Friday, December 8, 2006

INB 12/8/06: 30 Arrested at Omaha Factory

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 42 - December 8, 2006

1. NE: 30 Arrested at Omaha Factory
2. NC: Mall Kiosk Workers Arrested
3. TX: Two Arrested at Air Base
4. NJ Cops Sought ICE Arrest

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. 5, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 30 immigrant workers in raids at two buildings of the Plastrglas company in Omaha, Nebraska. The workers are from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. The company manufactures and distributes architectural shapes from plaster reinforced with glass fibers. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said on Dec. 6 that an investigation is under way to determine whether the company knowingly employed unauthorized immigrants. Counts said the raid was the first workplace raid in Nebraska this year. [AP 12/7/06]

Just a few weeks earlier, in a weeklong sweep from Nov. 15 to 21, ICE agents arrested 25 "immigration status violators" along the Iowa-Nebraska border as part of "Operation Return to Sender," a national initiative targeting people who have failed to comply with final orders of removal. Twenty of those arrested had final removal orders; the other five merely lacked immigration status. Three had criminal convictions. Six of the arrests were in Omaha, 12 in Sioux City and seven in South Sioux City. [ICE News Release 11/22/06]


On Dec. 5, ICE agents arrested 16 people employed at kiosks at the Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, North Carolina. ICE started investigating the employees after Fayetteville police received a tip that they could be involved in terrorism, said Tom O'Connell, resident agent in charge of the ICE office in Cary. Police then contacted ICE and the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). One of the 16 arrested workers is from Turkey; the other 15 are Israelis. All are between the ages of 18 and 25. O'Connell said ICE does not believe any of them are terrorists.

According to O'Connell, the 16 men arrived in the US about a week earlier and were here on valid tourist visas, but because ICE found out they were working without authorization, all 16 will be deported. O'Connell said agents are still investigating at least one of the companies' owners. The workers typically did not receive wages but were paid a percentage of what they sold at kiosks during a shift. [Fayetteville Observer 12/7/06]


On Dec. 6, ICE agents arrested two Mexican workers hired for construction jobs at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. The workers allegedly used counterfeit documents which appeared real enough that Air Force guards allowed them on the base. After a check revealed the documents were false, a search for the two men ensued. The operation caused a backup at the Randolph gate as Air Force personnel and ICE agents checked the IDs of everyone who tried to leave. In the same sweep, agents picked up three US citizens working at construction sites on the base who had warrants out for their arrests, said ICE spokesperson Jerry Robinette. [San Antonio Express-News 12/6/06]


On Nov. 22--a day before the Thanksgiving holiday--Edison, New Jersey mayor Jun Choi and police chief George Mieczkowski issued a statement about the immigration arrest last Aug. 2 of Indian national Rajnikant Parikh. Agents from an ICE "fugitive operations team," allegedly acting on a 2005 deportation order, had arrested Parikh as he participated in a protest rally at the Municipal Complex in Edison, New Jersey. Some 75 members of the local Indian community were at the Aug. 2 rally to support Parikh in his claim against Edison township police officer Michael Dotro. Supporters of Dotro were counter-protesting at the rally. Parikh had accused Dotro of attacking him without provocation and arresting him without cause at a July 4 gathering for a fireworks display. Choi and Mieczkowski have backed Dotro, claiming the officer acted in self-defense. Dotro was also cleared in a separate investigation by the police department's internal affairs bureau.

The township's investigation was launched after Parikh's supporters questioned whether Edison police arranged the ICE arrest in retaliation for his claims against Dotro. ICE spokesperson Jamie Zuieback had confirmed at the time that his agency "did coordinate closely with the police department."

The investigation revealed that the arrest was triggered when an Edison police officer engaged in "information-sharing" with ICE, without informing his supervisors. A second officer learned of the collaboration and also withheld the information from supervisers, the investigation found. Township officials declined to name the two officers involved, but said the pair will receive "counseling" regarding their actions.

Choi and Mieczkowski said the investigation confirmed their claim that they had no prior knowledge of the planned arrest. The two officials called Parikh's arrest "unfortunate," and said the timing and location of the arrest were "inappropriate." "Measures have been taken to avoid an incident like this happening again," their statement said.

Parikh remains in immigration detention at Hudson County jail, although his wife, Julie Patel, is a US-born citizen, and Parikh apparently had a valid work permit at the time of his arrest. Parikh's lawyer, Jonathan Saint-Preux, said his client was a victim of a misunderstanding and is currently appealing the immigration case. Parikh also faces criminal charges in relation to the July 4 incident. [Home News Tribune Online 8/5/06, 11/23/06; India Daily 8/4/06]


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