Friday, March 30, 2007

INB 3/30/07: Detainees Protest in GA, Migrant Shot, Baltimore Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 9 - March 30, 2007

1. Detainees Protest in Georgia
2. Border Agent Kills Migrant
3. Baltimore Factories, Warehouses Raided

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. Immigration News Briefs is now archived at


More than 1,000 immigration detainees held a two-day hunger strike at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, according to the consul general of El Salvador in Georgia, Asdrubal Aguilar. The Atlanta Latino newspaper reported the protest in a Mar. 22 article, but did not say when it took place. The facility is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) under contract with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Aguilar said the Salvadoran consulate received as many as 600 calls in one day from detainees reporting the protest and complaining about conditions. The consulate sent staff members to the detention center and interviewed 40 detainees. Aguilar reported that detainee Oscar Armando Castaneda Lopez was beaten by CCA guards after clashing with a guard who tried to force him to eat. Castaneda was punished with 45 days in "the hole," an isolation unit. After the hunger strike, authorities transferred the women detainees at Stewart to the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama.

Guillermo Antonio Carpio, a 70-year old detainee at Stewart, told the consulate he is HIV-positive and has Parkinson's disease and diabetes, yet is denied adequate food and medical care at Stewart. Carpio said when he has medical problems needing attention, it generally takes two to four days before he can see a doctor. Another detainee, Carlos Antonio Alfaro, said he suffers from attacks of schizophrenia which must be controlled with medication, but since being detained he has not had access to medication and his condition has worsened.

Jose Saul Hernandez Argueta, also detained at Stewart, said he and his wife were arrested last October in a raid on a Houston meatpacking plant. Their only son, who was eight years old and suffered from asthma, was at school when his parents were arrested; he was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, who were unfamiliar with his treatment needs. Hernandez said his son's asthma grew worse and he died three weeks ago from complications of the condition. "My wife is currently in an immigration jail in Texas, and I don't even know if she knows about our son," said Hernandez. [Atlanta Latino 3/22/07]


On Mar. 26, a Border Patrol shot and killed a man who allegedly threatened him with a rock in Calexico, California, on the border with Mexico. The agent fired an M-4 assault rifle at the man, who was apparently trying to evade arrest and run back to Mexico. The man was pronounced dead from one bullet wound at El Centro Regional Medical Center. Pablo Arnaud Carreno, Mexico's consul in Calexico, said the victim appeared to be a Mexican man who had entered the US without permission. His name was not released. The Mexican government has asked US authorities for a thorough investigation. "It seems unjust to shoot someone who is unarmed," Arnaud Carreno said on Mar. 27.

Border Patrol spokesperson David Kim said agents saw seven people climb a border fence, run to the All-American Canal and attempt to cross the waterway in rafts. The victim was in a raft that had turned back toward Mexico. Kim said the agent fired after seeing the man's arm cocked back with a rock in the hand. Other people continued to throw rocks at the agents, Kim said. [AP 3/28/07]

Enrique Lozano, a spokesperson for the Border Patrol's El Centro sector office, gave a different version of events. He said agents searching a truck lot just north of the All-American Canal caught six immigrants out of a group of seven suspected of having crossed the border without permission. The seventh jumped into the canal, swam across and ran south back toward the border with agents in pursuit, Lozano said. As the man ran toward the border fence, about five or six people on the Mexican side of the fence in Mexicali scaled the fence, jumped onto the US side and started throwing rocks at the pursuing agents, Lozano said. "They were just flinging rocks all over the place," said Lozano. They also lit and threw a Molotov cocktail at the agents, Lozano claimed. The homemade bomb landed near the agents, but failed to explode, he said.

According to Lozano, as agents closed in on the man being pursued, he picked up a large rock and turned toward them with his arm cocked back to throw it. "He was face-to-face with the agents, just feet away," Lozano said. At that point, one of the agents fired one shot from his M-4 rifle, hitting the man. The group that jumped the fence and attacked the agents with rocks eventually ran back into Mexico, Lozano said, while five of the six people caught in the truck lot were allowed to voluntarily return to Mexico. The sixth was found to have a misdemeanor warrant pending against him and was turned over to Imperial County sheriff's deputies, said Lozano. [San Diego Union Tribune 3/28/07]

The FBI is investigating the incident and the Imperial County coroner's office was performing an autopsy. The Border Patrol declined to identify the agent involved. [AP 3/28/07]


On Mar. 29, ICE agents detained 69 immigrants from Latin America and Africa in raids on nine businesses in the Baltimore area that used a local temporary employment agency, the Jones Industrial Network (JIN). Agents also seized the $600,000 bank account of the employment agency, and is investigating it for allegedly supplying unauthorized immigrant workers to firms including the sportswear manufacturer Under Armour and bonded warehouses in or near the Port of Baltimore. Authorities said the Jones firm was the sole target of their criminal investigation, although no Jones officials faced arrest or charges immediately. In addition to the Jones firm, officials said the eight raided facilities were operated by Under Armour and Dixie Printing and Packaging Corp., in Anne Arundel County; Tessco Technologies and BP Castrol, in Baltimore County; and Pritchard Brown, C. Steinweg, Baltimore Metal and Commodities, and Beacon Stevedoring, all in Baltimore. James Dinkins, acting special agent in charge of the Baltimore field office of ICE, said the inquiry was launched last August after investigators received an anonymous tip that out-of-status immigrants were working at the Port of Baltimore. Dinkins said ICE was concerned because the facilities were bonded warehouses, which store incoming and outgoing cargo before it is examined by customs agents. [Washington Post 3/30/07] In a news release, ICE said "civil warrants were executed at five businesses and consent searches were conducted at three businesses " where the employment agency allegedly provided unauthorized workers. The Maryland State Police, Baltimore City Police, Baltimore County Police, Anne Arundel County Police Department and the US Customs and Border Protection agency provided public safety assistance during the operation, said ICE. [ICE News Release 3/29/07]

ICE announced the raids at a news conference in a Baltimore hotel, while CASA of Maryland, a local group that supports immigrant workers' organizing efforts, held its own news conference on the afternoon of Mar. 29 outside the headquarters of the Jones agency, which was closed for the day following the raid. At the site, family members of those detained gathered with activists carrying signs that read "Stop Dividing Our Families," "Stop the Raids," and "Fair Immigration Reform Now." Relatives of several of the women detained in the raids wept and urged their release, saying they had young children at home or were pregnant. [WP 3/30/07; FIRM (Fair Immigration Reform Movement) Press Release 3/29/07; AP 3/30/07] CASA of Maryland spokesperson Kim Propeack noted that even when employers are charged, workers bear the brunt of the punishment. "They kick workers out of the country," she said. "They levy a series of charges against these guys... but have they ever collected unpaid wages? Do they even ensure that workers receive their last paychecks? No." [Washington Times 3/30/07]

ICE said in its news release that all the detainees "will be interviewed by ICE staff, Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS) staff and offered access to Maryland Child Protective Service staff to record any medical, sole-caregiver or other humanitarian situations." [ICE News Release 3/29/07] According to Dinkins, ICE officials are "evaluating 20 cases" and "believe there may be grounds for humanitarian releases."

Calvin McCormick, ICE's Baltimore field office director, said at the ICE press conference that the arrested workers were being held at the Dorchester County and Worcester County detention centers in Maryland and in York County Prison in York, Pennsylvania. [WT 3/30/07] All those detained face administrative immigration violations. One detained woman, who was eight months pregnant and said she was not feeling well, was taken to a hospital during a raid, said ICE spokesperson Jamie Zuieback. Officials said the detainees came from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana. [WP 3/30/07] The Washington Times, also citing immigration officials, gave a slightly different list of the detainees' countries of origin: Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico and El Salvador. [WT 3/30/07]


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".)

No comments: