Sunday, July 30, 2006

INB 7/30/06: Algerian Detainee Released;Arrests at Mississippi Airport

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 27 - July 30, 2006

1. Algerian Detainee Released
2. Judge Orders Palestinian Freed
3. Employers Get Criminal Charges
4. Arrests at Mississippi Airport

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


After spending nearly five years detained in the US for overstaying his visa, Algerian citizen Benamar Benatta was freed July 20 following negotiations between his attorneys and the US and Canadian governments. Benatta was allowed to cross the border into Canada, where officials questioned him and released him. Two days earlier, July 18, the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit confirmed that Canada had issued Benatta a temporary resident permit "for the purpose of allowing [him] to enter into Canada to pursue a claim for refugee status in that country."

Benatta, an Algerian air force lieutenant, came to the US in 2000 for military training and overstayed his six-month visa. He arrived at the Peace Bridge near Buffalo seeking political asylum in Canada on Sept. 5, 2001. Canadian officials detained him, then after the Sept. 11 terror attacks turned him over to the US government, which held him in solitary confinement while investigating him. In November 2001 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) formally concluded that Benatta had no connection to terrorism. But Benatta was detained while he sought asylum in the US. His asylum case was rejected, and at one point he was offered release on a $25,000 bond but was unable to pay. Later, when his attorneys sought his release on bond, the government declined. [Washington Post 7/21/06]


On July 27, US District Court Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. of Los Angeles ordered the government to free Southern California Muslim community leader Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan, a Palestinian who has spent two years detained on an immigration violation. Department of Justice lawyers responded to the judge's order by filing a last-minute motion on July 28, seeking an emergency stay and claiming that Hamdan is a danger to the public and that he might flee while his deportation case is pending in the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Hatter denied the request the same day, but it was unclear when Hamdan would actually be released from the Terminal Island detention center where he has been held since his arrest on July 28, 2004.

His attorney, Ranjana Natarajan of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Los Angeles were supposed to draw up conditions of a supervised release. "The judge clearly said the government has no business detaining him," said Natarajan. Hamdan's daughter, Yaman Hamdan, said her family was afraid that the government could still find a way to keep her father locked up.

The government had never charged Hamdan with a crime, but alleged in immigration proceedings that he was linked to terrorism because of his former job as a fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation, a Dallas, Texas-based charity which allegedly channeled funds to the Palestinian armed group Hamas [see INB 12/18/04, 2/12/05, 3/25/06, 6/18/06]. [Los Angeles Times 7/29/06]


On July 20 in London, Kentucky, two limited liability companies pleaded guilty to criminal charges of harboring illegal aliens and money laundering in connection with an illegal employment scheme at local area hotels. Asha Ventures, LLC, and Narayan, LLC, agreed to pay $1.5 million cash in lieu of forfeiture and create internal compliance programs. Sentencing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 20. [ICE News Release 7/21/06]

On July 20 in Cincinnati, Ohio, restaurant owner Jiang Fei Jiang was charged in US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio with one count of encouraging or inducing aliens to illegally reside in the US. Jiang was arrested on June 5; 10 employees of Jiang's Bee's Buffet restaurant in Fairfield were arrested at Jiang's home the same day [see INB 6/10/06]. Jiang and six of the workers were found to be illegally in the US. The other four were found to have cases on appeal or immigration benefits pending. [ICE 7/21/06; Journal-News (Hamilton, OH) 7/20/06]

On July 25, a federal grand jury in Cincinnati unsealed a 40-count criminal indictment charging two temporary labor companies, the president of these companies and two of their corporate officers with conspiring to knowingly employ more than 1,000 unauthorized immigrant temporary workers. The workers were hired between December 1999 and January 2005 to sort freight under contract for ABX Air, Inc., which provides air cargo transportation services. The defendants are Garcia Labor Company, Inc, of Morristown, Tennessee; Garcia Labor Company of Ohio, Inc, based in Wilmington, Ohio; Maximino Garcia, president and co-owner of the two companies; Dominga McCarroll, sister of Garcia and former vice president of both companies; and Gina Luciano, director of Human Relations for Garcia Labor Company in Tennessee. Garcia and Luciano are also charged with inducing "aliens" to remain in the US and harboring them. [ICE 7/25/06]


On July 25, ICE agents arrested three undocumented Mexican workers for using fraudulent documents and making false statements to gain employment at the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport in Mississippi. The three men were employed by an airport sub-contractor and were applying for training at the airport in an effort to receive airport security identification badges. Airport personnel contacted ICE to examine the workers' documents; ICE then determined the documents were fraudulent. The three workers were arrested and transported to the Harrison County Detention Center; all three have been charged by the US Attorney's office on criminal counts of possessing counterfeit documents. [ICE News Release 7/28/06]


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