Friday, January 12, 2007

INB 1/12/07: Arizona Students March, Deported Imam Arrested

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 2 - January 12, 2007

(Immigration News Briefs will not be published for the next two weeks. It will resume on Feb. 2.)

1. Arizona Students March
2. Deported Imam Arrested by Israel
3. Chicago Restaurant Raided
4. Union Pursues Lawsuit Over Raids

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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe.


Chanting "We are students, not criminals," nearly 600 students and their supporters marched on Jan. 8 toward the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona, to protest a recently passed state law denying in-state tuition to out-of-status immigrants. Arizona voters approved the Proposition 300 ballot initiative last November; it requires students who cannot prove their legal immigration status to pay out-of-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

The march took place on the day the stadium hosted the national championship game of college football's Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The students delivered a letter to BCS officials asking for support of the proposed federal DREAM Act, which would help students who have graduated from US high schools attain legal immigration status. "I'm here because this does not just affect the undocumented, it affects the entire community," said Miguel Z., a junior at Arizona State University who works two jobs to stay in school; he is in the US legally but is not a US citizen, even though he spent four years in the Navy.

Because the marchers hadn't obtained a permit, police told them they had to stay on the sidewalk and march two abreast. About a mile from the stadium, Glendale police told the marchers that if they went any farther, they would be arrested. Eight people locked arms and stepped into the street; they were issued criminal citations for engaging in a special event without a permit and are scheduled to appear in court Jan. 23. "We will fight this in court," said activist Alfredo Gutierrez, one of the eight. "We will fight these citations because we feel they're unconstitutional." [Arizona Republic (Phoenix) 1/9/07]


Palestinian immigrant Fawaz Damra, the former imam at the Islamic Center of Cleveland, Ohio, was deported on Jan. 4--a year after reaching an agreement with the US government to give up his fight to remain in the US. That agreement had stipulated that Damra would be deported either to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Egypt or the Palestinian territories [see INB 1/6/06, 7/16/06]. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Jan. 5 that Damra had been deported to the Palestinian territories. [AP 1/5/07; ICE News Release 1/5/07]

Originally from the West Bank town of Nablus, Damra immigrated to the US in the mid-1980s. In June 2004, a federal judge revoked his US citizenship after convicting him of lying on his naturalization application by not revealing his ties to a group affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Damra's attorney, Michael Birach, said the imam was a victim of immigration officials who wanted to look tough after the Sept. 11 attacks. [AP 1/5/07]

ICE spokesperson Greg Palmore asserted on Jan. 5 and again on Jan. 8 that Damra had been flown to Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 5 and directly handed over to Palestinian authorities at the Allenby Bridge that links Jordan to the West Bank. But Damra's brother, Nabil Damra, speaking by cell phone from the West Bank, said on Jan. 8 that Israeli authorities had arrested Fawaz Damra "the moment he arrived to the border." Nabil Damra said the Red Cross and the Israel-based Center for the Defense of the Individual, which advocates for the rights of Palestinians, had told him that Fawaz Damra was in custody and had been taken to Israel's Al Jalameh detention facility near Jenin in the northern West Bank. Nabil Damra said a lawyer had been hired for his brother. [AP 1/8/07]

Israel's Shin Bet security service confirmed on Jan. 9 that it is holding Fawaz Damra. Without providing further details, the Shin Bet said Damra was arrested because of his ties to Islamic Jihad. [AP 1/9/07]


On Jan. 9, ICE special agents arrested 10 immigrants working at Pegasus, a Greek restaurant in Chicago. Eight of the workers are from Mexico; the other two are from Albania and Bulgaria. All are in ICE custody and have been placed in removal proceedings. ICE began investigating the restaurant in September 2006 after receiving information that a large number of its employees were using false social security numbers and fraudulent green cards. The investigation is ongoing. [ICE News Release 1/10/07]


ICE officials were scheduled to appear before Judge L. John Kane in federal court in Denver on Jan. 12 in a follow-up hearing to a civil lawsuit filed by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7. The union filed its suit against the government a day after ICE arrested 260 workers at the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colorado. The Greeley plant was one of six Swift plants in six states raided by ICE on Dec. 12; a total of 1,282 workers were arrested [see INB 12/15/06, 12/21/06]. The lawsuit charges that the raid was illegal; that federal officials violated the constitutional rights of the arrested workers; and that detainees were treated inhumanely while in custody.

At least 66 of the workers arrested at Swift's Greeley plant were shipped to an ICE jail in El Paso, Texas. Within a few days of the raid, Judge Kane ordered ICE to bring the detainees back to Colorado, and ICE officials told union lawyers they were complying. But court papers filed Jan. 5 revealed that only five detainees were sent back to Colorado, while 61 remain in Texas. [Denver Daily News 12/19/06; Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 12/16/06, 1/6/07; Greeley Tribune 1/12/07]


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".)

Friday, January 5, 2007

INB 1/5/07: Farmworkers Detained After Fire

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 1 - January 5, 2007

1. NY: Farmworkers Detained After Fire
2. Alliant Gets ICE Ammo Contract
3. Border Chopper Crashes
4. Swift to Lose $30 Million from Raids
5. Supreme Court Reverses Deportation

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 for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe.


An 18-year old immigrant from Guatemala who worked as a farmhand died of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation in a Dec. 31 fire at a farmhouse in Palatine, in Montgomery County, New York. The victim's name was being withheld until next of kin could be notified. The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, according to Sheriff Michael Amato. Searchers found the man's body in a crawl space off the bedroom where the fire apparently started, sheriff's deputies said.

During the investigation, authorities discovered that three other farm workers who lived at the house were from Guatemala and were in the US illegally, Sheriff Amato said. The three were taken into custody and are being held for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, said Amato. [Utica Observer-Dispatch 1/3/07; AP 1/3/07]


Alliant Techsystems, based in Edina, Minnesota, has been awarded a five-year contract with the Homeland Security Department to provide rifle and pistol ammunition. The contract's potential value is more than $90 million, including a $75 million order for rifle ammunition for ICE, according to Alliant spokesperson Bryce Hallowell. Work on the contracts will be performed by facilities in Anoka, Minnesota and Lewiston, Idaho. [St. Paul Pioneer Press 1/5/07]


On Jan. 2, a California National Guard helicopter assisting the Border Patrol crashed in the mountains about 20 miles southeast of downtown San Diego. Two National Guard soldiers and three Border Patrol agents were hospitalized with neck and back injuries; another two Border Patrol agents and two Guard members survived the crash unhurt. On Jan. 3, officials grounded the remaining six Guard helicopters doing border duty, including one UH-1 Huey and five OH-58 observation craft. The chopper that crashed was a 1973 Huey transport helicopter; Col. Mitchell Medigovich, an aviation expert who is leading the California National Guard's investigation into the crash, said it was one of six Hueys left over from the Vietnam war era still flown by the state Guard. [AP 1/3/07]


Swift & Co. said on Jan. 4 that a series of Dec. 12 immigration raids at its six of seven meatpacking plants nationwide [see INB 12/15/06] are expected to cost the company $30 million. Swift, the nation's third-largest processor of fresh beef and pork, said it has hired hundreds of new workers to replace employees who were detained, incurring about $10 million in hiring incentives and worker-retention efforts. The company expects to lose $20 million more in lost operating efficiency as workers are trained. Swift is operating on all shifts but likely won't "return to a state of normalcy" until the end of this year, said Don Wiseman, the company's general counsel. "We might have the warm bodies back, but they do not represent the same efficiency and skill level we had on the morning of Dec. 12," he said. [Denver Post 1/5/07] The nearly 1,300 workers arrested in the raids amounted to about 9% of the company's work force. Swift's two main rivals, Cargill and Tyson, ramped up their production after the raids. [Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 1/5/07]

A contract dated Dec. 4 between ICE and the Iowa National Guard indicates that ICE was prepared to house up to 1,100 workers arrested in the Dec. 12 raids for as many as 10 nights at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa, just north of Des Moines. That level of use would have cost ICE $32,000, but the site was used for fewer days in December and housed about 500 people detained during the Dec. 12 raids at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in Marshalltown, Iowa and in five other states. Officials at Camp Dodge said they had not finished invoicing ICE for actual services used. The contract, which Guard officials were barred from discussing without permission from ICE, showed that ICE reserved access to communications support, cleaning services, beds and 1,100 sets of linens. Camp Dodge was not asked to provide food. "We brought in our own food," said ICE spokesperson Jamie Zuieback. Zuieback said the contract appears to contradict claims by Gov. Tom Vilsack and Iowa National Guard Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis that they were not adequately informed of the size and scope of the raid [see INB 12/21/06]. [Marshalltown Times Republican 1/2/07 from AP]


On Dec. 5, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of an immigrant deported for a first-time drug conviction in South Dakota. "Conduct that is a felony under state law but a misdemeanor under the Controlled Substances Act is not a felony for purposes of immigration," stated the majority opinion by Justice David Souter in the case, Lopez v. Gonzales, 05-7664. Jose Antonio Lopez became a lawful permanent resident in 1990; in 1997 he pled guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting possession of drugs for having told someone where to obtain cocaine. He served 15 months in prison for the crime, which is a felony in South Dakota but a misdemeanor under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Treating a misdemeanor under the federal law as a felony for deportation purposes "would be so much trickery," Souter wrote. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

The ruling means Lopez and others in the same situation are not barred from seeking relief from deportation, and that immigration judges have the discretion to allow them to stay in the US. Lopez was deported to Mexico in January 2006; one of his lawyers said he could now file a request to cancel his removal order and return to his US citizen wife and children. [AP 12/5/06; Los Angeles Times 12/6/06]


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".)