Saturday, June 30, 2007

INB 6/30/07: Bill Dies, Protests & Raids Continue

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 16 - June 30, 2007

1. Immigration Bill Fails
2. LA: Protesters Defend Immigrant Rights
3. Orange County Organizes Against Raids
4. Raids: Colorado, Wyoming, Florida
5. Missouri: Roofers Arrested, Indicted
6. Upstate NY Contract Workers Arrested
7. Omaha Drywall Company Raided
8. Wisconsin Hotel Operators Indicted
9. Michigan Worker Drowns, Five Arrested

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.


On June 28, the US Senate defeated a measure that would have limited debate on immigration reform and cleared the way for final passage of a proposed "compromise" bill. The measure to end debate and move forward with the bill got 46 votes, 14 short of what it needed to pass. The measure was backed by 33 Democrats, 12 Republicans and one independent; opposing it were 37 Republicans, 15 Democrats and one independent. One senator was absent. The measure's failure means that immigration reform is likely dead until after the 2008 elections, according to the New York Times.

The compromise bill had scant support among the public: in a CBS News Survey taken earlier in the week of June 25, 13% of respondents said they supported passage of the bill, while 35% opposed it and 51% said they lacked sufficient information to make a decision. The bill included many harsh and punitive provisions which led many pro-immigrant constituencies and organizations to oppose it, while others sought its passage in the hopes that it could be improved along the way. President George W. Bush had tried to win over fellow Republicans with a personal appeal to support the reform bill, but that effort failed.

The bill's defeat was largely credited to anti-immigrant forces, which mustered up their grassroots lobbying strength in a fierce campaign against what they see as "amnesty" for out-of- status immigrants. "I think the president's approach didn't work," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who saw the bill as too favorable to out-of-status immigrants. Republicans "need to be careful we don't walk into such an adverse circumstance again. This did not work out well. Our own members were placed in difficult positions." [AP 6/28/07; NYT 6/28/07]


On June 24, several thousand demonstrators, many carrying US flags, marched through Hollywood, California to demand full rights for immigrants. Police estimated the crowd at 1,100. Organizer Raul Murillo said the marchers want lawmakers in Washington to know immigration reform is essential. [Los Angeles Times 6/25/07; Los Angeles Daily News 6/25/07] The Coalition in Defense of Immigrant Rights (CDIR), which organized the march, said more than 15,000 people took part. [CDIR Update No. 15, 6/24/07, via Los Angeles Indymedia,]

A day earlier, June 23, about 100 people tried to march into Leimert Park in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, an area seen as the cultural center of the city's Black community, to protest "illegal immigration." The mixed group of Black activists and members of the "Minutemen" organization was led by homeless activist Ted Hayes, who has allied himself with the Minutemen to push the anti-immigrant cause. The marchers were confronted by a crowd of about 500 mostly Black and Latino pro-immigrant counter-demonstrators, including several hundred Crenshaw residents, who gathered inside the park; police kept the two sides apart and blocked the anti-immigrant group from entering the park. The standoff lasted several hours but ended without any major incidents. Hayes and four other people were arrested. [LAT 6/24/07; Fox 11 (LA) 6/23/07; Article by Leslie Radford 6/25/07 posted on LA Indymedia]


Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on June 22 that it had arrested 175 people in Orange County, California, south of Los Angeles, in a five-day operation allegedly targeting immigrants with prior criminal records. Only 27 of those arrested had criminal records, while 26 were considered "immigration fugitives" who had ignored prior deportation orders. The other 122 people were presumably out-of-status immigrants caught up in the sweeps. Federal immigration officials worked with the Orange County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies and received leads from the public to help locate the suspects. The majority of those arrested were from Mexico; others were from India, Kenya, the Philippines and Colombia. More than 100 had been deported as of June 22. [Reuters 6/22/07; Daily Pilot (Newport Beach & Costa Mesa, CA) 6/23/07; Los Angeles Times 6/23/07]

On June 27, a small group of immigrant rights activists hit the streets of Santa Ana carrying signs that read "Deport ICE" and "Alto a los Redadas" ("Stop the Raids") and handing out fliers about a meeting called for June 28 and a march planned for June 30. The activists were told by local residents that further raids had happened on June 22 and 23--after the five-day Orange County operation allegedly ended--with about 15 more people arrested. Residents also said that ICE agents were continuing to question and harass people in the community. The activists are planning to step up their presence in an effort to monitor ICE activity and protect residents. [Anonymous posting on LA Indymedia 6/28/07] The June 30 march against the raids is set to start at noon in Santa Ana at the corner of Raitt and McFadden; it will end with a rally and press conference at a park across from 4th and Ross. [LA Indymedia 6/27/07; rally information posted at]


Federal agents arrested 38 immigrants--including four women--in Colorado and Wyoming in a three-day operation June 20-22. ICE said the operation focused on immigrants with prior criminal records and those who didn't show up for hearings or had ignored deportation orders. On June 20, ICE arrested 17 people in Summit county in northern Colorado, and five people in Sweetwater and Carbon counties in Wyoming. On June 21-22, ICE arrested an additional 11 people in Summit county and five others in Colorado's Routt and Moffat counties. Those arrested were from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the Czech Republic. [AP 6/23/07; ICE News Release 6/22/07]

ICE arrested 61 immigrants in the Florida cities of Miami, Orlando and Tampa over the week of June 18. ICE was to announce the arrests on June 25 along with the arrests of 41 other immigrants in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The operations allegedly targeted people with prior convictions and those who had failed to comply with deportation orders. In Florida, 19 of the 61 people arrested had criminal convictions. [Miami Herald 6/25/07]


On June 18, ICE served arrest warrants in a raid on several roofing companies in Kansas City, Missouri, arresting 40 people. Six of those arrested, including several roofing company owners, were named on federal criminal indictments announced the same day here; another three people named on the indictment remain at large. The other 34 people were arrested on administrative immigration charges. The criminal case is being prosecuted by the US Attorney's office for the Western District of Missouri. The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury on May 29 and was unsealed on June 18. Among other charges, the indictment alleges that after 22 immigrants working for roofing company Mid-Continent Specialists were deported in a March 2001 raid, the company paid for and arranged for 15 of them to be smuggled back into the US so they could return to their jobs. ICE investigated the case with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation division, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Social Security Administration. [ICE News Release 6/18/07]


Around 3:30am on June 18, Monroe County sheriff's deputies and federal agents arrested 12 immigrants working for a tiling subcontractor at a construction site in Pittsford, New York, just southeast of Rochester. US Border Patrol officials referred the case to ICE for investigation. The workers are being detained at the federal detention center in Batavia, Genesee County, awaiting immigration hearings, according to Border Patrol officials. Hearing dates have not been set. One of the men is from Honduras; the rest are from Mexico. They apparently worked for Dynamic Ceramic Tile Inc., a subcontractor helping to build a Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Pittsford Plaza. [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 6/22/07]


On the morning of June 26, ICE raided Tufly Drywall in southwest Omaha, Nebraska. The raid continued into the evening of June 26, with federal agents and Douglas County deputies removing boxes and suitcases from the Tufly premises. ICE said it arrested one person on the night of June 25 in connection with the operation. In a statement, Tufly CEO Don Gatewood said the company "had a visit from several federal agencies for a search warrant for documentation relating primarily to employees and subcontractor files. The investigation under way is the result of a complaint from a third party. The agencies and Tufly company are cooperating with each other in every way possible to answer any questions pertaining to the investigation." Neighbors said Tufly has occassionally been picketed by labor unions. The neighbors said they were surprised by the raid. [KETV (Omaha) 6/27/07]


On June 11, federal agents arrested Wisconsin motel operators Siddhartha "Sam" Shah and Jignesh "Mark" Jagaria; a day later a federal indictment was unsealed against the two, charging them with smuggling unauthorized immigrants into the US from Guatemala to work at their motels. They appeared in US District Court in Madison on June 12 and were released pending trial.

Shah and Jagaria are charged with harboring a smuggled worker at a Wisconsin Dells motel. In June 2006, according to the indictment, Shah arranged a $6,500 bond to free the worker, who had been caught and detained in Texas after crossing the US border, then tried to hide his involvement in obtaining the bond. Shah then arranged for the worker to be brought from Texas to Wisconsin Dells, and took steps to hide the worker from law enforcement officers, the indictment alleges. In September 2006, Shah gave the smuggled worker a job cleaning rooms at the Wisconsin Dells Super 8 and living quarters in a storeroom. Shah is also charged with witness tampering for allegedly telling a former employee to lie to federal investigators about the circumstances surrounding the posting of bond for the smuggled worker, according to the indictment. The investigation was completed by ICE in cooperation with the US Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General and the Wisconsin Dells Police Department. [Portage Daily Register (WI) 6/13/07]


Five undocumented Mexican workers employed at the VerHaar Dairy Farm in Bad Axe, Michigan, have been arrested by Michigan State Police to be handed over to immigration authorities after a sixth worker, 17-year old Jose Martin Lopez Cruz, drowned in the Saginaw Bay on June 20. Lopez and the five other workers were reportedly walking along a breakwall when several of them, including Lopez, decided to jump in to the water. Lopez reportedly was pulled under by the strong current; the other men tried to rescue him but failed. Police divers retrieved his body nearby, just outside the entrance of the harbor.

The incident led the Michigan State Police to launch another investigation into the employment of unauthorized immigrants at the farm owned by Johannes and Anthonia VerHaar, where ICE agents arrested 13 workers last May 8 [see INB 5/20/07]. According to police, the five workers arrested on June 20 ranged in age from 16 to 33; they and Lopez had reportedly been working for the VerHaar farm for a few weeks to a few months. An ICE team was expected to pick up the five men at the Huron County Jail on June 22 and transport them to Detroit to face removal proceedings or voluntary departure. "The VerHaars will be subject to federal charges if deemed appropriate by the US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement," Det./Sgt. Mark Krebs said in a press release issued by the state police. [Huron Daily Tribune 6/21/07]


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