Thursday, December 21, 2006

INB 12/21/06: Krome Detainees Protest

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 44 - December 21, 2006

1. Krome Detainees Protest
2. US and Canada Deport 99 Africans
3. Maine Activist's Home Raided
4. Swift Raids Protested

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is archived at


On Dec. 8, Haitian and Jamaican detainees at Krome Service Processing Center outside Miami in Dade County, Florida, refused to leave their dormitory to protest delays in obtaining travel papers from their consulates, immigration officials said; these delays have delayed their stay in detention awaiting deportation. The protest led Michael Rozos, field office director for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Florida office of detention and removal, to visit the Krome dormitory and speak to the detainees there on Dec. 8, accompanied by a "disturbance control team," said ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez. She said team members were "dressed appropriately."

While the detainees were frustrated at the delay in travel papers, some also talked about "the amount of people at Krome," Gonzalez said. A Haitian detainee attributed the tense atmosphere to crowded conditions. "There are just too many people here right now," he said. "We all are just desperate to get out." Krome's publicly-stated capacity of about 580 detainees has been exceeded for months. Gonzalez admitted on Dec. 14 that the number of detainees at Krome was 927. Gonzalez said 120 detainees would be transferred elsewhere on Dec. 19 and 50 others would be deported soon.

In late September, dozens of detainees signed a letter to the Miami Herald complaining about conditions at Krome. Another 255 detainees complained in a November letter that overcrowding at the facility is "causing a lot of tension that leads to confrontations, unsanitary dorm, showers, and clogged toilets...."

Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) executive director Cheryl Little said Krome "is becoming more and more overcrowded. It's getting dirty inside, and people are getting ill because of it." Little said one of her lawyers went to Krome Dec. 8 and was told by a guard that there was a "riot " and that the facility was in "lockdown." Little said the lawyer "was told that he couldn't go in, and that he better check before coming over the weekend because it might still be in lockdown." Gonzalez said there was no lockdown, and visiting hours were normal over the weekend of Dec. 9.

Ralph Latortue, the Haitian consul in Miami, went to Krome Dec. 13 for an annual holiday visit with Haitian detainees. Latortue told the Miami Herald that 60 of the 83 Haitians at Krome complained of mistreatment, lack of medical attention and overcrowding. He said some detainees, particularly those with criminal records, complained about delays in travel documents. Under current Haitian government regulations, Latortue said, authorities in Port-au-Prince must pre-approve the return of Haitians with criminal records, and the process can take months. Latortue said 75% of the 83 Haitians at Krome have criminal records.

Latortue said that during his meeting at Krome, some of the Haitian detainees told him about an incident on Dec. 8 that involved an "altercation with guards." At least two detainees who were witnesses told a FIAC lawyer that a guard pushed and "punched" a detainee, as other agitated detainees watched, according to Little. A worker at the facility who asked not to be identified said guards interrupted some immigration court proceedings during the episode.

ICE spokesperson Gonzalez said the dormitory protest was peaceful, with Haitian and Jamaican detainees refusing to leave their pod or dormitory to take meals. But Gonzalez acknowledged that an allegation was later made "against a guard." She had no details. "We take all allegations very seriously and it will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken," Gonzalez said.

Jamaican consul Ricardo Allicock visited Krome on Dec. 11 to meet with the more than 50 Jamaican detainees there. Allicock said many of the detainees were frustrated that they would not spend the holidays with their families back home because they have yet to be deported. The majority of the Jamaicans there have been waiting less than two months to be deported, he said. (Miami Herald 12/16/06)


Over the weekend of Dec. 16, ICE officers returned to the US after deporting 82 Nigerians and 17 Liberians on a joint charter removal flight conducted with the government of Canada. It was the largest US deportation flight to Africa in two years. The flight used chartered commercial aircraft and was staffed by officers of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations. Eight of the Nigerians were deportees from Canada; escorting officers from Canada accompanied the flight. The others deported on the flight had been housed at detention facilities across the US; they were brought to the Batavia Federal Detention Facility near Buffalo, New York, shortly before the flight. More than 60 of the deportees had criminal records. (ICE News Release 12/19/06)


On Dec. 14, more than a dozen ICE agents raided the home of longtime immigrant advocate Ben Guiliani in South Portland, Maine. The agents were seen carting out numerous boxes of evidence and computer equipment, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. A friend and fellow activist said agents also showed up at Guiliani's office elsewhere in the city. Guiliani said he was out of state when the agents showed up at his house, but that family members were home. Nobody has been charged or arrested, he said. The immigration agency notified South Portland police of the operation shortly after 9 am, but did not provide specifics of the investigation, said Police Chief Ed Googins.

A US citizen of Mexican descent, Guiliani has headed the Maine Migrant Workers Advocacy Group and has involved in workplace lawsuits against Wal-Mart and the former DeCoster egg farm, alleging bias and discrimination against Latino workers. He helped win major improvements in working and living conditions at DeCoster. He currently heads a firm called Azteca Consulting Associates Inc., which is involved in a variety of government and business matters, including import and export, Hispanic relations, labor search management and safety consulting, according to incorporation records. (Portland Herald (ME) 12/15/06)


On Dec. 14, dozens of activists in Des Moines, Iowa took part in a rally protesting the arrests by ICE of some 90 immigrants at the Swift plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. The Marshalltown raid was one of six such raids on Dec. 12; in all, ICE agents arrested 1,282 workers at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in six states, claiming the sweeps were part of an investigation into identity theft [see INB 12/15/06]. ( 12/15/06) On Dec. 17, clergy members spoke out at an evening service in Des Moines called to protest the raids. About 200 people came to Grace United Methodist Church to hold candles and pray in solidarity with detainees and their families. The "Making Room at the Inn" event included multilingual speeches, prayers and hymns. "Jesus was not mindful of Social Security numbers, or countries of origin, or of native languages," said the Rev. Barbara Dinnen of the Las Americas Comunidad de Fe of the United Methodist Church. (Des Moines Register 12/18/06)

In a letter to President George W. Bush on Dec. 20, Iowa governor Tom Vilsack complained that ICE officials were not responding to family members' inquiries about loved ones detained in the Swift raids. "To this day, the whereabouts of some of these people are still unknown," Vilsack wrote. "Considering the hardship this has on their families, silence as to their condition is not acceptable." Vilsack urged Bush to also disclose the identities and locations of the detainees to community leaders and faith-based leaders in the six states "so officials can better address the needs of family members left behind." Vilsack referred to a morning news conference on Dec. 20 in which Bush called for immigration reform, saying that "such changes... will come too late for the families with children who are searching for their parents today." ICE spokesperson Jamie Zuieback responded that privacy concerns prevent immigration officials from publishing the names of detainees, but they will work with Vilsack "on matters of specific concern." (Des Moines Register 12/21/06) A day earlier, Dec. 19, Vilsack and Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, the top officer of the Iowa National Guard, wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, calling ICE's actions in the raids "completely unacceptable," saying agents undermined the public's trust in government, potentially jeopardized the safety of law enforcement personnel in Iowa and could have compromised undercover operations. Vilsack and Dardis said they will not cooperate with federal immigration officials in the future unless they act more responsibly and provide better coordination with state officials. (Des Moines Register 12/20/06)

On Dec. 15 in Colorado, immigrant rights advocates gathered in Greeley, Durango, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction and other communities to hold candlelight vigils and join hands to support the families separated by the raids and protest the treatment of the 260 workers arrested in the Dec. 12 raid at the Swift plant in Greeley. "This tragedy is not about 'identity theft' or 'criminal activity' as...ICE contends," wrote the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition in a press release announcing the vigils. "It is about women and men working to feed their families and provide for a better life." (Denver Daily News 12/19/06; Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Press Release 12/14/06) On the evening of Dec. 18, a crowd of 75-100 people from across the region gathered at the office of El Comite de Longmont in Longmont to protest the raids. The group lit candles and marched down Main Street before rallying on the steps of the Longmont Safety and Justice Center. Many carried signs that read, "No human is illegal." Others spoke of a basic human right of people to try to improve their life and that of their family, regardless of borders. (Greeley Tribune 12/19/06)

In San Antonio, Texas on Dec. 21, Latino activist groups held a news conference to condemn the raids and call for an end to such worksite enforcement until Congress can come up with comprehensive immigration reform. (San Antonio Express-News 12/21/06)

On Dec. 15, over 200 people picketed outside the ICE offices in Chicago to protest the raids. The protest was initiated by the March 10th Movement, and members of the Centro Sin Fronteras, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Mexico Solidarity Network and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union also took part. The UFCW represents workers at five of the six raided Swift plants. (Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) 12/21/06)

On Dec. 20, more than 30 people rallied in below-freezing temperatures outside the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah to protest ICE's arrests of 154 workers during the Dec. 12 raid at the Swift plant 60 miles away in Hyrum. A union member held a sign demanding "workers' rights, human rights" for undocumented laborers. "We see this as a racist act of state terrorism," said David Hansen, a member of the advocacy group Brown Berets in Salt Lake City. The protesters wore yellow bracelets to symbolize the ones ICE apparently used to mark brown-skinned workers during the raid at the Swift plant in Hyrum; white workers were given blue bracelets and were not required to prove their citizenship, witnesses said. ICE spokesperson Lori Haley said she knew nothing of the yellow bracelets, but denied that ICE agents targeted Swift employees because of their skin color. A handful of members of the anti-immigrant Utah Minuteman Project held a counter-protest across the street, waving signs that read, "defending our borders, culture and language." (Salt Lake Tribune 12/21/06; KCPW News 12/21/06)


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its been a while since it happened but I appreciate you puttin the snippet about the Utah events on the post

-David Hansen-