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(Immigration News Briefs will not be published for the next two weeks.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]


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