Sunday, June 18, 2006

INB 6/18/06: Raids in KS, NC, MD, VA; Seattle Imam Ordered Deported

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 23 - June 18, 2006

(Please note: there will be no Immigration News Briefs for the next two weeks. INB will return the weekend of July 8.)

1. Kansas Beef Plant Raid
2. Raid at North Carolina Stadium
3. DC Area Airport Raided
4. Base Arrests in Maryland, Virginia
5. Fischer Homes: Arrests, Guilty Pleas
6. 2,179 Arrested in "Fugitive" Sweep
7. Judge OKs Profiling of Immigrants
8. Seattle Imam Ordered Deported
9. Mixed Rulings on Jordan Removal

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 now archived at


During the week of June 12, a federal grand jury in Topeka, Kansas indicted five meatpacking workers on federal immigration charges, according to a press release from US Attorney Eric Melgren. All five men--three of them from Mexico, two from Guatemala--had worked at the National Beef plant in Liberal, Kansas, for at least two years, using the names and Social Security numbers of US citizens. "The arrests and indictments were the result of tips from other workers at the National Beef plant," Melgren said in the release. [It was not clear when or where the arrests were carried out.] Assistant US Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting all the cases, which were investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The charges include using false documents, aggravated identity theft, making a false claim of US citizenship, making a false statement on an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form, and misusing a Social Security number. [Southwest Daily Times (Liberal & Seward Counties) 6/16/06]


On May 23, ICE agents arrested seven construction workers at the Carter-Finley stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina. The ICE agents, accompanied by two state troopers, went to the stadium because Highway Patrol was seeking a driver suspected of causing an accident on Interstate 40. When the agents arrived, about 50-70 workers ran from the stadium. Six of the arrested workers pleaded guilty to immigration charges and face deportation. The seventh is a teenager from Guatemala; his case was continued. [ 6/7/06, partly from AP]


On June 14, ICE agents arrested 55 Latin American immigrants working for two contractors at a construction site at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC. The men were arrested as they were being transported on buses through a security checkpoint to enter the airport, located in Virginia. The arrests culminated an investigation that began several weeks earlier and included the Transportation Security Agency, US Customs and Border Protection, and the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority. The arrested workers are from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Bolivia. Most were expected to be flown on the night of June 14 to an ICE detention facility in El Paso for removal. [ICE News Release 6/14/06; Washington Post 6/15/06]


Early in the week of June 12, ICE agents and investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) arrested 14 immigrants who were performing contract work at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Maryland. All of the individuals were arrested administratively and placed in removal. [ICE News Release 6/14/06]

On May 8, three undocumented immigrants from Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador were arrested and turned over to ICE after entering Fort Belvoir, in northeastern Virginia, on the back of a rental truck. Maj. Christopher Butler, the post's director of emergency services, told the Belvoir Eagle newspaper that an "anonymous caller" alerted military police that the three were riding in the open back of a Budget rental truck. The driver, who claimed to work for a private moving company, was not arrested. Military officials said it was the fourth time this year undocumented workers have been caught on the base. Butler said there were seven such incidences last year. Two of the men were released with a notice to appear in court; the third had a prior record and was detained. [Fairfax County Times (VA) 5/18/06]


On June 2, ICE agents arrested seven immigrant workers in northern Kentucky in an ongoing investigation into construction contractor Fischer Homes. Chicago ICE spokesperson Gail Montenegro said the most recent arrests took place at the offices of S&W Custom Interiors, in an industrial area of unincorporated Boone County, Kentucky. The seven workers--one from El Salvador, the rest from Mexico--were detained without bond at local county jails. On June 6 in US District Court in Covington, Kentucky, each of the seven men pleaded guilty to a single charge of entering the US illegally. Two were released to ICE for deportation; the other five will remain as witnesses against Fischer Homes subcontractor Howard Pratt and some of his associates, who are charged with harboring aliens.

Since early May, ICE has rounded up 89 immigrants in its investigation into the employment practices of Crestview Hills-based Fischer Homes and its subcontractors [see INB 5/14/06, 5/21/06]. As of June 8, 26 workers had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of entering the US illegally; most were sentenced to time served (about four weeks). Another 12 workers were expected to plead guilty on June 9. Most of the workers will be deported quickly, but 18 are being held as material witnesses. [Cincinnati Enquirer 6/7/06; AP 6/7/06; Cincinnati Post 6/7/06, 6/9/06]


On June 14, Assistant Secretary for ICE Julie Myers announced that ICE agents had apprehended 2,179 immigrants in a nationwide sweep between May 26 and June 13. Virtually every ICE field office in the US took part in "Operation Return to Sender," in collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies. About half of the arrested immigrants had prior criminal records, and 367 were described by ICE as "members or associates of violent street gangs" (presumably without criminal records). Another 640 of the arrested immigrants were "fugitives" who had ignored final orders of removal issued by an immigration judge. The remaining arrestees were immigration status violators picked up during the raids. Most were arrested on administrative immigration violations and were placed in removal proceedings; ICE said on June 14 that 829 of them had already been removed. ICE agents also arrested 121 people on federal criminal charges ranging from felony re-entry after deportation to "illegal alien in possession of a firearm." [ICE News Release 6/14/06]

"It looks like they [ICE officials] are just trying to get numbers for statistics to report back to Washington," said David Wenger, a Detroit immigration attorney, about the raids in the Detroit area. [Detroit Free Press 6/8/06]


On June 14, federal judge John Gleeson of US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, handed down a 99-page ruling in Turkmen v. Ashcroft, a class-action lawsuit against US government officials, brought by Muslim immigrants detained after Sept. 11, 2001. Gleeson rejected the government's motion to dismiss claims concerning conditions of confinement, and agreed that the plaintiffs can sue over their abusive and unconstitutional treatment. That decision means top federal officials, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Robert S. Mueller III, will have to answer to those accusations under oath. Gleeson rejected the government's argument that the Sept. 11 terror attacks justified extraordinary measures to detain noncitizens who fell under suspicion, or that top officials needed special immunity to be able to combat future threats without fear of being sued.

However, Gleeson also ruled that the government has broad discretion to enforce immigration laws selectively, based on a person's religion, race or national origin, and to detain noncitizens indefinitely, for any reason, after an immigration judge has ordered them removed--as long as their removal is "reasonably forseeable." Gleeson admitted that if such profiling were "applied to citizens, our courts would be highly suspicious." The Center for Constitutional Rights represented the detainees and plans to appeal. [New York Times 6/15/06; CCR "Turkmen" Summary 6/16/06]


On June 1, after six months in detention--with much of that time spent in solitary confinement--Seattle Muslim leader Abrahim Sheikh Mohamed gave up his legal battle against deportation. Mohamed was arrested Nov. 14 on immigration violations at Sea-Tac Airport, where he'd just arrived on a domestic flight. For five years before his arrest, Mohamed led prayers as imam of the Abu-Bakr mosque in Rainier Valley, and he is well-respected in the local Somali community. Although he has not been charged with any terrorism-related crimes, FBI agents and other witnesses--including a local restaurant owner--testified at Mohamed's bond hearing last February that the imam had ties to terrorism and was raising money for al-Itihaad a-Islamiya, an alleged Somali terrorist group. More than 200 people rallied in support of Mohamed outside the bond hearing. Immigration Judge Victoria Young concluded that Mohamed was a threat to national security and denied bond.

Immigration prosecutors say Mohamed is a citizen of Kenya, not Somalia as he has claimed, and accuse him of lying about his identity to gain asylum. Authorities claim to have obtained identity and passport-application documents showing Mohamed is from Kenya. His lawyer, Hilary Han, said Mohamed applied for such documents in Kenya but is in fact a native of Somalia and likely would have been able to prove it if he had continued his legal fight. At the June 1 hearing, Young ordered that Mohamed be deported to Kenya--if the US government can prove he is Kenyan, and the Kenyan government agrees to accept him. If not, Young ordered that Mohamed be deported to Somalia. A deportation hearing has been scheduled for later in June. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer 6/2/06; Seattle Times 6/2/06]

The US government has not successfully deported anyone to Somalia since Feb. 14, 2002, when it rushed to send 30 Somali nationals to Mogadishu on a charter flight before Minneapolis federal judge John Tunheim could issue a ruling blocking such removals [see INB 3/8/02, 4/19/02]. On Jan. 12, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Minneapolis resident Keyse Jama could be deported to Somalia although the country lacked a functioning government which could agree to accept him [see INB 1/15/05]. In April 2005 the US government tried to deport Jama to Somalia's Puntland region, apparently by hiring a private security company to negotiate with warlords there. That effort failed, and Jama was returned to the US. He was released from detention last July on order of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals [see INB 4/24/05, 7/23/05].


In a decision dated Apr. 7 and released on Apr. 11, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled that Southern California Muslim community leader Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan can be removed to Jordan, partially reversing a Feb. 12, 2005 ruling by immigration judge D.D. Sitgraves that Hamdan might be tortured there. The BIA upheld Sitgraves' denial of asylum but found that the torture claim was based on insufficient evidence. Hamdan's lawyers will take the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; meanwhile, the ACLU is pursuing a habeas lawsuit to release him from detention. Hamdan, who is Palestinian, has been living in the US for over 25 years and has six US-born children. He was arrested July 27, 2004, on an immigration violation; authorities have never charged him with a crime, but claim he supported terrorism in his paid job as a fundraiser for the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation [see INB 12/18/04, 2/12/05, 3/25/06]. [Los Angeles Times 4/12/06]

On Apr. 10, Hamdan's lawyers and the government made additional arguments in the habeas case. Hamdan is now waiting for the district court to rule on whether he should be freed while his immigration case is appealed to the 9th Circuit. [Islamic Shura Council of Southern California Community Update 4/26/06] Hamdan's attorneys and family are asking supporters to send letters demanding his release to John P. Torres, head of ICE Detention and Removal Operations. [ 4/30/06]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

INB 6/10/06: Memphis Chemical Plants Raided

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 22 - June 10, 2006

1. Memphis Chemical Plants Raided
2. Wichita Recycling Firms Raided
3. Restaurants Busted in Ohio, Kentucky
4. Acquitted Palestinian Deported

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 now archived at


On May 26, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 25 Mexican immigrants working on the premises of a DuPont Co. chemical plant in Memphis, Tennessee. The workers were employed by Lucite International Inc., and by Arkema, the chemical unit of French oil company Total SA, at an industrial park complex owned by DuPont. None of the men arrested was a DuPont employee or contractor, according to Tennessee DuPont spokesperson Chris Caldwell. DuPont cooperated with ICE to arrange on-site screenings of workers at the plant. The raid was carried out by ICE special agents with agents and officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Shelby County Sheriff's Office. The arrested workers had used fraudulent documents and made false statements to gain employment with Lucite and Arkema. Some were also identified as having illegally re-entered the country after being previously deported. David Kustoff, the US Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, will be evaluating each case for possible federal criminal prosecution. [ICE News Release 6/6/06; AP 6/6/06]


On June 6, ICE special agents arrested 11 immigrant workers at three scrap metal businesses in Wichita, Kansas. The raids were carried out in coordination with the Wichita Police Department, which served simultaneous search and arrest warrants at American Can Inc. and two locations of Kansas Can Inc. The raids followed an undercover Wichita police investigation into whether the three companies were bilking customers by cheating on the weight of the recycled scrap metal they purchase. Wichita police sought ICE assistance because they suspected a number of the employees at all three locations were not authorized to work in the US.

One of the arrested workers was a 55-year-old Cuban who was already in removal proceedings. The other 10 were from Mexico; all have been placed into removal proceedings. Seven of the Mexicans were released under supervision, with notices to appear before immigration judges and an order to periodically check in with the local ICE office. The other four workers, including the Cuban, have criminal records and are being detained. [ICE News Release 6/8/06]


On June 5, ICE agents detained nine men and three women in a raid targeting a popular Chinese buffet restaurant in Fairfield, Ohio, north of Cincinnati. Bee's Buffet owner Jing Fei Jiang, who had apparently ignored a deportation order issued years earlier, as among 10 people arrested at his home; two other people were arrested later in the day at the restaurant. Authorities also seized evidence from both the home and restaurant, including cash, records, receipts and a new SUV. Officials say Jiang housed the workers from China and Mexico and paid them in cash. [ 6/5/06; FOX19 News 6/6/06]

On June 6, a federal grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky, indicted Chinese restaurant owner Jian Tian Lin and his brother, Jian Chai Lin, on charges of illegally harboring, transporting and employing unauthorized immigrant workers for financial gain. The brothers, both out-of-status immigrants themselves, were arrested on May 10 as part of an ICE worksite enforcement investigation. Jian Tian Lin is in federal custody; Jian Chai Lin has been released on bond. Their arraignment is set for June 27. The brothers allegedly housed the Mexican and Chinese immigrant workers at a residence and transported them to and from work at Jian Tian Lin's Golden China Buffet restaurant in Radcliff. At the time of the arrests, seven unauthorized immigrant workers were found at either the residence or the restaurant. [ICE News Release 6/7/06]


On May 23, US government officials deported Palestinian native and Tampa resident Sameeh Hammoudeh by taking him to Jordan. Hammoudeh then crossed into the Occupied West Bank to be reunited with his wife and six children, according to his attorney, Stephen Bernstein. "He's home in the West Bank," Bernstein said. "He's in Ramallah." Hammoudeh had been in US federal custody since February 2003. Last Dec. 6, a jury acquitted Hammoudeh of charges that he was involved in raising money in Tampa for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). As part of a June 2005 plea deal in a separate tax fraud case, Hammoudeh and his wife had already agreed to be deported. Hammoudeh's wife was deported in February, but Bernstein had to sue the government in federal court to expedite Hammoudeh's deportation. Bernstein said the Israeli government granted permission on Apr. 20 for Hammoudeh to enter the Occupied West Bank. A federal judge reviewing the lawsuit gave immigration officials until May 24 to deport Hammoudeh or explain why they continued to hold him. [AP 5/25/06; Washington Post 12/7/05]

The same jury that acquitted Hammoudeh on Dec. 6 also acquitted his co-defendant, Kuwait-born Palestinian professor Sami Al-Arian, of eight charges in the Tampa "terror" case, and deadlocked on another nine charges. On Apr. 14, Al-Arian made a deal with the government and pled guilty to one count of conspiring to provide support to the PIJ. The plea deal, which was unsealed in federal court on Apr. 17, was supposed to allow Al-Arian to be sentenced to time served and quickly deported. But at the May 1 sentencing hearing where the deal was expected to be confirmed, Judge James S. Moody Jr. of Federal District Court in Tampa instead sentenced Al-Arian to an additional 19 months in prison--the maximum allowed under sentencing guidelines. The prosecution had asked for him to be sentenced at the low end of the guidelines. [New York Times 5/2/06; WP 4/18/06]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted:
they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity
Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible
contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J.
Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)

Sunday, June 4, 2006

INB 6/4/06: Raids in Kansas, Texas; Chicago Workers End Fast

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 21 - June 4, 2006

1. Did Injury Claim Prompt Cessna Raid?
2. Austin Restaurant Raided
3. Chicago Workers Win Delay, End Fast
4. ICE Pervert Gets Probation

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 May 30, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested five Mexican workers--some of them longtime employees--at the Cessna Aircraft Co. plant in Wichita, Kansas. On May 31, the five were indicted on federal immigration charges; four of them face multiple counts of aggravated identity theft, among other charges.

Cessna spokesperson Robert Stangarone said the company had received an anonymous tip that those five workers had used false documents to get their jobs. After an internal review of the employment records of those employees, Cessna notified immigration authorities, Stangarone said. "Cessna's cooperation in this matter is a model for all employers," said US Attorney Eric Melgren. [AP 5/31/06]

Stangarone said an injury claim filed by a former worker, Rogelio Ortega, was unrelated to the arrests. Ortega, who is undocumented but was not arrested, worked at the plant for more than four years but was let go after an injury at the plant left him with work restrictions. After Ortega told the media about his struggle to get medical treatment for his job-related injuries, a Cessna attorney warned him in an Apr. 26 letter, obtained by Associated Press, that contacting the media is "a dangerous move" given his illegal status. In one interview with AP before the raid, Ortega pointed out seven undocumented workers on a list of employees who worked in his former department at Cessna. Three of the seven were among those arrested May 30. [AP 6/1/06]


Early on June 1, ICE agents raided Texas French Bread, a restaurant and bakery in Austin, Texas, and arrested five kitchen workers on immigration charges. One worker is fighting her deportation in immigration court; the other two women and two men have been deported to Mexico. Business owner Frederick Murph Willcott described the raid as "violent" and said the agents entered with their guns visible. Willcott said all the arrested workers have children and have worked at Texas French Bread for years, in one case about 10 years. "These people paid taxes. They worked like crazy," Willcott said. "The people that they took away hadn't done anything wrong."

Willcott said authorities told him they were following information gained from an investigation into a false document ring. ICE spokesperson Nina Pruneda said on June 2 that agents were called by the Texas attorney general's office to assist in the raid. She wouldn't say why Texas French Bread was targeted. A spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the investigation is continuing. Jerry Strickland, a spokesperson for Abbott, wouldn't comment on whether the June 1 raid was linked to a bust last February of a counterfeit document ring in Dallas. [Austin American-Statesman 6/3/06]


On June 1 in Chicago, immigration judge John Brahos granted a continuance of more than four months to Flor Crisostomo and five other workers arrested last Apr. 19 in an ICE raid of the IFCO Systems pallet company in Chicago. The six workers must return to court Oct. 12. Immigration judge Carlos Cuevas gave another 13 of the IFCO Chicago workers (or 15, according to the Chicago-based Spanish-language daily Diario Hoy) only a two-month continuance: they must return to court on July 31. Another three workers have immigration court dates set for June 6 and 7. A total of 26 workers were arrested at IFCO's Chicago warehouse during the Apr. 19 sweep; they were among 1,187 workers were arrested that day at 40 IFCO sites in 27 states [see INB 4/22/06]. [Diario Hoy 6/2/06; Chicago Tribune 6/2/06; Nuevo Siglo (Chicago) 6/2/06]

About 150 supporters of the Chicago-area workers rallied in front of the immigration court building before the hearings. [CT 6/2/06] Later on June 1, following the hearings, Crisostomo and Elvira Arellano annnounced the end of a hunger strike they began May 10, seeking a moratorium on raids and deportations [see INB 5/14/06, 5/28/06]. "We are ending the strike for the sake of our health," said Arellano. "Also to have the strength to return to Washington to lobby and prepare ourselves to support the next workers who will appear in court." [DH 6/2/06] Film student Victor Arroyo, who joined the hunger strike on May 13, and student Jesus Carlin, who joined it on May 16, also ended their fast on June 1. Roxana Licona ended her fast on May 31 for health reasons (she had joined it on May 13), but remained camped out in solidarity with the others at Tenochtitlan plaza on Chicago's south side. [NS 6/2/06; La Raza (Chicago) 6/2/06]


On May 5, ICE special agent-in-charge Frank Figueroa was sentenced to one year probation after pleading guilty in April to exposing his sex organs and disorderly conduct. Figueroa headed investigations at the ICE office in Tampa, Florida until his arrest last Oct. 25, when security cameras filmed him exposing himself and performing a lewd act in front of a 16-year old girl at a Florida mall [see INB 10/28/05]. When confronted by mall security officers, Figueroa reportedly first ran from them, then showed them his federal ID badge. During the sentencing hearing, Figueroa claimed he was just scratching himself but acknowledged that the girl might have seen his sex organs. The girl's mother pointed out that if the incident had happened a few months earlier, when the girl was 15 years old, Figueroa would have been charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Figueroa's wife and 14-year-old daughter also presented statements at the sentencing hearing, pleading for leniency. [WKMG (Orlando) 5/12/06]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)