Sunday, February 10, 2008

INB 2/10/08: Danbury Protest, Chicago Sanctuary, Raids in CA, Utah

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 4 - February 10, 2008

1. Danbury, CT: Thousands Protest Enforcement
2. Activist Takes Sanctuary in Chicago
3. California: Toner Cartridge Plant Raided, 130 Arrested
4. Utah: 57 Arrested at Metal Factory

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 to subscribe or unsubscribe. 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


An estimated 3,500 people attended a rally on Feb. 6 in Danbury, Connecticut, to protest a partnership between Danbury police and US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While the demonstrators voiced their opposition outside City Hall, inside the Common Council voted 19-2 to invite ICE to train and deputize Danbury police as immigration agents. Mayor Mark Boughton, who backs the plan, said it will start with the training of two detectives to carry out investigations of immigrants suspected of human trafficking, drug smuggling or document fraud. [News-Times (Danbury) 2/7/08; Hartford Courant 2/7/08]

Protesters carried signs and chanted "Stop 287," a reference to Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows ICE to train and deputize state and local enforcement agents to identify and detain people for violating immigration law. [AP 2/6/08] Section 287(g) was introduced as part of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). [ICE Fact Sheet: "Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act" 8/16/06]

City officials decided in advance to limit attendance at the council meeting to 120 people, not including council members, news reporters and city employees. More than 30 police officers were deployed outside the building, but police reported no arrests. [News-Times 2/7/08; Hartford Courant 2/7/08] Some city businesses closed their doors for the day to protest the enforcement plan. [AP 2/6/08]

Most of the demonstrators were from Danbury, but the crowd also included people who came by bus from Hartford and New Haven. "This is what being an American is all about, fighting for your rights," said Fernanda Franco, of Bethel, a legal Brazilian immigrant who sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the rally. "I waited 20 years to get my papers," Franco said. "Some of these people have waited even longer." [News-Times 2/7/08]

Danbury has a greater proportion of foreign-born residents than any other community in Connecticut, according to US census estimates. Ted Duarte, a union carpenter who works in Danbury and traveled to the rally from Wallingford to support fellow union members, motioned to the chanting. "This says it all," he said. "For a city council that supposed to represent the city of Danbury, they should take a look out here--this is Danbury." [New York Times 2/7/08]


At a press conference on Jan. 28 at the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood, activist Flor Crisóstomo announced she would not comply with her deportation set for that date, and would instead go into sanctuary at the church. "I'm not going. I've asked my pastor and my church for sanctuary and they have granted it." ICE said in a statement that Crisóstomo had been granted "voluntary departure" by an immigration judge, requiring her to leave the US no later than Jan. 28. Crisóstomo said she is not "defying the laws of this country and I'm not hiding. I am taking the position of civil disobedience to press this government to act, to fix the broken laws and end this inhumane system of cheap undocumented labor and exploitation." Church pastor Walter Coleman noted that "the forces that bring people here are still there. The Free Trade Treaty has destroyed agriculture in Mexico and other countries and until it is renegotiated people will keep coming." [Diario Hoy 1/29/08]

Crisóstomo, an immigrant from the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, was one of 26 Chicago employees of the IFCO Systems pallet company arrested in an immigration raid on Apr. 19, 2006. She is a single mother who has been working without papers in the US since 2000 and sending money back weekly to Mexico to support her three children, her sister and her mother. Crisóstomo said she plans to continue supporting her family by making crafts and selling them at the church. She explained that with her act of resistance she seeks to draw attention to the injustice of US immigration laws. "I know I have nothing to gain [from taking sanctuary], I don't have US citizen children and it's certain that they're going to deport me," said Crisóstomo. [Univision Online y Agencias 1/29/08; Statement by Flor Crisóstomo 1/28/08; Press Release from Adalberto United Methodist Church & Familia Latina Unida/Sin Fronteras 1/28/08]

Crisóstomo is heading a campaign called "America open your eyes," which seeks to educate people about how the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has forced Mexicans to migrate to the US. "I don't have to be an academic to know what NAFTA is and how it has divided Mexico and millions of families. I'm here because of that. We have to show the US people that it's not we immigrants who are guilty of all the problems, and how the international treaties are hurting our countries of origin," said Crisóstomo. [Univision Online y Agencias 1/29/08]

The Adalberto United Methodist Church is the same church where Crisóstomo's friend and fellow activist Elvira Arellano took sanctuary from Aug. 15, 2006 to Aug. 15, 2007 [see INB 8/26/07]. Crisóstomo and Arellano carried out a hunger strike from May 10 to June 1, 2006, demanding a moratorium on deportations [see INB 5/14/06, 5/28/06, 6/4/06].


On the afternoon of Feb. 7, more than 100 ICE agents raided the headquarters of Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE), a manufacturer of computer toner and inkjet cartridges in Van Nuys, California. ICE executed a federal search warrant at the site and arrested 130 MSE employees on administrative immigration violations. ICE also arrested eight current and former MSE employees on federal criminal charges for providing fraudulent information to gain employment. The search warrant remains under seal because the investigation is ongoing. [ICE News Release 2/8/08; AP 2/7/08]

All 130 workers arrested on administrative violations were from Latin America: 87 from Mexico, 24 from El Salvador, eight from Guatemala, four from Peru, four from Honduras and three from Colombia. ICE interviewed those arrested to determine if they had any medical, caregiver, or other humanitarian issues; 36 women and 10 men were released on humanitarian grounds to await their hearings before an immigration judge. Another 65 men and 19 women were detained. Most were due to be transferred to an ICE contract detention facility operated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in Lancaster, California.

In its news release about the raid, ICE said it had set up a 24-hour toll-free hotline for family members of the arrested workers and had handed out flyers about the hotline to MSE workers and family members who came to the plant inquiring about relatives. "In addition, ICE contacted representatives of several prominent Hispanic community groups in the Los Angeles area to ensure they were aware of the enforcement action and had information about the toll-free number," said ICE in the news release. [ICE News Release 2/8/08]

Ahilan Arulanantham of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said lawyers who rushed to the scene of the raid were not allowed to talk to detainees. The ACLU is offering free legal representation to those arrested. "We're very concerned that people who were detained be given the opportunity to meet with a lawyer who can advise them of their rights," said Arulanantham. [AP 2/7/08]


On the morning of Feb. 7, ICE agents arrested 57 immigrant workers in a raid on Universal Industrial Sales Inc. in Lindon, Utah. The raid was carried out by some 100 ICE agents with the cooperation of state and local police. All the arrested workers were men from Latin America: 51 were from Mexico, two from Argentina, two from Uruguay, one from El Salvador and one from Honduras. During ICE's "processing" of the arrested workers, which lasted until early the next morning, US Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division investigators arrived to ensure those arrested were paid for work they had already performed for the company before their arrest. ICE also said it interviewed workers to determine if they had any "humanitarian issues," and that representatives from the Utah Health and Human Rights Project and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services were present during the processing. In the end, only one man was released pending a hearing before an immigration judge. The other workers remain in ICE custody at the Utah County and Weber County jails. The company had a total of more than 100 employees.

ICE officials forwarded about 30 cases to the Utah County Attorney's Office for possible criminal prosecution for offenses such as aggravated identity theft, forgery and document fraud. The Utah County Attorney's Office is expected to decide within a week which cases to accept for prosecution. Some cases involving individuals who reentered the US after being previously deported will be presented to the US Attorney's office for potential prosecution on felony charges.

Also on Feb. 7, Utah US Attorney Brett Tolman announced the unsealing of two indictments in Salt Lake City charging Universal Industrial Sales and its human resource director, Alejandro Urrutia-Garcia, with harboring unauthorized workers and encouraging or inducing them to stay in the US. Tolman said the investigation that led to the raid and indictments used confidential informants and an undercover agent, and is ongoing. Universal Industrial Sales is charged with 10 counts of "harboring illegal aliens" in an indictment which alleges the company concealed, harbored or shielded the workers from detection for commercial advantage between January 2003 and December 2006. Urrutia-Garcia, a naturalized US citizen who was arrested during the Feb. 7 raid, is charged with two counts of encouraging or inducing unauthorized immigrants to remain in the US. Urrutia-Garcia pleaded not guilty in federal court on the afternoon of Feb. 7. He was released from custody. A four-day trial is set to begin April 14. [ICE News Release 2/8/08; Salt Lake Tribune 2/9/08; Deseret Morning News 2/8/08]

The raid sparked panic in the local Latino community. About 150 people gathered on the night of Feb. 7 at St. Francis Catholic Church in Orem, Utah, for a mass and meeting. Jose Luis Uribe, who has worked at Universal for two years, said he was detained but was let go when he proved his legal status. "You feel so bad for all your co-workers who were arrested," he said at the meeting. "They asked me for help but I couldn't do anything." Uribe said federal officials separated workers into two groups: employees who had papers and those who did not. Those without papers were tagged at the wrist with red or yellow bands. "They put a red band on the people from Mexico and a yellow band on those from South and Central America," Uribe said. "They [ICE agents] entered running. We thought there was a fire or something." [SLT 2/8/08]

The raid left many families with young children suddenly without an income. During the meeting at the church, representatives from the Department of Human Services, the Division of Child and Family Services and Workforce Services met with families to evaluate if they qualified for public assistance. [Deseret Morning News 2/8/08]

Universal Industrial Sales produces highway guard rails, bridge railings and structures that hold overhead metal signs for highways throughout the US as well as parts of western Canada and Mexico. It is a major supplier to construction companies and also does business directly with the Utah Department of Transportation. [SLT 2/8/08]


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:
or email the authors at

Monday, February 4, 2008

INB 2/4/08: Nigerians, Palestinians on Deport Flight

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 3 - February 4, 2008
(INB did not publish for the past two weeks; apologies for the lapse)

1. Nigerians, Palestinians on Deport Flight
2. US Signs Deport Pact with Vietnam
3. Feds Sue Texas Border Towns
4. "Fugitive" Raids in Wisconsin

Immigration News Briefs is a 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 archived at


On Jan. 15, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 107 people on a flight from Niagara Falls that made stops in Lagos, Nigeria; Cairo, Egypt; and Amman, Jordan. The deportees included 94 Nigerians, 11 Palestinians, one Moroccan and one Egyptian. Seven of the Palestinians and 39 of the Nigerians on the flight had no criminal records in the US. The flight was contracted by the Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Operations Support and Coordination Unit. The deportees had been transferred from various facilities across the US to the Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, in preparation for the flight.

The Canadian government also included 10 of its own deportees on the flight, all of them Nigerians, including seven people with criminal records. The flight was staffed with 20 ICE DRO officers and six Canadian officers. Two Nigerian consular officers from the embassy in Washington and one Nigerian consular officer from the embassy in Canada accompanied the flight. [ICE News Release 1/16/08]


On Jan. 22, the US and Vietnamese governments signed a memorandum of understanding that will make it easier for the US to deport Vietnamese immigrants who entered the US after diplomatic relations between the US and Vietnam were restored on July 12, 1995. ICE director Julie Myers was in Hanoi to sign the pact, which culminated 10 years of negotiations between the US and Vietnam. Until now, Vietnam had generally refused to issue travel documents for those ordered deported from the US.

The pact is expected to affect about 1,500 Vietnamese immigrants who arrived after July 12, 1995 and have received final deportation orders. Another 6,200 Vietnamese nationals who arrived before 1995 have also been ordered deported but cannot be returned to Vietnam under the new pact; ICE claims they will instead face possible deportation to a third country. Repatriations are scheduled to begin when the agreement takes effect 60 days after signing. The pact will be valid for five years, and will be extended automatically for terms of three years after that unless written notice not to extend is given by one government to the other at least six months prior to expiration. [Los Angeles Times 1/24/08; AP 1/22/08; New York Times 1/23/08; ICE News Release 1/22/08]

Critics of the pact wonder whether it won't be rolled back to include Vietnamese who entered the US in the 70s and 80s. "There is concern," said Joren Lyons, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, which has represented dozens of Vietnamese facing deportation orders. "Vietnam has said for decades no, these people can't be returned to Vietnam, and now they're saying yes. So is this a foot in the door? Will they start accepting people who came earlier as well?" [AP 1/22/08]

ICE spokesperson Kelly Nantel said that only about 200 of the Vietnamese immigrants slated for removal to Vietnam are currently detained, since the Supreme Court's June 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis ruling requires authorities to release detainees after six months if their countries don't accept their return. Under the terms of the pact, the US government agrees to pay for the deportations of Vietnamese, and to provide 15 days' notice to the Vietnamese government before carrying out a deportation. [New York Times 1/23/08]


On Jan. 14, US Attorney Johnny Sutton filed a lawsuit on behalf of the US Department of Justice against the city of Eagle Pass, Texas, to seek access to land for a planned border fence. It was the first of 102 lawsuits expected to be filed in an escalating battle with local landowners and municipalities as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seeks to build 370 miles of new border fencing by the end of the year [see INB 12/9/07].

Eagle Pass mayor Chad Foster serves as chairperson of the Texas Border Coalition, which has been fighting the border fence construction plans. The coalition says DHS has failed to respond to concerns about the impact the fence will have on the environment, residents' property access and rights, and the binational way of life along the border, and has ignored local officials' suggestions for alternatives. [AP 1/15/08]

Within hours after the suit was filed, and without a hearing, US District Judge Alia Moses Ludlum of the Texas Western District Court, Del Rio division, ordered the city of Eagle Pass to "surrender" 233 acres of city-owned land to the federal government for 180 days so it can begin to build the border fence. The judge's order said the federal government is entitled to possession or control of the property as requested. [AP 1/16/08; San Antonio Express-News 1/16/08]

City Attorney Heriberto Morales said he believed Eagle Pass was the target of the first lawsuit because of Foster's activism against the fence. "I really think it was to send a statement all along the border, to the other cities and individuals: Let's go after [Foster] first and everyone else will fall into line." Brownsville mayor Pat
Ahumada agreed: "They picked the one that had the least defenses against the border fence so they can win in court easily and set a precedent and hold a big stick over the rest of us and make us fall in line," he said.

The city commission of Brownsville voted Jan. 8 to grant access for development of the border fence, said Ahumada, even though he himself voted against allowing access. "It troubles me deeply because [the fence] destroys our ecological corridor, it destroys our historical corridor, it destroys our way of how we perceive ourselves as a binational community," Ahumada said. Brownsville is reviewing its legal options, he added. The governing board of Brownsville's city-owned water and electric utility voted against granting access, according to Ahumada. The University of Texas-Brownsville also has not granted access, said school spokesperson Lety Fernandez. [San Antonio Express-News 1/16/08]

In an order dated Jan. 25 and released Jan. 28, US District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville ordered 10 Cameron County property owners to comply with the US government's request for access to their land for 180 days to work on the border fence. Hanen denied the federal government's request that he rule immediately without participation from the landowners, a legal maneuver allowed in eminent domain cases and accepted by Judge Ludlum in the Eagle Pass case. Instead, Hanen ordered the government to inform all property owners of the Jan. 25 hearing. Hanen questioned the government's efforts at contacting landowners and heard from some property owners and their attorneys at the hearing. "This court will make itself available if needed for the resolution of any disputes, but it expects all parties to act cooperatively and with due concern for the rights and needs of the other parties in the implementation of this order," Hanen wrote. Hanen also ordered government contractors to work with landowners to make the intrusion as minimal as possible, and denied the government's request to access properties adjacent to those included in the order.

Access to the properties will end July 23, according to the order. Each property owner will receive $100 for the temporary easement, but will be able to petition for more if their property is damaged. Two additional defendants, including the Brownsville Public Utilities Board, were not included in Hanen's order because the government was close to reaching settlements with them. [AP 1/29/08]


In a three-day sweep Jan. 25-27 in the area of Green Bay, Wisconsin, ICE agents arrested 20 immigrants, 18 of whom ICE said had failed to comply with final orders of deportation. Those arrested were citizens of El Salvador, Honduras, Jordan, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua and Yugoslavia. Twelve agents from the Milwaukee ICE Fugitive Operations Team split into four teams of three agents each to round up the immigrants in Brown, Door, Kenosha, Outagamie, Sheboygan and Winnebago counties. The Brown County Sheriff's Department was notified of the plans and according to ICE, assisted "in planning and executing the operation." The Brown County Jail garage was used as a staging area, but those arrested were taken to the Dodge County Correctional Institution. [Oshkosh Northwestern 1/30/08 from Gannett; ICE News Release 1/30/08]


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:
or email the authors at