Saturday, September 9, 2006

INB 9/9/06: Thousands March for Immigrant Rights

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 33 - September 9, 2006

Special Double Issue:

1. Thousands March for Immigrant Rights
2. Charges Dropped Against Activists
3. GA: Poultry Plant Raided
4. NY: Another Buffalo Area Raid
5. Puerto Rico: Construction Site Raided
6. "Return to Sender" Hits Las Vegas, Twin Cities
7. ICE Arrests "Aliens" in Roswell, NM

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


According to Andrea Black, coordinator of the Detention Watch Network (DWN), at least 45,000 people attended an immigrant rights march and rally in Washington, DC on Sept. 7. In a statement issued for the rally, DWN said: "The fight for immigrant rights is not just a fight 'for' legalization, our fight is against deportation, our fight is for all immigrants' right, our fight is for real comprehensive immigration reform." [DWN Message 9/8/06] "If we can't get this Congress to pass fair immigration reform now, we'll elect a new Congress in November that will pass it," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) told the rally.

Newsday of Long Island, New York, reported that 10,000 people marched in Washington. [Newsday 9/8/06] The Washington Post reported attendance at "fewer than 5,000." The We Are America Alliance of immigrant rights groups billed the march as a post-Labor Day demonstration to show Congress that undocumented workers still want an immigration reform bill that would allow them to work in the country legally. "I will say honestly that we continue to be amazed that people come by the thousands in spite of raids against immigrants," said Deepak Bhargaba, executive director of the Center for Community Change, which helps fund and organize the alliance. [WP 9/8/06]

While the crowd rallied on Sept. 7, the Senate passed a $470-billion defense spending bill for fiscal 2007 that includes $1.8 billion for the National Guard to install 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern US border. The Senate bill will have to be reconciled with the $428-billion defense spending bill the House passed in June. [Los Angeles Times 9/8/06]

More than 200 immigrant rights activists gathered at the Texas Capitol in Austin on Sept. 7 to honor those who have died crossing the border. "We wanted to bring it back to the actual people, to being human, to say that no human is illegal. We all have a right to be here. We're supporting all immigrants," said activist Silky Shah. [Channel 8 News (Austin) 9/7/06]

The Sept. 7 rallies followed demonstrations for immigrant rights in at least 17 cities on Sept. 4, the Labor Day holiday. [ 9/5/06] Some 4,000 immigrant rights supporters rallied at the state Capitol in Phoenix, according to organizers' estimates. Police said the event drew about 1,000. [New York Times 9/5/06] The Arizona Republic estimated attendance at 2,000, with about 50 counter-protesters. [AR 9/5/06] AP reported the crowd size as 900, and said the counter-protest drew 100 people. [AP 9/4/06]

Local police estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people attended a Sept. 4 immigrant rights march in San Francisco, sponsored by the Regional Unity Coalition for Immigrant Rights. [North Gate News Online (UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism) 9/5/06] Another 2,500 people marched in neighboring Oakland, while 8,000 to 10,000 people turned out in nearby San Jose. [San Jose Mercury News 9/5/06] According to AP, about 400 people marched in Los Angeles on Sept. 4. [AP 9/4/06] Several hundred people marched in Sacramento [Sacramento Bee 9/5/06], and about 400 marched in downtown Fresno. [ 9/5/06]

More than 1,000 people rallied at MLK Memorial Park in Seattle following a two-mile march through the city for immigrant rights and against war. "We're looking to renew the civil-rights movement," said Jorge Quiroga, of El Comite Pro-Amnistia General y Justicia Social, which organized the march. "It's about social justice. This march is a call for solidarity." [Seattle Times 9/5/06]

In Texas on Sept. 4, according to AP, about 500 people marched to Dallas City Hall, and a similar-sized crowd attended a Houston rally. [AP 9/4/06] The Militant newspaper, published by the Socialist Workers Party, said 1,000 were at the Houston rally. The Militant's crowd figures for other cities were close to those cited in mainstream news reports. [Militant 9/18/06]

In Milwaukee, the traditional Labor Day union parade was combined with an immigrant rights march, and more than half the crowd appeared to have been mobilized by the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and Voces de la Frontera, a local workers advocacy center. Among the 3,000 to 4,500 participants were a number of politicians, including Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett and Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle. At least one union--the 1,900-member Local 75 of the Plumbers and Gas Fitters--boycotted the march over the immigrant rights theme. "You're looking at the face of America in 40 years," said Jerry Kopczynski, a freight company driver from Franklin. "People don't get it. This is the American worker right here, no different than the Irish or the Poles." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 9/4/06]

A four-day march from Chicago ended Sept. 4 at the Batavia office of Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) with a rally of about 3,000 people according to Gabe Gonzalez, Midwest regional organizer for the Center for Community Change. [AP 9/4/06] The police's crowd estimate was 2,500. [NYT 9/5/06] The Chicago Tribune said 2,000 people attended the Batavia rally, and about 250 marched the entire 45-mile route [see INB 9/2/06]. About 150 anti-immigrant counter-protesters showed up at the Batavia rally. [CT 9/5/06]

About 1,200 people marched on Sept. 4 in St. Paul, Minnesota. [Pioneer Press 9/5/06] According to the Militant, hundreds rallied in Dubuque, Iowa, and about 200 marched and rallied in Newark, New Jersey. [Militant 9/18/06] According to the National Immigrant Solidarity Network, marches or rallies were also scheduled to take place on Sept. 3 in Pittsburgh; on Sept. 4 in San Diego; and on Sept. 7 in Trenton, New Jersey. [NISN 9/2/06]

On Sept. 8, about 75 people took part in an "Immigrant Rights are Worker Rights" rally in Chicopee, Massachusetts, organized by the Anti-Displacement Project, Jobs with Justice and the Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO Central Labor Council. [The Republican (Springfield) 9/9/06]


On Sept. 1 in Tucson, Arizona, US District Judge Raner Collins dismissed federal charges against humanitarian activists Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss. The two were arrested by the Border Patrol near Tucson on July 9, 2005, while driving sick migrants to a clinic, and were indicted on Aug. 3, 2005, for transporting undocumented immigrants [see INB 7/15/05, 7/23/05, 8/6/05]. Collins ruled that No More Deaths officials had assured the activists "that the 'protocol' had been approved by Border Patrol and that the transportation for these medical purposes was not a violation of the law." Collins noted that in the three years before 2005, "no one was arrested and prosecuted for following the protocol." [Arizona Daily Star 9/2/06, 9/5/06]


On Sept. 1, at least a dozen US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the Crider poultry packing plant in Stillmore, in east central Georgia. Agents also made arrests in nearby Metter and Oak Park the same weekend; it was not clear whether those arrests were of Crider employees. About 90 to 100 people were detained on administrative immigration violations in the Sept. 1-3 sweeps, according to the local TV station WTOC, which was apparently invited to accompany the Crider plant raid. A "small number" of those arrested had "pressing child custody concerns" and were released with a notice to appear in immigration court, according to the Swainsboro weekly Blade Plus. [WTOC 9/2/06, 9/6/06; Blade Plus 9/11/06]


On Aug. 30, ICE agents served a warrant on the Fortistar Hydroponic Tomato Greenhouse in North Tonawanda and arrested 34 immigrant workers there. The same day, the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York was expected to criminally charge each of the 34 with use of a fraudulent alien registration card ("green card") and false use of a Social Security number. They will also be administratively charged with being illegally present in the US and will be scheduled for a removal hearing before a federal immigration judge. The Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Office of Inspector General helped conduct the investigation, according to Peter J. Smith, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Buffalo. ICE officials are still investigating to determine whether the company knew it was employing out-of- status workers, according to ICE spokesperson Michael Gilhooly. [ICE News Release 8/30/06; Tonawanda News 8/31/06, 9/7/06]


On Aug. 31, ICE agents arrested 38 Dominican immigrants working at the Los Prados construction site in Caguas, Puerto Rico. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Branch and the Puerto Rico Police Department participated in the operation. All 38 workers were placed in removal proceedings for being in violation of immigration laws; they are detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. The construction site is managed by Cue & Lopez Contractors, Inc. [ICE News Release 9/1/06]


Over a six-day period ending Aug. 29, ICE agents arrested 109 immigrants as part of "Operation Return to Sender," a national ICE program targeting immigrants with criminal records, final orders of deportation or other immigration violations. Most of those arrested were from Mexico; others were from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, the Philippines, Colombia, Belgium, Iran, Cuba, and Korea. By Aug. 29, more than 35 of the immigrants had already been removed from the US. The rest were in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge. Of the 109 people arrested, 59 had prior criminal records. [ICE News Release 8/29/06; AP 8/29/06]

In a sweep of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area between Aug. 23 and Sept. 1, ICE agents arrested 90 out-of-status immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, Indonesia, Cambodia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Of the total, only 48 had final orders of deportation. Ten of those arrested had prior criminal convictions. ICE's local "fugitive operations team" was supported in the raids--part of "Operation Return to Sender"--by ICE officers from Omaha, Grand Island and North Platte, Nebraska; and from Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa. Also assisting was the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)-sponsored Minnesota Fugitive Task Force and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department. [ICE News Release 9/7/06]


On Aug. 29, ICE agents executed a search warrant at Dean Baldwin Painting Inc. at the Roswell Industrial Air Center in Roswell, New Mexico and arrested 15 of the company's employees for working illegally in the US. The workers had been hired to paint US military aircraft aircraft. The high-tech aviation stripping and repainting firm employs more than 170 people. Those arrested were citizens of Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala. They will be placed in removal proceedings. The US Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; US Department of Labor; Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General; and US Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol (CBPBP) all assisted with the operation. [ICE News Release 8/29/06; KRQE News 13 (Albuquerque) 8/29/06] [ICE's news release, titled "ICE arrests 15 aliens in Roswell working for US military contractor," was reposted on various websites as a humor piece, since Roswell is famous for a story involving "aliens" from outer space whose spaceship allegedly crashed nearby in 1947.]


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