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]


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