Sunday, May 21, 2006

INB 5/21/06: Raids Protested in Detroit; 34 Arrested in Western NY

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 19 - May 21, 2006

1. Raids Protested in Detroit
2. LA Water & Power Raided
3. 34 Arrested in Western NY
4. Construction Raids Continue
5. Senate Moves on Immigration Bill

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On May 15, about 50 people braved the rain in front of the federal building in Detroit to protest a May 12 immigration raid. Agents from the fugitive operations team of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided three homes in southwestern Detroit on May 12, looking for three people with oustanding deportation orders. They ended up arresting one of the people they were looking for, along with 17 other people who happened to be at raided homes. Four people--including the person originally sought--remain detained; the other 14 were allowed to post bail, said ICE spokesperson Robin Baker. The person officials were originally looking for was previously convicted of auto theft and will soon be deported to Mexico.

Children were among those arrested in the raids, according to activist Elena Herrada. "We have to respond," said Herrada at the protest. "More and more people can disappear." People "don't feel safe," said Edith Castillo, executive director for a Detroit-based group called Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED). [Detroit Free Press 5/13/06, 5/15/06, 5/16/06; Detroit News 5/16/06; AP 5/15/06]


On May 16, ICE agents arrested five immigrant workers at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), culminating a year-long investigation. Three other LADWP workers were arrested previously as part of the same investigation. LADWP cooperated fully, and its human resources department helped arrange the arrests. LADWP General Manager Ron Deaton said his office worked closely with ICE to examine the records of more than 7,000 LADWP employees.

The arrested LADWP workers were from Ethiopia, Nigeria, El Salvador, the Philippines and Mexico; all had entered the country legally, but several had visas that did not authorize them to work. One employee was on a student visa, one was on a visitor's visa, and one had applied for temporary protective status, said ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice. Three of the workers were lawful permanent residents with criminal convictions that make them eligible for deportation, Kice said. The arrested workers held positions including management analyst, customer service representative, water sampling technician, maintenance worker and electrical engineering associate. All of the arrested workers were processed for administrative immigration violations and will undergo deportation proceedings, ICE said. The raids were part of an ICE program targeting critical infrastructure facilities. [ICE News Release 5/16/06; Los Angeles Times 5/17/06]

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office welcomed the arrests. "Mayor Villaraigosa has made the safety and security of the residents of Los Angeles his top priority and thanks the Department of Homeland Security for this joint effort," said spokesperson Janelle Erickson. [LAT 5/17/06]


Early on May 19, some 50 ICE agents and state troopers arrested a group of 29 undocumented Mexican immigrants who were traveling in vans to jobs at Schictel's nursery in Springville and West Valley, New York, just south of Buffalo. ICE was contacted after a sheriff's deputy pulled five Schictel's workers over on a traffic stop late on May 18; those five workers were handed over to ICE after they failed to produce proper documents. Most of the workers had been living along Route 219 in Springville, in what used to be a motel and is now owned by Schictel's. According to Peter J. Smith, the ICE supervising agent who headed the raid, "different buses...would come and shuttle them from the motel out to the worksite." The 34 arrested workers will not face charges; most were expected to be sent back to Mexico on May 20. "This is right in line with the president's plans to have illegals sent back immediately," said Smith. [WIVB TV4 Buffalo (Niagara Falls) 5/20/06; AP 5/19/06; Buffalo News 5/20/06]


Ten undocumented workers were arrested in a May 18 raid at a construction site for a H-E-B grocery store in Beaumont, Texas, immigration officials said on May 19. ICE personnel received a tip that dozens of undocumented aliens were working at the site, Houston-based ICE spokesperson Luisa Deason said. H-E-B Houston division spokesperson Cyndy Garza-Roberts said on May 19 that the undocumented immigrants were employed by independent subcontractors working at the site. H-E-B has asked its contractor, Dallas-based Aguirre Building Systems, to ban any of the subcontractors who were involved until they can prove every worker is documented. [Beaumont Enterprise 5/20/06]

On May 16, ICE arrested five undocumented immigrants from Mexico who were working for a subcontractor at a Wal-Mart construction site in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The workers were arrested at a local hotel and have been charged with possessing fraudulent documents. Undocumented workers also have been arrested in recent months at Wal-Mart construction sites in Bismarck and Dickinson. In October 2005, Wal-Mart temporarily shut down work on seven stores under construction in North Dakota to check for unauthorized workers [see INB 11/20/05]. [AP 5/18/06]

On May 16, police in Casper, Wyoming arrested two undocumented workers of a cement company pouring the foundation on a local Wal-Mart site. The two men were charged locally with interfering with an investigation by giving false names to police. ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok said on May 17 that ICE had placed detainers on the two workers and will investigate. Heggem Construction, based in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, released a statement on May 17 claiming it does not "knowingly hire unauthorized workers." The arrest temporarily shut down work at the site for a second time this year; in March construction stopped for several days after concerns arose about the immigration status of some workers. [Casper Star-Tribune 5/18/06]

On May 16, three Mexican immigrants installing drywall on a school construction site in Belgrade, Montana, were arrested by local police and jailed in nearby Bozeman at the request of immigration officials. Belgrade police began investigating the men on May 16 after a pawn shop employee alleged they stole a drywall tool worth $100; the tool was later found in the store but the three men were turned over to ICE because they couldn't provide proper documentation. As of May 18 they were in ICE detention in Colorado, and had agreed to be deported without seeing an immigration judge, Rusnok said on May 19. No criminal charges have been filed. [AP 5/20/06]

On May 17, ICE arrested at least six suspected out-of-status immigrants at an apartment complex in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, in the southern suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. The arrests were fallout from a May 9 raid in the area targeting construction subcontractors working for Fischer Homes [see INB 5/14/06]. When US marshals arrived at the Ft. Mitchell apartments to serve a summons for a man wanted for questioning in the Fischer Homes case, they found men they believed to be undocumented immigrants and called ICE to detain them. [ (Cincinnati) 5/18/06]

On May 19, local authorities arrested three undocumented immigrants working on a construction site in Triadelphia, West Virginia (near Wheeling, in Ohio County), and turned them over to ICE in nearby Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two of the men were subsequently released after agents found they had been previously processed by ICE. The three men were working for a Virginia subcontractor installing cable service for Comcast. The arrests were prompted by a tip from someone who reported that possible undocumented immigrants were working at the site, said Ohio County Sheriff Tom Burgoyne. [Wheeling News-Register 5/19/06]


During the week of May 15, the Senate resumed debate on S. 2611, an immigration bill introduced by Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Mel Martinez (R-FL). On May 17, the US Senate voted 99 to 0 to approve an amendment by Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) which would exclude immigrants who have committed one felony or three or more misdemeanors from legalizing their status. In a compromise, senators agreed to let some immigrants who have ignored deportation orders remain eligible for legal status if they show their deportation would cause "extreme hardship" to legal residents or US citizens, or could prove they did not receive adequate notice of a deportation hearing. The Senate voted 83-16 to approve an amendment by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) which calls for the construction of 370 miles of fencing along Arizona and California's borders with Mexico. [Bloomberg News 5/17/06; Border Working Group Press Release 5/17/06; Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) 5/18/06]

The fencing would replicate the "triple fence" model--three layers of 15-foot-high solid walls--already used along the border near San Diego, California. Some worry that walls in Arizona and California will just push people to cross the border farther east, through the deserts of New Mexico and Texas. A recent New York Times/CBS poll published on May 14 showed that 66% of the US public opposes using fencing to control immigration, while 29% favor such a strategy. [BWG Press Release 5/17/06]

On May 17, the Senate voted 66-33 to reject an amendment sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) which would have blocked immigrants present in the US illegally from gaining legal status. On May 16 senators voted 69-28 against an amendment that would have eliminated a guest-worker program. Senators have approved amendments lowering the number of guest-worker visas to 200,000 per year, setting wage rules for the program and preventing it from being used where more than 9% of low-skilled US workers are unemployed. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has said the Senate will complete work on the bill by the end of May. It will then have to be reconciled in committee with HR 4437, passed last Dec. 16, which includes harsh repressive measures and no legalization program. [Bloomberg News 5/17/06]

On May 18, the Senate voted 50-49 against an amendment proposed by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) which would have stripped Social Security earnings from millions of immigrants. [National Immigration Law Center (NILC) 5/18/06] Also on May 18, the Senate voted 63-34 for an amendment introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) stating that the federal government "shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the national language of the United States." The Senate also voted 58-39 for an amendment by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) declaring English the "common and unifying language of America." Both amendments are seen as largely symbolic. [Houston Chronicle 5/19/06]

On May 18, the Senate voted 56 to 43 for an amendment offered by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) that would allow immigrant workers to apply for permanent residence without the sponsorship of their employers. [NY Times 5/18/06]

On May 18, President George W. Bush wrote to House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), formally asking for an emergency appropriation of $1.9 billion to pay for the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to assist the Border Patrol, part of a plan Bush outlined in a May 15 speech. Bush said he would cut a similar amount from an emergency request for funds for the Department of Defense. [NY Times 5/18/06] Bush made a photo op visit of less than four hours to the Arizona border city of Yuma on May 18 in an effort to sell his immigration reform plan. Since the start of the fiscal year last Oct. 1, the Border Patrol's Yuma station has become the busiest in the nation with more than 84,000 immigrants apprehended, up from about 77,000 a year ago. [ADS 5/19/06] Immigrant deaths in the Yuma sector hit a record 51 in 2005, up from 15 two years earlier. [LAT 5/19/06]


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