Sunday, August 6, 2006

INB 8/6/06: Palestinian Freed at Last; Raids in Oklahoma, Arkansas

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 28 - August 6, 2006

1. Palestinian Freed at Last
2. Saddle Company Raided in Oklahoma
3. Construction Raid in Arkansas
4. Chicago's IFCO Arrestees Win Stay

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


Shortly after 9:30pm on July 31, after more than two years of detention, Muslim community leader Abdel Jabbar Hamdan walked out of the Terminal Island federal detention center in San Pedro, California, and returned to his Buena Park home with his wife and six US-born children.

Hamdan's release came after a day of last-ditch legal efforts by the government to keep him detained. On July 27, and again on July 28 in response to a government challenge, US District Judge Terry J. Hatter, Jr. had ordered Hamdan released "forthwith" [see INB 7/30/06]. But Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials claimed they could continue holding Hamdan because government lawyers in Washington planned to file an emergency request to block Hatter's order. That request was filed late on July 31 with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which quickly rejected it in a three-sentence ruling, upholding Hatter's order and confirming that Hamdan should be released "forthwith."

Earlier in the day, Hatter had ordered Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to release Hamdan by 5pm on July 31 or appear in his Los Angeles courtroom at 11am on Aug. 1 "to show cause, if you have any, why you should not be held in contempt." American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Ranjana Natarajan said government lawyers assured her they plan no further appeals.

Hamdan is Palestinian; he was born in a refugee camp in the West Bank when it was under Jordanian control. He was arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on July 28, 2004; earlier he had worked as a fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic charity shut down by US officials in December 2001 for allegedly raising money for Hamas, a Palestinian organization the US has designated as terrorist. Hamdan was not charged with any crimes but was ordered deported for overstaying a student visa and was held by ICE without bond as an alleged national security threat.

In its July 31 brief, the government claimed that Hamdan's release could have "adverse foreign policy ramifications" because it could create "the perception that the US cannot keep alien fundraisers detained pending removal." Hamdan's lawyers had anticipated the government's move and filed a response before seeing its brief, noting that Holy Land Foundation officials charged with terrorism-related crimes were released on their own recognizance to await trial, and were not deemed dangers to national security.

In a statement, ICE said Hamdan would have to comply with an electronic monitoring program requiring him to be at home from 10 pm to 6 am daily and stay within a 50-mile radius of his home. DHS and the Department of Justice "will continue the vigorous effort to remove" Hamdan from the US, the statement said. [Los Angeles Times 8/1/06; Orange County Register 8/1/06] On Aug. 1, Hamdan declined to answer whether he was wearing an electronic monitor and steered clear of making controversial statements on his attorney's advice. [LAT 8/2/06]


On Aug. 2, ICE agents arrested 51 immigrants working at Billy Cook's Harness and Saddle in Sulphur, Oklahoma. The arrests were made at the company's main address at 320 Muskogee Street while agents executed two federal search warrants for business records at businesses associated with the company. Agents from the Social Security Administration (SSA) assisted with the operation. The 30 men and 21 women arrested are Mexican citizens ranging in age from 18 to 60. [ICE News Release 8/2/06]


On July 18, ICE agents raided a construction site in Springdale, Arkansas, and arrested 27 workers--25 of them from Mexico, two from Guatemala--on administrative immigration violations. According to Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, 24 men and one woman were being detained in the Washington County Jail. [ICE News Release 7/21/06; Northwest Arkansas Times 7/20/06]

ICE also arrested a manager and a crew leader of the construction firm, Arevalo Framing Associates, on criminal charges. Manager Alejandro Arevalo was charged with harboring illegal aliens and re-entry after deportation. Crew leader Rodrigo Arevalo was charged with re-entry after deportation. Searches conducted during the investigation resulted in the seizure of four vehicles, $1,943 in US currency and an assault-type shotgun. Additional federal charges are expected. [ICE News Release 7/21/06]


On July 31, immigration judge Carlos Cuevas in Chicago granted a one-year stay of deportation to 11 undocumented immigrants who were arrested in a mass nationwide raid last April of the IFCO Systems pallet company [see INB 4/22/06]. The 11 were among 26 workers arrested Apr. 19 at an IFCO facility in Chicago. Cuevas had previously given the 11 workers a two-month stay when they appeared at a June 1 hearing.

The workers had strong backing from the community; about 120 supporters greeted them as they emerged from immigration court. Alderman Daniel Solis, who joined the workers in the immigration courtroom, and members of Congress had lobbied the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on their behalf. Attorneys also presented a petition with hundreds of signatures supporting the workers. One of the "IFCO 26," Flor Crisostomo, led a hunger strike from May 10 to June 1 to demand a moratorium on deportations [see INB 5/28/06, 6/4/06]. [Chicago Tribune 8/1/06]


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1 comment:

INB said...

followup to item 2 (Saddle Company Raided in Oklahoma)

Saddle maker fined over immigration violations
By The Associated Press
5/20/2008 4:41 PM

MUSKOGEE -- A judge has ordered a saddle and tack manufacturing company in Sulphur to pay $51,000 in fines in connection with violations of immigration law.

Billy Cook pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors immigration violations and was given a $3,000 fine on each count. The 77-year-old owner of Billy Cook Harness and Saddle also was given two years of probation on each misdemeanor count.

U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said Tuesday Cook agreed with his longtime employee, Rutilio Osornio, to hire illegal aliens Osornio introduced to Cook.

Osornio pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count and was given $3,000 in fines and two years of probation.

In August 2006, a federal search warrant was executed at the business and 51 illegal aliens were found to be employed at the factory.

Defense Attorney Phil Hurst said the fine against the corporation exceeded guidelines. "My personal viewpoint is it's much to do about nothing," he said. "Homeland Security has to have something to justify their existence. They are the ones regulating immigration."

Sperling said the case presented a clash of competing government objectives.

"We are obligated to prosecute violations of immigration law," he said. "We are also charged to remove aliens and apportion scarce detention dollars.

"Bottom line? The aliens were removed and the employer is being held responsible."

By The Associated Press