Sunday, April 27, 2008

INB 4/27/08: Detainees Transferred After Riot

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 9 - April 27, 2008

1. Detainees Transferred After Riot
2. Food Poisoning in Arizona Detention Center?
3. Palestinian Professor Transferred to ICE Custody
4. Georgia: Restaurant Labor Agents Indicted

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 posted at


On Apr. 22, a riot broke out at the Mira Loma immigration detention center in Lancaster, California, which holds nearly 1,000 immigrants. The riot allegedly involved the South Siders and Paisa gangs, according to a detainee who spoke with the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department fired tear gas grenades at the detainees; additional deputies came to the detention center from nearby Lancaster and Palmdale stations to assist the guards with separating detainees. The riot was diffused "within minutes," said Steve Whitmore, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. At least 10 immigrants were taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Virginia Kice. Two detainees suffered serious, though not life-threatening, head injuries during the riot and were taken to a local hospital, Whitmore said, and about 20 other detainees suffered minor injuries. No deputies were injured, said Whitmore.

Detainees who spoke to the Daily Journal as the riot unfolded said the fight broke out after a deputy allegedly opened a gate allowing gang members into an area that housed rival gang members. Sheriff's Department and ICE personnel spent much of the night interviewing detainee witnesses, and some who instigated the riot may be prosecuted on criminal charges, authorities said. Kice said a federal team was dispatched to conduct an in-depth investigation into the riot. "We believe the original altercation was gang-related," Kice said.

On Apr. 23, ICE began moving dozens of detainees from the Mira Loma facility to undisclosed facilities. Whitmore said on Apr. 23 that 50 detainees involved in the riot had been identified as gang members and had been bused to other federal facilities. Whitmore would not say what gangs those detainees were affiliated with or which gangs were involved in the riot. Officials said the men would be transferred to detention centers in the western US. "We are moving people based on interviews conducted by ICE officials and sheriff's deputies," said Kice. "We are taking a zero-tolerance policy. We want to send a strong message that this kind of action is not appropriate." More than half of the immigrants transferred were Salvadorans moved to a downtown Los Angeles staging area. Reports circulated that some detainees were being deported. "If someone has a final order of removal and we have travel documents, then we are in the process of removing them," said Kice. [Los Angeles Daily Journal 4/24/08; Los Angeles Times 4/24/08]

Attorneys representing some of the detainees said they had little information about the pending transfers. "My client was taken to downtown Los Angeles for processing," said Nikhil Shah, a Los Angeles immigration lawyer who represents a Salvadoran man. "If my client is moved he would not be able to see his family," Shah said. "He would be penalized for something he didn't participate in, endorse or start."

In December, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $10 million plan to expand the Mira Loma facility just days after a detainee was killed while operating a jackhammer [see INB 12/30/07]. The US Department of Homeland Security agreed to pay the county $51 million to house 1,400 immigrants. Mira Loma does not house detainees with serious medical issues or convictions for violent crimes. [LA Daily Journal 4/24/08]


On Apr. 23, more than 80 immigration detainees at the Eloy Detention Center in central Arizona began suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. The Pinal County Health Department says it's unclear what caused the health problems, but is studying samples to find out. The detention center has closed its kitchen and is getting food from the nearby Saguaro Correctional Center. The center is also working on disinfecting the facility and "urging detainees to practice good hygiene," according to Associated Press. [AP 4/24/08]


On Apr. 11, Palestinian professor Sami Al-Arian was transferred into ICE custody after completing a sentence on civil contempt citations for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury [see INB 3/29/08]. On Apr. 15, ICE agents transported Al-Arian from the Northern Neck Regional jail in Warsaw, Virginia to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia. Just hours after he arrived at Hampton Roads, jail officials placed Al-Arian on suicide watch in a segregation unit and confiscated all of his belongings, allegedly because of his refusal to eat. Al-Arian had been on hunger strike since Mar. 3, protesting the government's refusal to release him. Jail officials told Al-Arian he would only be allowed one telephone call every 15 days, and would not be allowed any attorney calls. Some of these conditions were relaxed after thousands of supporters called the Hampton Roads jail to complain about Al-Arian's treatment. However, the jail is still keeping Al-Arian in segregation and has not provided him with adequate medical care. [Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace Press Releases 4/16/08, 4/23/08] Meanwhile, according to news reports, the Justice Department is apparently considering charging Al-Arian with criminal contempt. [St. Petersburg Times 4/23/08]

On Apr. 21, Al-Arian collapsed and lost consciousness for a few minutes. On Apr. 23, the 52nd day of his hunger strike, Al-Arian began to take a liquid nutritional supplement at the urging of his family, who would like him to regain his strength to be able to travel in the event that he is deported soon and allowed to finally rejoin them, as the government has promised. Concerned people are urged to call ICE Acting Field Office Director Vincent Archibeque in Fairfax, Virginia, at 703-285-6200 to demand that Al-Arian be treated with dignity and respect, and that the government honor its promise to deport him immediately. [Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace Press Release 4/23/08]


On Apr. 15 a grand jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia handed down five indictments charging 15 people with providing unauthorized immigrants from Mexico or Central America to work in Chinese restaurants across the East Coast. The charges involve six employment agencies based in Chamblee, Georgia: Sing Rong Employment Agency; Ji Chang Sen Employment Agency; Grand China Employment Agency; Dong Sheng Employment Agency; Number One Employment Agency; and Da Zhong Employment Agency. The 15 people who were charged include employment agency owners, drivers who transported the workers to restaurants in other states, operators of "safe houses" in Chamblee where immigrants waited for jobs and smugglers who brought workers up from Florida. The agencies charged a commission of hundreds of dollars to place each worker, which was deducted from wages. According to the indictment, the agencies placed workers in restaurants in Tennessee, Kentucky, New York, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio. Restaurant owners and warehouse owners would approach the agencies to hire the immigrant workers, "thereby cutting costs and maximizing profits," the indictments said. The restaurant owners would pay the workers in cash and not withhold state or federal taxes. They gave them food and housing, but paid $3 or $5 per hour in some cases. [Atlanta Journal Constitution 4/16/08]


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
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

INB 4/20/08: Over 300 Arrested in Poultry Plant Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 8 - April 20, 2008

1. Over 300 Arrested in Poultry Plant Raids
2. 56 Arrests in Restaurant Raids
3. Houston Donut Plant Raided
4. Mississippi Restaurant Raided
5. Iowa Clothing Company Raided
6. Deport Flight to Philippines, Indonesia
7. TPS Extended for Somalis

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 posted at


Early on Apr. 16, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents carried out coordinated raids on poultry processing plants owned by the Pilgrim's Pride company in Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas and West Virginia. A total of 311 workers were arrested, according to figures supplied by ICE in an Apr. 17 news release. At least 91 workers were charged with criminal violations, including false use of a Social Security number and document fraud, and have been turned over to the custody of the US Marshals Service. The other workers arrested are being processed for removal on administrative immigration violations. Of the total number of workers arrested, 58 were released under supervision for humanitarian reasons such as childcare or medical issues. [ICE News Release 4/17/08] Some of the workers were arrested at the plants; others were picked up at their homes. [CBS/AP 4/17/08] All the workers arrested in the operation appear to be from Latin America. In a fact sheet about the raids, ICE said 130 of the arrested workers were from Mexico, 112 from Guatemala, 59 from Honduras, four from El Salvador and one from Colombia; the nationality of five others was listed as unknown. [ICE Fact Sheet 4/17/08]

A federal grand jury in Tyler, Texas returned indictments on Apr. 1 charging an unspecified number of people with obtaining and using the Social Security numbers of others to get jobs at the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The indictments remained under seal until shortly before the Apr. 16 operation began. More arrests could be made, federal officials said. [DOJ/ICE News Release 4/16/08; Dallas Morning News 4/17/08 (posted late on 4/16/08)]

The raids and indictments resulted from an ongoing investigation into identity theft which ICE began in January 2007 in collaboration with the US Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG), according to a news release issued jointly by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and ICE. [DOJ/ICE News Release 4/16/08] The investigation involved undercover agents. [DMN 4/18/08] On Dec. 11, 2007, ICE arrested 24 people after serving criminal arrest warrants at the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Mount Pleasant and at several nearby residences. [DOJ/ICE News Release 4/16/08] All 24 were accused of selling or using stolen or fake work documents, according to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in December. [DMN 4/16/08 via KVUE] Investigators said those arrested were involved in an identity theft ring to help get jobs for unauthorized immigrants at the company's plants in Mount Pleasant and Pittsburg, Texas. Since then, five have pleaded guilty to misusing Social Security numbers and are awaiting sentencing. The criminal complaint implicated a human resources staffer for the company, according to federal court documents. [DMN 4/17/08 (posted late on 4/16/08); AP 4/16/08]

The investigation was carried out in cooperation with the US Attorney's offices for the Eastern District of Texas, Eastern District of Arkansas, Eastern District of Tennessee, Middle District of Florida, and Northern District of West Virginia. Other federal agencies assisting with the investigation included the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, the US Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General, US Customs and Border Protection, the US Postal Service and the US Marshals Service. The West Virginia state police and numerous other state and local agencies assisted ICE in carrying out the operation. [ICE News Release 4/17/08]

ICE's fact sheet showing arrest totals by location as of 1pm on Apr. 17 reveals vast differences between the operations at the five Pilgrim's Pride plants. The two plants with the largest number of arrests were in Moorefield, West Virginia, where ICE arrested 115 workers on administrative immigration violations, and in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where 100 workers were arrested on administrative immigration violations. No workers were arrested on criminal charges in these two locations. A total of 36 workers in Chattanooga and 16 in Moorefield were granted humanitarian release. By contrast, all 46 of the workers arrested in Mount Pleasant are facing criminal charges; one was granted humanitarian release. In Live Oak, Florida, two workers were arrested on administrative immigration violations; another 27 face criminal charges. Two workers were released on humanitarian grounds. In Batesville, Arkansas, three workers face administrative charges and 18 face criminal charges; three workers were released. [ICE Fact Sheet 4/17/08]

Pilgrim's Pride Corp.--one of the largest chicken-processing companies in the US--has not been charged. The company has about 55,000 employees and operates dozens of facilities mostly across the South and in Mexico and Puerto Rico, supplying the KFC restaurant chain and other customers. The company worked with ICE agents ahead of the raids, said Pilgrim's Pride spokesperson Ray Atkinson from corporate headquarters in Pittsburg, Texas. In a news release, ICE confirmed that "management at the affected Pilgrim's Pride facilities cooperated fully with the arrests." Atkinson noted that Pilgrim's Pride participates in the federal government's voluntary E-Verify program to check Social Security numbers against workers' names in government databases. [ICE News Release 4/17/08; DMN 4/17/08 (posted late on 4/16/08); AP 4/17/08]

"It wasn't a raid, in the sense that we were working with the government to help them apprehend the people," said Atkinson. [New York Times 4/17/08] "We knew in advance and cooperated fully," Atkinson said. "We have terminated all of the employees who were taken into custody and will terminate any employee who is found to have engaged in similar misconduct. We are investigating these allegations further," Atkinson claimed in a statement. Although ICE listed 311 arrests, Pilgrim's Pride officials said about 400 hourly, non-management employees were arrested in the sweeps. [AP 4/17/08]

Atkinson said the company had previously approached ICE with information about identity theft at one of its Arkansas plants. [AP 4/16/08] In January 2007 at the Pilgrim's Pride plant in De Queen, Arkansas, police arrested a manager who allegedly rented identification documents for $800 to get a job there. [AP 4/17/08]

As of Apr. 17, the number of people indicted in connection with the Apr. 16 raid on the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Mount Pleasant had risen to 48. [ (Tyler, TX) 4/17/08] Two of the workers arrested on Apr. 16 in Mount Pleasant were freed on the afternoon of Apr. 17 and the criminal indictments against them were dropped, said Assistant US Attorney Arnold Spencer in Tyler. One of the two, Jesus García, has valid documents proving his lawful permanent resident status and was apparently picked up in "a case of mistaken identity," according to his lawyer, Fernando Dubove. "It is the wrong Jesus García. It is really tough when you have a common name." A different man named John Jesus García is apparently still named in the Apr. 1 indictment and is considered a fugitive. Spencer wouldn't comment on the immigration status of the other worker who was released, saying only that her case was complicated. Spencer acknowledged that "a significant number" of the workers named in the Apr. 1 indictment remain at large. [DMN 4/18/08, 4/19/08]

The raids spread fear throughout Mount Pleasant. Following the arrests, dozens of businesses in town that cater to Latino immigrants had few customers or none at all. [CBS/AP 4/17/08] Missy Walley, principal of Chapel Hill Elementary school in Mount Pleasant, said that students upset about the raids crowded her office on the morning of Apr. 17. One student's mother and another student's father had been arrested, and many students seemed afraid that ICE agents might come to the school. Many other students expressed empathy for those who were directly affected, according to Walley. "It was not just our Hispanic children who were upset," she said. "It was all the children. It affected the whole school." [DMN 4/18/08] Texas Child Protective Services spokesperson Shari Pulliam said her agency was notified about the raid but has not had to take custody of any children. [AP 4/16/08]

The 36 workers released in Chattanooga have been equipped with ankle-bracelet monitors as an alternative to detention, said ICE spokesperson Gail Montenegro. "I feel humiliated by having to wear the bracelet," said a Honduran worker named Miriam, who was separated from her 7-month-old daughter for more than 12 hours after her arrest at the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Chattanooga. "Even if they hadn't put this on my foot, I would have shown up to court and left if the judge says I have to leave, because I don't want to lose my baby." A Guatemalan worker named Candelaria who was released said she is illiterate and her first language is a Mayan dialect, not Spanish--yet she was given documents to sign which were mostly in English, with some translations into Spanish. Candelaria is a widowed single mother to three US-born children, all under age 12. "I don't know how to read or write. I don't know what I'm supposed to do now," she said.

Several organizations from Tennessee and Georgia are reaching out to the families of those arrested in Chattanooga to assess their needs and raise money to help with food, supplies and expenses, said Rev. Mike Feely, director of the St. Andrew's Center and a board member of La Paz de Dios, a Hispanic outreach organization. The groups also plan to hold community forums to explain the legal process and discuss the rights of the detainees and their families, he said. David Linge, co-chair of Jobs With Justice of East Tennessee, came to Chattanooga on the night of Apr. 16 with his wife to offer their help. Feely said the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and various churches have also contacted him to see how they can help. "We've had people from all over the place calling us. It's encouraging," said Feely. [Chattanooga Times Free Press 4/18/08]


On Apr. 16, ICE special agents arrested 11 people in four states on criminal charges of conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants who were allegedly smuggled into the US to work in seven Mexican restaurants owned by Simon Banda. Banda, of Depew, New York, was among those arrested; nine others named in an ICE news release were identified as managers of the restaurants. (The 11th person was not identified.) The US Attorney for the Western District of New York, Terrance Flynn, and ICE chief Julie Myers announced the arrests on the morning of Apr. 16. Six of the arrests took place in the Western District of New York; one in Bradford, Pennsylvania; two in West Virginia; and two in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Flynn said his office has been coordinating closely with the US Attorney's offices in Atlanta, Wheeling (West Virginia), Cleveland and Erie (Pennsylvania).

The operation involved about 130 ICE agents and 30 state and local law enforcement officers. In all, law enforcement agents executed 26 search and arrest warrants as part of an investigation that began in May 2006. [AP 4/16/08; ICE News Release 4/16/08]

As part of the operation, ICE agents and local officers also arrested 45 workers on administrative immigration violations while executing search warrants at the seven restaurants, at six residences occupied by the owners and managers of the restaurants, and at 12 apartments used to house the workers. [ICE News Release 4/16/08] Eight of the workers and two of the managers were arrested in the towns of Mentor and Willoughby in northeast Ohio, at Jalapeño Loco Mexican Restaurant in Mentor and two houses, said ICE spokesperson Greg Palmore. [Canton Repository 4/16/08 from AP]

The other raided restaurants are: El Caporal Mexican Restaurant in Cheektowaga, NY; Azteca Mexican Food Cantina in Dunkirk, NY; Don Lorenzo Mexican Restaurant in Allegany, NY; La Herradura Mexican Restaurant in Bradford, Pennsylvania; Nogales Mexican Restaurant in Wheeling, West Virginia; and El Caporal Restaurant in New Martinsville, West Virginia. In addition, ICE agents searched a home connected to Banda in Marietta, Georgia, in an effort to uncover cash allegedly skimmed from the restaurants.

ICE was assisted in the Western New York operation by the Cheektowaga Police Department, the New York State Police, the US Department of Labor and Customs and Border Protection's Office of the Border Patrol. Other federal, state and local partners assisted ICE with the operations in other states. [ICE News Release 4/16/08]

Lev Kubiak, acting special agent in charge of ICE in Buffalo, said Banda entered the US without permission an unknown number of years ago and created a false identity using the birth certificate of a Honduran man. Under the name Jorge Delarco, Banda was granted temporary protected status and permission to work in this country, according to court documents. To find workers for his restaurants, Banda "would contact friends and family in Mexico looking for individuals who would pay $2,700 or $2,000 to be smuggled into this country," said Flynn, the US Attorney. [AP 4/16/08] Banda would allegedly pay the workers' smuggling debts and then force them to repay him with 72-hour work weeks at the Mexican restaurants, at low pay and with deductions for rent in the substandard apartments he provided for them. [AP 4/16/08; Canton Repository 4/16/08 from AP]

According to an ICE investigator's affidavit, based in part on interviews with unidentified cooperating witnesses, Banda skimmed 50% from each restaurant's profits and stashed the proceeds in bank safe deposit boxes and at his sister's house. An ICE financial auditor estimated Banda skimmed about $140,000 from each of his restaurants each year.

Banda appeared in court without a lawyer on Apr. 16 and was given until Apr. 18 to hire one. Magistrate Judge Hugh Scott ordered him detained until then, based on the government's assertion that Banda is a Mexican citizen without legal status in the US. Six of Banda's restaurant managers, including two of his brothers, also made initial appearances in court. Javier Banda of Depew was released on $5,000 bail, while Honorio Banda of Bradford, Pennsylvania, was held because he is allegedly in the country without permission. Another manager was released on bail, one was held because of outstanding warrants and the others were detained because they are allegedly in the US without permission. [AP 4/16/08]


At 5am on Apr. 16, ICE agents swarmed the Houston, Texas headquarters of the Shipley's Do-Nuts complex and arrested at least 20 workers on administrative immigration charges. (Some reports suggested that the number of workers arrested was closer to 30.) The ICE agents, accompanied by Harris County sheriff's deputies, arrived at the site in a caravan of 50 vehicles, detention vans and an ambulance. An ICE helicopter hovered over the site while the sheriff's deputies guarded the perimeter. Some ICE agents brought workers out in handcuffs while others questioned employees inside, sorted through company documents and removed documents and other items from the company offices.

The raid focused on a four-block Shipley's complex that includes a warehouse, offices and processing plants where workers prepare dough mix and fillings used at the company's Houston-area stores. The compound, fenced off with barbed wire, also includes residences--at least five trailers and 14 small homes–where some of the workers apparently live. The Harris County Appraisal District lists many of the properties as belonging to members of the Shipley family. Agents did not enter the homes during the raid, but Robert Rutt, the agent in charge of the Houston ICE office, told the Houston Chronicle that some of the people who were arrested lived at the complex. Rutt said the operation was planned after ICE received information that unauthorized immigrants were working at the Shipley facility. He added that no one in management has been taken into custody. Of the 20 workers who were confirmed arrested, 11 are from Mexico, including a juvenile; four are from Honduras, four from Nicaragua and one from El Salvador. [Houston Chronicle 4/16/08 (11:29pm & 5:38pm articles); Dallas Morning News 4/16/08 via KVUE; Texas Cable News 4/16/08 from AP & Channel 11 News]

The family-owned donut chain has 86 stores in the Houston area and a total of 190 stores throughout Texas and in Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama. [HC 4/16/08; TXCN 4/16/08 from AP & Channel 11 News] The company released a statement on Apr. 16 following the raid. "Shipley Do-Nuts is a family-owned and operated business with a 72-year history in the Houston area. It makes every effort to comply with very complicated immigration laws, and is currently cooperating with authorities in an ongoing investigation. Shipley is deeply concerned for the well-being of its employees that are being detained and their families."

In 2006, 15 workers filed a discrimination lawsuit against Shipley's, seeking damages for allegedly enduring daily slurs such as "wetback" and "mojado" while working at the company's warehouse. Most of the allegations were filed against a former plant manager, Jimmy Rivera, and two supervisors. One worker, Joel Sixtos Salvador of Michoacan, Mexico, testified in his deposition that Rivera humiliated him, insulted him and threatened him with deportation if he complained. "He told me he had some police friends and that he could tell them to arrest me and deport me," Sixtos testified. Filberto Alvarado Robles, who worked for the company starting in 1997, said in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint that "the company knew what was going on, or should know" because workers had complained about Rivera to another supervisor. The company settled the lawsuit with the workers this past February. The settlement terms are confidential. In his deposition for the civil lawsuit, Rivera, a Shipley employee for 30 years, denied ever knowingly hiring an undocumented worker. He denied telling workers to go to a flea market to get fake documents, including Social Security cards.

The depositions in the civil lawsuit include allegations that workers who complained about their treatment on the job were evicted from company housing. The company denied those allegations. Company president Lawrence Shipley III told investigators that the housing was free to workers and their families. But the workers testified that Rivera, the plant manager, charged them fees--in some cases as much as $550--to move into the homes. The workers also alleged that Rivera would charge them to enter a raffle to work overtime on weekends, and charge them $50 to see the company doctor. One worker said he had to pay $100 to Rivera to avoid being fired after refusing to give him a massage. [HC 4/16/08]

Maria Jimenez, a longtime Houston immigrant rights activist, led a protest against the raid at noon on Apr. 16 outside the Mickey Leland Federal Building with members of organizations including CRECEN, FIEL, America Para Todos, Houston Interfaith Worker Justice, the Catholic Archdiocesan office of Justice and Peace and the Mennonite Central Committee. Jimenez said the Shipley's raid follows recent ICE arrests at local apartment complexes and the detention of undocumented day laborers. Activists at the protest spoke out against the current unjust immigration laws, called for a fair immigration reform that values family unity and provides a path towards citizenship, and encouraged the community to come out for a march planned for May 1 in downtown Houston. [HC 4/16/08; TXCN 4/16/08 from AP & Channel 11 News; Message posted by "We're All Immigrants" on Houston Indymedia 4/16/08]


On Mar. 28, ICE agents arrested nine workers at Stix Japanese restaurant in Flowood, Mississippi. Seven of the workers, including two women, are from Indonesia; one man is from Thailand and another is a student from China. ICE spokesperson Temple Black said the student is in the US legally on a student visa but the visa prohibits him from working. The student and the two women were released; the other workers were bused to the Tensas Parish Detention Center in Waterproof, Louisiana, to await hearings before an immigration judge. Those hearings were scheduled for Apr. 4. Black said the investigation is continuing and charges could still be filed.

Earlier this year, the Country Club of Jackson, Mississippi had to pay a $214,500 fine for hiring unauthorized workers and for various Social Security violations, US Attorney Dunn Lampton said. ICE raided the country club on Sept. 13, 2006 [see INB 9/23/06]. The US Attorney's office filed a criminal complaint against the country club, accusing it of knowingly employing unauthorized immigrants. The country club has agreed to be audited by ICE and establish a training program to detect fraudulent documents; as long as it complies with these provisions, the criminal charges will be dropped. [Clarion-Ledger (Jackson) 4/6/08; (Jackson) 4/3/08]


On Mar. 26, ICE agents raided the American Clothing Company, a clothing recycling business in Council Bluffs, Iowa, arresting 16 workers on administrative immigration violations. Two of the workers are from El Salvador; the others are Mexican. Eleven of the workers are women; five are men. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said agents had been investigating the business for several months. He said it appears American Clothing officials were "duped" by fraudulent documents; the business is not facing any charges. [Action 3 News (Omaha, Nebraska) 3/26/08; Radio Iowa News 3/27/08]


On Apr. 8, 123 immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia were deported on a plane contracted under special charter with the ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Flight Operations Unit. The plane took off from Yuma, Arizona on Apr. 8; the deportees arrived in Pampanga, Philippines and Jakarta, Indonesia on Apr. 10. The deportees included 98 males and 25 females, according to ICE. Of the total 123 deportees, 43 had criminal convictions. The flight was escorted by ICE DRO officers, Division of Immigration Health Services staff and consular officials from Indonesia and the Philippines. It was the first deportation charter flight to the Philippines for fiscal year 2008 and the first deportation charter flight ever for Indonesia. The ICE attache in Singapore and the Department of State Regional Security Office in Jakarta coordinated with the Indonesian government to repatriate the deportees. ICE operates 13 to15 special air charter missions every year; other destinations for these flights include Brazil, Eastern Europe, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Cambodia and the Middle East. [ICE News Release 4/10/08]


On Mar. 10, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an 18-month extension, effective Mar. 17, of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Somalia. Under this extension, those who have already been granted TPS are eligible to live and work in the US and maintain their status through Sept. 17, 2009. An estimated 300 nationals of Somalia (or people "having no nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia") are eligible for re-registration. The 60-day re-registration period began Mar. 12 and ends May 12, 2008. [USCIS News Release 3/10/08]


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
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or email the authors at

Friday, April 11, 2008

INB 4/11/08: Virginia Resort Raided, NJ Suit Challenges Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 7 - April 11, 2008

1. Virginia Resort Raided
2. ICE Arrests 332 in South Florida
3. “Fugitive” Raids in Midwestern States
4. NJ Lawsuit Challenges Home Raids
5. Kids Sue Detention Center Over Abuse

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 posted at


Early on Apr. 8, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents interrogated some 100 employees working at the luxury Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, in northern Virginia's Loudoun County. ICE reported that 53 of the workers were arrested as "immigration status violators"; two of them, both women, were released at the site for humanitarian concerns. ICE agents arrested another six immigrants outside the facility. All 59 of the arrested men and women face removal proceedings, and two of them have been charged with criminal violations such as identity theft or obtaining genuine documents fraudulently. The arrested immigrants are nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina, according to ICE.

The ICE investigation into the Lansdowne Resort's hiring practices started in early July 2007 following a routine inspection of all I-9 employment forms at the resort. ICE agents identified information in the I-9 forms that led them to suspect that many employees had used fraudulent or stolen identity documents to get jobs at the resort. The investigation is ongoing, said ICE in a news release.

Cheryl Kilday, president and CEO of the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association, said she had spoken with a Lansdowne Resort executive about the incident, and that the company had been collaborating with ICE throughout the investigation. "Lansdowne had been working with them since August," said Kilday. "Lansdowne had been expecting them. They were cooperating in every way they could. This was something Lansdowne had been complying with."

Some of the arrested workers will be held in facilities awaiting transfer to detention centers, while others will be released on their own recognizance or released with a GPS tracking unit. The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office was informed the previous week about the planned raid at the hotel, and assisted ICE with the arrests during the actual operation, confirmed Kraig Troxell, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office.

The raid came less than three weeks after ICE arrested 34 immigrants working for CMC Concrete Construction in Manassas, Virginia [see INB 3/29/08]. The two operations appear to have been the largest workplace raids conducted by immigration authorities in the Washington, DC region in the past two years. [ICE News Release 4/8/08; Washington Post 4/9/08; Leesburg Today 4/9/08]


In a two-week operation that ended Apr. 4, ICE agents from the Miami Fugitive Operations Team arrested 332 people for violating immigration laws. Michael Rozos, ICE Florida Field Office Director for the Office of Detention and Removal, announced the results of the enforcement action at an Apr. 7 news conference in Miami. ICE arrested 147 people in Miami-Dade, 104 in Broward County and 81 in Palm Beach. According to ICE, 300 of those arrested were what the agency calls "fugitives," immigrants who had failed to comply with final orders of deportation. ICE said the other 32 people arrested "were immigration violators...who have been convicted of various crimes." Those arrested came from countries including Angola, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mauritania, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Surinam, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Out of the total 332 people arrested, 68 who were verified as sole caregivers or having medical concerns were released on orders of supervision and placed on the Alternatives to Detention Program (ATD), which according to ICE "has provided effective community based supervision to eligible aliens." The rest of those arrested were detained. [ICE News Release 4/7/08; Miami Herald 4/7/08]


In a two-day operation ending Mar. 30, ICE Fugitive Operations Team agents arrested 28 immigrants in Liberal, Kansas. Those arrested were 23 men and five women. Twenty of them were from Guatemala, six were from Mexico, and two were from El Salvador. Four of the 28 had criminal convictions; 18 had prior orders of deportation. All those arrested have been placed in deportation proceedings. Officers from the Liberal Police Department provided leads and otherwise assisted ICE during the operation. [ICE News Release 4/4/08]

In a two-day operation ending Mar. 27, ICE Fugitive Operations Teams arrested 18 men and seven women in Grand Island, Nebraska, and surrounding communities. Out of the total 25 people arrested, 15 are from Guatemala, eight are from Mexico, one is from El Salvador and one is from Iran. Nineteen of the 25 were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with earlier deportation orders; ICE described the other six as "immigration violators encountered by ICE officers during their targeted arrests." Five of the 25 had criminal convictions. [ICE News Release 3/28/08]

In a four-day sweep ending Feb. 25, ICE agents arrested 225 immigrants in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin and Missouri. The individuals arrested had outstanding deportation orders to 12 countries including Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, India and Poland. Thirty of the arrests took place in the Chicago area. [AP 2/26/08, 2/27/08; Chicago Tribune 2/27/08]

ICE has 75 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed across the country. Congress has authorized ICE to add 29 more Fugitive Operations Teams in fiscal year 2008. According to ICE, the success of its Fugitive Operations Teams can be partly attributed to the new Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) in Vermont, which aids in gathering and analyzing information on fugitive cases across the country. Since opening in 2007, this center has since provided ICE agents with more than 150,000 case leads. [ICE News Release 4/4/08]


On Apr. 3, Seton Hall Law School's Center for Social Justice and Lowenstein Sandler, PC, filed suit in Federal District Court in New Jersey, alleging that federal law enforcement officials violated the rights of people whose homes they entered during pre-dawn immigration raids. The 10 plaintiffs include two US citizens, a permanent resident, and a person who was lawfully present in the US under protected status. The plaintiffs charge that officials violated their constitutional privacy and due process rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by entering their homes without consent or a judicial warrant during eight home raids across New Jersey between August 2006 and January 2008.

During these raids, the lawsuit states, most of the plaintiffs were awakened by loud pounding on their doors and answered the door, fearing an emergency. ICE agents subsequently either lied about their identity or purpose to gain entry, or simply shoved their way into the home. During each raid the agents swept through the house and, displaying guns, rounded up all the residents for questioning. In some cases they ordered children out of their beds, shouted obscenities, shoved guns into residents' chests, and refused to allow them to call their lawyers. In the case of plaintiff Maria Argueta, a legal resident, agents lied to get into her home then refused to even to look at her immigration papers proving her status. Detained at 4:30 in the morning, she was held for 24 hours without food or water. In at least half the raids, the officers purported to be searching for a person who did not even live at the address raided.

"None of the home raids in today's case involved valid warrants allowing the agents to enter, and none of the residents gave consent," noted plaintiffs' attorney Scott Thompson, of Lowenstein Sandler. "The Constitution is very clear about the circumstances under which law enforcement may enter a private home, and the entries in this case did not even come close."

The complaint asserts that such violations are typical operating procedures for the ICE program called "Operation Return to Sender," which purports to target people who have failed to comply with deportation orders. According to the complaint, ICE agents carrying out this program have been ordered to meet dramatically increased immigrant arrest quotas using outdated address information and without having been trained on lawful procedures. The complaint points out that of the 2,079 people arrested in New Jersey last year under this program, 87% had no criminal record, and as few as one in three had outstanding deportation orders. The suit charges that the program is used as a pretext for dragnet searches in which ICE makes thousands of what it calls "collateral arrests" of people who are not being sought but who are discovered at the raided homes and are found to be out of status.

The complaint names senior federal officials including ICE chief Julie Myers, saying they knew about the practice and allowed it to continue. The complaint also seeks to hold responsible local police officers who participated in one of the raids alongside ICE agents. The Center for Social Justice and the newspaper Brazilian Voice had filed a Freedom of Information Act suit in federal court on Jan. 28, challenging the government's withholding of documents about the raids. Documents relating to these lawsuits are online at [Seton Hall Law School Press Release 4/3/08]


Eight teenage male immigrant detainees filed a federal lawsuit on Apr. 3, claiming they were beaten and subjected to other excessive force at a privately-run 122-bed detention facility in San Antonio, Texas. The plaintiffs from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba are being represented in the suit by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. According to the lawsuit, the beatings were so severe that some of the boys required hospital treatment for their injuries, and at least one boy was knocked unconscious. Complaints to facility administrators about the abuse were ignored. Officials at the detention center, officially called the Abraxas Hector Garza Treatment Center, also denied the boys access to attorneys by unnecessarily transferring them to other facilities before scheduled lawyer meetings, the lawsuit alleges.

The detention center is run by Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. under a contract with the US Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for the care of unaccompanied minors found to be without status in the US. The suit names Cornell Companies, numerous employees of the facility, federal officials and San Antonio police. It does not name ORR itself because the plaintiffs have not filed or exhausted their administrative claims against the agency, a requirement that must be fulfilled before the federal government can be sued. [Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Press Release 4/2/08; AP 4/3/08]


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
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Sunday, April 6, 2008

INB 4/6/08: LA Area Warehouses Raided; Amtrak Arrests Protested

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 6 - April 6, 2008

1. LA Area Warehouses Raided
2. Day Laborers Arrested in Northern California
3. Nightclub Security Guards Arrested in Dallas
4. Idaho Pallet Company Raided
5. Activists Protest Arrests on Amtrak, Greyhound
6. Laws to Be Waived for Border Fence

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 posted at Starting with 2008, INB issues on the blog include clickable links to all available cited sources. Please use the blog to access sources and back issues and to search by key word.

*1. LA Area Warehouses Raided

On Apr. 1, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 44 workers at the warehouses of three distribution companies--Samsung, Frontier and Imperial CSS--in an industrial park in Torrance, California, just south of Los Angeles. ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice said all but two of the 44 people arrested are Mexican. Kice said 17 of those arrested were released for humanitarian reasons. [Diario Hoy (LA/Chicago) 4/2/08, 4/3/08; La Opinión (Los Angeles) 4/3/08; Free Speech Radio News 4/2/08] The Mexican consulate in Los Angeles reported that its personnel were able to speak with 34 of the arrested Mexicans and offer them orientation about their legal situation. [El Financiero (Mexico) 4/3/08 with information from Notimex/MVC] William Jarquin, the consul of El Salvador in Los Angeles, said he was informed that two of those arrested were Salvadoran, and that one of the two had been released. [Diario Hoy 4/2/08]

At least 11 of the Mexican workers who were arrested on Apr. 1 were deported that same night, said Angélica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). She added that it "seemed strange" that they were "deported so quickly, because that doesn't happen unless they have final orders of deportation, and none of these people even had the chance to talk to a lawyer."

Salvadoran immigrant Nemesio Hernández said he was arrested on Apr. 1 despite having valid Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Hernández explained his situation to the ICE agents but they threw him violently to the floor, handcuffed him and jailed him for seven hours, said his sister, Isabel Hernández. He was then released without so much as an apology. [La Opinión 4/3/08]

Miguel Angel Reyes, a Mexican immigrant who had worked for four years at Imperial CFS, described how managers there collaborated with ICE to carry out the Apr. 1 raid: "The managers said we were going to have a meeting. They had us sit down in the lunchroom and then Immigration began to ask for California identification. They put us on the floor one by one. After about two hours they started to take everyone in the van." Reyes said many of the workers did not try to escape because "the managers said everything was fine, that it was a routine check, that nothing was going to happen. When I turned around, all the immigration agents were right there in front of me." [Diario Hoy 4/3/08]

Salas said that according to workers at the raided companies, ICE agents only checked the documents of the workers who appeared to be of Latin American origin. [La Opinión 4/3/08] CHIRLA organized a press conference and demonstration on the afternoon of Apr. 1 outside the federal detention center in downtown Los Angeles where some of the arrested workers were apparently taken. The protest was attended by dozens of people, including family members of the workers arrested that morning and workers who had been arrested in a Feb. 7 raid at Micro Solutions Enterprises in Van Nuys. [CHIRLA Email Alert 4/2/08; Diario Hoy 4/2/08; Free Speech Radio News 4/2/08] One woman who attended the protest, María Cruz, said her husband had been arrested on Apr. 1 at the Amay's Bakery and Noodle Co. factory in central Los Angeles. He had been a legal resident in the US for 25 years, but in 2001 authorities dug up a 20-year old felony case they said made him deportable. Cruz said her husband suffers from epilepsy; the family is worried that his condition will be exacerbated by the stress of detention. [Diario Hoy 4/2/08; Free Speech Radio News 4/2/08]

ICE spokesperson Lori Haley claimed the operation in Torrance was simply a routine inspection of customs bonded warehouses. "We do this type of routine audit to make sure everything is safe and sound," said Haley. "In the course of the inspection, we found people who were in the country illegally and we arrested them." [Diario Hoy 4/2/08]

The raids in the area south of Los Angeles continued on Apr. 2 with operations at the warehouses of Nippon Express Inc. on Francisco Street in Torrance and The Trading Center in Long Beach, and at a factory in Wilmington where some 25 ICE agents detained at least 10 workers, most of them women. [Diario Hoy 4/3/08; La Opinión 4/3/08; El Financiero 4/3/08 with information from Notimex/MVC; 4/3/08]

Kice confirmed that the warehouse "inspections" would continue. "ICE and CBP [Customs and Border Protection] are carrying out routine inspections at import-export companies in various communities of Los Angeles... to identify any security vulnerability," said Kice. [Diario Hoy 4/3/08] By Apr. 3, as word spread about the raids, many Los Angeles-area immigrants reportedly stayed home from work. [El Financiero 4/3/08 with information from Notimex/MVC]

Following the February raid at Micro Solutions, groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, the National Lawyers Guild and the National Immigration Law Center sought a restraining order in federal court against federal immigration officials who they said repeatedly blocked attorneys from accompanying workers during meetings and interrogations. On Mar. 12, the two sides finalized a settlement guaranteeing that the workers arrested at Micro Solutions can be accompanied by an attorney to all meetings and interrogations. ACLU staff attorney Ahilan Arulanantham said the groups hoped that the case would set a legal precedent. "The government would have a hard time explaining why the rights of these people are different from those of others" detained in similar raids, he said. [Los Angeles Times 3/14/08]

*2. Day Laborers Arrested in Northern California

On Mar. 28, local police officers in Fremont, California (in the Bay Area, southeast of San Francisco) carried out a sting operation against day laborers who were waiting for jobs outside a local Home Depot outlet. The Fremont Police Department cited about 15 workers for trespassing and took 13 of them who had no ID to the Santa Rita Jail to be identified, according to Detective Bill Veteran. There, the laborers were apparently handed over to ICE.

The raid was carried out in response to complaints from Home Depot, Veteran said, because some of the laborers allegedly harass customers and drink in public. "As a matter of courtesy, we alert ICE when we conduct" these kinds of operations, said Veteran. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco said it will look into whether the operation violated the Constitution and will consider legal options. [ 4/3/08]

According to information received by Larisa Casillas, director of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition (BAIRC), the workers were told at the time of their arrest that they would be placed in deportation proceedings. Casillas said her organization has received other reports indicating that people detained for traffic violations in Fremont are also being placed in deportation. Bay Area advocates are seeking to meet with Fremont police to discuss the issue. [Email message from Casillas received as forward on 4/2/08]

*3. Nightclub Security Guards Arrested in Dallas

Late on Mar. 29, a Saturday, agents from a task force led by ICE raided 26 mostly Latino night clubs, restaurants, pool halls and other businesses in Dallas, Texas, arresting 49 immigrants who were working as security guards. All of those arrested were employed by two local security companies. Jamille Bradfield, spokesperson for the Dallas County district attorney's office, said the names of the security companies were not being released yet because "we don't want to compromise the investigation." Authorities recovered four pistols during the operation. Five of the workers are being held on $250,000 bail each at the Dallas County Jail; they face felony charges of document tampering in order to get licensed as a security officer and to carry a firearm, Bradfield said.

Four of the 49 workers arrested were from El Salvador; the others were Mexican, authorities said. One of the Salvadorans has legal status in the US, immigration officials acknowledged; it is not clear whether he is facing any charges. Of the 45 Mexicans arrested, 29 accepted the government's offer of "voluntary return" and were swiftly returned to Mexico, officials confirmed on Mar. 31. None of the 29 would have faced criminal prosecution, according to ICE Dallas spokesperson Carl Rusnok. "Voluntary return is offered to noncriminal aliens or low-level criminal aliens"--such as for violations that usually result in a ticket, explained Rusnok. The US attorney's office is evaluating what charges to pursue against the other arrested workers; in the meantime they are being held at the Bedford Jail, which ICE contracts to use as a short-term detention facility.

The raids were carried out with the participation of the Dallas County district attorney's office, the US Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Dallas Police Department; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission; and the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas. [Dallas Morning News 3/31/08, 4/1/08]

Norma Núñez, owner of the Palacio nightclub, said agents blocked everyone from leaving while the club was being raided, but did not question or arrest her customers. [El Hispano News 4/1/08]

*4. Idaho Pallet Company Raided

On Apr. 2, ICE agents arrested at least 13 Mexican immigrants working at a pallet manufacturing company in Homedale, Idaho. Maria Andrade, an immigration attorney and volunteer coordinator of attorneys helping the detainees, said that other arrests may have occurred as a result of the raid and that as many as 20 people may be in custody. The workers were all employed by Specialty Inc. Wood Products. They were expected to be placed in removal proceedings for violating immigration law. Two of the workers were released for "humanitarian reasons" and will make an appearance at a later date before an immigration judge, according to ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers. The rest of the workers were being held at Ada County Jail. Since Idaho has no immigration detention facility, the workers will likely be sent to Arizona or Washington state, Andrade said.

Family members of the arrested workers joined community members in protesting the raids at a demonstration and press conference in downtown Boise on Apr. 3. "What we need to realize is that people come to this country as immigrants, as undocumented workers because they are poor, because...they have no other recourse," said Ed Keener of the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho. [ICE News Release 4/3/08; Idaho Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX 4/4/08; Fox 12 News (Boise) 4/4/08]

ICE initiated the investigation that led to the raid after receiving information that unauthorized workers might be employed at the wood products company. "Subsequent investigation revealed that some of the workers may have secured their employment by using false Social Security numbers and other counterfeit identity documents," ICE said in a news release. The company's owner is cooperating with ICE on this investigation, according to the news release. [ICE News Release 4/3/08]

"We've been going through an audit for about a year now," said Ed Leavitt, the CEO of Specialty Inc., on Apr. 3. "We totally didn't expect this." Leavitt said those arrested represented less than half of his workforce and that the arrests would have only a minor impact on the plant's operation. "We're back up and running and, in fact, hired 17 more people this morning," Leavitt said. [Idaho Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX 4/4/08]

*5. Activists Protest Arrests on Amtrak, Greyhound

On Apr. 2, several dozen demonstrators gathered in front of Penn Station in Manhattan to protest the collaboration of the Amtrak train company with border and immigration agents who arrest passengers traveling between US cities. With chants of transportation, not deportation!" and "immigrant rights are human rights," the protesters then marched to Port Authority to condemn the Greyhound bus company's collaboration with similar immigration sweeps.

The protest was organized by Families for Freedom, a New York-based multi-ethnic defense network by and for immigrants facing and fighting deportation. The protesters are demanding that Amtrak and Greyhound at the very least warn passengers about the raids in advance, publicly apologize and provide ticket refunds to those who have been arrested. [El Diario-La Prensa (NY) 4/3/08; Demonstration announcement from Families for Freedom, received via email 3/26/08; Immigration News Briefs editor's first-hand experience of demonstration 4/2/08]

A woman named Sonia, who spoke at the demonstration, said she was arrested by immigration officials along with her husband and two sons while returning to New York City from Chicago on Amtrak as the train passed through upstate New York. She spoke about the terror of being grilled by immigration officials and separated from her family. "This is the last thing I expected coming home. They seemed to be approaching all of the Latinos on the train and asking them for papers. One family even had work permits but immigration officials told them that this was not enough and they were detained also. I'm a customer, I paid just like everyone else, but my family and I were treated like we are less than human beings," Sonia said. After being detained at the Amtrak station, Sonia and her 17-year-old son were released while her husband and 18-year-old son were detained at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility for several days before being freed on bond. [Families for Freedom Press Release 4/2/08; EFE 4/2/08]

Amtrak has agreed to cooperate with border inspections on a random basis within 75 miles of the border, said Cliff Cole, a spokesperson for the company. "We're merely facilitating their request to board the train," he said of the Border Patrol agents. The train between Chicago and New York, called the Lakeshore Limited, passes within 75 miles of the border, he said. Greyhound also said it simply complies with law enforcement requests, be it local, state or federal. "We are under no obligation to inform customers of law enforcement activity at any time," said Greyhound spokesperson Dustin Clark.

Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, said the stops are just part of routine practice that has gotten more frequent as the agency has tripled its number of agents along the Canadian border over the past few years. [New York Times Cityroom Blog 4/2/08]

*6. Laws to Be Waived for Border Fence

In an Apr. 1 statement, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the federal government plans to speed up completion of 470 miles of border fence in the southwestern US by the end of 2008 by using two waivers to bypass some three dozen federal and state environmental and land-management laws. The move is permitted under an exemption granted by Congress in the Real ID Act of 2005.

One waiver will be used to complete a 22-mile combined river levee-fence project in Hidalgo County, Texas. The second waiver covers an additional 470 miles of fencing--through 2008 and future years--in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said the administration's use of the waivers exceeds what Congress intended when it approved the measure. "Today's waiver represents an extreme abuse of authority," Thompson said in a statement. "Waiver authority should only be used as a last resort, not simply because the Department has failed to get the job done through the normal process."

The waiver allows the agency to skip carrying out detailed reviews of how the fence will affect wildlife, water quality and vegetation in the ecologically sensitive affected border areas. Two environmental advocacy organizations, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club, filed a petition in March asking the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the waiver provision. [Los Angeles Times 4/2/08; Washington Post 4/2/08; Houston Chronicle 4/1/08]


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