Sunday, July 20, 2008

INB 7/20/08: Raids Protested in Rhode Island, Colorado

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 17 - July 20, 2008

1. Rhode Island Court Raids Protested
2. Colorado Concrete Company Raided

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 July 15 at 5pm, 50 agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 12 detectives from the Rhode Island state police simultaneously raided all six of the state's courthouses, arresting 31 immigrants employed as maintenance workers by two contractors hired by the state. Those arrested were 16 women and 15 men, immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil and Mexico. [Providence Journal 7/17/08]

Two of the raided courthouses are in Providence; the others are in Wakefield, Newport, Warwick and Cranston. The raids were timed to coincide with maintenance schedules: in the two Providence courthouses, workers were just starting their shifts at 5pm and would have normally stayed until 9pm or 10pm; in the other courthouses, the workers come in earlier and are normally done by 6pm. [PJ 7/16/08]

News of the raids spread rapidly as courthouse workers phoned relatives, friends and community leaders, who in turn called other supporters through a phone tree. By 8pm, activists and community members--including relatives of those arrested in the raids--had begun an emergency demonstration outside the ICE office in Providence. Young people ages six to 16 led the chanting, according to an email from activist Shannah Kurland. The protest quickly swelled to more than 200 people at its peak. Participants included clergy and at least one state representative, Grace Diaz.

Police officers arrived and the situation become tense; the crowd divided and protesters rushed to doors at the front and rear of the building. Witnesses said demonstrators sought to block ICE vans from taking the workers to detention centers. The police pushed a line of protesters across the parking lot. [ABC 6 News 7/15/08, 7/16/08; PJ 7/16/08, 7/17/08; Kurland email 7/15/08; Patrick Crowley report on Daily Kos 7/15/08]

Speaking to the press at the demonstration, Leonardo Tornes said his sister, Francesca Tornes, an undocumented worker from Mexico, was arrested at the Kent County Courthouse in Warwick. "She has two children--one and five years old," he said through an interpreter. [PJ 7/16/08]

By the morning of July 16, 12 of the arrested workers had been released for humanitarian reasons to await immigration proceedings, either because of medical conditions or because they were the primary caregivers of young children. At least some of those released were fitted with electronic monitoring devices on their ankles. At a July 16 news conference at the US attorney's office in Providence, Bruce Foucart, special agent from ICE's Boston office, said the 19 workers still detained were being held at various facilities in the region; he refused to give details.

Some of the workers had used fraudulent identification to obtain their jobs, said US Attorney Robert Clark Corrente. None has been charged criminally, said Corrente, but all face immigration charges. The raid culminated a month-long investigation which began on June 6, when a court clerk at the J. Joseph Garrahy Judicial Complex in Providence noticed a paper reproduction of an identification card on the office floor beside a photocopy machine. The clerk called the Capitol Police, who in turn notified state police.

No charges have been filed against the two cleaning companies that supplied the workers: TriState Enterprises of North Providence and Falcon Maintenance LLC of Johnston. [PJ 7/17/08] However, the state Department of Administration has launched a review of both contractors to make sure that TriState and Falcon are complying with state and federal employment and immigration laws, according to a statement from Governor Don Carcieri's office. [AP 7/17/08] According to activist Shannah Kurland, one of the contractors has been in a battle with members of Fuerza Laboral, a local labor group, for refusing to pay wages. [Kurland email 7/15/08]

The two companies have at least 45 contracts to clean state buildings, including the offices of Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, the state Department of Administration and the Board of Elections. [PJ 7/18/08] As a result of the raids, the University of Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island have also begun reviewing their maintenance contracts with TriState and Falcon. [PJ 7/17/08] The University of Rhode Island says none of the cleaning crews it hired through TriState has showed up for work since the raids took place. At Community College of Rhode Island's Warwick campus, only 10 of 32 janitors showed up for the 6 pm shift on July 16. [PJ 7/18/08]

The raids occurred during the first meeting of a governor's advisory panel, charged with monitoring any "unintended consequences" of Governor Carcieri's executive order cracking down on immigrants. The order, issued in March [see INB 5/14/08], requires that state police be deputized with certain immigration enforcement powers. [PJ 7/16/08] Corrente said the date of the operation had been set for a while, and the timing of the raids had nothing to do with the meeting. [PJ 7/17/08]

Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said that at the advisory panel meeting, "representatives from community organizations were explicitly told by the state police that the agency would not be in the business of conducting immigration raids. We now know that at almost the very same moment, they were doing just that in coordination with federal authorities," said Brown.

State police superintendent Col. Brendan Doherty denied the claim in a morning news conference on July 16. "I stated it's not a state police initiative to conduct raids and sweeps. This was not a raid," Doherty explained. "This was a police action. These were arrests. We do not initiate raids of any buildings, businesses or homes regarding ICE matters."

Brown called Doherty's words an "Orwellian twist of language." [PJ 7/17/08]

A growing coalition from across southern New England met on July 17 at St. Patrick Church in Providence to plan legal, social, and financial aid for the detainees and their families. They included representatives of Rhode Island Jobs with Justice, Fuerza Laboral (Power of Workers) and the Immigrants in Action Committee of St. Teresa Church; lawyers from Greater Boston Legal Services, the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild of Connecticut; and clergy. [PJ 7/18/08]


On July 16, ICE agents arrested 18 immigrant workers at Colorado Precast Concrete Inc. in Loveland, Colorado, after executing an administrative search warrant at the plant. The workers were arrested on administrative immigration charges. One is from El Salvador; the others are from Mexico. All were taken to Park County Jail to await removal or a hearing before a federal immigration judge. The Larimer County Sheriff's Office assisted with the operation; the Air Branch of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provided air support.

Colorado Precast Concrete fully cooperated with ICE during the operation and is not expected to face any charges. [ICE News Release 7/16/08] The raid was triggered by a tip. About 100 people work at the company, which manufactures a variety of concrete and iron products such as highway barriers, manholes and storm-drain inlets. [Loveland Connection 7/17/08]

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) issued a press statement on July 16 denouncing the raid as a "quasi-military operation" that "separated dozens of families and workers, and produced images and horrific accounts reminiscent of previous ICE raids in Greeley, Westminster, Monte Vista, and Pueblo," Colorado. [CIRC Press Statement 7/16/08]

ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok said no sole caregivers were arrested in the raid. But CIRC director Julien Ross pointed out: "Right now there's most likely a mother and a child waiting for their father to come home, and so while they're not sole care provider, we're talking families being separated." [Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 7/16/08]

"Raids are not the solution to the outdated and dysfunctional U.S. immigration system," said Kim Medina of Fuerza Latina, a social justice organization in Fort Collins and Loveland which set up a help line for people affected by the raids. "We need a complete reform of our immigration laws. The criminalization of immigrants is a mean-spirited publicity stunt that only causes more pain and suffering for everyone," Medina said in the statement. [CIRC Press Statement 7/16/08]

Ross said he is encouraged that both presidential candidates agree that comprehensive immigration reform is needed. He said CIRC plans to march in Denver as the city hosts the Aug. 25-28 Democratic National Convention. [AP 7/16/08]


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," (2007, Monthly Review Press) by the editors of Immigration News Briefs and Weekly News Update on the Americas--for details see publisher website:
book website:
authors' blog:
or email the authors at

Sunday, July 13, 2008

INB 7/13/08: 23-Year-Old Dies in Detention; ICE Agent Sentenced

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 16 - July 13, 2008

1. 23-Year-Old Dies in Detention
2. ICE Agent Sentenced for Sexual Assault
3. Texas Port Company Raided

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 June 20, West Palm Beach resident Valery Joseph died while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Glades County Detention Center in Moore Haven, Florida. The 23-year-old Haitian immigrant had been living in the US since he was eight, said his mother, Jacqueline Fleury. At a news conference in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood on July 8, the day Joseph would have turned 24, US Rep. Kendrick Meek joined Joseph's family members and immigrant rights advocates in calling for an independent investigation into what Meek called Joseph's "untimely death."

According to ICE documents obtained by the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), Glades County Jail staff were delivering medication to Joseph on the morning of June 20 when he was found unresponsive in his bunk. Joseph could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at 10:54 am. An autopsy was performed on June 22. [Miami Herald 7/8/08; Bradenton Herald 7/8/08 from AP; South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale) 7/9/08]

On July 3, Rep. Meek wrote to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general to request a formal investigation into Joseph's death and the manner in which ICE handled it. "What's even more disturbing is the manner in which ICE officials ordered an autopsy of Mr. Joseph's body even before notifying the family of his death," Meek said in the letter. [SF Sun-Sentinel 7/9/08]

Fleury did not learn of her son's death until several days later. [MH 7/8/08] "No one from immigration or jail called me when my son died," said Fleury in a statement read by Joseph's sister, Sandy Jules. Fleury said the family found out because a chaplain called Joseph's girlfriend, who then called his family. A letter from ICE stating that Joseph had suffered a seizure came a week later. [BH 7/8/08 from AP]

The funeral home told Fleury that Joseph's body was not suitable for viewing, and as of July 8--18 days after Joseph's death--Fleury had yet to see his body, Little said. Preliminary results of the autopsy indicate that Joseph died from a seizure, according to Little. [MH 7/8/08] Joseph's death remains under investigation and autopsy results are pending, according to Robert DeMann, chief deputy of corrections for the Glades County Sheriff's Office. "We do know there's no indication of any foul play, no trauma," DeMann said.

Little said that Joseph "suffered from seizures," and that the extent of his medical care in detention was not immediately clear. Joseph had not complained of any illness when he last called his mother in West Palm Beach a few days before he died, said Jules.

FIAC and Joseph's family have filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking his medical records from ICE. [BH 7/8/08 from AP] Details about the death will become clearer once the agency hands over Joseph's medical records, Little said. "We're hoping we're not getting the run around and these records are provided to the family," she said. "Lack of access to adequate medical care is among one of the chief complaints we hear from detainees in South Florida and elsewhere," Little noted.

Little said an immigration judge had indicated Joseph might have been eligible for release; a hearing had been scheduled on his case for July 3. [MH 7/8/08] West Palm Beach police had arrested Joseph for felony robbery in May 2007, and ICE spokesperson Nicole Navas said Joseph was identified the following month through an ICE program that checks for undocumented immigrants held in jails. Joseph was transferred from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office to ICE custody on Dec. 28, 2007. [SF Sun-Sentinel 7/9/08]

Navas responded to complaints about Joseph's death by attacking FIAC, a well-respected immigration legal services and advocacy organization. "This [is] another attempt by advocacy groups such as FIAC to tout emotion over fact from their bully pulpit," Navas said in a written statement. "There is no lack of medical care for those held in detention. In fact, quite the opposite." [MH 7/8/08]

The $32 million, 440-bed Glades County Detention Center, where Joseph died, opened in mid-2007 to house ICE detainees along with local inmates. The facility has a medical staff of 20. [ 10/1/07]


On July 10, US District Judge William Dimitrouleas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, sentenced former ICE agent Wilfredo Vazquez to 87 months in prison for sexually assaulting a female immigration detainee in his custody. Vazquez pleaded guilty in April to two counts of sexual abuse; he admitted that in September 2007, while transporting the Jamaican detainee to a Broward County holding facility, he first took her to his home and forced her to submit to sex [see INB 11/26/07]. The woman's identity has not been revealed; she is identified in court papers as "M.C."

The prison term had been agreed to by both sides as part of the plea agreement. Dimitrouleas called the incident a "horrific crime" that sent a terrible message to other people in US government custody; the judge noted that if the case had gone to trial, Vazquez would almost certainly have been convicted based on "overwhelming" evidence and would have faced a far more severe punishment. According to prosecutor Daniel Rashbaum, M.C. had agreed to the plea terms--knowing the likely sentence her assailant would face--because it meant she would not have to testify at trial. M.C. did not attend the hearing, but in a letter to Dimitrouleaus, she said Vazquez had "single-handedly destroyed" her life and asked the judge to impose the "maximum sentence," which would have been life in prison. [South Florida Sun Sentinel 7/11/08]


On July 9, ICE agents joined Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in raiding two marine companies in Port Arthur in southeastern Texas, near the Louisiana border. The operations took place at the R & R Marine Fabrication and Drydock facility on Procter Street and at a Cal Dive International facility on Yacht Club Road. The agents arrested 37 immigrant workers at R & R and took them to the ICE holding facility at a private jail in nearby Beaumont; from there the workers were to be transferred to the Houston Detention and Removal Facility. It was not clear whether any workers were arrested at Cal Dive.

Robert Keller, assistant director of field operations for CBP's Houston office, said the operation was part of a national effort to make sure that workers in secure marine areas such ports and terminals are in the country legally. Personnel from the US Coast Guard, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Port Arthur Police and Jefferson County Constables assisted with the raid by blocking off the area while federal agents took the workers into custody. A number of workers were arrested as they tried to escape by running into nearby neighborhoods.

"We can confirm some employees were detained by ICE," Will Wilson of R & R Marine told KFDM News. "At this time, R & R is cooperating with ICE as it assesses the situation, and the company looks forward to resolving the matter very soon." Port Arthur Police said R & R Marine and Fabrication has been collaborating with law enforcement for the past year in an effort to avoid hiring undocumented workers. [ 7/9/08; Port Arthur News 7/9/08]


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

Saturday, July 5, 2008

INB 7/5/08: Raid at Maryland Painting Company

 Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 15 - July 5, 2008

1. Raid at Maryland Painting Company
2. Supervisors Arrested in Postville, Houston
3. Nearly 500 Arrested in Anti-Gang Raids
4. Al-Arian Indicted for Non-Cooperation

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 June 30 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, about 75 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents joined 50 county police officers in raiding the offices of Annapolis Painting Services Inc. and 15 single-family homes that authorities said were owned by the company and rented to employees. Agents arrested 50 or 51 workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nigeria and Panama on administrative immigration violations. Five women, including one who is pregnant, were allowed to remain free on humanitarian release pending removal proceedings because they are sole caregivers. The other 10 women and 35 or 36 men were detained. The company has more than 100 employees, county police said. [Baltimore Sun 7/1/08; Washington Post 7/1/08; (Capital Gazette Newspapers) 7/2/08 from AP]

Agents also seized five bank accounts, 11 vehicles and the raided homes as part of a criminal investigation into hiring and harboring unauthorized immigrants. The company's owners were not arrested, but authorities said the investigation was continuing. [Baltimore Sun 7/1/08]

Scot Rittenberg, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for ICE in Baltimore, said the agency received a tip about Annapolis Painting Services and has been investigating for 18 months. [ 7/1/08] Rittenberg said the operation included "the execution of 11 search warrants, 5 seizure warrants for bank accounts, 11 seizure warrants for vehicles and 15 forfeitable properties, along with the administrative arrest of 45 undocumented aliens." In addition to the Anne Arundel County Police Department, ICE was assisted in the operation by the US Attorney's Office in Baltimore, the Annapolis City Police Department, the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Baltimore City Police Department. [ICE News Release 6/30/08] The Anne Arundel police force has an officer permanently posted at ICE's Baltimore City office. [Baltimore Examiner 7/1/08]

Four immigrants showed reporters from the Baltimore Sun damage they said was caused during the raid in a sparsely furnished, middle-class residence in the Hillsmere Shores community. A door frame had been splintered and paperwork was strewn about a room. A woman, who said she was five months pregnant, said she had been handcuffed and shoved as her boyfriend was arrested. His family said he had a work permit that had recently expired. [Baltimore Sun 7/1/08] Another report said doors at a raided home on Harbor Drive showed evidence of being kicked in during the raid; it was not clear whether this was the same home in Hillsmere Shores or a different raided residence. [Baltimore Examiner 7/1/08]

About 100 people rallied in front of the ICE office in Baltimore on July 1 to protest the raid. Demonstrators included members of the National Capital Immigrant Coalition, the Silver Spring-based CASA de Maryland and local churches. Some carried signs critical of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, who has taken a hard stance against unauthorized immigrants. Many relatives of those arrested were afraid to attend the rally, according to CASA de Maryland. [Baltimore Examiner 7/2/08]

Nicolas Ramos, a legal immigrant who owns the Baltimore restaurant Arcos and is a member of the Governor's Commission on Hispanic Affairs, spoke out at the rally about his family's experience during the raid. He said his cousin Veronica Ramos called him at 6am sobbing, telling him that armed immigration agents had broken down her apartment door and hauled away her husband, Eduardo Delgado, as their three children hid under their beds. "She's scared, the kids are scared," said Ramos. "They don't know what they are going to do." Delgado "is a good man, hardworking and a wonderful dad," Ramos said. "This is devastating."

"Every person affected yesterday has a family," said Jessica Alvarez, vice president of the National Capital Immigrant Coalition. "Today we are here to show that every person has a voice and has a community behind them. This is unjust, and our voices need to be heard."

Jonathan Greene, a Towson immigration attorney who has offered to represent the arrested workers for free, said he has not been able to obtain the search warrants authorities used in the raid. "No one said they received any kind of warrant," he said. "We are very concerned about what happened here."

ICE agent Rittenberg insisted that warrants were issued, and denied claims by Liza Zamd, a staff attorney with CASA of Maryland, that agents had placed an arrested worker's 18-month-old child in the custody of a neighbor without parental consent. The father was later released, according to Zamd. [Baltimore Sun 7/2/08] Zamd also said a four-year-old girl saw ICE agents handcuff her father and force him to kneel in their home while they searched for two workers from the painting company who live there. Zamd said the girl's father is a US citizen and wasn't charged. [ 7/2/08 from AP]


On July 3, ICE arrested supervisors Juan Carlos Guerrero Espinoza and Martin De la Rosa Loera at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant owned by Aaron Rubashkin in Postville, Iowa. Federal prosecutors said they had also issued an arrest warrant for Hosam Amara, described by workers as a plant manager. In interviews following the May 12 raid, several workers had said Amara was a floor manager with more authority than line supervisors. The arrests came some six weeks after a May 12 raid in which ICE arrested 389 rank-and-file workers at the plant--a majority of them Guatemalans--and forced most of them to accept five-month prison sentences in plea bargains on criminal charges for presenting false identification to get hired [see INB 6/2/08].

In a federal criminal complaint unsealed on July 3, workers cited anonymously said Guerrero was running a business obtaining fraudulent immigration documents. According to the complaint, the workers said that in the days before the raid, Guerrero told them in a meeting that "they needed new IDs and Social Security numbers to continue working at the company." Guerrero collected $200 and a photograph from each worker, promising to provide new documents, the complaint says.

"The arrest of two low-level supervisors, while a start, barely scratches the surface of this company's bad behavior," said Scott Frotman, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), which has tried to organize the plant. "What about the allegations of worker abuse? Does anyone really believe that these low-level supervisors acted alone without the knowledge, or even the direction, of the Rubashkins and other senior management?" [New York Times 7/4/08]

Residents of Postville, still shell-shocked from the May 12 raid, were frightened by the June 23 appearance in Postville of two plainclothes ICE agents who arrested a single undocumented immigrant, Eduardo Ixen. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts confirmed that Ixen, a handyman who worked with real-estate firm GAL Investments, was detained based on a tip. Counts said Ixen was likely not among the Agriprocessors workers named in the affidavit associated with the case. [New America Media News Report 6/26/08; Des Moines Register 6/23/08]

On July 2, ICE agents arrested the owner and four supervisors at Action Rags USA, a Houston, Texas used clothing and rag company where the agency had arrested 166 workers on June 25 [see INB 6/29/08]. Following the arrests, federal charges were unsealed against the five for conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants, inducing unauthorized immigrants to come into the US, and illegal hiring practices including knowingly accepting false work documents. The five people arrested are Action Rags USA owner Mabarik Kahlon; his partner and uncle, Rasheed Ahmed; manager Cirila Barron; resource manager Valerie Rodriguez; and warehouse supervisor Mayra Herrera-Gutierrez. Ahmed, who has health problems, was freed on his own recognizance; the others were held in federal custody until their initial hearing the next day in Houston federal court. [Houston Chronicle 7/2/08; ABC 13 KTRK 7/3/08 from AP]

On July 3, Magistrate Judge Calvin Botley ordered the release of Kahlon, Ahmed and Rodriguez after they each posted $50,000 bond. ICE filed immigration detainers against Barron and Herrera-Gutierrez, making them ineligible for bail; both are Mexican nationals who are allegedly present in the US without permission. [Houston Chronicle 7/3/08]


ICE agents arrested or helped arrest 489 people in "Operation Community Shield" raids announced between June 2 and July 2, targeting foreign-born alleged gang members in Kansas, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Georgia and Texas.

On July 2, ICE and the Wichita Police Department announced the arrest of 22 "transnational gang members and their associates" in Wichita, Kansas. Thirteen of the total were arrested on July 1–presumably for administrative immigration violations--and are being held in ICE custody pending removal to their countries of origin. These include three brothers, all minors with "serious juvenile criminal histories," who were arrested with their mother and will be voluntarily returned to Mexico, according to ICE. Nine of the gang members were arrested "during the planning phase of the operation" based on outstanding state arrest warrants and are being held in state custody on criminal charges including burglary, theft, assault, drive-by shootings, weapons violations and various misdemeanor charges. All nine are under immigration detainers so that if they're released from state custody, they'll be detained by ICE. All 22 people arrested are from Mexico, and allegedly are associated with the Vato Loco Boys, Sureno 13, Players for Life, and North Side Gangsters. [ICE News Release 7/2/08]

In a three-day operation ending June 27 in the Richmond, Virginia metropolitan area, ICE Gang Investigation Unit special agents arrested 20 people the agency described as "known gang members" and 21 it referred to as "identified gang associates" from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. [In past sweeps, the agency has implied that "gang associates" may include family members cohabiting with the alleged gang members--see INB 10/28/07.] According to ICE, those arrested were affiliated with the MS-13, Sur-13, Latin Kings, and Vatos Locos street gangs. ICE said five search warrants were served and "numerous cases are being presented for federal and/or state prosecution."

The operation involved collaboration with agencies including the Virginia State Police, Virginia Office of the Attorney General, US Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Chesterfield County Police Department, Chesterfield County Probation and Parole, United States Secret Service, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the US Postal Inspection Service. [ICE News Release 6/27/08]

In a statewide New Jersey operation carried out from June 15 through June 21, led by the ICE Office of Investigation in Newark, agents arrested 76 "gang members" and 20 "gang associates" from El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. The gang members allegedly belong to the MS-13, La Mugre, LA-13, DDP, Trinitarios, Mexican Mafia, Los Pitufos, Vatos Locos, Bloods and Crips street gangs. According to ICE, only three cases are to be presented for federal prosecution, while seven people were arrested on state charges and 30 of those arrested were merely "unlawfully present" in the US. Three weapons were seized along with what ICE described as "gang paraphernalia." Agencies collaborating in the sweep included the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, West New York Police Department, Newark Police Department, New Brunswick Police Department, Passaic Police Department, Union City Police Department, Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, and Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. [ICE News Release 6/23/08; The Record (Hackensack, NJ) 6/24/08]

In a two-day operation announced June 12, ICE agents arrested, or in some cases assisted in arresting, 22 people in the area of Brockton, Massachusetts. Those arrested included 11 "gang members and associates" and 11 other people accused of federal and/or state criminal violations, including administrative immigration violations, who were encountered during the operation. Of the 22 people arrested, 16 are US permanent residents whose criminal convictions may render them eligible for deportation, according to ICE, while five are living in the US without permission and one had a prior deportation order. The arrested immigrants are from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Haiti. The operation was carried out in partnership with the Brockton Police Department, the Plymouth County District Attorney's Office, the US Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts, ATF, the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance, and the police departments of the Massachusetts cities of Boston, Fall River, Stoughton and Taunton. [ICE News Release 6/12/08]

In a statewide Georgia operation culminating on June 7, ICE agents arrested or helped to arrest 127 nationals of Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala who were living in Dalton, Savannah, Albany and the Atlanta metropolitan area. Those arrested included 122 people the agency identified as gang members, and five it identified as gang associates. Seven people were to be prosecuted on federal charges of illegal re-entry after deportation, and 19 were arrested for state charges or had outstanding arrest warrants. Two weapons were seized during the operation.

Cooperating agencies included the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the ATF, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI); the city police departments of Atlanta, Canton, Cartersville, Chamblee, Dalton, Forest Park, Gainesville, Kennesaw, Marietta, Powder Spring, Roswell, and Sandy Springs; the county police departments of Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Gwinnett County and Henry County; and the sheriff's offices of Atkinson County, Bartow County, Cherokee County, Coffee County, Douglas County, Forsyth County, Gwinnett County, Hall County, Rockdale County, Tift County and Whitfield County. [ICE News Release 6/10/08]

In a six-day ICE-led operation announced on June 8, 149 people were arrested in the Texas cities of Houston, Conroe, Galveston, Sugar Land, Bryan, Richmond, Beaumont and Corpus Christi. According to ICE, 67 of those arrested were "gang members and their associates," allegedly affiliated with 22 different street gangs. Of the total 149 people arrested, 32 were US citizens arrested on outstanding warrants. The 117 non-citizens arrested in the sweep were from Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Pakistan. Seven of those arrested were females. Of the 67 people who were identified as "gang members and associates," 20 were arrested on outstanding state arrest warrants and turned over to local authorities; one was arrested on an outstanding federal drug arrest warrant. The other 46 people arrested were present in the US without permission; 28 of them are facing federal criminal charges for illegal entry or illegal re-entry after deportation.

The Air and Marine branch of US Customs and Border Protection provided air support for the operation. Other agencies assisting the operation included the Houston Police Department's Gang Task Force and the police forces of the cities of Beaumont, Conroe, Corpus Christi, La Porte, Orange, Port Arthur and South Houston; the sheriffs' offices of Brazos, Fort Bend, Harris, Jefferson and Montgomery counties; and US Postal Inspectors, FBI, ATF, and the US Attorney's Offices for the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas. [ICE News Release 6/8/08]

From June 2 to 5, agents operating out of ICE's office in San Antonio, Texas arrested 32 "gang members and associates," including 23 in San Antonio and a total of nine in Austin, Laredo and Harlingen. Of the 23 detained in San Antonio, 18 were arrested on state criminal charges while seven were arrested on federal charges. Agencies participating in the operation included: San Antonio Police Department, ATF, US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas, US Marshals Service's Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, Bexar County Sheriff's Department and Bexar County District Attorney's Office. [ICE News Release 6/6/08]


On June 26, Palestinian professor Sami Al-Arian was charged in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia with two counts of criminal contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury which is investigating whether Islamic charities in Northern Virginia were financing terrorists. Al-Arian has already been jailed for a year on civil contempt charges for refusing to testify. If convicted of the new charge he could face additional jail time; there is no maximum or minimum penalty for criminal contempt. Al-Arian has been jailed by the federal government since Feb. 20, 2003, and in ICE custody since Apr. 11 of this year; he suspended a 52-day hunger strike on Apr. 23 in the hopes of being deported soon [see INB 4/27/08, 3/29/08, 3/24/07, 6/10/06].

Lawrence Barcella, a former federal prosecutor who is now a Washington lawyer, said civil contempt is generally used to compel people to testify in investigations, and criminal contempt is designed to punish them if they have refused. He said it is "not unheard of but very unique" to seek criminal charges when a defendant has already served time for civil contempt.

Al-Arian's attorney, Jonathan Turley, said his client has given prosecutors two detailed affidavits saying that he knows of no criminal activity involving the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)--one of the agencies under investigation in northern Virginia, which prosecutors apparently believe Al-Arian has ties to--and that the government has acknowledged he is a "minor witness." Turley said the latest indictment "is a continuation of a long campaign of abuse that has drawn international criticism." [Washington Post 6/27/08]

On June 30, Al-Arian was arraigned before the federal court of Judge Leonie Brinkema. Brinkema set a deadline of Aug. 8 for all pretrial motions, and a trial date of Aug. 13, although defense attorneys had requested it be set for September. Al-Arian was also ordered moved to the Alexandria Detention Center while awaiting trial. The June 30 hearing was delayed for four hours because Al-Arian had to be transported from Portsmouth, Virginia, over 200 miles away. Turley requested that his client be released on bond. Brinkema said she would consider releasing Al-Arian on bond, pending his interview with pre-trial services and a bond hearing that has yet to be scheduled. [Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace News Release 7/2/08]

For background information, updates and action alerts about Sami Al-Arian's case, see


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