Sunday, July 29, 2007

INB 7/29/07: Dallas Raids, Arizona Border Deaths

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 19 - July 29, 2007

1. Hundreds Arrested in Dallas Area Raids
2. More Border Deaths in Arizona

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.


From July 16 to 20, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 274 immigrants in the area of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. Those arrested included 233 men, 28 women and 13 children, said ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok. Of the 274, 99 had criminal convictions. Most of the arrests happened at homes. ICE did not say how many of those arrested were being sought, but did confirm that "some" of those taken into custody were simply discovered in the raided homes and were unable to prove they were here legally. "Many of these individuals are in the wrong place at the wrong time, many live together," said Nuria T. Prendes, field office director for ICE's Office of Detention and Removal Operations. Police in Dallas, Irving, Fort Worth, Arlington, Farmers Branch, Carrollton and Blue Mound, along with the Dallas County constable, helped agents in the operation, according to an ICE statement.

Those arrested were from Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nigeria, Romania and South Korea. By the end of the five-day operation, 137 of the Mexicans arrested had already been returned to Mexico; the other people who were arrested were awaiting deportation proceedings, ICE said. The minors taken into custody could have left voluntarily, if they were from Mexico, or released to a guardian, ICE officials said. Unaccompanied minors would be turned over to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. [AP 7/20/07; ICE News Release 7/20/07; Dallas Morning News 7/21/07]

This past April, ICE arrested 148 immigrants in the Dallas area, including seven children. Only 41 of the 148 had been accused of crimes. [DMN 7/21/07]

In a seven-day operation that ended on the morning of July 23, ICE agents working in partnership with other federal and local law enforcement agencies arrested 121 people described as members of violent street gangs in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. Some of those arrested were named on warrants. Some are being presented to the US Attorney's Office for federal prosecution on felony charges of re-entering the US after having already been deported. The arrests were part of "Operation Community Shield," a national ICE program targeting gang members. In a news release, ICE claimed it has arrested more than 4,500 gang members nationwide; those arrested are then either prosecuted criminally or removed from the US through immigration proceedings, says ICE.

Law enforcement agencies that participated in the Dallas area operation include: the US Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the FBI; the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BoP); Fort Worth Police Department; Dallas Police Department; Irving Police Department; Farmers Branch Police Department; Arlington Police Department; and Wichita Falls Police Department. [ICE News Release 7/23/07]


Early on July 15, a man waved down agents from the Border Patrol's Tucson sector patrolling near Arizona highway 289 and told them his brother was sick and convulsing. Agents found the man nearby, unresponsive; they called paramedics, but the man was pronounced dead before he could be airlifted to a medical center. He was identified as Omar Lopez Mendiola of Iztapalapa, Mexico.

Early on July 16, Border Patrol agents working on the Tohono O'odham Reservation found a dead woman lying on the side of the road. Identification on the body indicated she was an 18-year-old from the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. The body was to be transported to the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office. [Arizona Daily Star 7/17/07]

On July 18, an agent with the Shadow Wolves, an elite group of Native American trackers who patrol Tohono O'odham Nation land for ICE, found a dead woman from the central Mexican state of Queretaro. She was found with four other border crossers who survived, including her 10-year old son and a man who had placed a 911 call seeking help, prompting a Border Patrol search for the group. [ADS 7/19/07] The woman was identified as Maria Resendiz Perez. [ADS 7/20/07] Late on July 17 and early on July 18, border agents found the decomposed bodies of two presumed migrants at two different sites in the Tucson sector. [ADS 7/19/07]

On July 19--the 37th straight day of 100-degree temperatures in the Tucson area--a 10-year-old Guatemalan boy found walking about a half mile north of the border told a Border Patrol agent that his mother had died. An agent of Borstar, the agency's search, trauma and rescue unit, backtracked and found the body of the boy's mother's on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. [ADS 7/20/07]

On July 20, a Border Patrol agent patrolling Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument encountered the body of a Mexican man. The next morning, July 21, the owner of Atascosa Ranch, near Peck Canyon about 13 miles north of the border, found the body of Jose Armando Martinez Miranda of Sinaloa, Mexico. Later the same day, an agent found skeletal remains south of Milepost 13 on Arivaca Road. On July 22, the Border Patrol found two decomposing bodies south of Why on Arizona 85.

The Border Patrol has recovered at least 24 bodies in the Tucson Sector in July, bringing its fiscal-year total to at least 140. The number of border deaths is higher, according to records kept by the Pima and Cochise counties' medical examiners. Combined, those agencies had handled 184 bodies of illegal border crossers from Oct. 1 through July 23. [ADS 7/24/07]


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".)

ORDER "The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers," a new book by the editors of Immigration News Briefs and Weekly News Update on the Americas, out now on Monthly Review Press. For details see:

For updated event listings and links to relevant articles, see:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

INB 7/22/07: Union Rep Arrested, More Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 18 - July 22, 2007

1. Union Rep, Workers Arrested at Swift
2. DC Area Restaurant Raided
3. NY: Raid at Upstate Summer Camp

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 July 10, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 25 current or former employees of the Swift & Company meat processing firm. Twenty of those arrested were sought on federal and state warrants; most were picked up on the job, while others were detained in their homes. ICE arrested 18 workers on criminal charges relating to identity theft and administrative immigration violations in six locations where Swift plants are located: Marshalltown, Iowa; Grand Island, Nebraska; Worthington, Minnesota; Greeley, Colorado; Hyrum, Utah; and Cactus, Texas.

In Marshalltown, ICE also arrested Braulio Pereyra-Gabino, an official of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) who represents Swift employees, on criminal charges for "harboring illegal aliens"; and Christopher Todd Lamb, assistant director of human resources at the Marshalltown plant and a 17-year Swift employee, on a harboring charge as well as misprision of a felony. [ICE News Release 7/11/07; DesMoines Register 7/13/07, 7/22/07; The Militant Vol. 71/No. 29, 8/6/07] In addition, two Swift supervisors who were not named on the warrants were arrested in Greeley. One was picked up by ICE at the Greeley Swift plant for immigration violations. The other was arrested by the Greeley Police Department for an outstanding arrest warrant involving traffic violations. Another three people who were not sought in the warrants were arrested after apparently being discovered during the raids.

"Swift is to be commended not only for its cooperation during yesterday's enforcement action, but for its continuing efforts to improve its hiring practices in order to ensure a legal workforce," ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers said July 11.

The enforcement operation was assisted by the Federal Trade Commission, the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, four US Attorney's Offices and two District Attorney's Offices. [ICE News Release 7/11/07] ICE spokesperson Tim Counts called the raids a "continuation of the same investigation" that resulted in the arrests last Dec. 12 of 1,297 workers at six Swift facilities on administrative immigration violations [see INB 12/15/06, 12/21/06, 1/5/07, 1/12/07]. According to ICE, 274 of those arrested in December have since been criminally charged for identity theft or use of fraudulent documents. [ICE News Release 7/11/07; The Militant 8/6/07] ICE officials said 649 of the 1,297 Swift workers detained last December have already been removed from the country. [DMR 7/13/07]

In a statement about the latest raids, the UFCW said this time ICE agents did not appear to use the "same level of intimidation and overkill" they used during the raids last December. The UFCW "supports law enforcement efforts that abide by the law and respect the rights of workers," the union said. [AP 7/10/07] Dan Hoppes, president of the UFCW local at the plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, said the July 10 raid there "was done the right way this time. Not like the last time...." [The Militant 8/6/07]

The preliminary hearing for Lamb, the human resources manager, is set for July 23. According to the Des Moines Register, Lamb is accused of coaching a worker on how to avoid detection and to apply for a job using a false name and documents. Evidence for the charges came from conversations between Lamb and Alejandro Vasquez-Avina, a Swift worker who collaborated with ICE after being picked up in the December raid. ICE monitored conversations between Lamb and Vasquez via a concealed microphone worn by Vasquez. Later, Vasquez applied for a job at the Swift plant with an ICE-provided valid Social Security card and a Texas birth certificate in the name of Anthony Gomez. He was rehired. [DMR 7/13/07; The Militant 8/6/07]

Kirk Martin, migration and refugee services director for Catholic Charities in Des Moines, said the latest raids show ICE plays on people's fears and lack of knowledge of their rights to enforce a broken immigration system."If ICE can't do its job without relying on snitches, there's no better proof that there is a need for a different, forward-looking and just immigration system," said Martin. [DMR 7/13/07]

Union officials and worker advocates are especially troubled by the federal grand jury indictment against Pereyra, vice president of UFCW Local 1149, for allegedly harboring undocumented immigrants. "Nobody on our payroll has ever been arrested previously" in this type of case, said UFCW spokesperson Jill Cashen. "This is a criminal case, not an administrative legal problem, so we're concerned." Typically, union representatives do not recruit, hire or fire workers, which makes the charges puzzling, immigration experts said. Details of the case against Pereyra-Gabino are in a sealed court file. Regional immigration officials and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa declined to elaborate on the harboring charge against him, or the policy under which he is being prosecuted. [DMR 7/22/07]


On July 12, ICE arrested four members of a family that owns popular chicken restaurants in the Washington DC area on charges of employing and harboring undocumented immigrants, money laundering and structuring deposits to avoid financial reporting requirements, according to a criminal complaint unsealed the same day. Francisco Carlos Solano and his wife, Ines Solano, were released after being arraigned in US District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland on July 12. Consuelo Solano and Juan Faustino Solano, siblings to Francisco Solano, were taken into custody by immigration agents in Las Vegas and were to be arraigned in Greenbelt on July 16. All four are US citizens. The three Solano siblings were born in Peru; Ines Solano is originally from Colombia.

Nine employees of the family's El Pollo Rico restaurant in Wheaton, Maryland, were detained and will be placed in deportation proceedings, authorities said. According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, the Solanos housed many of the workers at houses in Kensington and Wheaton. Federal agents seized more than $2 million in cash and jewelry from the Solanos' residences and vehicles, authorities said.

At least four Montgomery County police officers helped federal agents conduct the investigation, according to the affidavit written by ICE special agent Brian Smeltzer. The officers' role was to interview El Pollo Rico employees to gather information about their identity and employment, according to the affidavit. The workers provided the officers--some of whom speak Spanish--their names, dates of birth and other information that was later used by federal agents to establish that many did not have legal immigration status. "We were interviewing witnesses to a crime," said Lt. Ron Hardy of the Montgomery County police special investigations division. "No action was taken against any of these people when we interviewed them. I don't know if any of those who were interviewed were eventually arrested" by immigration agents, he said. [Washington Post 7/13/07]

Montgomery County Police were also present during the raid. "The trust that has been built for the last 15 years between the community and the police department is right now in serious risk," warned Gustavo Torres, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group Casa of Maryland. [The Gazette (Gaithersburg, MD) 7/18/07]


Early on July 10, ICE agents arrested 31 immigrant workers doing construction and maintenance jobs for two subcontractors at a children's summer camp in Gilboa, New York, just north of the Catskill mountains and southwest of Albany. The camp is owned by Oorah Inc., a Jewish nonprofit educational organization. ICE spokesperson Michael Gilhooly said on July 11 that the investigation was continuing.

The arrested workers were from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and the Palestinian territories. Five were living at the Oorah camp, authorities said; the rest lived at the Belvedere Country Inn, a three-story restaurant, bar and hotel complex in nearby Stamford, and were transported to the camp every day in two vans. Earlier in the summer, all were living in the camp. Eliyohu Mintz, a director of Oorah, said on July 10 that the organization was not aware that the workers lacked employment authorization. [The Daily Star (Oneonta, NY) 7/12/07]

The ICE worksite enforcement investigation developed from information uncovered by the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office during routine patrols. ICE agents conducted surveillance and determined that the workers were living at two locations and being transported to their jobs in vans. Officers from the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Buffalo worked with ICE special agents to carry out the arrests. All the arrested workers be charged with being illegally present in the US, and will be detained pending immigration proceedings. Troopers from the New York State Police and officers from both the Delaware County Sheriff's Office and the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office helped ICE with the raids. [ICE News Release 7/10/07]


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".)

ORDER "The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers," a new book by the editors of Immigration News Briefs and Weekly News Update on the Americas, out now on Monthly Review Press: for details see

Saturday, July 7, 2007

INB 7/7/07: PA Raid, TX Protests, Migrant Deaths

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 17 - July 7, 2007

1. Construction Raid in Pennsylvania
2. ICE Arrest Locks Down CA School
3. Texas Activists Protest ICE Prisons
4. Migrants Die on Border

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 July 2, local authorities arrested 16 immigrants working at a construction site in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents came and took custody of the workers the same day. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced the arrests on July 5. The arrested workers were from Brazil, Honduras, Uruguay and Guatemala; they were employed by a framing subcontractor at a construction site for a "Courtyard by Marriott" hotel. Two of the workers apparently had prior deportation orders, said Morganelli, who has been aggressive in pursuing out-of-status immigrants in the county and has often blasted ICE for not taking enforcement seriously.

Morganelli said his office began an investigation June 15 after a complaint was received from the Lehigh Valley Carpenters Union that the workers had illegal documents. Morganelli said half the workers were from J& S construction of Philadelphia and the other half were from Diaz Construction of West Orange, New Jersey. Bethlehem-based Iron Hill Construction Management, the site manager for the construction project, said the workers were provided by Pentel Enterprises Inc. of Burlington, New Jersey. Morganelli said Iron Hill was not charged because the workers did not have false documents with them and there was no way to determine if they had shown such documents to gain employment. [Express-Times (Easton) 7/6/07]

Last Apr. 2 in Bethlehem, Northampton County authorities arrested nine immigrants as they arrived for work at the Hotel Bethlehem. Seven of the workers were from Bolivia, one was Guatemalan and one was Salvadoran. That raid was prompted by a tip received by the Northampton County District Attorney's Office about workers at the hotel allegedly using false documents. When Morganelli called ICE to take the workers into custody, he said ICE officials responded by questioning why his office "isn't going out looking for gang members and drug dealers." [ 4/3/07; Express-Times (Easton) 7/6/07; Lehigh Valley Live 4/2/07]


On July 5, De La Salle High School in Concord, California, was locked down for 15 minutes while ICE sought to arrest a construction worker on the school grounds. Confusion erupted after two Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officers driving past the school that morning saw a suspicious man with a holstered handgun disappear between two buildings. The BART officers notified school administrators and the Concord police, which sent officers to the school to intercept the mystery gunman. The gunman turned out to be one of four undercover ICE agents seeking to arrest a Mexican immigrant employed by a contractor doing asbestos abatement at the school. According to ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice, the worker had a prior conviction for driving under the influence and had failed to comply with an immigration judge's order to leave the country. Kice said the employer told ICE where to find the worker,
but the agents didn't realize it was a school until they arrived, and then they assumed that because it was summer, no students would be around, so they proceeded with the arrest.

Brother Christopher Brady, the school's principal, said more than 200 students were on campus for special classes and a basketball camp. The teens were immediately moved from outside to the school theater, and kept there for about 15 minutes until the lockdown was over. ICE has since assured the school and the Concord police that it will notify them during similar operations in the future, Kice said. [Contra Costa Times 7/5/07]


On June 23, some 500 activists marked World Refugee Day by gathering outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, an ICE detention center holding immigrant families with children in Taylor, Texas. The facility holds more than 500 immigrants, including hundreds of children. The Taylor Police Department was dispatched to the Hutto facility to prevent protestors from entering private property, but they did not try to stop the vigil. The event was sponsored by Amnesty International, an international human rights advocacy group, and organized with other groups including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Code Pink, Houston Sin Fronteras, the Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice, Texans United for Families, Children and Families for Humane Treatment Alliance and the Greater Faith Institutional Church. The event marked the 10th vigil at Hutto since September 2006. The Hutto jail is operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which gets about $2.8 million a month from ICE, about $5,472 per month ($182 per day) for each immigrant detained in the 512-bed facility. [San Antonio Current 6/26/07; Daily Texan 6/25/07; Austin Chronicle 6/29/07]

On July 2, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, declined to indict two protesters on felony charges for a protest in which they used a bike lock to chain themselves to a fence at a CCA detention facility in Houston. Houston Sin Fronteras members Ashley Turner and Benjamin Browning were arrested on June 4 by off-duty Houston Police Department officers working as security guards at the Houston Processing Center, run by CCA for ICE. The two activists were charged with possession of a criminal instrument--the bike lock--and trespassing. Randall Kallinen, defense attorney for the two protesters, said the district attorney's office overreacted and used the charge to squelch his clients' rights. "They were doing it for punishment and the fear factor to keep them from protesting," he said. Misdemeanor trespassing charges are still pending against Turner and Browning. [Houston Chronicle 7/2/07; Diario El Dia 7/3/07]


An unauthorized migrant drowned in a border canal in El Paso, Texas on June 27 after a US Border Patrol agent trying to rescue him was hit in the head with a rock thrown by a suspected smuggler, Border Patrol officials said. The agent, who was not identified, fired at least one shot at the suspected smuggler and at another would-be immigrant, who fled back into Mexico, Border Patrol spokesperson Patrick Berry said. It was unclear how many shots the agent fired or whether either of the fleeing men were hit by bullets. The drowned man's body was found in the canal more than four miles east of where the agents saw him go under the water, Berry said. The shooting is under investigation; it was the third involving a Border Patrol agent in the El Paso area this year. [AP 6/27/07]

On June 25, Border Patrol agents found the body of a possible unauthorized migrant in the Altar Valley southwest of Tucson. It was the 11th body found over a 12-day period. Agents found six bodies from June 18 to 22. From the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 to June 26, there were 109 known deaths of border crossers in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, compared with 116 the same time last year. [Arizona Daily Star 6/27/07]

From June 29 through the morning of July 2, Border Patrol Tucson Sector officials confirmed the deaths of two migrant women, and the discovery of skeletal remains of a third presumed migrant whose sex could not be determined. Daily temperatures have been exceeding 100 degrees in the area; most of the deaths appear to be heat-related. [ADS 7/3/07] On the afternoon of July 2, Border Patrol agents found the body of a 26-year-old Mexican woman about 60 miles southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. A search for a missing companion was unsuccessful. The woman was the 16th border crosser whose remains had been found over the past 18 days. [ADS 7/4/07] On July 4 a badly decomposed body--presumed to be another border crosser--was found in the Altar Valley. [ADS 7/6/07]

On June 26, two suspected unauthorized migrants were killed after the driver of a pickup truck fleeing the Border Patrol swerved into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another vehicle on a winding, rural road near Ocotillo, about 70 miles east of San Diego in southern California. Authorities said the pickup carried eight suspected unauthorized migrants from Mexico, including the man and woman who died. Several other people were seriously injured in the crash, including two people in the other vehicle. The Border Patrol said agents used spike strips in an unsuccessful attempt to puncture the pickup's tires, and halted their pursuit of the pickup after reaching the speed limit of 55 miles per hour. Agents said they later spotted a plume of smoke several miles away and found the pickup in flames on a two-lane road. But Pablo Arnaud, Mexico's consul in Calexico, said survivors told Mexican officials that a green and white vehicle--the Border Patrol's colors--pursued the truck until the
crash. According to Arnaud, the driver ignored the passengers' pleas to slow down. The driver suffered moderate injuries and will be charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. [AP 6/27/07]


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".)