICE agents arrested 40 immigrant workers in New
Orleans. ICE said the immigrants were undocumented and that at
least a dozen of them had violent criminal backgrounds in Central
America. ICE officials said the action was not part of a major
campaign but was instigated by complaints from people associated
with small businesses around Lee Circle who were apparently
disconcerted by large numbers of workers gathering there waiting
for jobs. During the raid, one worker trying to escape allegedly
drove a car over an ICE agent's foot. [ 3/18/06 from AP]
Mexican national Dennis Dedert has since been indicted by a
federal grand jury on a charge of assaulting, resisting and
impeding a federal officer. [ 3/24/06 from AP]


On Apr. 7, a day after key senators announced they had reached a
final compromise on immigration reform, the deal fell apart and
the US Senate broke for a two-week recess. [CNN 4/8/06 from AP;
Time 4/7/06] The bill would have allowed undocumented immigrants
present in the US to get permanent residence within 6 to 8 years,
although those here less than five years would have to leave the
US first and come back as temporary workers. Those who arrived
after Jan. 7, 2004, would not be eligible, but would not be
barred from a temporary worker program. [National Immigration
Forum 4/7/06] The compromise also included proposals which would
expand expedited removal and legalize indefinite detention.
[Asylum Working Group 4/6/06]

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate's minority leader, apparently
scuttled the deal because he feared amendments would make the
Senate bill unworkable, and the final bill would worsen when
lawmakers meet to reconcile it with HR 4437, an anti-immigrant
bill passed by the House last December. In an election year, Reid
did not want to lead an effort to block the final bill. Sen.
Arlen Specter (R-PA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
said he would take the compromise up in committee as soon as the
recess ends, and send it to the Senate floor a week later. [CNN
4/8/06 from AP; Time 4/7/06]


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