Friday, June 6, 2008

INB 6/6/08: ICE Raids Bakery; 1,800 Arrested in "Fugitive" Sweeps

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 12 - June 6, 2008

1. San Diego: ICE Raids Bakery, Campus
2. Florida: Raid at Jail Construction Site
3. 1,800 Arrested in "Fugitive" Sweeps

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On May 15, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 18 workers on immigration violations in a raid on the French Gourmet, a popular bistro, bakery and catering company in San Diego's oceanfront Pacific Beach neighborhood. Agents executed a criminal search warrant at the restaurant and remained there for about six hours collecting company documents, said ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack. Agents took files and computers from the site. No one from company management was arrested. ICE said the search warrant is under seal because the investigation is ongoing. [AP 5/15/08; XETV FOX6 News (San Diego) 5/16/08]

"They closed the streets. There were cops and guns and badges and everything all over the place," said Rod Coon, vice president of the French Gourmet. According to French Gourmet officials, the agents turned around security cameras, presumably so their actions wouldn't be filmed. [XETV FOX6 News 5/16/08]

ICE agents searched workers in a delivery area behind the restaurant before taking them to a different location for questioning. ICE released three women on "humanitarian grounds" to care for their children, and detained 15 men at an immigration detention facility in San Diego. ICE said all 18 arrested workers are Mexican nationals suspected of being in the US without legal status. The raid was the first at the 29-year-old company, according to French Gourmet marketing manager Jodi Breslow. She said she believed the company may have come under scrutiny because it caters events on military bases in San Diego. Breslow said the company had collected federal employment eligibility verification forms and photo identification with each worker's job application. Those documents were provided to immigration officials, she said. [AP 5/15/08]

Among the 18 workers arrested were several who had been employed at the French Gourmet for 16 years. [XETV FOX6 News 5/16/08]

ICE apparently followed up the raid at the French Gourmet that same morning with visits to the homes of employees who were not present at the restaurant at the time and whose addresses ICE had obtained. In one such incident, ICE agents invaded the home of French Gourmet employee Jorge Narvaez, a pre-law student who lives with his wife and young child at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) Mesa Graduate Housing complex. Narvaez, a US legal permanent resident born in Mexico whose mother was deported within the last year, said he was at home around 10am when half a dozen ICE agents sporting firearms and bullet-proof vests showed up asking about another French Gourmet employee whom they believed had fled there. After he told the agents that the other person was not there, "They asked me what's my legal status," said Narvaez. "I don't know if they had a warrant or not, but I let them in because I didn't have anything to hide," Narvaez said. "I went outside and they looked through all my stuff." [Socialist Worker 5/26/08; San Diego Union-Tribune 5/23/08; UCSD Guardian 5/27/08]

ICE later said its agents had made a mistake by entering UCSD student housing to search an apartment without first notifying campus police in accordance with agency policy. Mack, the ICE spokesperson, claimed the agents didn't realize they were in student housing until after the raid. "Had they been aware that morning, we would have provided a courtesy notification by contacting the campus police," Mack said. "We are conducting an internal review of the situation to clear up any confusion as to how that happened, and to make sure it doesn't happen again." Narvaez said the agents should have been aware of where they were; "There are signs in front that say this is university housing," he said.

UCSD officials learned of the incident as news spread from student to student and eventually to faculty, said Grecia Lima, a senior who helped organize a May 22 forum on campus to discuss stepped-up immigration enforcement. Earlier that week, UCSD campus police spoke with ICE officials about the incident and to "revisit the importance of advising campus police when agents become involved in contacting students on campus," Stacie Spector, associate vice chancellor for university communications, said in a written statement. [San Diego Union-Tribune 5/23/08]


On May 15, ICE special agents arrested 25 immigrants from Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala and Peru who were working on a construction project expanding the county jail for the Lee County Sheriff's Office in Fort Myers, Florida. The ICE agents raided the site in response to a tip from the sheriff's office. The workers, 22 men and three women, were all placed into removal proceedings; 17 of them had already been deported as of June 5. [ICE News Release 5/15/08; Naples Daily News 6/5/08]

Deputy county attorney Andrea Fraser said on June 5 that she believes the contractor, Kraft Construction, complied with all federal requirements and with all contract requirements. Lee County officials say Kraft has adequately explained the situation and will be allowed to finish the jail. Kraft officials said immediately after the arrests that only one of the workers was a company employee, and that person was authorized to work. Kraft and subcontractor Spectrum Contracting both hired a public relations firm right after the raid and have said little else. ICE investigators are still looking into whether Kraft or Spectrum knowingly hired unauthorized workers. Fraser said Kraft CEO Farahd "Fred" Pezeshkan owns part of Spectrum; in the future any construction manager hired by the county will have to disclose such relationships up front. [Naples Daily News 6/5/08]


On June 2, ICE announced that its eight fugitive operations teams in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area had arrested a total of 491 immigrants during a month-long operation in May. Out of the total 491 people arrested, 347 were what the agency calls fugitive aliens--people who have failed to comply with (and sometimes are unaware of) prior deportation orders, or who have been reentered the US after having been deported. ICE said 207 of these 347 "fugitives" also had criminal records. ICE officers arrested 76 other immigrants with criminal records and 68 other people the agency described as "immigration violators" (people present in the US without permission from the federal government).

In the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, ICE worked closely with federal, state and local agencies including the US Marshals Eastern District Regional Fugitive Task Force, New York State Police, Suffolk County Sheriff's Office and Suffolk County Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the US Secret Service. [ICE News Release 6/2/08]

A similar sweep began on May 5 in California, involving ICE fugitive operations teams based in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. In that three-week operation, ICE arrested 905 people, including 495 people who were on a target list of just over 1,500 "fugitives" ICE was seeking to arrest. The other 410 people arrested included some who had reentered the US after being deported, and others who were simply living in the US without permission. [New York Times 5/24/08]

In northern California, the ICE fugitive teams arrested 17 immigrants in the Canal area of San Rafael, in Marin County, in raids that began early on May 22. ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice said enforcement teams removed 16 men and one woman. The San Rafael Police Department did not participate in any of the arrests, said police spokesperson Margo Rohrbacher. She said the department was notified at 5 am that ICE agents would be attempting to serve federal deportation warrants in several areas of the city.

The raids in San Rafael began just two days after San Pedro Elementary School principal Kathryn Gibney testified at a congressional hearing on the continuing emotional and social trauma among her students caused by ICE raids carried out in the same area in March 2007, when 65 Canal residents were arrested over three days [see INB 3/18/07]. Gibney told the Workforce Protections Subcommittee that she is still seeing rising absenteeism and falling test scores as a result of last year's raids. [Marin Independent-Journal 5/22/08]

In a four-day operation in Texas beginning May 18, agents from five ICE fugitive operations teams based in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio arrested 84 immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Austin. Those arrested were from El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Kenya, Guatemala and Honduras; 56 of them had been issued final orders of deportation, while 28 were simply present in the US without permission. [ICE News Release 5/23/08]

In a four-day operation May 6-9, ICE agents arrested 89 immigrants in a sweep targeting people who had failed to comply with deportation orders in the Houston Field Office's area of responsibility, which extends across over 52 counties from Louisiana to Corpus Christi, Texas. A dozen "fugitive operations" teams with 60 agents from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso, carried out the operation. Of the 89 people arrested, 28 had criminal convictions. It was not clear how many of those arrested had prior deportation orders, and how many were picked up for simply lacking immigration status. ICE had hoped to arrest "hundreds" of people with prior deportation orders, whom the agency refers to as fugitives. "Well, we always hope for more, but we don't always get everybody we're looking for," said Kenneth Landgrebe, the ICE Field Office director for Detention and Removal in Houston. [Houston Chronicle 5/11/08]

In eastern Tennessee, ICE arrested 48 of the 280 "fugitives" it was seeking in sweeps over the weekend of May 17-18. Agents from fugitive operation teams based in New Orleans (Louisiana), Memphis (Tennessee), Atlanta (Georgia) and Charlotte (North Carolina) arrested 22 people in Chattanooga; the others were arrested in Knoxville and surrounding rural counties. [Chattanooga Times Free Press 5/22/08]

The sweeps were part of a six-state enforcement effort in which ICE fugitive operations teams arrested 1,808 immigrants--1,069 of them "fugitives"--in California, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Texas and Tennessee. [ICE News Release 6/2/08]

Over the week ending May 16, agents from ICE's fugitive operations team in Phoenix, Arizona, worked with partners from the US Marshal's Service and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to arrest 39 immigrants in the Phoenix area. Of the total, 21 were "fugitives"; seven had "criminal histories." [ICE News Release 5/16/08]

ICE also carried out home raids looking for "fugitives" in Reno and Sparks, Nevada, May 28-30. Agents arrested at least two people, both of whom had prior removal orders. [Reno Gazette-Journal 5/31/08]


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