Sunday, September 30, 2007

INB 9/30/07: NY Licenses; McDonald's Raids; Texas Rally; LI Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 25 - September 30, 2007

1. NY Expands Driver's License Access
2. Raids at McDonald's in Nevada
3. Texas: 2,000 Rally Against Deportation
4. Long Island Raids Protested
5. Arizona Sheriff Raids Day Labor Sites
6. Farm Labor Contractor Fined

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 Sept. 21, New York governor Eliot Spitzer announced new rules under which the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue driver's licenses without regard to federal immigration status. The new rules reverse a policy change adopted four years ago under governor George Pataki that made it virtually impossible for immigrants to obtain driver's licenses if they could not prove legal status. Under the new rules, the DMV will accept a current foreign passport as proof of identity without also requiring federal immigration documents. The policy does not require legislative approval and will be phased in starting in December. It will be tied to new antifraud measures including the authentication of foreign passports and the use of photo comparison technology to ensure that no driver has more than one license. The State Department of Insurance estimates that the new rules will save New York drivers $120 million each year by reducing premium costs associated with uninsured motorists by 34%.

Implementation of the new policy is to start at the end of 2007 with a relicensing process for some 152,000 residents who have had New York state licenses but couldn't renew them under the Pataki rules, said motor vehicles commissioner David J. Swarts. A second phase, to begin in April, will allow people to seek first-time licenses. This phase will involve more rigorous screening, Swarts said, including a four- to six-week process of authenticating foreign passports and other foreign identity documents. [New York Times 9/22/07]


Early on Sept. 27, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested at least 56 people in raids at 11 McDonald's restaurants in the northern Nevada towns of Reno, Sparks and Fernley. "They are people suspected of being in the country illegally," said ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha. "As far as I know, they were all McDonald's employees." In Reno ICE also raided the franchise corporate headquarters for Sierra Golden Arches, which operates the restaurants. The agents had search warrants for all the raided sites. The franchise company is owned by Luther Mack, who told News 4 that "as an employer, I do not knowingly hire or employ undocumented or unauthorized
workers." Lisa Howard, a spokesperson for McDonald's Corp., said the company had no comment on the arrests. "This is a local situation with a local operator," she said.

Rocha said the investigation into the restaurants began five months ago and was sparked by an identity theft complaint. A local law enforcement agency then gave ICE information that unauthorized workers were employed at specific McDonald's restaurants, Rocha said. ICE was working with Washoe County social services to help provide care for children whose parents were arrested in the raids, Rocha said. The workers arrested would be transferred to an unidentified local detention center to await deportation proceedings, Rocha said.

The raids drew immediate criticism from Reno mayor Bob Cashell and local immigrant rights activists, who estimated the number of people arrested to be closer to 100. The Republican mayor joined a news conference in front of the federal courthouse late on Sept. 27, called by local Latino leaders and members of the American Civil Liberties Union. "We don't approve of the Gestapo methods ICE is using," said Gilbert Cortez, a Latino leader who urged area residents to stay home from work in protest the next day, Sept. 28.

Cashell said he opposed the strike call and is against "illegal immigration," but "there has to be a better way to do this." He said he would contact Nevada's congressional delegation and ask the city council to look into the raids. "Think of some of the people who were arrested and picked up; they have children. They don't know where their mama or their daddy is. That's not right." [AP 9/28/07; 9/28/07]


On Sept. 26, some 2,000 people rallied at City Hall in Irving, Texas, a suburb west of Dallas, to demand that Irving officials stop handing over people held at the city's jail to immigration authorities. Demonstrators waved US flags and chanted "We are America."

Irving police have turned over at least 1,600 people to ICE since June 2006 under the"Criminal Alien Program," which targets immigrants accused of crimes. Opponents of the program say the Irving police engage in racial profiling; that people stopped for minor traffic infractions are being handed over to ICE; and that the policy has made local residents fear contacting police. The week of Sept. 17, Mexican Consul Enrique Hubbard Urrea warned immigrants from his country to avoid Irving. Community leader Carlos Quintanilla said he would organize a boycott of Irving businesses if the city persisted in the policy.

A few counter-demonstrators carried signs in support of the deportation program. Two counter-demonstrators were arrested for attacking protesters at the rally; police said Jerry Don Grayson put his hands around a demonstrator's neck and Teresa Williams scratched at other protesters. They each face a misdemeanor assault charge and were out on bond on Sept. 27. [Dallas Morning News 9/27/07; AP 9/27/07]


ICE agents raided homes on Sept. 24 in the Nassau County towns of Westbury, Glen Cove, Hicksville and Port Washington on New York's Long Island, with support from two sergeants and six officers of the Nassau County police. On Sept. 26, ICE raided homes in Freeport and Hempstead, assisted by four Nassau County police officers. A total of 82 immigrants were arrested in the raids.

On Sept. 27, at least 50 immigrants and immigration advocates gathered in Hempstead to protest the raids that took place in Latino communities in the towns of Hempstead, Westbury, Brentwood and Central Islip. "We cannot continue terrorizing families and breaking families apart," said Omar Henriquez, board president of the Hempstead-based Workplace Project.

Also on Sept. 27, Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey complained that his department had been "misled" by ICE about the nature of the raids. ICE had asked Nassau police to be present during the execution of arrest warrants for Nassau County residents who were affiliated with gangs, Mulvey said. The Nassau County police department had repeatedly asked ICE to share a list of suspected gang members targeted with arrest warrants, Mulvey said, but the request was only granted on Sept. 27-- four days after the raids started. "We had asked for a list of the targets on the warrants because we have a very accurate and up-to-date database on gangs in Nassau County," Mulvey said. "It was promised and not delivered." According to Mulvey, the ICE agents appeared to have outdated intelligence on where some of the suspects were located.

Only three of those picked up in the raids were suspected gang members, said Mulvey. It was not clear whether the three were named in the warrants; Mulvey had earlier stated that none of those arrested were named in the warrants. Most or all of those arrested were out-of-status immigrants discovered at the raided homes--including a father who was caring for his four-month-old daughter while his wife was at work. The man was forced to leave the baby unattended when ICE arrested him on Sept. 24 in Westbury, his wife said at the Sept. 27 press conference criticizing the raids.

Mulvey said that if he thought the goal of ICE had been to arrest undocumented immigrants, the department would not have assisted. The presence of police during the raids erodes the trust developed between police and the community, which is crucial to getting victims and witnesses to cooperate in investigations, Mulvey noted. "This sets us back," he said. "We suffer the consequences of the mistrust that develops." Mulvey also said the ICE agents who took part in the operations appeared to have come from various locations across the country and didn't even wear the same uniforms.

"We withdrew from any involvement in any further operations,"Mulvey said. "There will be no future cooperation unless these issues are ironed out." [Newsday 9/28/07; AP 9/28/07]


Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies arrested nine day laborers on Sept. 27 near the Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church in the town of Cave Creek, Arizona, north of Phoenix. For more than six years the church has been a safe haven for laborers looking for work. Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered the arrests after the town passed two new ordinances on Sept. 24 targeting day laborers: one toughens the town's ban on loitering; the other prohibits cars from stopping on town streets. The new laws are set to take effect on Oct. 24. Arpaio praised the new regulations, but said: "We're not waiting for the 30 days for these ordinances to be implemented."

In the Sept. 27 arrests, agents from Arpaio's Illegal Immigration Interdiction ("Triple I") Unit stopped two vehicles as they exited the church's parking lot, one for speeding and the other for a broken taillight, Arpaio said. The drivers were given warnings; the day laborers riding in the vehicles were arrested. No citations were issued. "The drivers were legal, but the passengers were illegal," said Arpaio. "We've been doing this all over the Valley." [Arizona Republic (Phoenix) 9/28/07; KPHO (Phoenix) 9/28/07]

On Sept. 25, Arpaio announced that his deputies had arrested 34 out-of-status immigrants that day in Maricopa County's West Valley area. "We're up to over 730 that we have arrested under that state law that nobody else is enforcing," Arpaio bragged, referring to a 2005 Arizona law that makes smuggling people a felony. Arpaio claimed that he's getting a 90% conviction rate. "And my message to all these illegals--stay out of this county," he said. [KTAR News (Phoenix) 9/25/07] Maricopa County sheriff's deputies have been trained by ICE to enforce immigration laws; in addition to arresting immigrants under state laws, they have detained more than 4,200 people under federal immigration laws. [KPHO 9/28/07]

On Sept. 20, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas signed an agreement with Arpaio to cooperate in enforcing a new state law that will impose sanctions on employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented immigrants. Thomas said he chose to partner with Arpaio's office because of its "track record of enforcing our immigration laws and not caving in to political correctness." Thomas will assign up to $1 million of the $1.4 million budget that the legislature gave him to enforce the new law to pay for the Sheriff's Office investigations. [Arizona Republic 9/21/07]


On Sept. 27, following a two-week trial and five days of deliberations, a federal jury in US District Court in Yakima, Washington, ordered the Los Angeles-based international labor contractor Global Horizons to pay $317,000 in damages for violating federal labor laws and discriminating against workers. The amount includes $17,000 in compensatory damages to three farmworkers and $300,000 in punitive damages to hundreds of workers.

The award comes in a class-action lawsuit filed in 2005 by Columbia Legal Services of Yakima, seeking damages of $1.6 million on behalf of about 600 farm workers who worked for Global Horizons in 2005 and other workers the company declined to hire. The jury found the contractor violated the federal Farm Labor Contractors Act by failing to provide the jobs promised to the workers, and discriminated by failing to hire the workers or by firing them and replacing them with "guest workers" under the federal H2A program. Workers said their jobs were given to "guest workers" from Thailand.

"This is a victory for farm workers everywhere who have been harmed by the unlawful practices of Global Horizons," said Lori Isley of Columbia Legal Services. Liability for Green Acre Farms of Harrah and Valley Fruit Orchard of Wapato, local growers who used workers supplied by Global Horizons, will be determined in a later hearing by Judge Robert Whaley. [Yakima Herald 9/28/07]


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
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

INB 9/23/07: Marchers Rally at Georgia Prison; No-Match Protest

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 24 - September 23, 2007

1. Marchers Rally at Georgia Prison
2. Arrests at Texas Military Base
3. Illinois Workers Fired Over No-Match
4. Border Agency Arrests 202 in Alabama

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 Sept. 15, some 100 people rallied outside the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, a privately-run immigration prison, to protest the treatment of detainees. The rally culminated a week-long 105-mile march through six counties, organized by the Prison & Jail Project, a 15-year-old civil rights and prisoner rights advocacy group based in Americus, Georgia. The group's annual "Freedom Walk"--now in its 12th year--highlights racial and social inequities in the criminal justice system in rural southwest Georgia.

About eight people from the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and the Atlanta Minuteman Project held a counter-demonstration with banners reading: "Enforce our existing laws" and "Secure our borders."

The Stewart Detention Center is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit prison company, under contract for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It opened in October 2006 and with about 500 employees it has become the largest employer in Stewart County, one of the poorest counties in Georgia.

"This is a for-profit prison. Is America about turning prisoners into commodities?" asked Anton Flores, a leader of the faith-based Alterna community, which co-sponsored the Lumpkin protest. The groups also pointed out that the prison's remote location makes it difficult for attorneys or family members to visit detainees. Flores said he planned to visit detainees from El Salvador and Colombia later in the day. "I will let them know that there are people who see them as people," he said. [Associated Press 9/15/07; (Albany, GA) 9/13/07; Email Message from Anton Flores 9/18/07]


On Sept. 14, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 12 construction workers at the Fort Bliss US Army post in El Paso County, Texas, for lacking proper work permits. The 12 were detained after Military Police and ICE agents interviewed 335 workers at a housing construction site at Fort Bliss and one at Biggs Army Airfield on the base.

Most of the workers were employed by four subcontractors for Balfour Beatty Construction, said Winn Maddrey, a Balfour Beatty spokesperson. The four companies were doing framing, drywall, rock-wall building and flooring at the sites. Maddrey said the subcontractors are required to provide documentation of workers' immigration status to Balfour Beatty, and it is the subcontractor's responsibility to verify the information. The prospective employee must present a copy of the form certifying his documentation and personal identification before he is issued a work badge, Maddrey said.

ICE agents will continue an investigation into the source of the false documentation, post officials said. Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt said it will be up to the prime contractor for Fort Bliss housing to determine whether any action will be taken against the subcontractors. [El Paso Times 9/15/07]


On Sept. 19, eight Latino workers were fired from the Ballco Manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, apparently over allegedly mismatched Social Security numbers. The next day, Sept. 20, a number of other workers walked off the job at Ballco and joined their fired co-workers on a picket line outside the plant. Early on Sept. 21, 15 of the workers who protested the firings were also fired.

On Sept. 21, more than 20 workers formed two picket lines outside Ballco, carrying signs that read "Unfair Labor Practice Strike" and "Honk for Justice." The protesters said they had been called individually into a supervisor's office and told that the Social Security numbers they had provided did not match government records. "They just told me, 'There's a problem with your Social Security number, so we're going to have to fire you,'" said Arturo Lopez, a machine operator at the plant, which manufactures steel balls, valves and pipe fittings. Another machine operator, Gonzalo Bello, said: "They said if I ever fix the problem with my Social Security number that I can try to come back."

Marcos Samano, a supervisor at the plant, said he was initially told to stay at Ballco through the end of the year to train new employees, but he was fired after walking out to join other workers in the protest. Samano said he was confused about apparently being fired for not documenting his employment eligibility, although he had been working at the plant for eight years. Ballco declined to comment on the firings. [Chicago Tribune 9/22/07]


Between Sept. 2 and 14, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents arrested 202 out-of-status immigrants in Mobile County, Alabama, according to Ken Fuller, the agent in charge of the CBP station in Mobile. The two-week crackdown, dubbed "Operation Uniforce III," targeted migrants who were traveling through Alabama by vehicle after crossing into the US from Mexico. In announcing the arrests on Sept. 17, Fuller said that more important than the number of people arrested is the information gathered from those arrested, including when, how and where they crossed from Mexico into Texas. The Border Patrol, in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, plans to continue these operations in the future. [Press-Register (Mobile, AL) 9/7/07, 9/17/07]


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".)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

INB 9/16/07: Pro-Immigrant Rallies, More Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 23 - September 16, 2007

1. Pro-Immigrant Rallies in DC, Wisconsin
2. Iowa: Egg Factory Raided Again
3. Nebraska: Tyson Workers 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 Sept. 12, some 150 activists (according to the Chicago Tribune) marched through the House of Representatives' Rayburn Office Building, chanting for an end to deportation raids. The protesters had arrived in buses from Chicago, New York, Rhode Island and elsewhere. Capitol police arrested two Puerto Rican activists from Chicago following a tussle near the office door of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, where demonstrators taped up a letter demanding she take action for immigrant rights. The two were charged with disorderly conduct and released. Pelosi was out of town.

The demonstration also included an afternoon prayer vigil on the National Mall. The Washington demonstration was originally planned to be led by Mexican activist Elvira Arellano, who left church sanctuary in Chicago in August to help mobilize for it. But Arellano was arrested in Los Angeles and deported on Aug. 19 [see INB 8/26/07]; on Sept. 12 she headed a separate demonstration near the US border in Tijuana, Mexico. Her 8-year-old son, Saul, was part of the Washington protest, joining other US-born children whose parents have been deported. [Chicago Tribune 9/13/07] Also attending were Chicago activist Emma Lozano, director of the Centro Sin Fronteras, who works closely with Elvira Arellano, and Reverend Walter Coleman, pastor of the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where Arellano lived in sanctuary from Aug. 15, 2006 to Aug. 15, 2007. [ 9/14/07]

The DC demonstration was one of more than a dozen protests taking place across the country on Sept. 12 in what organizers called a National Day of Action. About two dozen people rallied in Chicago. [Chicago Tribune 9/13/07] In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an estimated 2,000 people rallied in Mitchell Park to protest a new federal crackdown on workers who use invalid social security numbers. Many people skipped work or school to attend the protest, and participated in a "no shopping" boycott for immigrant rights. The rally was organized by Voces de la Frontera, a local immigrant rights group. [Marquette Tribune 9/13/07]

In Madison, Wisconsin, the Immigrant Workers Union staged a rally to raise awareness of their continuing struggle to change immigration laws and claim equal rights. IWU will continue leafleting and other actions in Madison throughout the next month, culminating in a march to the Capitol on Oct. 12. [Badger Herald 9/13/07]

Saul Arellano, Emma Lozano and Walter Coleman spoke at events in several other cities in the days leading up to Sept. 12, including a standing-room-only rally on Sept. 10 in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Nueva Vida church. [People's Weekly World 9/13/07]

On Sept. 2, thousands of Latino immigrants and advocates from across the Washington, DC area marched and rallied at the Prince William County government center in Woodbridge, Virginia, to protest a strict new county law, passed July 10, that seeks to deny many public services to undocumented immigrants. Informal estimates placed turnout at 5,000 to 7,000. The event was organized by a group called Mexicans Without Borders, which also called a week-long boycott of county businesses that were not pro-immigrant or immigrant-owned. [AP 9/2/07; Washington Post 9/3/07]


On Sept. 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 51 workers at the DeCoster egg processing plant near Clarion, Iowa, for being present in the US without permission. Deportation hearings will be held the week of Sept. 17 in Omaha, Nebraska, officials said. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said 43 workers were from Mexico, four were from Guatemala, three from Honduras and one from El Salvador. Counts said all but two of the workers were detained in city and county jails in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and other nearby locations. A woman with child care issues and a juvenile were released and ordered to appear at their hearings.

No DeCoster management employees were arrested. Counts said the raid was a follow-up to a 2003 action against Austin "Jack" DeCoster, the company's owner, who pleaded guilty in federal court in Sioux City to two counts of aiding and abetting the continued employment of unauthorized workers and is serving five years' probation. As part of the plea bargain, DeCoster agreed to a five-year compliance program that allows ICE to access his company's personnel records on demand and acknowledges the agency's right to make unannounced inspections of his facilities. Agents have raided DeCoster's egg processing and packing plants at least four times since 2001, arresting about 100 workers in all. About 36 workers were arrested in the last raid in June 2006. [Des Moines Register 9/14/07; AP 9/14/07]


On Sept. 11 and 12 in Lexington, Nebraska, ICE agents arrested 15 "immigration fugitives"--people who had failed to comply with prior deportation orders--and one additional immigrant who was found to be in the US without permission. All 16 were citizens of Guatemala or El Salvador. The arrests were made at homes and at five different businesses, including the Tyson meatpacking plant in Lexington. Earlier in the week, ICE agents visited Tyson's Lexington plant with questions about six workers, Tyson spokesperson Gary Mickelson told During the Sept. 11-12 sweep, ICE arrested four workers at the Tyson plant who were among the six being sought. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts claimed the action was not a raid at the Tyson Foods facility. "These were all absconders who happened to be employees at Tyson," he said. [ 9/14/07 from; ICE News Release 9/13/07]


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 publisher website:
book website:
authors' blog:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

INB 9/9/07: Detainees on Hunger Strike, More Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 22 - September 9, 2007

1. AZ: Detainees on Hunger Strike
2. Nebraska: Lawncare Company Raided
3. Arrest Protested in Hartford
4. Florida: 195 Picked Up in Raids
5. "Anti-Gang" Raids in Boston Area
6. "Anti-Gang" Raids: Chicago, North Carolina, Oklahoma

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.


According to information confirmed by Raha Jorjani of the School of Law Clinical Programs at University of California, Davis, at least 30 immigration detainees have been refusing some or all meals at Pinal County Jail in Florence, Arizona. The hunger strikers are among some 60 detained immigrants who were transferred on or around Sept. 5 from the Florence Service Processing Center to the county jail, which has a new contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to provide bed space for immigration detainees.

The detainees say they were promised they wouldn't lose any rights or privileges in the transfer. But they were woken up in the early hours of the morning to be moved out of the Florence Service Processing Center and many were not allowed to gather their personal property, including legal documents relating to their cases. Since they arrived at the county jail they have apparently been on 23-hour lockdown in 2-person cells, and there is no outdoor recreation area. There have also been very serious complaints about food and water quality. In addition, Pinal County Jail only allows family visitation to take place through video conferencing; no contact visits are allowed. Some of the transferred detainees who are facing imminent removal had planned for what they expected to be their final contact visits with family before being deported. Now they will be unable to see their families. [Email message from Raha Jorjani, University of California, Davis School of Law Clinical Programs 9/7/07]


On Sept. 6, ICE agents arrested 19 people who work for Cloudburst Lawn and Sprinkler in Grand Island, Nebraska. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said all 19 people were arrested on "administrative immigrations violations." Counts said those arrested were being processed in Grand Island and would be detained in the Phelps County Jail. He said preliminary indications are that 11 of the people arrested are from Mexico, six are from El Salvador and two are from Guatemala. [Grand Island Independent 9/7/07]

According to Counts, ICE agents had gone to Cloudburst intending to arrest company owner David L. Wortman, but Wortman wasn't there, and the search warrant gave the agents the right to question and arrest unauthorized workers who were present. On the afternoon of Sept. 7, a criminal complaint dated Sept. 4 was unsealed in US District Court in Nebraska accusing Wortman of knowingly hiring unauthorized immigrants and paying them in cash. Wortman turned himself in and was arraigned on Sept. 7 but did not enter a plea, US attorney Joe Stecher said. A preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 20. [AP 9/7/07]

The last major ICE raid in Grand Island was in December 2006, when 261 workers were arrested at the Swift plant there. Only one of the 261 workers faced criminal charges. ICE arrested four more Swift employees in Grand Island this past July. [Grand Island Independent 9/7/07]


On Aug. 24, 140 people rallied outside the immigration court in Hartford, Connecticut to demand the release of Said Zaim-Sassi, a Moroccan-born resident of Wallingford, Connecticut. Marchers wore T-shirts that said "Keep Families Together" and held up signs that called for a stop to immigration raids. Zaim-Sassi has been living in the US for 20 years; he worked for Metro-North, volunteered to help other immigrants and played soccer. His wife, Souhair Zaim-Sassi, is a Morocco-born US citizen; the couple has three US-born children, ages two, four and seven.

Said Zaim-Sassi had been seeking to remain legally in the US, but had lost a final round in court this past January. Immigration officials have alleged in court documents that his first marriage was a sham marriage to obtain citizenship.

After losing his final appeal in January, Said Zaim-Sassi told immigration he would surrender whenever they required it. Instead, immigration agents came to his home at 5:45am and arrested him in front of his family. "It was so horrible," recounted Souhair Zaim-Sassi. "I thought they were burglars. They came pounding on the door and said, 'Open the door or we will break the door down.' They were screaming and using profanities. They stripped the blankets off the beds."

"My sister asked for a warrant. They flashed her a piece of paper but wouldn't let her look at it. There was no need for them to do it this way. They took him away like an animal in front of his children," Souhair Zaim-Sassi said. [New Haven Register 8/25/07; WTNH News Channel 8 8/31/07]

Paula Grenier, ICE's spokesperson for New England, claimed otherwise: "We were granted consent to enter and when we got there the family was evasive as to his whereabouts. We found him hiding," she said. Souhair Zaim-Sassi rejected that statement: "He was in my bedroom asleep," she explained. According to Grenier, Said Zaim-Sassi is currently at a detention center in Rhode Island and will be transported back to Morocco under the court's decision.

Egyptian-born Khalil Iskarous of New Haven helped organize the demonstration. "I think the main reason for the recent (immigrant) arrests has been because immigrants are working together for immigrants' rights, but we are not going to be silent any longer." Iskarous said people who fear immigrant labor will drive down wages do not realize that better protections and wages for immigrants will raise wages for everyone. "When we've had amnesty, everybody's wages go up," he said. [New Haven Register 8/25/07]

On Aug. 31 protesters again marched in Hartford to demand freedom for Said Zaim-Sassi, and pressed Senator Joe Leiberman to intervene. Lieberman agreed to look into the case, but he raised concern about the alleged marriage fraud. "The question is whether within the law there's any element for mercy here," said Leiberman, "or if immigration service feels he committed a fraud... if they have to punish him to make a point." [WTNH News Channel 8 8/31/07]


ICE announced on Aug. 29 that it had arrested 195 immigrants over the previous two weeks in the areas of Miami, Tampa and Orlando, Florida. According to ICE, "dozens" of those picked up in the sweep had criminal records, and 115 had failed to comply with deportation orders; the others were presumably merely out of status. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel 8/31/07]


On Aug. 28, 29 and 30, ICE agents swept through the greater Boston area, arresting 36 immigrants the agency claims are members or associates of the MS-13 street gang. ICE said the raids were part of ICE's national anti-gang initiative, Operation Community Shield, launched in 2005. Most of the arrests were made in Chelsea, East Boston, Everett, Lynn, Revere and Somerville. Those arrested come from El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The Boston Globe cited Matthew Etre, deputy special agent in charge of ICE investigations in Boston, saying that 20 of the 36 immigrants arrested had criminal convictions, and another 14 were facing criminal charges or outstanding warrants. But ICE's own news release reported that of the 36 arrested, 27 had merely entered the US without inspection, four were lawful permanent residents with criminal convictions that make them subject to removal, two had re-entered the US after having been deported, two had final orders of removal from an immigration judge, and one was arrested on a state warrant. Etre said none of the detainees were charged criminally in connection with the raids. Two of those detained on civil immigration violations were minors who were released to their parents' custody. [ICE News Release 8/31/07; Boston Globe 9/1/07]

According to Etre, local authorities often partner with ICE to use the immigration status of alleged gang members as a way to get them out of the country. "When ICE gets involved, we're using our immigration and customs authorities to make an impact where maybe local law enforcement can't," Etre said. [BG 9/1/07]

In addition to the 36 people arrested in this operation, ICE said 23 other "gang members and associates" have been arrested by law enforcement agencies in conjunction with ICE since the beginning of August in the Boston area. ICE was assisted in the operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the US Attorney's Office, the Middlesex County Sheriff's Department, the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department, Boston Police Department, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Police, Massachusetts State Police and the police departments of Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Revere and Somerville. [ICE News Release 8/31/07]


From Aug. 26 to 29, ICE agents arrested 58 Mexican men in Chicago's northern and northwest suburbs. According to ICE, those arrested have ties to "violent street gangs such as the Latin Kings, Sureno-13s, and the Latin Lovers, among others." Of the 58 people arrested, 37 are out-of-status immigrants and 21 are US permanent residents whose criminal convictions make them eligible for deportation. Six of those arrested had active warrants for their arrest and will be turned over to local authorities to face criminal charges. After those charges are resolved, they will be transferred back to ICE for deportation. Three of those arrested are being presented to the US Attorney's Office for federal prosecution for re-entering the US after having already been deported, which is a felony. The US Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force, Lake County Sheriff's Department, and the Waukegan and Mundelein police departments assisted ICE in the raids. [ICE News Release 8/30/07]

In the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 7, ICE agents and officers from the Alamance County Sheriff's Office raided homes in the towns of Burlington and Graham and in rural areas of Alamance County, North Carolina, arresting at least 19 suspected members of Sureno 13 and other gangs. Officers had expected to arrest only 11 people, but at least seven more suspects turned up at homes in Burlington, according to sheriff's spokesperson Randy Jones. Three other people were arrested during the operation who had nothing to do with suspected gang activity, said Jones. No charges have been filed against any of those arrested.

The operation was spearheaded by the Alamance County Sheriff's Office, with support from North Carolina Probation and Parole and the Gibsonville Police Department. Sheriff Terry Johnson said all those arrested are Latinos, but he insisted that the arrests were focused on reducing gang activity, not targeting those present in the US without authorization. About six months ago, the Alamance County Sheriff's Office took on the 287(g) program, a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security that trains and authorizes local law officers to enforce federal immigration law. Before the latest arrests, the sheriff's Alamance County Gang Unit had processed 21 other alleged gang members for deportation. [News 14 Carolina (Raleigh) 9/7/07; Burlington Times News 9/7/07]

From Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, ICE agents acting in partnership with other federal and local law enforcement agencies arrested 65 people in a sweep targeting members of street gangs in the Oklahoma City area. Those arrested were from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Iraq and Mexico. Three US citizens were arrested by local law enforcement agencies during the operation. ICE described 42 of those arrested as "known members of local street gangs"; 15 of those arrested had active warrants or were arrested on state charges. Some cases are being presented to the US Attorney's Office for federal prosecution for re-entering the US after having already been deported. Three immigrants with no previous criminal convictions who were picked up in the sweep were voluntarily returned to Mexico. Agencies participating in the operation included the US Attorney's Office, Western District of Oklahoma; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Oklahoma Highway Patrol; Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office; Oklahoma City Police Department; and Oklahoma Department of Corrections. [ICE News Release 9/4/07]


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".)

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

INB 9/2/07: Poultry Plant Raided, No-Match Letters Halted...

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 21 - September 2, 2007

1. Ohio Poultry Plant Raided
2. Judge Halts New "No-Match" Letters
3. Lawsuit Settled Over Kids' Detention

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.


At around 10am on Aug. 28, more than 300 federal and local officials swarmed the Koch Foods poultry processing plant in Fairfield, Ohio in a raid led by special agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE agents executed criminal search warrants at the site; they had identified 180 Koch employees at the Fairfield plant they wanted to question. By 4pm, ICE had arrested 161 suspected undocumented immigrant workers at the plant. ICE agents simultaneously executed criminal search warrants at Koch's corporate office in Chicago. [Cincinnati Enquirer 8/29/07; 8/28/07; ICE News Release 8/28/07]

ICE agents apparently found 12 of the workers hiding in a freezer. [ 8/28/07] Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE for Ohio and Michigan, admitted that some workers tried to hide in a subzero freezer; he said a few were treated for hypothermia, but no one was seriously hurt. [Cincinnati Enquirer 8/29/07] A spokesperson at Mercy Hospital in Fairfield said six people had been brought in with minor injuries including frostbite, and that all but one had been treated and released. [Reuters 8/29/07]

Twenty of the arrested workers face state charges of forgery and taking the identity of another person, Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones said on Aug. 29. Jones is an outspoken opponent of immigration who has lobbied Washington to crack down on employers who hire unauthorized workers. [Reuters 8/29/07] The workers facing criminal charges are from Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. All 161 of the arrested workers were served with notices to appear before an immigration judge for removal proceedings. In addition to Guatemala, Mexico and Peru, the countries of origin of the 161 arrested workers include Dominican Republic, Honduras, Lithuania, Ghana and Senegal. Eighty of the workers who are not facing state charges remain in ICE custody at the Butler County Jail; the other 61 were released on alternatives to detention for humanitarian purposes such as medical issues and sole care-giver situations. [Cincinnati Post 8/30/07 from Hamilton JournalNews]

The ICE raid was coordinated with the Southern District of Ohio's US Attorney's Office; the USDA Office of the Inspector General; Health and Human Services Department of Immigration Health Services; the Ohio Department of Public Safety; the Butler County Sheriff's Office; the Butler County District Attorney's Office; and Butler County Children's Services. [ICE News Release 8/28/07] Butler County Children's Services officials were at the plant during the raid to make sure no children were left without supervision because a parent or guardian was arrested.

The raid was part of a two-year investigation into the hiring practices at Chicago-based Koch Foods Co. Immigration officials described Koch Foods as an "egregious violator" of U.S. immigration laws, which means that the company is suspected of knowingly hiring undocumented workers. Local and federal authorities said they would pursue criminal charges against company officials if they find evidence of fraud, falsification of documents or other crimes. "We're going to look wherever the evidence takes us," said ICE special agent Moskowitz.

Company officials in Chicago declined to comment. Monte Lobb, a spokesperson for the Fairfield plant, said he has tried for several years to weed out undocumented workers, but federal authorities have offered him no help. "The government won't work with me," said Lobb. He said the raid put such a dent in his work force of about 600 that the company could lose as much as $100,000 in chicken because no one was there to package it. Lobb said the company does its best to determine whether the workers it hires are here legally. "I'm against illegals," he said. "I'm not going to do anything to break the law, but people get false papers." Koch Foods has processing and packaging centers in several states, including Georgia, Illinois and Alabama.

Advocates for immigrants said the raid was an arbitrary and unfair action that hurts immigrant families and does nothing to solve fundamental flaws in US immigration law. About a dozen protesters briefly interrupted federal officials at the start of an Aug. 28 news conference on the raid. "These raids are an outrage," said Dan LaBotz, a member of the Coalition for the Rights and Dignity of Immigrants. "These are working people. These are family people, and they're paying taxes." [Cincinnati Enquirer 8/29/07]


On Aug. 31, Judge Maxine M. Chesney of the US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Social Security Administration (SSA) from sending "no-match" letters to companies whose employees' names do not match the Social Security numbers they used when they applied for their jobs. The letters were scheduled to be sent on Sept. 4 to about 140,000 employers with at least 10 workers whose names and Social Security numbers don't match. Chesney's order also prohibits the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing a new rule, set to go into effect Sept. 14, under which the affected companies would have to resolve any discrepancies within 90 days or face sanctions, including fines.

A coalition of labor and immigrant rights groups, led by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the AFL-CIO labor federation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), had filed the lawsuit on Aug. 29 against the SSA and DHS, arguing that the Social Security database is full of errors and the new rule would lead to discrimination against documented and US citizen workers and result in unfair firings. After a hearing on Aug. 31, Chesney wrote in her ruling that the plaintiffs "raised serious questions as to whether the new Department of Homeland Security rule is inconsistent with statute."

"The balance of harms tips sharply in favor of a stay based on plaintiffs' showing that they and their members would suffer irreparable harm if the rule is implemented," Chesney wrote. A hearing before District Judge Charles Breyer is scheduled for Oct. 1 to let DHS argue against a request for a permanent injunction to bar implementation of the new policy.

"This is a critical and important first step," said Lucas Guttentag, director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project said of Chesney's ruling. "It means that workers will not be threatened as a result of an improper rule or inaccurate notices that were about to be sent out." Marielena Hincapie, director of programs at the National Immigration Law Center, said she was hopeful the court would find at the October hearing that the rule was not valid and that DHS had acted "beyond its legal authority." [Los Angeles Times 9/1/07; Press Release from NILC, ACLU, AFL- CIO 8/31/07]

The complaint can be found at:
Chesney's order can be found at


On Aug. 27, the ACLU announced a settlement with ICE that improves conditions for immigrant children and their families inside the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas, a former medium security prison managed for ICE by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America. The case was to go to trial in Austin on Aug. 27. The settlement was approved on Aug. 30 by Judge Sam Sparks of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin. "Though we continue to believe that Hutto is an inappropriate place to house children, conditions have drastically improved in areas like education, recreation, medical care, and privacy," said Vanita Gupta, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Racial Justice Program.

The settlement addresses 10 lawsuits filed in March 2007 against Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and six ICE officials on behalf of 26 immigrant children between the ages of 1 and 17 who were detained at Hutto with their parents. [ACLU Press Release 8/27/07; Houston Chronicle 8/28/07; AP 8/30/07] Nearly all of them were awaiting determinations on their asylum claims. As the lawsuits progressed, all 26 plaintiffs were released. The final six children were released just days before the settlement was finalized, and are now living in freedom with family members while pursuing their asylum claims. They include Andrea Restrepo, a 12-year-old girl from Colombia, who was held in a small cell at Hutto for nearly a year with her mother and 9-year-old sister. "I feel much better, I feel tranquil, I can do things now I couldn't do there," said Restrepo. "I am trying to forget everything about Hutto. I feel free. It was a nightmare." [ACLU Press Release 8/27/07]

Toronto-born 10-year-old Kevin Yourdkhani, another of the original 26 plaintiffs, was skeptical. "I trust nobody there," he said. "It's good that they are fixing up the problems but they should just shut it down." Yourdkhani was detained with his parents at Hutto earlier this year for 45 days before Canada agreed to accept them and reconsider the parents' case. There are currently about 100 children being held at Hutto. [Toronto Star 8/29/07]

Conditions at Hutto have gradually improved as a result of the lawsuits. Children are no longer required to wear prison uniforms and are allowed much more time outdoors. Educational programming has expanded and guards have been instructed not to discipline children by threatening to separate them from their parents. "This agreement with ICE will make permanent important changes that already have been made and will ensure additional improvements in the future," said Gouri Bhat, an attorney with the ACLU's National Prison Project.

Soon after the lawsuits were filed, ICE changed its policy and began using the Hutto facility mainly to detain families caught crossing the border who are to be quickly deported under the "expedited removal" program, and began to issue bonds to allow the release of families who had passed credible fear interviews and were waiting decisions on their asylum cases. Under the settlement, if a family is held for 30 days, government officials will have to consider releasing them on bond. If a family is held longer than 60 days, government officials must explain why.

The settlement also requires ICE to allow children over the age of 12 to move freely within Hutto; provide a full-time, on-site pediatrician; eliminate the "head count" system that required families to stay in their cells 12 hours a day; install privacy curtains around toilets; offer field trip opportunities to children; supply more toys and age- and language-appropriate books; and improve the nutritional value of food. ICE must also allow regular legal orientation presentations by local immigrants' rights organizations; allow family and friends to visit Hutto detainees seven days a week; and allow children to keep paper and pens in their rooms. ICE's continued compliance with such reforms will be subject to independent monitoring by the judge assigned to mediate the case, US Magistrate Judge Andrew W. Austin. [ACLU Press Release 8/27/07; Houston Chronicle 8/28/07]

"We are thrilled at what we were able to accomplish through litigation and mediation," said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director of the ACLU of Texas. "But the fact remains that our government should not be locking up innocent children--period. That is not what America is about. It is time for Congress to intervene and end the policy of family detention." More information about Hutto and the ACLU's litigation is available online at: . [ACLU Press Release 8/27/07]

In an Aug. 27 statement, ICE defended conditions at Hutto and said it welcomed the judge's outside monitoring because it "will help improve communication about the facility and end any misconceptions and allegations falsely made about the Hutto facility." [Houston Chronicle 8/28/07]


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 publisher website:
book website:
authors' blog: