Sunday, December 28, 2008

INB 12/28/08: Texas Detainees Protest; Raids in Idaho, Georgia, Indiana

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 30 - December 28, 2008

1. Texas: Detainees Protest Death, Seize Hostages
2. Idaho Raid Protested
3. Georgia Poultry Plant Raided
4. Indiana Oil Refinery 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 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 Dec. 12, some 1,300 federal prisoners staged an uprising at the privately run Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas, to demand better medical treatment after a detainee died at the facility, allegedly of natural causes. The Reeves County Detention Center has been run since 2003 by the GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, under contract with the federal government. The medium security prison holds more than 2,400 people, mainly inmates detained for immigration law violations. The uprising took place after the detainee's body was removed from the prison, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper John Barton told the Pecos Enterprise. The prisoners set a fire in an exercise room at the facility and were evacuated to an outdoor yard, where they took two prison recreation workers hostage. The newspaper reported that firefighters had to extinguish bonfires inmates had set to keep warm overnight.

About 30 agents from the Border Patrol's Marfa Sector were deployed to the detention center in response to the incident. The border agents arrived with an assortment of less-than-lethal weapons, an armored vehicle and support from a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air & Marine Huey helicopter. CBP used the helicopter to allow a prison official to conduct aerial surveillance of the compound. The border agents surrounded the facility and guarded the perimeter but apparently did not enter it. After about 17 hours, negotiators from the police department of Odessa, Texas managed to end the uprising and secure the release of the two hostages on the morning of Dec. 13. Barton, the DPS trooper, said there were minor injuries during the standoff; he declined to say who or how many people were hurt. Patricia Dieschler, a DPS dispatcher in Pecos, said there were no injuries to responding law enforcement officers. [AP 12/13/08; CBP News Release 12/16/08; Austin American-Statesman 12/14/08 with info from wire reports]

In other detention news, German immigrant Guido Newborough died of apparent cardiac failure at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond on Nov. 28, a day after being transported to the hospital from the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Virginia, where he had been detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since Feb. 19. Newborough was transported to the hospital a day after the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed his appeal and affirmed a final order of removal against him. [Undated statement from Andrew Strait at ICE, forwarded to the Detention Watch Network listserve on 12/4/08] On Dec. 7, about 15 activists working with a group called The People United carried out a leafleting action at Farmville's annual Christmas parade, followed by a vigil at the Piedmont Regional jail, to protest Newborough's death and blast plans for a new jail in the area. [The People United website, undated, accessed 12/28/08]

On Dec. 8, ICE began transferring all 153 immigration detainees housed at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island to other jails and prisons around the Northeast. The move came without explanation, a day before a team of investigators from ICE headquarters in Washington and elsewhere was expected to arrive at the detention facility to look into the death last August of Chinese immigrant Hiu Lui Ng while he was in Wyatt custody [see INB 8/16/08]. [Providence Journal 12/9/08]


On Dec. 4, ICE agents raided Idaho Truss & Component Co., a wood framing company in Nampa, Idaho, just west of Boise, arresting 16 of the 22 workers present. The workers, all Mexican men, were expected to be placed into deportation proceedings for administrative immigration violations. ICE's investigation began with a tip from the public, said ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers. ICE then initiated an investigation after reviewing the employment records of individuals who were helping build military housing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, about 50 miles south of Boise. Further investigation revealed that some of the workers may have secured employment using false Social Security numbers and other counterfeit identity documents. The company had been providing information to ICE for the past several weeks, said Idaho Truss President Kendall Hoyd. ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Metro Violent Crimes and Gang Task Force based in Nampa and the US Postal Inspection Service. [ICE News Release 12/4/08; Idaho Statesman 12/5/08; Boise Weekly 12/10/08]

On Dec. 7 about 80 people took part in a vigil at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise to support the arrested workers and protest the raid. The vigil was organized by Idaho Community Action Network and Catholic Charities of Idaho. [AP 12/8/08 with info from Idaho Press-Tribune; Boise Weekly 12/10/08] On Dec. 8, a group of about 30 women from Mujeres Unidas de Idaho held a lunch meeting where they grilled two federal prosecutors and Don Buechner, the ICE agent in charge of Boise, about the raid. Buechner told the group that the investigation at Idaho Truss began with an encounter with two unauthorized laborers working at Mountain Home Air Force Base. ICE also received three letters from concerned citizens alleging that Idaho Truss was firing legal workers and hiring illegal workers. "Whether or not that's true or not, that sort of got us into investigating a little further," Buechner said. [Boise Weekly 12/10/08]

On Dec. 9, a federal grand jury in Boise indicted all 16 of the arrested workers on federal charges including possession of counterfeit alien registration receipt cards, misuse of Social Security numbers, and illegal entry or re-entry after deportation. Twelve of the workers immediately pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time served and returned to ICE custody for removal from the US. Three workers are scheduled to go on trial on Feb. 10, 2009 for reentry after deportation. One worker has not yet entered a plea. [ICE News Release 12/12/08; AP 12/12/08]


On Dec. 5, ICE agents arrested 25 workers on immigration violations in a raid on the Sanderson Farms poultry processing plant off of Highway 133 in Moultrie, Georgia, in Colquitt County. The arrested workers were from Guatemala and Mexico. Ten of the arrested workers were released because they were sole caregivers for small children. The other 25 posted bail and were released. All face deportation hearings. No action has been taken against Sanderson Farms; investigators say the company has been fully cooperative in the ongoing investigation. [Moultrie Observer 12/9/08; WALB News 12/7/08]


On Dec. 10, ICE agents arrested 15 immigrants who were employed as contract janitorial workers at the BP oil refinery in the town of Whiting in northern Indiana. ICE said the arrests stemmed from "a two-year critical infrastructure worksite enforcement investigation that is continuing." The 11 women and four men arrested on administrative immigration charges were all employed by United Building Maintenance (UBM) of Carol Stream, Illinois. One of the workers is from Guatemala; the others are from Mexico. All were expected to be placed into deportation proceedings. Each case is also being reviewed for possible criminal charges by the US Attorney's Office, Northern District of Indiana. Two former UBM employees from Mexico were arrested by ICE earlier this year after they were discovered working without authorization at the BP refinery; they are currently facing criminal prosecution in the Northern District of Indiana. "BP Corporate Security has been fully cooperative in the investigation and has provided invaluable assistance to ICE," according to an ICE news release. [ICE News Release 12/10/08]


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)

ORDER "The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers," (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