Saturday, August 30, 2008

INB 8/30/08: Mississippi Factory Raided, 595 Arrested

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 21 - August 30, 2008

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

Special Issue: Mississippi Factory Raided, 595 Arrested

On Aug. 25, dozens of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested approximately 595 workers in a raid on an electric transformer manufacturing facility owned by Howard Industries, Inc. in Laurel, Mississippi, a town of 20,000. The agents sealed off all the plant's exits, trapping workers inside, and executed a federal criminal search warrant for evidence relating to aggravated identity theft, fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and other crimes, as well as a civil search warrant looking for unauthorized immigrants. [ICE News Release 8/26/08; AP 8/27/08; ABC News 8/29/08; Washington Post 8/28/08]

The arrested workers were immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Brazil and Germany. Citing humanitarian reasons such as childcare, ICE released about 106 workers after fitting their ankles with electronic monitors to ensure their future appearance before a federal immigration judge. Nine other workers were transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) after they were determined to be unaccompanied minors. All nine were 17 years old; one was female. [ICE 8/26/08; ABC News 8/29/08]

ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez said agents also executed search warrants at the company's headquarters in nearby Ellisville. She said no company executives had been detained, but that the investigation was ongoing. [AP 8/27/08]

"Paula," a Mexican worker released with an ankle monitor, said that around 8am on Aug. 25, supervisors at the plant told workers that a "hurricane was coming," then ICE agents "surrounded us in front, all around." According to Paula, agents taunted and threatened the workers and kicked and pushed some of them as helicopters flew overhead. [ABC News 8/29/08] Steve Dodd, an eyewitness who was at the plant during the raid, called the raid "very professional" and "a smooth operation"; he said US citizens were provided with blue armbands. [Laurel Leader-Call 8/26/08]

The plant on Pendorf Road was shut down for the day. "Manufacturing operations were restarted at our Laurel Facility on regular shifts Tuesday morning [Aug. 26] with the remainder of our 3000-plus work force," said Howard Industries in a statement on Aug. 27. "We began an immediate testing and hiring program to replace transformer production employees who may not be returning to work. We anticipate being fully staffed within one week." [LL-C 8/29/08] On Aug. 26, hundreds of people lined up outside the plant to apply for jobs as news of the raid spread. [AP 8/27/08; Hattiesburg American (Mississippi) 8/27/08]

Eight Face Criminal Charges

On Aug. 26, Michael A. Holt, ICE Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Investigations in New Orleans, and Stan Harris, First Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, announced that the US Attorney's Office had brought criminal charges against eight workers for aggravated identity theft and had transferred them to the custody of the US Marshals Service. The other workers face administrative immigration violations, although. Harris warned there could be more identity theft cases after ICE officials finish interviewing the detainees. [ICE 8/26/08; HA 8/28/08]

At a preliminary and detention hearing on Aug. 27 at US District Court in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, federal prosecutors said the eight workers had used stolen identities, including one of a dead person, to gain employment. ICE agent Ben Taylor testified that some had received the fake identification information from friends. US Magistrate Mike Parker ordered all eight held without bond; he rejected public defender Abby Brumley's request to free Paula Gomez on bond to care for her five-year-old son, who had been sick and had no one else to care for him. "She has been charged with a serious crime," said Assistant US Attorney Gaines Cleveland. "We need to keep this defendant until the charges are resolved." Stan Harris would not say where the eight were being held. The Hattiesburg American reported that in court some had on Pearl River County Jail jumpsuits and others wore Mississippi Department of Corrections' clothing. [HA 8/28/08]

On Mar. 17, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour signed SB 2988, the "Employment Protection Act," requiring employers in the state to use the federal "E-Verify" database to check the immigration status of new hires. The law took effect on July 1 for state and local government agencies, companies contracting with state and local governments, and employers with 250 or more employees. Businesses with more than 100 employees must have the system in place by July 1, 2009; smaller businesses must comply by July 1, 2011. [Barbour Statement 3/17/08; HA 6/30/08; Immigration Practice Group, Immigration News: Recent E-Verify Developments 5/20/08]

Mississippi lawmakers once used Howard Industries laptops, and in 2002 Mississippi lawmakers approved a $31.5 million, taxpayer-backed incentive plan for Howard Industries to expand. It is unclear whether the company has current state contracts, but the provisions of SB 2988 do not apply to contracts entered before January 2, 2008. [AP 8/27/08, 5:47pm & 8:47pm; Immigration Practice Group 5/20/08]

Under the law, a company found guilty of employing unauthorized immigrants could lose public contracts for three years and the right to do business in Mississippi for a year. The law also makes it a felony for an unauthorized immigrant to accept a job in Mississippi. [AP 8/27/08] Howard Industries started using E-Verify last year. An ICE spokesperson said the agency began its investigation into the company two years ago. [Washington Post 8/28/08]

In June, the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed $123,500 in penalties for 36 violations at Howard’s Pendorf site and $41,000 for 15 violations at another Howard site in Laurel. [LL-C 8/26/08]

Activists Issued Warnings

Just as happened with the May 12 raid at the Agriprocessors kosher meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa [see INB 6/2/08], local immigrant advocates had reported warning signs in advance of the Mississippi raid. On Aug. 22, the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) issued a press release reporting a "series of preparations by [ICE] on the Gulf Coast" suggesting an impending major raid in the area. "ICE has reportedly booked dozens of rooms in hotels on the Gulf Coast," wrote MIRA. "They may be checking in as early as tonight." [MIRA Press Release 8/22/08] The week before the raid, Howard Industries put up a billboard announcing it was hiring. [AP 8/27/08]

"Perhaps even more worrisome are the reports that the federal court in Hattiesburg is being readied for a response similar to the response to the raid in Postville," warned MIRA. The organization's "staff and local leaders are working quickly to identify possible targets, educate workers and assemble a team of attorneys..." the press release said. "What happened in Postville was an absolute travesty of justice that must never happen again," stated MIRA spokesperson and attorney Patricia Ice. "ICE must assure that any future enforcement actions are conducted in a humane manner and that detainees are permitted their constitutional rights to due process and to legal counsel." [MIRA 8/22/08]

By Aug. 29 it seemed clear that the federal government had not repeated in Mississippi the strategy it followed in Iowa, where prosecutors filed criminal identity-theft charges against 305 of the 389 workers arrested. "I think Postville was a huge embarrassment because of the criminalization of workers," said Erik Camayd-Freixas, a Florida International University professor who served as a federal courts interpreter during mass hearings for the Agriprocessors workers. After the proceedings were over, Camayd-Freixas published an essay suggesting that most of the Postville workers were unfairly pressured into guilty pleas and weren’t even aware that they had used Social Security numbers belonging to other people.

Drake University law professor Bob Rigg, who also criticized the Iowa court proceedings, said that processing most of the workers administratively for deportation instead of prosecuting them on criminal charges "used to be the norm until Postville." Complaints from Camayd-Freixas, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Times and others about the unjust treatment of the Postville workers have caused tremendous controversy; "It could be the U.S. attorney in Mississippi decided, 'I'm not going to go through that,'" said Rigg. [Des Moines Register (Iowa) 8/28/08]

When asked if the government's policy had changed, ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez responded in an email message: "Absolutely not." [New York Times 8/26/08] Gonzalez would not specify why only eight of the Mississippi workers were charged with crimes. [DMR 8/28/08]

Did Union Cheer Raid?

Witnesses said that authorized workers at the factory cheered and applauded as immigrants were herded out in shackles. ICE said a tip from a union member triggered its investigation of Howard Industries. [ABC News 8/29/08; AP 8/27/08]

According to an AP report, union members speaking on condition of anonymity said they resented immigrant workers at the plant; they said the company allowed immigrants to work as much as 40 hours of overtime a week but discouraged other employees from doing so. [AP 8/27/08]

Veteran labor reporter David Bacon writes that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1317 had brought in Spanish-speaking organizers to sign up immigrant members at the Laurel plant, and that many immigrants who were hired recently had begun to join the union. (Mississippi is a "right-to-work" state, where unions must work to recruit voluntary members at unionized plants.) [New America Media News Analysis by David Bacon, dated 8/31/08, accessed 8/30/08] According to AP, about 2,600 of Howard Industries' workers belong to the union, although it was unclear how many of them worked at the raided plant, or whether any had been arrested. One immigrant worker from Mexico who did not join the union said that in order to recruit members, "the union uses the tactic of saying immigration was coming and the members of the union would not be taken." [AP 8/27/08]

Local 1317's collective bargaining agreement expired at the beginning of August, and the ICE raid took place as the union was negotiating a new contract seeking wage increases, better vacation benefits and health care improvements. Activists say the raid in Laurel will help the company resist such demands and could undermine progressive coalition-building. Jim Evans, a national AFL-CIO staff member in Mississippi and a member of the state legislature's Black Caucus, said he believed the raid "is an attempt to drive a wedge between immigrants, African Americans, white people and unions--all those who want political change here." [NAM News Analysis (Bacon), dated 8/31/08, accessed 8/30/08]

Immediately after the raid, MIRA began organizing meetings with the affected workers to provide legal advice, food and economic help. According to MIRA director Bill Chandler, Howard Industries representatives told workers who had been released and family members of detained workers that the company wouldn't release their paychecks. On Aug. 28 MIRA organizer Vicky Cintra led a group of workers to the raided plant to demand their pay. Managers called Laurel police and sheriffs, who threatened to arrest her. After workers began chanting, "Let her go!" and news reporters appeared on the scene, the company finally agreed to distribute checks to about 70 people. [NAM News Analysis (Bacon), dated 8/31/08, accessed 8/30/08; LL-C 8/29/08]

MIRA has established a special relief fund for those affected by the raid--for details 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," (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

Saturday, August 23, 2008

INB 8/23/08: Deport Flight to Southeast Asia; Hawaii Construction Raid

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 20 - August 23, 2008

1. Deport Flight to Southeast Asia
2. Construction Raid in Hawai'i
3. ICE Steps Up "Anti-Gang" Raids

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


In a charter flight that left on Aug. 12 from Seattle, Washington, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 106 people--including eight women--to Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia. The 49 Filipinos, 44 Indonesians and 13 Cambodians were taken from different locations around the US to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington in preparation for the flight. The deportees included 46 people with criminal convictions. ICE officers and medical staff with the Division of Immigration Health Services accompanied the flight, along with consular officials from the countries involved.

The flight was arranged by ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO). It was the US government's second deportation flight to Indonesia; the first left Yuma, Arizona on Apr. 8. That flight took 123 deportees to Pampanga, Philippines and Jakarta, Indonesia on Apr. 10 [see INB 4/20/08]. [ICE News Release 8/14/08]


On Aug. 20, ICE agents arrested 22 unauthorized immigrant workers at the construction site of the Honua Kai Resort luxury condominium project on Kaanapali Beach on the island of Maui in Hawai'i. The site was shut down for a few hours as more than a dozen federal agents and Maui police officers barricaded and searched the area.
According to ICE spokesperson Lori Haley, those arrested included one woman and 21 men; Haley said 15 people, including the woman, are Mexican nationals, four are Brazilian, one is Guatemalan, one is Honduran and one is Peruvian. The workers were taken to the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu to be processed for removal. [Maui News 8/22/08; Pacific Business News 8/22/08] The Honolulu Advertiser reported that the arrested Mexicans in the group numbered 16, including the woman, and that the total number of workers arrested was 23. [Honolulu Advertiser 8/23/08]

Haley said the arrests were part of a continuing investigation targeting Global Stone Inc., a subcontractor at the site. The general contractor on the condominium project, Ledcor Construction, based in Honolulu, issued a written statement on Aug. 21 saying that none of the detained workers were employed by Ledcor, and that the company "received assurances from the subcontractors that they were in compliance with all federal, state and local laws."

"Ledcor supports Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts to solve this national problem," Ledcore vice president Eric Tessem said in the statement. [Maui News 8/22/08]

More than 80 unauthorized immigrants have been arrested over the past month in Hawai'i, and the arrests will continue, announced Ed Kubo, US Attorney for the District of Hawaii, at an Aug. 22 press conference with representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the state's Sheriff's Department, US Marshall's Office and the Coast Guard. "We are drawing a line in our sand," Kubo said. "Hawai'i has always been known for our aloha and acceptance of everyone, but there will be no aloha for those who lie, cheat and steal from us." [Honolulu Advertiser 8/23/08]

"[W]ithin the last two weeks approximately 41 undocumented workers have been arrested by our agents on the island of Maui and near [the Honua Kai Resort] project, of which 28 of them were confirmed as actually working at Honua Kai," said Kubo. [KHON (Honolulu) 8/22/08]

Kubo said further investigations will target industries including agriculture, federal contractors, tourism, restaurants and construction. "Our investigators will be increasing the tempo of these investigations and are looking at all types of work sites to uncover these violations," said Kubo. "[I]f you are illegally working here in the state, or if you are knowingly hiring illegal aliens you better keep looking over your shoulders because we are coming," Kubo warned. [HA 8/23/08; KITV (Honolulu) 8/22/08; KHON 8/22/08]

Kubo said that 23 of the 43 Mexican workers arrested in a July 20 raid on an apartment building in Waipahu have been charged with knowingly using a fraudulent green card, using a fraudulent Social Security number and possessing a fraudulent green card. [HA 8/23/08] At the Honolulu federal courthouse on Aug. 21, several of the 23 were ordered held without bail. [KITV 8/22/08] The July 20 raid targeted agricultural workers employed by The Farms Inc., based in Kunia. [see INB 8/10/08] Attorney Dax Deason, representing The Farms, said "there are no charges against the company, we feel that we haven't violated any federal laws, and have followed all rules and regulations." [HA 8/23/08]


From Aug. 11 to 16, agents arrested 42 foreign nationals in an ICE-led operation targeting street gangs in the metropolitan area of Salt Lake City, Utah. The sweep was carried out with the assistance of the US Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Attorney's Office, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Salt Lake City and Midvale police departments. One of the arrested immigrants was from Guatemala, one was from Honduras, three were from El Salvador and the rest were from Mexico. Of the total 42 people arrested, 10 face federal charges for reentry after deportation; one faces federal charges for illegal possession of a firearm; and 11 others are being prosecuted on state charges. The remaining 20 people were arrested on administrative immigration violations.

According to ICE, another 73 foreign national gang members were arrested over the previous weeks in similar multi-agency operations in Provo (29 arrests), Ogden (28 arrests) and St. George (16 arrests). [ICE News Release 8/18/08]

Between July 28 and Aug. 9, a total of 50 people were arrested in an ICE-led anti-gang operation through the metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Most of the arrests were in the Twin Cities, but some were in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, Crystal, Maplewood, Richfield and West St. Paul. The sweep was conducted in partnership with the Metro Gang Strike Force with support from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the police departments of Brooklyn Park and Richfield.

ICE said 35 of those arrested were gang members, seven were "gang associates" and the other eight were immigrants with no known gang affiliation who were in violation of immigration law. According to ICE, 29 Mexicans, six Hondurans, two Salvadorans and an Ecuadoran were placed in deportation proceedings, while 10 US citizens and two US permanent residents were arrested on various state and federal charges. Three people were referred to the US Attorney's Office in Minneapolis for criminal prosecution: two for reentering the US after having been deported; one for possessing a controlled substance. [ICE News Release 8/14/08]

On July 24, ICE agents and officers from the Yonkers Narcotics and Gang Unit raided six locations in Yonkers, New York, just north of New York City. Agents arrested five people accused of belonging to three Mexican gangs. New Rochelle police, ICE agents and Westchester County Probation officers arrested another two people in New Rochelle. All were taken into federal custody. [Journal News (Westchester) 7/26/08]

From July 22 to 24, ICE agents arrested 17 out-of-status immigrants in an operation targeting foreign-born people with alleged gang ties in the area of Omaha, Nebraska. One arrest was made across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa; the other 16 arrests were in Omaha. Those arrested were 15 Mexicans, one Salvadoran and one Honduran. According to ICE, eight of those arrested are gang members and four are "gang associates." The other five are immigrants with no known gang affiliations. Eleven of the people arrested had prior criminal convictions; three had reentered the US after having been deported. Six of the 17 were referred to the US Attorney's Office, District of Nebraska, for possible criminal prosecution. One was referred to the US Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa, for prosecution. ICE was assisted in the operation by the ATF, Nebraska State Patrol and the police departments of Omaha and Bellevue. [ICE News Release 7/25/08]

From July 14 to 20, a total of 81 people were arrested in an ICE-led enforcement operation targeting gang members in San Diego County, California. The sweep was carried out by more than 20 ICE agents, assisted by officers from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the Escondido Police Department. [ICE News Release 7/22/08; North County Times 7/22/08] Arrests were made in Fallbrook, San Marcos, Vista, Poway, Escondido and northern San Diego, said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge of ICE investigations in San Diego. According to Lt. Bob Benton, spokesperson for the Escondido Police Department, 13 people were arrested in Escondido. [NCT 7/22/08] Some 60 officers took part in the operation in Fallbrook on July 19; 28 people were arrested. Nine were handed over to ICE for deportation, and ICE holds were placed on a few other arrestees. An additional 22 people were cited for local violations and released. [Fallbrook Village News 7/24/08]

According to ICE, the 81 people arrested in the San Diego County sweeps included 38 "gang members or gang associates" and 43 "criminal aliens" who were either present in the US without permission, or were legal residents whose criminal offenses made them eligible for deportation. The North County Times reported that the 43 "criminal aliens" included two US citizens who were arrested for non-immigration-related offenses. Six Mexican nationals, including one woman, have been charged in federal court for reentering the US after having been deported. Nine other people arrested during the operation are facing state prosecution. Most of those arrested were taken into custody on administrative immigration violations. [ICE News Release 7/22/08; North County Times 7/22/08]

From July 13 to 16, ICE agents working with local law enforcement officers arrested 49 people in an operation targeting foreign-born gang members in the northern and northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. According to ICE, 47 of the 49 were gang members or associates, while two had no known gang affiliations but were present in the US without permission; 42 had criminal histories. One of the 49 was Guatemalan; the others were Mexican. Among those arrested was one permanent resident whose criminal convictions make him eligible for deportation, said ICE. Nine of those arrested had reentered the US after having been deported. ICE was assisted in the operation by the ATF; the sheriffs' departments of Cook, Boone, DuPage and Winnebago Counties; and the police departments of Addison, Belvidere, Bensenville, Elgin, Franklin Park, Harvard, Mt. Prospect, West Chicago, Wheeling and Woodstock. [ICE News Release 7/18/08]

From July 11 to 16, ICE agents arrested 28 immigrants in an anti-gang operation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Those arrested included 15 "transnational gang members" and 13 people with no known gang affiliation but who were deportable, said ICE, either because they have criminal convictions or are present in the US without permission. One of the 28 was from Nigeria, one was from El Salvador and the others were from Mexico. In addition, 17 US citizen gang members were arrested on state warrants or criminal charges and turned over to local authorities. ICE was assisted in the operation by the FBI, the Oklahoma Alcohol Beverage Law Enforcement Commission (ABLE), the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and the Tulsa Police Department. [ICE News Release 7/17/08]


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

Saturday, August 16, 2008

INB 8/16/08: Detainee Dies in Rhode Island; Boston Raids Protested

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 19 - August 16, 2008

1. Detainee Dies in Rhode Island
2. Activists Protest Boston Area Raids
3. Workers Arrested at DC Airport
4. NC Parachute Company Raided
5. "Gang" Raids in Florida
6. "Fugitive" Raids in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Tennessee, Nevada
7. Al-Arian Trial Postponed

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


Hiu Lui Ng died in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a Rhode Island hospital on Aug. 6, two days after his 34th birthday, from terminal cancer which had gone untreated for months.

Ng had come to the US from Hong Kong at age 17 and had overstayed a student visa. In 2001, a notice ordering him to appear in immigration court was mistakenly sent to a nonexistent address, records show. Because Ng did not show up at the hearing, an immigration judge ordered him deported. Ng remained in the US, married a US citizen and had two US-born sons. He was detained on July 19, 2007, when he and his wife showed up at the immigration office for his green card interview. Since then he had been detained at a number of jails and detention centers in three New England states.

Ng had been complaining of excruciating back pain since April. In federal court affidavits, Ng's lawyers said officials had refused to allow an independent medical evaluation and had denied Ng use of a wheelchair after he was too weak to stand, preventing him from visiting with his attorneys and family. On July 30, just a week before his death, guards at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island dragged Ng from his bed, carried him in shackles to a car and drove him two hours to a federal facility in Hartford, Connecticut, where an immigration officer pressured him to withdraw all pending appeals of his case and accept deportation.

Officials have given no explanation for the trip. But Ng's lawyers say it appeared to be an effort to prove that their client was faking illness, and possibly to thwart the habeas corpus petition they had filed in Rhode Island the day before, seeking his release for medical treatment. US District Judge William E. Smith, who heard that petition on July 31, did not make a ruling on the request but insisted that Ng get the care he needed. On Aug. 1, Ng was taken to a hospital, where doctors diagnosed the terminal cancer and fractured spine. He died five days later. [New York Times 8/13/08; Providence Journal 8/14/08]

In a phone interview on Aug. 13, Judge Smith said he was "frankly shocked and disturbed" about the circumstances surrounding Ng's death as reported in an Aug. 13 New York Times article, which he said conflicted with what government officials told him during the hearing. Referring to a statement released on Aug. 13 by the warden at Wyatt Detention Facility--citing a preliminary autopsy that determined Ng died of "previously undiagnosed advanced stage cancer"--Smith said "that raises some really serious issues about the treatment and care of this person while he was detained, and I want to know more about that." [PJ 8/14/08]


On Aug. 8, ICE announced the arrests of "52 gang members and associates and 28 other criminals" in a four-day operation targeting "violent street gangs" across Massachusetts. Of the total 80 people arrested, 55 are legal permanent residents "who may be removable from the US based upon their criminal history," according to ICE; the others included 14 people who were residing in the US without permission from the federal government, two who had failed to comply with deportation orders, and three who had reentered the US after having been deported. "ICE agents also assisted in the arrest of six other individuals on state criminal violations who were encountered during the gang operation," according to the agency's news release. The arrested immigrants were nationals of Barbados, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Trinidad and Vietnam. All had criminal records.

The raids, part of ICE's "Operation Community Shield" anti-gang initiative, were conducted in partnership with the police departments of Attleboro, Berkley, Boston, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Dartmouth, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Randolph, Revere, Rockland, Salem, Somerville, Stoughton, Taunton and Worcester; the sheriff's departments of Bristol, Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk counties; the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance; the Office of the Massachusetts State Auditor; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the US Attorney's Office; and the Department of State Office of Diplomatic Security. [ICE News Release 8/8/08]

On Aug. 4 and 5 in Lowell, about 30 miles northwest of Boston, ICE arrested 12 Southeast Asian immigrants between the ages of 25 and 36. [Lowell Sun 8/6/08] They were picked up on federal warrants for administrative immigration violations, ICE spokesperson Paula Grenier said. From Lowell's Cambodian community, one of the largest in the US, 187 people have been deported since 2002; 15 more were expected to be deported on Aug. 14.

Relatives of those detained in Lowell joined community members in protesting the arrests at an Aug. 8 rally sponsored by Deported Diaspora and other community groups at Clemente Park in the Lower Highlands neighborhood of Lowell. More than 160 people attended the rally in the rain and signed a petition calling for elected officials and local authorities to investigate the sweeps, which they say have been heavy-handed and overly broad. Activists handed out fliers to inform people of their rights.

Linda Pream spoke at the rally about her boyfriend, Sokon Cheurem, who was among those arrested. Pream described Cheurem as a wonderful father to his 6-year-old daughter, Josselin, who is dependent on him for support, including health and dental care. "His entire life, actually his entire being is revolved around his little girl," said Pream.

Families are having trouble getting in touch with those arrested, said Gregg Croteau of the United Teen Equality Center. In a press release, the group Deported Diaspora said most of the detainees seem to have been transferred out of state within 24 hours of their arrests. Croteau said his group is upset about the way ICE picked up people without considering their individual circumstances. He spoke in support of Song Sao, who was arrested seven years ago on an assault and battery charge but was given probation and never served time in jail. Croteau said Sao has been working with community groups. "According to his many friends and family members, he has completely turned his life around in a very positive and uplifting way," said Croteau.

Croteau also expressed concern that the arrests will fuel distrust of law enforcement in the Cambodian community. The Lowell Police Department emphasized that the arrests were an ICE initiative and that its officers took part only as a safety precaution. "The Lowell Police Department has been committed to strong community partnerships, particularly with the Southeast Asian community," said acting Deputy Police Superintendent Arthur Ryan. [Lowell Sun 8/9/08; Boston Globe 8/9/08; Deported Diaspora Press Release 8/8/08]

On Aug. 8 at Vida Real Church in Somerville, just northwest of Boston, several dozen residents took part in a rally and press conference against the raids. On Aug. 5 in Somerville, ICE agents stopped people at the Sullivan Square transit station and at a donut shop on Broadway, sowing terror in the community. Somerville police chief Anthony Holloway said ICE agents arrested one Somerville resident. At the Aug. 8 event, organized by the Somerville-based group Centro Presente, pastor Luis Morales said city officials are not giving the community adequate information about ICE activities. [BG 8/9/08; Somerville News 8/15/08]

On Aug. 13, more than 150 people from immigrant rights organizations, labor unions, religious congregations and other groups rallied at Boston's City Hall Plaza to protest the raids and the collaboration between local police and ICE, and to demand fair immigration policies. The rally was sponsored by groups including Jobs with Justice and Centro Presente. [Open Media Boston 8/15/08; Boston Indymedia 8/14/08]


On Aug. 13, ICE agents set up a checkpoint at a service gate at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, and questioned more than 200 people who attempted to enter the airport grounds. Most of those questioned were working on construction projects at the airport. ICE arrested 42 Latin American construction workers who were found to be ineligible to work in the US. The workers were detained administratively on immigration violations, said Mark X. McGraw, Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Office of Investigations at the Washington field office. Federal officials were trying to determine whether criminal charges were warranted against the workers and their employers. [ICE News Release 8/13/08; Washington Post 8/14/08]

McGraw said the operation "illustrates ICE's ongoing efforts in partnership with federal and local agencies to secure the critical infrastructure within the National Capital Region." The operation was carried out with the support of the Transportation Security Administration and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. [ICE News Release 8/13/08] A similar operation at the airport in June 2006 resulted in the arrest of 55 workers at the airport. [WP 8/14/08]

The National Capital Immigrant Coalition (NCIC) responded to the raid with a press conference and vigil on the evening of Aug. 13 at the ICE detention office in Fairfax, Virginia. The coalition said that seven hours after the arrests, ICE was refusing to disclose the whereabouts of those detained--even to their family members--and was denying them access to their attorneys. "Our understanding is that [ICE] has been interrogating the workers without legal counsel, despite the fact that an attorney has been literally knocking on the door to get in to help them," said Kimberly Propeack, advocacy director for CASA de Maryland, a member of the coalition. Propeack said a lawyer connected to the coalition reached the ICE office in Fairfax City in the afternoon, after the men were detained, but was told that because they had not been fully processed, they could not be informed that he was willing to represent them.

Advocates were also concerned that officials might decide to move the men quickly to detention facilities in a distant state, as often happens to immigrants picked up by ICE. "Some of these workers are likely to have viable legal claims to stay in the United States," Propeack said. "They may qualify for asylum; they may have pending immigration applications. But if they are moved away from their families, who are the only ones likely to find them legal help, the likelihood that they will find legal representation is very slim." McGraw said that it was not clear where the men would be detained but that if they are moved from Virginia, it would be because of a lack of bed space. [NCIC Press Release 7/13/08; WP 8/14/08]


On Aug. 12, ICE agents arrested 57 immigrant workers at Mills Manufacturing Corporation in Asheville, North Carolina. The company manufactures parachutes for the US military; ICE implied that the raid was intended to protect "the integrity of our nation's critical infrastructure." ICE said no criminal charges have been presented against the workers, but the agency said its investigation is continuing. Mills Manufacturing is not the target of the investigation and has been cooperative, said ICE. The workers used fraudulent documents to get jobs at Mills, said ICE special agent Del Richburg; company officials did not know the workers were unauthorized. The raid was the largest ICE operation yet in western North Carolina, according to Richburg.

Just before the raid, workers were told to gather in a warehouse, said Jessica Arrendondo, an employee who was not detained in the operation. Agents then entered the warehouse from two separate doors, Arrendondo said.

The arrested workers were transferred to the Henderson County Sheriff's Office for immigration processing, and were placed into removal proceedings for being in violation of US immigration law. A majority of the workers arrested are from Mexico; others are from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Ecuador, said ICE spokesperson Ivan Ortiz-Delgado. ICE released 29 of the arrested workers based on medical, caregiver, or other humanitarian issues. [ICE News Release 8/12/08; Asheville Citizen-Times 8/13/08] The others were taken to the Mecklenburg County Detention Center near Charlotte. [ 8/13/08]

The 57 workers arrested in the raid represented nearly a third of the company's workforce of 175. Some of the arrested workers had been with the company for years, said John Oswald, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Mills Manufacturing. [AC-T 8/13/08] Oswald said that the company shut down its operations on the day of the raid. "The whole thing is pretty traumatic," Oswald said. "We can't expect people to go about business as usual after what has just happened." The company plans to continue operations but will adjust its delivery schedule, according to Oswald. [ 8/13/08]

In a press release issued the morning of the raid, Asheville City Council member and congressional candidate Carl Mumpower took some credit for the action at Mills, saying an employee there contacted him several weeks ago and "we developed a connection with ICE in Charlotte on Mills Manufacturing. I am grateful for their follow-through and will continue to press this issue." [AC-T 8/13/08] Mumpower is known in Council meetings for his vocal stance against undocumented workers.

Though an ICE news release announcing the raid was circulated by the city of Asheville's communication department, the city was not involved in the operation, according to an e-mail from Lauren Bradley, assistant to the city manager. [Mountain Xpress 8/12/08]


Between June 18 and July 25, ICE arrested 321 people in South Florida in what it called "an operation targeting trans-national and violent criminal street gangs," part of a national ICE initiative known as "Operation Community Shield." By ICE's own count, only 59 of the 321 people arrested in the sweeps were "transnational gang members and associates." According to ICE, 19 people were arrested on immigration charges--at least some of them legal permanent residents whose criminal convictions allegedly make them deportable--and 308 people "face multiple criminal charges including state racketeering influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO) conspiracy; drug possession, purchase and trafficking; firearms possession; outstanding bench warrants; and probation and parole violations." Those arrested are from Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Jamaica, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, and the US. One individual was identified as having reentered the US after having been deported.

ICE was assisted in the operation by the Air and Marine branch of US Customs and Border Protection; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Florida Department of Probation; and the gang investigation units of the sheriff's offices of Broward and Palm Beach counties and the police departments of Miami Dade, City of Miami, North Miami Beach, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Lake Worth and Boynton Beach. [ICE News Release 8/7/08]

In an operation that began during the week of July 28 and ended on Aug. 7, ICE arrested 54 more immigrants in the Miami area. According to ICE, 29 of those arrested were legal permanent residents whose "criminal backgrounds" make them eligible for deportation. The others were present in the US in violation of immigration rules. ICE identified 10 of those arrested as "sexual predators." Those arrested were from countries including Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, Bahamas, Mexico, El Salvador, France, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guyana. [ICE News Release 8/8/08]

In a five-day operation ending Aug. 1, ICE Florida Fugitive operations teams arrested 62 immigrants in Lee County, in the Fort Myers area of southwestern Florida. The operation was carried out jointly with the sheriff's office of Lee and Collier counties. According to ICE, 55 of those arrested were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders; the other seven were present in the US in violation of immigration rules. ICE said those arrested included 15 people with criminal histories and six gang members. The arrested immigrants were from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Peru, Mexico, Jamaica, Argentina, Bahamas and Russia. [ICE News Release 8/4/08]


The ICE office in Philadelphia announced on Aug. 11 that its local fugitive operations teams had arrested a total of 119 people in 10-day operation in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Of the total 119 people arrested, 75 had failed to comply with deportation orders; 26 of these 75 had criminal records. Another 44 people were arrested for being present in the US without permission; 12 of these 44 people had criminal histories, according to ICE. The operation was carried out by ICE’s Detention and Removal Operations and Office of Investigations in conjunction with the US Border Patrol in Erie, Pennsylvania; the Philadelphia Warrant Squad; and the police departments of Philadelphia, Hatfield, Horsham, Norristown and Altoona. [ICE News Release 8/13/08]

In a five-day operation ending July 1, ICE deportation officers assigned to the New Orleans and Memphis fugitive operations teams arrested 24 immigrants in the Nashville, Tennessee area. All but two of those arrested were "immigration fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders. Of the other two people arrested, one had reentered the US after having been deported and another was an alleged member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang who was found to be present in the US without permission. [ICE News Release 7/9/08]

On June 30 and July 1, ICE agents arrested 42 people in an operation targeting immigration "fugitives" in the Lake Tahoe area of Nevada. Only 21 of those detained had failed to comply with prior deportation orders, according to ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice. Six of those arrested had previous criminal convictions. "The majority of those encountered during the operation have already been repatriated to their native countries," Kice said. [AP 7/15/08]


On Aug. 8 in Alexandria, Virginia, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema postponed the trial of Florida professor Sami Al-Arian indefinitely. Al-Arian was charged on June 26 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 [see INB 7/5/08]. The trial, originally scheduled for Aug. 13, will now be delayed until the Supreme Court addresses an appeal submitted by Al-Arian's attorneys, challenging the legality of the federal subpoena which led to the contempt charges. [Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace 8/9/08; AP 8/8/08]

At a bond hearing on July 10, Brinkema ordered Al-Arian released on bail; the judge expressed concern about the government's maneuvers to keep him in custody despite a 2006 plea agreement with prosecutors that requires his speedy deportation. "There's some strange signals coming out of this case," Brinkema said. "I expect the Department of Justice to live up to its agreements." [AP 7/10/08]

Instead of releasing Al-Arian on bond, the federal government transferred him into immigration custody, claiming he would be held pending deportation. Al-Arian was then transferred from Alexandria to the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, Virginia, where he was subjected to punitive conditions including solitary confinement. From there, Al-Arian was taken to the ICE office in Fairfax. When ICE agents tried to return him to Pamunkey, jail officials there refused to accept him because the facility had received so many telephone calls from Al-Arian supporters protesting his treatment. ICE agents then took Al-Arian to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, 100 miles from his family and attorneys in Washington. Following further protests, Al-Arian was finally returned to the Alexandria Detention Center in advance of the Aug. 8 hearing. [Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace 8/6/08]


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, August 10, 2008

INB 8/10/08: Union Protests Arrests in Pennsylvania

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 18 - August 10, 2008

1. Pennsylvania: Union Protests Arrests
2. March Protests Postville Raid
3. Farmworkers Arrested in Hawaii
4. Ohio Restaurants Raided
5. Raid at Arkansas Boat Manufacturer

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 31, ABM Janitorial Services Inc. lured 42 of its employees to its office in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in the suburbs just northwest of Philadelphia, where US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were waiting to arrest them for immigration violations. The company had sent the workers a memo telling them to attend a 4:30pm meeting at the offices for training and discussion on new policy procedure, according to Kate Ferranti, a spokesperson for Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represented most of the workers. The employees that attended the meeting were promised one hour of overtime, and were told that they could pick up their weekly paychecks at the beginning of the training; they were warned that if they did not attend, their paychecks would be withheld and they could face disciplinary actions, including termination.

According to union shop steward Rob Houston, once all the workers had gathered in a large room, ABM personnel left the room and ICE officers walked in. Houston, who is white, and several others were allowed to leave. Outside the room, Houston said, he heard an ICE agent telling someone that Houston and others who were allowed to leave were "not it."

ICE agents released 22 of the 42 workers the same day for 'humanitarian' reasons, such as health conditions and child care, ICE spokesperson Mike Gilhooly said. Those 22 workers, mostly mothers with young children, were strapped with tracking devices and placed under house arrest. At least five other female workers were taken to a detention facility in Clinton, Pennsylvania, while at least 13 male workers were taken to York County Prison. All 42 workers face deportation proceedings. ICE reportedly confiscated workers' documents issued by the Mexican government, including passports. A woman who had her Mexican passport confiscated said she wants to process her children's documents for her family's imminent departure from this country and now has no legal documentation to prove her identity.

According to Gilhooly, the arrests were planned after federal agents audited ABM's records and found that the workers had gained employment through fraudulent documents. Gilhooly said ABM was not at fault and has fully cooperated. Sources claim ICE gave ABM two options: gather the employees at one location or agents would arrest them at their work sites.

Nine of the detained worked as janitors in the county courthouse and at One Montgomery Plaza, a building of office suites acquired by the county in 2006, said County Communications Director John Corcoran. The county accepted ABM Janitorial Services's low bid of $242,016 for cleaning services in March 2007, and extended its contract for one year in February. Corcoran said that if the county commissioners' office "were to find out later that" ABM wasn't cooperating with authorities in the investigation, "then we would terminate the contract."

Local 32BJ organized a rally on Aug. 5 in front of St. Patrick's Church on DeKalb Street in Norristown to protest the arrests and show solidarity with the workers. On Aug. 7 a crowd of 150 people, including members of Local 32BJ and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, attended a second rally on the Montgomery County courthouse steps in Norristown. "We find that ABM's decision to lead their workers to that room under false pretenses to be deplorable," Wayne MacManiman, Mid-Atlantic director of Local 32BJ, said at the Aug. 7 rally. [Philadelphia Inquirer 8/8/08; Norristown Times Herald 8/6/08, 8/8/08]


More than 1,000 people, including Latin American immigrants, Catholic clergy members, rabbis and activists, marched through Postville, Iowa on July 27 and rallied at the entrance to the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant, where ICE arrested 389 workers on May 12 [see INB 6/2/08]. The march was called to protest working conditions in the plant and to call on Congress to pass legislation granting legal status to unauthorized immigrants. Hundreds of demonstrators came by bus from Chicago and Minneapolis. Four rabbis from Minnesota and Wisconsin attended the march to publicize proposals to revise kosher food certification to include standards of corporate ethics and treatment of workers. The march drew an anti-immigrant counterprotest by about 100 people, organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Police reported no incidents. [New York Times 7/28/08; Des Moines Register 7/28/08]

On July 24, the House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law held a hearing in Washington to consider whether the 389 workers prosecuted on criminal charges during the Agriprocessors raid had been denied due process. Committee members grilled representatives of ICE and the Department of Justice and heard from experts including Erik Camayd-Freixas, who worked as a certified translator during the legal proceedings that followed the Agriprocessors raid, and David Leopold, national vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who called the way the workers were forced into plea bargains "a national disgrace." A standing room-only crowd was on hand when the hearing opened. It was followed by a news conference that included Postville priest Paul Ouderkirk and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) president Joe Hansen. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency 7/25/08; Committee on the Judiciary Press Release 7/23/08]

On July 26, three members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus visited Postville and heard three hours of testimony from dozens of workers and community members affected by the raid. Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and Joe Baca (D-CA) listened as 17-year-old Gilda Yolanda Ordonez Lopez described being forced to work 12-hour shifts at Agriprocessors with no overtime pay, and as Adolpho Wilson explained how his hand was crushed in an accident involving a meat grinding machine at the plant. [AP 7/26/08]

On July 31, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that Justice Department officials had assembled a manual in advance of the Agriprocessors raid which appeared designed to speed up the process of obtaining guilty pleas from the arrested Agriprocessors workers on identity theft and related charges. The manual lays out the suggested pleas for the workers, specifies how they should waive their legal rights, and includes detailed scripts for judges and lawyers. Of the 306 workers who were criminally charged, 297 took the plea bargains in order to avoid more serious aggravated identity theft charges which carry a minimum two-year sentence. Refusing the guilty plea would have meant more time in jail awaiting trial. "The government's tactics really undermined the constitutional protections of due process and presumption of innocence," ACLU staff attorney Monica Ramirez noted. [Los Angeles Times 8/1/08] In a widely circulated essay, Camayd-Freixas, the court translator, wrote: "'Knowingly' and 'intent' are necessary elements of the charges, but most of the clients we interviewed did not even know what a Social Security number was or what purpose it served." [New America Media 7/11/08]


On July 20, ICE agents entered an apartment building in Waipahu, Hawaii, with nine federal search warrants. The agents arrested 43 men from Mexico who were allegedly working in Hawaii without legal status. The workers were employed by an agricultural business in Kunia called "The Farms." ICE agents were assisted in the operation by the US Marshals Service, Sheriff's Department-State of Hawaii and the US Coast Guard Investigative Service. Fifteen of the 43 arrested men were subsequently charged with federal felonies for having used fraudulent documents to gain employment. Assistant US Attorney Tracy Hino said the investigation was continuing to determine if any of the other 28 workers might be charged. All are being held at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu. [KHON 2 News (Honolulu) 7/22/08; AP 7/22/08; Honolulu Star Bulletin 8/4/08]

Gary Singh, an attorney for one of the arrested men, said his client was recruited in California to work in Hawaii. Singh said the employer paid the airfare and arranged for housing at the Waipahu apartment complex, where eight men shared a two-bedroom apartment. Singh said his client worked 45 to 50 hours a week with no overtime, earning $9 an hour, with $98 deducted for rent from each two-week paycheck.

According to Hino, the investigation was triggered by the arrest of Miguel Gonzalez, another employee of The Farms, at Honolulu Airport on Mar. 3 as he sought to board a Hawaiian Airlines flight to San Jose, California. A Transportation Security Administration agent noticed that his boarding pass had a different name from his green card, according to court documents. Investigators also found two pay stubs from The Farms Inc., court papers said. Gonzalez later pleaded guilty to using false documents to obtain work and was sentenced to time served. In April, agents asked The Farms to provide the I-9 forms for its employees, according to court papers. The company provided the documents in May. [HSB 8/4/08]

Dean Okimoto of the Hawaii Farm Bureau said many local farmers have trouble finding workers to do hard farm labor at a price they can afford. [KHON 2 News 7/22/08]


On July 23, ICE agents arrested 58 Mexican workers on administrative immigration violations after executing federal search warrants at eight Casa Fiesta restaurants in Ashland, Fremont, Norwalk, Oberlin, Oregon, Sandusky, Vermillion, and Youngstown, Ohio. The operation culminated a yearlong investigation. Those arrested included four women, three of whom were released on humanitarian grounds to await deportation hearings. [ICE News Release 7/23/08]

By Aug. 6, 23 of the arrested immigrants had been deported, according to ICE spokesperson Greg Palmore. Palmore gave the total number of immigrants arrested in the operation as 54. [Fremont News Messenger 8/6/08]

Students and community members in Oberlin planned to march on July 31 to the closed Casa Fiesta restaurant and hold a vigil there to protest the raids and express solidarity with the detained workers. Organizers of the protest included the Catholic Action Committee of Lorain County. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 7/31/08]


On July 23, ICE agents arrested 13 men from Guatemala and Mexico in a raid at Waco Manufacturing, a company in North Little Rock, Arkansas that makes pontoon boats for Aloha Pontoons. US Attorney Jane Duke said the investigation was sparked when ICE agents received a tip that the business employed unauthorized workers. Duke said Aloha Pontoons cooperated with the investigation. Duke said if the men pleaded guilty to criminal charges, they would likely be sentenced to time served and deported. [AP 7/25/08]

In a news release dated July 28, ICE reported that on July 25, all 13 of the arrested workers "were convicted for document fraud and misuse of Social Security cards" and handed over to the custody of the US Marshals Service. On July 28, the workers were to be transferred to the ICE Office of Detention and Removal and placed in removal proceedings. The raid was conducted with the assistance of special agents from the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General. [ICE News Release 7/28/08]


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