Sunday, November 30, 2008

INB 11/30/08: Raids Protested in Minnesota, Michigan

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 29 - November 30, 2008

1. Another South Dakota Dairy Raided
2. Raids Protested in Minnesota, Michigan
3. More "Fugitive" Raids: Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, PA, DE, NJ, NY
4. New Indictment in Agriprocessors Case
5. South Carolina Poultry Workers Plead Guilty

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 Nov. 21, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested five Latin American immigrant workers at a dairy farm near Hamlin County, South Dakota. According to officials from ICE and the Hamlin County Sheriff's office, four of the five workers face criminal identity theft charges for using social security numbers that were not their own to get jobs at the farm. The fifth worker, a woman, was taken into ICE custody on administrative immigration violations. Sheriff Dan Mack said the investigation began when the people tried to register vehicles with false Social Security numbers. [KELOLAND TV (Sioux Falls, SD) 11/24/08; AP 11/27/08 with info from the Watertown Public Opinion] The latest raid came less than a month after an Oct. 29 operation in which ICE agents arrested 27 people at several dairy farms in northeastern South Dakota [see INB 11/2/08].


On Oct. 24, about 60 people demonstrated in Minneapolis to protest a recent ICE sweep through southern Minnesota. The demonstration was called by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition. [The Militant Vol. 72/No. 44, 11/10/08] From Oct. 21 to 23, ICE Fugitive Operations Team members arrested 17 people in southern Minnesota's Watonwan County: 10 in the town of Madelia, five in St. James and one each in Butterfield and Lewisville. ICE also arrested two people in Windom, the county seat of neighboring Cottonwood County. Four of the 19 people arrested had been deported previously; five had prior criminal convictions. All 19 were from Latin American countries: 11 were from Mexico, six were from Honduras and one each were from Guatemala and El Salvador. [ICE News Release 10/24/08] ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said six of the 19 people arrested were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders; the other 13 were not being sought but were encountered during the sweep. Counts said several children were among those arrested; "This was because the immigration judge had ordered the entire family deported," he explained. [Minnesota Public Radio 10/24/08] Witnesses to the raids saw ICE agents knocking on the doors of neighboring homes and stopping and questioning people who were not specifically being sought. [The Militant Vol. 72/No. 44, 11/10/08]

In Lansing, Michigan, a group calling itself the No Human Is Illegal Network has formed in response to an ICE sweep that took place in October. The group seeks to educate people about how immigration raids are separating families. About 25 people gathered on Nov. 20 at the East Lansing Public Library for an event to raise awareness about the situation and also to raise money for the families affected by the raids. Immigrants "come here because they just want to work," said Maximo Anguiano, a retired Lansing firefighter and member of the No Human Is Illegal Network. "And most of them pay taxes." [Lansing State Journal 11/21/08] ICE agents arrested 64 people between Oct. 17 and Oct. 20 in the Lansing area; 40 were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders, while the other 24 were found to be present in the US without permission. [Michigan Messenger 10/24/08] The raids took place at the El Azteco restaurant in East Lansing and at an apartment building where undocumented workers were living, according to an article in the Lansing City Pulse. [Lansing City Pulse 11/5/08]


In a five-day operation that ended Nov. 21, ICE agents arrested 104 people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Among those arrested were 94 "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation orders. Of the 104 people arrested, 23 had prior criminal convictions. [ICE News Release 11/25/08]

In Florida, ICE arrested 71 immigrants in a five-day operation that ended Nov. 21. Sixty were "fugitives"; 18 had criminal histories. ICE agents arrested 33 people in Miami-Dade; 17 in Broward; five in Palm Beach; seven in Orlando and nine in Tampa. ICE released 21 people under supervision as part of the Alternatives to Detention Program because they were verified to be sole caregivers or had medical concerns. The other 49 people were being detained by ICE. Those arrested came from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Peru, Cuba, Honduras, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Jamaica, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Uruguay, and Belgium. [ICE News Release 11/26/08]

Between Nov. 19 and 22, ICE agents worked with federal, state and local officials to arrest 80 people in the Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff areas of north central Arizona. Only 14 of the 80 people arrested were "fugitives" who had ignored final deportation orders or who had returned to the US after being deported. Two of the 80 people arrested had criminal records. Most of those arrested were from Mexico; some were from Guatemala. The sweep was carried out by an interagency task force led by ICE. The other agencies participating in the raids were the US Marshals Service, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office and the Prescott Valley, Sedona and Prescott police departments. [News Release from ICE & Yavapai County Sheriff's Office 11/24/08]

From Oct. 14 to Oct. 26, ICE fugitive operations teams based in Philadelphia arrested 99 immigrants in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Only 37 of those arrested were "fugitives" who had failed to comply with deportation; 14 of them had criminal records. The other 62 people were picked up for being out of status; 27 of them had criminal records. In New Jersey during the same Oct. 14-26 period, ICE arrested 145 "fugitives" (including 65 with criminal records) and 44 out-of-status immigrants (including 22 with criminal histories). In New York City, ICE agents arrested 90 "fugitives" (including 46 with criminal histories) and six other out-of-status immigrants (all with criminal histories) over the same period. [ICE News Release 10/27/08]


In a 12-count indictment issued Nov. 20 and unsealed Nov. 21 in US District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the former CEO and three managers of the Agriprocessors kosher meat company were charged with new counts in connection with the hiring of unauthorized workers at the company's plant in Postville, Iowa. The case is based on allegations that a top manager provided cash for workers to obtain false documents and that lower level supervisors helped employees get new paperwork [see INB 11/16/08].

The new indictment includes three defendants who haven't previously faced federal charges in the case: operations manager Brent Beebe and poultry managers Hosam Amara and Zeev Levi. Beebe, Amara and Levi are each charged with conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants for profit, harboring unauthorized immigrants for profit, conspiracy to commit document fraud and aiding and abetting document fraud. Beebe is also charged with six counts and Amara and Levi with one count each of identity theft, according to the indictment. Beebe was arrested on Nov. 21 at the Postville plant and pleaded not guilty in court the same day. Beebe's trial has been scheduled for Jan. 20, and he has been placed under travel restrictions and fitted with an electronic monitoring device that prohibit him from leaving Iowa. Warrants have been issued for Amara and Levi; their whereabouts are unknown.

Former CEO Sholom Rubashkin is charged in the new indictment with harboring unauthorized immigrants for profit and conspiracy to commit document fraud. He was previously charged with conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants for profit, aiding and abetting document fraud, six counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft and two counts of bank fraud. Also included in the new indictment is human resource employee Karina Freund, who faces a new charge of conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants for profit. She was previously charged with harboring. Rubashkin and Freund have a trial date set for Jan. 20. Freund has been released with an electronic monitoring device. On Nov. 20, US Magistrate Judge Jon S. Scoles ordered Rubashkin detained without bail until trial. [The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)11/21/08; AP 11/21/08; ICE News Release 11/21/08]


On Nov. 19 in Greenville, South Carolina, 12 immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras pleaded guilty in federal court to immigration and identity fraud charges in connection with an federal investigation into hiring practices at the Columbia Farms poultry plant in Greenville [see INB 9/7/08, 10/21/08]. Those pleading guilty on Nov. 19 included Nain Zarate-Camarero and Victor Cruz-Soto, who were arrested outside the plant in July. Three workers who pleaded guilty on Nov. 19 to misusing social security numbers were among 331 people arrested in an Oct. 7 raid of the plant. Seven former plant workers pleaded guilty on Nov. 19 to reentering the US illegally after having been previously deported. [Greenville News 11/20/08]


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, November 22, 2008

INB 11/22/08: Iowa Restaurants Raided; Colorado Tax Raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 28 - November 22, 2008

1. Chinese Restaurants Raided in Iowa
2. Colorado: Local Raids Target Tax Filers
3. Border Patrol Raids Vermont Worksite
4. NJ: 33 Arrested in "Gang" Raids
5. "Gang" Raids in California, Wisconsin
6. Raided Massachusetts Firm Settles Wage Suit
7. McDonald's Franchise Managers Sentenced
8. Long Island Youths Charged in Killing of Immigrant
9. WA: Detention Guards Hired Without Background Checks

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 Nov. 18, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested four workers in raids on Peony Chinese Restaurants in Vinton and Toledo, Iowa. The same family owns both restaurants. Two men from Mexico were arrested at the Toledo restaurant; one man from Mexico and one from China were arrested at the Vinton restaurant. All four face administrative immigration violations for being in the country illegally, said ICE spokesperson Tim Counts from the ICE office in Minneapolis. A hearing has not yet been scheduled before a federal immigration judge to determine whether the men will be deported. Counts said the enforcement actions were part of an ongoing investigation. "A 'raid' denotes something random or chaotic--this is neither," said Counts.

State patrol assigned three troopers to Benton and Tama Counties to help ICE. During the raid at the Peony restaurant near the Benton County Courthouse in Vinton, four Iowa State Patrol squad cars and one Vinton police car were parked outside. [The Gazette (Cedar Rapids) 11/18/08; Daily Iowan (University of Iowa student newspaper, Iowa City) 11/20/08]


On Nov. 12 and 13, sheriff's deputies in Weld County, Colorado arrested 13 people in "Operation Number Games," a round-up of suspects who allegedly filed tax returns using suspicious Social Security numbers. Two more suspects were arrested in the sweep on Nov. 14. The suspects were identified from information uncovered in an Oct. 17 search of Amalia's Translation and Tax Services, a business in Greeley that primarily serves immigrants. As of Nov. 14, the District Attorney's office had presented a total of 98 cases. Deputies said they were continuing to search for suspects named on warrants while they wait for a judge to act on additional warrant requests. The investigation is expected to last for a year or more, with possibly more than 1,300 arrests. Weld District Attorney Ken Buck said he believes a majority of the suspects will ultimately be charged with felony criminal impersonation rather than the more serious charge of identity theft.

The raids follow the Aug. 13 arrest of Servando Trejo, a Mexican immigrant who had used the Social Security number of a Texas resident. Trejo told a Weld County Sheriff's Office detective that he bought the ID in Texas after he crossed the border in 1995. He used the ID to get jobs, obtain loans, get a Colorado driver's license and pay taxes, which in recent years he filed through Amalia's Translation and Tax Services. According to Trejo's arrest affidavit, Amalia Cerrillo told authorities she helped Trejo and other clients who came in with false Social Security numbers apply for Individual Tax Identification Numbers from the Internal Revenue Service, and then helped them file tax returns which typically showed both numbers. Investigators said they believe many of the people who filed returns received more money in refunds than they paid in taxes.

Authorities obtained a search warrant for Amalia's by arguing they had probable cause to suspect more potential identity thieves had tax records on file there. The warrant only allowed them to seize 2006 and 2007 records, but in the Oct. 17 search at Amalia's the sheriff's deputies ended up seizing the tax returns of more than 4,000 people dating to 2000. "In looking there, they found other returns that violated the law, in their opinion, so that allowed them to take other returns as a result of them being in plain view," explained Buck. [Greeley Tribune Via Acquire Media NewsEdge 11/14/08; Greeley Tribune 11/15/08]


On Nov. 13, Border Patrol agents arrested five immigrant workers outside the Handy Suites Hotel in Essex Junction, Vermont. The workers were staying at the hotel and working on a construction site across the street for a new Lowe's home improvement store. A Border Patrol unit showed up at the site after receiving a tip. "We encountered these five subjects in the parking lot [and] determined yes in fact they were illegal in the United States," said Special Operations Supervisor Brad Curtis. "Once they're done being processed, they'll be moved over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and they will be put in deportation proceedings," Curtis added. [WFFF News (Burlington) 11/13/08] Construction workers told Channel 3 News that the five immigrants were drywall workers employed by Kal-Vin Construction of Hudson, New Hampshire. Border Patrol agents arrested 14 undocumented construction workers last October near the Lowe's construction site in South Burlington. [WCAX News (Burlington) 11/13/08]


On Nov. 18, ICE agents arrested 33 people in the New Jersey towns of Butler (Morris County) and Bloomingdale (Passaic County) in a sweep targeting people whom local police suspect have been taking part in gang activity, according to ICE spokesperson Harold Ort. ICE identified 12 of the 33 people arrested as violent gang members, six of whom have criminal records in New Jersey, Ort said. The gang members belong to the Mexican Latin Kings and Sureno 13, said Ort. The 31 men and two women arrested were sent to county jails in Middlesex, Hudson and Essex counties; ICE spokesperson Michael Gilhooly said that ICE may decide to transfer them to jails in other states. All those arrested will go before an immigration judge for removal proceedings, Gilhooly said.

"These numbers reveal that about a third of the arrests were [of alleged] gang members, and presumably the [other people arrested] were swept up in dragnets," said Bassina Farbenblum, an attorney with Seton Hall Law School's Center for Social Justice. "The fact that they are labeled by ICE as gang members doesn't necessarily mean they are gang members," she said.

"The government has not been forthcoming with information about the raids or the policies underlying them," said Farbenblum. "We've heard so many reports of unconstitutional practices.... The public has a right to know how [the raids] are being conducted, what the priorities are, whether they're relying on accurate data or whether this is just a waste of resources." The Seton Hall Center for Social Justice filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in December 2007, asking ICE for information pertinent to New Jersey immigration arrests dating back to 2006.

Ort said ICE and local agencies spent more than two months investigating the targeted individuals, including doing surveillance. Ort admitted that none of the suspects committed crimes during that period, and none were picked up on arrest warrants. Authorities seized $10,000 in the sweep, as well as photographs and cell phone images of suspects flashing gang signs, said Ort.

Pastor Steven Bechtold of the Butler United Methodist Church said two of the people arrested in the raids--a man and a woman--are members of his congregation. "Both people are active church attenders who come to worship every week," Bechtold said. "They are active in our Bible study group. They volunteer around the church--sometimes it's doing outside lawn work, washing dishes for dinners. We had very positive experiences." [Star Ledger (Newark) 11/20/08]


On Nov. 19, a task force of more than 60 federal and local law enforcement personnel conducted a pre-dawn raid targeting gang members at 28 locations in the Newhall and Canyon Country sections of Santa Clarita, in Los Angeles County. Agencies participating in the sweep included ICE, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station's Detective Bureau, the City of Santa Clarita/Sheriff's COBRA Unit and the Community Interaction Team (CIT), the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Los Angeles County Department of Probation. A total of 21 people were arrested: four were booked on new criminal charges at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station; 15 were transported by ICE to downtown Los Angeles to face immigration proceedings; and two are being presented to the US Attorney's Office for prosecution on federal felony charges of re-entering the country after deportation. [Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Press Release 11/19/08 via SCVTV; Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek) 11/19/08]

On Nov. 19, federal, state and local authorities arrested 11 alleged "gang members and associates," all of them unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, in a multi-agency sweep in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said the operation targeted the Surenos 13 street gang. One of the 11 immigrants was turned over to federal prosecutors to face charges of re-entering the US after having been deported. Two others were turned over to the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department to face outstanding criminal charges. ICE placed detainers on the two to ensure they are returned to ICE custody for deportation when the criminal proceedings end. The other eight people arrested are in ICE custody pending deportation. [AP 11/20/08; AP 11/21/08 from WGTD-FM]


The manufacturing company Michael Bianco, Inc. has agreed to pay $850,000 to settle a federal class action lawsuit over unpaid overtime and wages at its former factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The settlement includes $613,000 in unpaid wages to be distributed to 764 workers, including some of the 361 immigrant workers who were arrested in an ICE raid at the factory on Mar. 6, 2007 [see INB 3/9/07]. Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), which has provided free counsel to more than 100 of the arrested workers, announced the settlement at a Nov. 18 press conference. GBLS joined with South Coastal Counties Legal Services and attorney Philip Gordon of the Gordon Law Group in filing the lawsuit last year in federal district court in Boston.

The lawsuit charged that Bianco "systematically and intentionally violated the laws requiring time-and-a-half for overtime work by creating a sham second corporation called Front Line Defense Inc." Employees who worked more than eight hours on the same day were required to clock out of day shifts at 5pm from Michael Bianco Inc. and clock back in for evening shifts at 5:30pm with Front Line, the suit alleged. The workers received separate paychecks from Bianco and Front Line. Audrey Richardson, a senior attorney at GBLS, said workers had sought overtime before the raid, but former Bianco owner Francesco Insolia had made it "crystal clear" that he would not pay overtime. In addition to the overtime pay, the settlement requires Bianco to pay wages withheld from workers who were as little as one minute late for work, according to GBLS. The lawsuit alleged that workers were routinely docked 15 to 30 minutes of pay because they had waited in long lines to punch in for work due to an insufficient number of time clocks.

The settlement covers the six named plaintiffs--one current and five former Bianco employees--and all employees who worked for Michael Bianco and/or Front Line Defense between 2004 and March 2007 . The US Department of Labor will supervise and administer the $613,000 in restitution payments to 764 workers, who will receive payments ranging from less than $20 to more than $8,000, depending on the length of employment at the plant and the number of overtime hours worked, said Richardson. Most workers will receive between $1,000 and $5,000. The settlement covers employees who are authorized to work and those who lack work authorization; Richardson noted that federal laws governing payment of wages and overtime cover all workers regardless of their immigration status. The six plaintiffs named in the lawsuit will receive a bonus of $2,000 each for their courage in testifying, Richardson said.

The settlement also includes money for community groups in New Bedford that support and organize immigrant workers, and partial compensation for attorneys' fees and costs incurred by legal services groups representing the workers. GBLS and Organization Maya K'iche, a New Bedford advocacy group for Guatemalan Mayans, will assist in locating eligible workers and distributing checks. The groups have kept in touch with many of the workers who were deported and will work with family members to track down other workers, said Richardson. According to ICE, of 361 Bianco workers arrested in the raid, 168 have been deported; 116 have cases pending in immigration court; 26 have received final deportation orders; and 16 have had their legal status adjusted, allowing them to remain in the US. The situation of the other 35 workers was unclear. [Standard-Times (New Bedford) 11/19/08; Boston Globe 11/19/08; GBLS Press Release 11/18/08]

On Nov. 3, the US Attorney's office in Boston announced that Michael Bianco Inc. had pleaded guilty to criminal charges of hiring and harboring unauthorized immigrants, fraudulently misrepresenting social security numbers and failing to pay overtime. In the same plea agreement, Insolia, the company's president and principal shareholder, pleaded guilty to helping harbor and conceal unauthorized immigrants by allowing the company to submit false social security numbers to the government as if they were real. Insolia accepted a prison term of 12 to 18 months and a fine of $30,000. The company will have to pay a fine of approximately $1.5 million and another $460,000 in restitution for the overtime owed to employees. The restitution in the criminal case will be put toward the settlement of the class action lawsuit. On Oct. 24, Dilia Costa, production manager for Michael Bianco Inc., pleaded guilty to charges of hiring and harboring unauthorized immigrants. The company's contracts administrator, Gloria Melo, pleaded guilty on Oct. 24 to one count of continuing to employ unauthorized workers after the company had reason to know they were unauthorized.

The criminal case against Michael Bianco Inc. was investigated by ICE with assistance from the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, the Department of Defense's Criminal Investigative Service, the US Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General, the US Department of Labor - Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts and the US Postal Inspection Service. [ICE News Release 11/3/08; Standard-Times 11/19/08; Boston Globe 11/19/08]

Eagle Industries Inc. purchased the former Bianco plant in New Bedford in November 2007 and took over the company's Department of Defense contracts to make military equipment for US troops. [Standard-Times 11/19/08]


During the week of Nov. 10, US District Court Judge James Mahan sentenced one current and one former top executive of Mack Associates Inc., a firm that owns 11 McDonald's restaurants in the Reno, Nevada area, to three years of probation each for systematically employing unauthorized immigrant workers. Jimmy Moore, the former vice president of Mack Associates, pleaded guilty to one felony count of inducing an unauthorized immigrant to remain in the US; Moore was also sentenced to 40 hours of community service. Joe Gillespie, director of operations for the firm, pleaded guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting an alien to remain in the US. Anntoinette Richmond, the controller for Mack Associates, and Teresa Theiss, a former payroll clerk for the company, were each previously sentenced to 90 hours of community service and fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count each of continuing employment of an unauthorized alien. The sentences were part of a July 16 plea agreement under which Mack Associates agreed to pay a $1 million fine and was placed on probation for one year.

Plea agreements and documents filed in the case show that executives of Mack Associates knowingly hired unauthorized immigrants and supplied them with false identities in an effort to retain long-term employees, especially restaurant managers. Sometimes, the fake identities were of living or dead acquaintances of the firm's workers, according to the documents. Luther Mack, owner of Mack Associates, was not charged. The case came to light on Sept. 27, 2007 when ICE agents executed federal search warrants and arrested 58 immigrants working at 11 Reno area McDonald's restaurants operated by Mack Associates [see INB 9/30/07]. At least 30 of the 58 workers arrested in that raid have since been deported. The remaining workers were provided with documentation allowing them to remain in the US pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. [Reno Gazette Journal 11/20/08; US Department of Justice Press Release 7/16/08 via Reuters]


On Nov. 20, six teenagers were arraigned in Suffolk County Criminal Court on multiple counts of gang assault and hate crimes in connection with the Nov. 8 killing of Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero in the community of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. A grand jury indictment unsealed on Nov. 20 lays out additional charges against the same defendants for earlier crimes targeting Latin American immigrants. The judge set bail for five of the youths at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond; bail was denied to a sixth defendant who has a prior felony conviction for a 2007 burglary in which an East Patchogue man was killed. A seventh teenager, 17-year-old Jeffrey Conroy, is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 24 on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter as a hate crime; Conroy is accused of stabbing Lucero in the chest, killing him. All seven teens have pleaded not guilty in the attack on Lucero.

One of the defendants, 17-year-old Jose Pacheco, was described by the New York Times as being half African-American and half Puerto Rican. The other six youths are white. Suffolk County district attorney Thomas J. Spota said three of the defendants--including Pacheco--went out driving five days before Lucero was killed with the intent of, in their words, "beaner hopping." They found a Hispanic man that day whom Pacheco admitted to punching and knocking out cold, Spota said. That man has not stepped forward. According to Spota, Pacheco later told the police, "I don't go out and do this very often, maybe once a week." [New York Times 11/20/08]

Another defendant in the case, 17-year-old Jordan Dasch, is apparently of Jewish heritage. In his page on the social networking website MySpace, Dasch featured an image of a Jewish star with a Nazi swastika embedded in the middle, and laughingly referred to himself as a "Nazi Jew," according to information posted on the website of Long Island WINS, an immigrant rights organization that managed to download the page before it was removed from MySpace. [New York Jewish Week 11/22/08; Long Island WINS Blog Post 11/10/08]

Lucero's killing has sparked numerous vigils and protests in Long Island and beyond. More than 1,000 people gathered to honor Lucero in Patchogue on Nov. 14. [Newsday (LI) 11/14/08] Also on Nov. 14, more than 30 people gathered with candles and signs in the community of Nanuet, in Rockland County, New York. [Journal News (Westchester County) 11/15/08] On Nov. 21, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Manhattan office of New York governor David Paterson to mourn Lucero's death and demand the resignation of Suffolk County executive Steve Levy, who is accused of stirring up hate on Long Island with his outspoken stance against undocumented immigrants. [NY1 News 11/22/08]

In Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, three teenagers charged in connection with the fatal beating last July of Mexican immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala appeared in court on Nov. 13 and asked Schuylkill County judge William E. Baldwin to dismiss charges against them or have them tried separately. Baldwin took the defendants' requests under advisement but did not indicate when he would rule. Schuylkill County detectives say that the three youths, along with a fourth teenager who is charged as a juvenile, yelled racial epithets as they beat Ramirez on July 12. Ramirez was hospitalized and died from his injuries on July 16. Two of the three defendants face third-degree murder charges; another is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, criminal solicitation/hindering apprehension or prosecution, ethnic intimidation, corruption of minors, purchase or consumption of alcohol by a minor and selling or furnishing alcohol to minors. All three are free on bail pending further court action. Immigrant rights groups have continued to protest and attend hearings in Shenandoah to demand justice for Ramirez. [Republican Herald (Pottsville, PA) 11/14/08]


During the week of Nov. 3, Sylvia Wong, an administrator in charge of hiring at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, pleaded guilty in federal court in Tacoma to one count of making a false statement. Wong acknowledged lying to federal investigators about her failure to perform background checks when hiring guards for the privately-run immigration jail; she is due to be sentenced in February and faces a maximum of six months in prison.

The Northwest Detention Center opened in 2004 and holds about 1,000 people accused of immigration violations, mainly detainees from Alaska, Oregon and Washington. It is operated for profit by the Florida-based GEO Group Inc. (formerly Wackenhut).

In her plea agreement, Wong admitted that soon after starting work in November 2005, she began hiring guards without background checks "because of the pressure she felt to get security personnel hired at the NWDC as quickly as possible." ICE auditors discovered early in 2008 that 92 security guards were hired without background checks at the Tacoma; ICE didn't catch the practice for two years, court documents show. ICE acknowledges that some of the guards were fired after subsequent background checks. ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers refused to say how many guards were fired, but she insisted the number was small, and that the agency has now "implemented a multitiered vetting process ... so that no contractor or federal employee has sole responsibility to process and approve employment documents." [AP 11/7/08]


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, November 16, 2008

INB 11/16/08: Raids Protested in Ohio; Iowa Meat Plant Raided Again

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 27 - November 16, 2008

1. Raids Protested in Ohio
2. Iowa Meat Plant Raided Again
3. Election Week Raid in Florida
4. NJ: Detainee Escapes, Others Moved

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 Oct. 30, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested two workers at the Casa Fiesta restaurant in Oberlin, Ohio. Two employees of the Casa Fiesta restaurant in Fremont and one employee of Casa Fiesta in Ashland were also taken into custody on Oct. 30, said ICE spokesperson Mike Gilhooly. It was the second raid at the local restaurant chain in less than 100 days; on July 23 ICE agents arrested 58 Mexican workers at eight Casa Fiesta restaurants in northern Ohio, including five workers at the restaurant in Oberlin. The Fremont and Ashland restaurants were also among those raided on July 23 [see INB 8/10/08].

On Nov. 8, about 50 people held a candlelight vigil at Tappan Square in Oberlin to protest the latest raid; about 100 people attended a similar vigil in Oberlin following the July raid. La Alianza Latina, a nonprofit student group at Oberlin College, plans to form a rapid response team to stage peaceful protests and provide legal observation when raids happen, said the group's secretary, Cindy Camacho. "People...should not have to be afraid in the place where they live and work," said Camacho.

La Alianza Latina has been working with community leaders and the Immigrant Worker Project to draft a resolution proposing that the city of Oberlin establish a non-cooperation policy with federal immigration authorities. [Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) 11/8/08, 11/9/08] Oberlin's Human Relations Commission has recommended that the city council adopt the resolution as law; City Manager Eric Norenberg said it would enable all Oberlin residents to seek help from the police or fire department without fear of being turned over to immigration officials. "If Immigration comes to town, the city and the police force would not assist them unless ordered to by law or the court," Norenberg explained. "To me, it's important that our city residents trust us." [Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 11/13/08]

"Oberlin has an historic precedent for this," said Mark Fahringer, chair of the Catholic Action Commission of Lorain County. "They stood up to the slave-hunters with the Oberlin Rescue because the city was part of the Underground Railroad. That's the heritage we have here, and we have a responsibility to live up to it." [Chronicle-Telegram 11/9/08]


ICE agents returned to the Agriprocessors Inc. kosher meat processing plant in the small town of Postville, Iowa on Nov. 4 and arrested one suspected unauthorized worker, an ICE official said. Agents remained at the plant following the arrest, and frightened plant employees and their families quickly fled to the sanctuary of St. Bridget's Catholic Church, which has been providing support to Postville's immigrant population since ICE agents arrested 389 workers at the plant on May 12 [see INB 6/2/08]. "It's appalling that the federal agents chose today, Election Day, to spread fear amongst the residents of Postville," said Marissa Graciosa, director of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement. [Postville is in a mainly rural area in northeastern Iowa. Throughout northeastern Iowa, voters
overwhelmingly supported Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Nov. 4.] [Des Moines Register 11/5/08]

Agriprocessors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Nov. 4, prompting the cancellation of a hearing scheduled for Nov. 5 in US District Court in Cedar Rapids, where the company was to face its biggest lender, First Bank of St. Louis. Agriprocessors owes at least $33 million to First Bank. The bank is seeking to foreclose on the Postville plant and appoint a third party to oversee the company's assets.

The bankruptcy filing says Agriprocessors owes between 200 and 999 creditors. The company owes $845,390 to the Des Moines-based labor company Jacobson Staffing, which had served as its human-resources and recruitment arm. During the last week of October, Jacobson suspended its relationship with Agriprocessors and pulled out its 450 employees, leaving the slaughterhouse with about 250 workers. [AP 11/5/08; Houston Chronicle 11/5/08]

By Nov. 12, all but about 25 of 200 workers who came to the plant from the island nation of Palau had left Postville, said Joanne Obak, one of the Palau workers. The remaining workers from Palau, including Obak, all planned to leave soon. The plant has not processed beef in about two weeks, and shifts in the chicken and turkey departments have been cut back to eight hours a day, workers said. "[T]hose who still have jobs can't make it on eight hours a day," Obak explained. Jeff Abbas, manager of local radio station KPVL, said buses arrived on Nov. 12 to take away the last of the Agriprocessors workers hired by Jacobson Staffing and another recruitment firm, One Force Staffing. [The Gazette (Cedar Rapids) 11/13/08]

On Oct. 30, ICE agents arrested Agriprocessors former chief executive Sholom Rubashkin at his home in Postville. In a criminal complaint unsealed Oct. 30 in US District Court in Cedar Rapids, Rubashkin was charged with conspiring to harbor unauthorized immigrants for commercial gain, aiding and abetting document fraud, and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. Rubashkin was released on $1 million bail after a hearing; he faces a maximum of 22 years in prison if convicted on the federal charges.

According to the complaint, in the days before the raid, plant managers told many workers they would have to present valid identity documents or be fired. Two floor supervisors said they asked Rubashkin for a $4,500 loan to "help the employees who were to be terminated"; Rubashkin allegedly agreed to the cash loan on May 9. One supervisor said he loaned $200 each to about a dozen workers, who paid a line supervisor to buy fake documents. On May 11, the complaint charges, human resources managers worked all day under Rubashkin's supervision to fill out job applications for workers with new fake documents. [New York Times 10/31/08; Wall Street Journal 10/31/08; Washington Post 10/31/08; ICE News Release 10/30/08]

Agriprocessors supervisor Juan Carlos Guerrero-Espinoza pleaded guilty on Aug. 20 to conspiring to hire and aiding and abetting the hiring of unauthorized workers. Another supervisor, Martin de la Rosa, pleaded guilty to harboring charges on Aug. 27. [ICE News Release 8/27/08] The two supervisors were arrested at the plant on July 3 [see INB 7/5/08]. Agriprocessors human resources manager and payroll supervisor Laura Louise Althouse pleaded guilty on Oct. 29 to conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants for financial gain and aggravated identity theft. [ICE News Release 10/29/08] Althouse and human resources manager Karina Freund were arrested in September. Freund, a Spanish translator who helped process work papers, is charged with aiding and abetting unauthorized immigrants. [AP 10/30/08]

On Oct. 16 ICE spokesperson Tim Counts announced that 18 former Agriprocessors workers who were arrested in the May 12 raid had completed their five-month prison sentences for false document convictions at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami and had been released under supervision--with GPS electronic monitors on their ankles--to act as witnesses against Althouse and Freund. Less than a week after the workers completed their prison terms, federal agents had obtained warrants to hold them as material witnesses in the case; a federal judge then ordered that the workers be released with supervision. All 18 workers returned to Postville, where they are to remain for as long as federal prosecutors need them. They are eligible for work permits but will still face deportation after their cooperation is no longer needed. Court papers identified two of the workers as witnesses in the Freund case; the other 16 were listed as witnesses against Althouse. [It was unclear how Althouse's Oct. 29 guilty plea may have affected their situation.] Robert Teig, assistant US attorney for the northern district of Iowa, said his office planned to call as additional witnesses another 13 immigrants who had just finished federal prison sentences in Tallahassee and Miami. Tim Counts said ICE has asked US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to fast-track the immigrants' applications for work permits so they can find jobs. [Des Moines Register 10/17/08]

On Oct. 29, Iowa labor authorities levied $10 million in fines against Agriprocessors for wage violations. About $9.6 million of the fines were for 96,436 illegal deductions totaling $192,597, taken from the paychecks of 2,001 workers for protective clothing that packinghouse workers were required to wear. Iowa inspectors assessed fines at $100 per incident. Agriprocessors was also fined $339,700 for illegally deducting more than $72,000 from the paychecks of 1,073 workers for "sales tax." The company also failed to give final paychecks to 42 workers arrested in the raid, and owes $264,786 in back wages, Iowa officials said. The fines cover violations from January 2006 through June 2008. [NYT 10/29/08]

On Sept. 9, the Iowa attorney general charged several Agriprocessors officials including Sholom Rubashkin and his father, Agriprocessors founder Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, with 9,311 misdemeanor violations of state child labor laws. The charges allege that Agriprocessors illegally hired 32 minors--including seven who were not yet 16 years old at the time--over the eight months prior to the May 12 raid, exposed the youths to dangerous chemicals and allowed them to operate meat grinders, circular saws and other heavy machinery. [WP 10/31/08; NYT 9/10/08]

The Oct. 30 arrest of Sholom Rubashkin appeared designed to appease those who had criticized the May 12 ICE raid in Postville as punishing the plant's workers and not the employer. "Today, we are seeing concrete accountability in Postville, though it should not have taken the destruction of a town and cost more than five million taxpayer dollars to get here," said US Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois who is a strong supporter of immigrants' rights. [WP 10/31/08] Rubashkin's arrest came a day after the New York Times reported: "No federal charges have been brought against senior managers and owners of Agriprocessors." [NYT 10/29/08]


In a five-day operation from Nov. 3 through Nov. 7--the week of the Nov. 4 presidential elections--ICE arrested 96 "immigration fugitives" and 15 "immigration violators" in southern and central Florida. ICE made 43 arrests in Miami-Dade County, 23 in Broward County, 13 in Palm Beach County, 16 in Orlando and 16 in Tampa. [The raids, announced on Nov. 7, were all in areas where Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain.] Of the total 111 people arrested, 20 had criminal records. ICE released 42 people under supervision (presumably with electronic ankle monitors) as part of the Alternatives to Detention Program after verifying that they were sole caregivers or had medical concerns. The other 69 people remained in ICE custody as of Nov. 7. Those arrested were from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Peru, Cuba, Honduras, Argentina, Dominica, Guyana, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Tunisia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, China, Jamaica, Romania, and El Salvador. [ICE News Release 11/7/08; Miami Herald 11/8/08]

On Nov. 6, Florida activists urged President-Elect Obama to call a moratorium on ICE raids until Congress passes an immigration reform bill that includes a path to legalization. Obama's office responded that "our position is well-known" and that Obama's commitment "to immigration reform and all the important issues for Latinos in the US still stands." [New California Media 11/9/08]


On Oct. 25, immigration detainee Mamadou Bah escaped from Delaney Hall, a private detention facility in Newark, New Jersey which was holding 120 immigration detainees under contract with the federal government. Essex County corrections director Scott Faunce would not comment on how Bah was able to get out of the facility. ICE spokesperson in Newark Harold Ort said Bah had been turned over to the immigration agency after being convicted of fraud in Essex County, and that he was picked up by an ICE fugitive unit in Kentucky four days after his escape. Ort declined to disclose Bah's country of origin. Essex County officials have moved the remaining immigration detainees to the county jail and will keep them there while investigators from the county and ICE review the circumstances of the escape. Delaney Hall began taking federal detainees earlier this year under contract with ICE and the US Marshals Service, which pay the facility $105 a day for each detainee, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. [Star-Ledger 11/2/08]


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, November 2, 2008

INB 11/2/08: Youth March in San Francisco; Indian Workers Arrested

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 26 - November 2, 2008

1. Youth March in San Francisco
2. Indian Workers Arrested in North Dakota
3. South Dakota Dairy Farms Raided
4. Construction Raid in Alabama

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


Hundreds of high school and college students from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area skipped class on Halloween morning, Oct. 31, to participate in a youth-led "Stop the Raids" protest against immigration enforcement in downtown San Francisco. Transit officials shut down the Fruitvale and Coliseum BART stations in Oakland and the Richmond BART station after hundreds of East Bay students entered the stations and tried to board trains to San Francisco without paying. Officials kept the stations closed for more than an hour. Some BART trains bound for San Francisco were delayed at the West Oakland station by protesters who held doors open and demanded that the Fruitvale station be reopened, passengers and BART officials said. Three people were detained at the Richmond station. [San Francisco Chronicle 11/1/08]

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) police detained Oakland Tribune videographer Jane Tyska and confiscated her videotape as she was filming the student protest outside the Fruitvale BART station. Tyska was released about a half hour later without citation. Tyska said OUSD Police Chief Art Michel grazed her with his car as she was walking backwards, videotaping protesters in the middle of the street. Michel then stopped his car, began yelling profanities at her and accused her of hitting his car and inciting a riot, Tyska said. "I immediately identified myself as a photographer for the Oakland Tribune, showed him my press pass, and said I was just doing my job, but he continued yelling and screaming profanities and said he was going to arrest me. I asked the officer why it was illegal for me to shoot from the street and he said it was a 'moving crime scene'. To my knowledge, there is no such thing, and photographers are always in the middle of the action at protests." Troy Flint, the spokesman for the Oakland school district, accused Tyska of elbowing the police car as Michel drove by. "The officer confiscated the tape as alleged evidence of the photographer's interference with his ability to conduct his responsibilities, which in this case was protecting student-protesters," Flint said. [Oakland Tribune 10/31/08]

The protest in San Francisco began with a morning rally at Ferry Park on the Embarcadero. Around noon, hundreds of people (about 400 according to the San Francisco Chronicle) marched peacefully through the downtown financial district to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building, demanding an end to immigration raids, detention and deportation. Many of the marchers wore skull makeup or other Halloween costumes. The march tied up traffic on several streets. At the immigration building, about 100 protesters took part in civil disobedience, at least a dozen of them linking themselves together or chaining themselves to oil drums to block a vehicle entrance. Police decided to wait them out and made no arrests. "What we are doing is shutting down ICE with our bodies. We are blocking a major entrance where the vans go in and out," said protester Inez Sunwoo. [SF Chronicle 11/1/08; Bay Area Indymedia (article & photos) updated 11/2/08; KGO-TV (San Francisco) 10/31/08]

Sagnicthe Salazar, a protest organizer from a youth group called Huaxtex, said protesters had jumped fare gates because they were organized independently and had no funding. "This was a peaceful protest. We were not trying to start anything," said 17-year old Kenya Ramirez, who traveled from San Diego for the rally. "We were just trying to get our message out. Our message is civil disobedience." [SF Chronicle 11/1/08]

The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter National Lawyers Guild (NLGSF) issued a statement in support of the protesters. "The NLGSF deplores BART's station closures which prevented hundreds of East Bay high school students from reaching the demonstration today at [ICE] headquarters in downtown San Francisco," the organization said. "These are young people who care about their communities and their loved ones," said NLGSF executive director Carlos Villarreal. "Our legal support team first heard about the BART closures this morning and we think it is unfortunate that our public transit system took such extreme measures, preventing these young people from exercising their First Amendment rights."

Among other incidents, the protesters were reacting to a series of ICE raids in the Bay Area on Oct. 22 which allegedly targeted gang members. In the sweep, dubbed "Operation Devil Horns," ICE agents violently invaded 11 residences, setting off explosive devices and pointing high-powered weapons at children. [NLGSF Statement 10/31/08] ICE announced the operation in an Oct. 23 news release, saying it had taken into custody 26 of 29 people indicted in a racketeering probe targeting the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang. Of the 29 people indicted, 22 face charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and seven face non-racketeering charges.

ICE said it executed nearly two dozen search warrants and 20 arrest warrants in the operation, and also served search and arrest warrants at eight correctional facilities in California where 15 of the defendants named in the indictment were already jailed on other charges. ICE said four other individuals who were not named in the indictment were arrested on criminal charges in the sweep along with "11 gang members and gang associates" picked up on administrative immigration violations.

Agencies providing support during the operation included the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the California Highway Patrol; the California Department of Justice; the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement; the San Mateo County Gang Task Force; and the Richmond, San Francisco and South San Francisco police departments. During the three-year investigation that preceded the raids, ICE got help from the DEA; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the California Highway Patrol; the San Francisco Police Department; and other local law enforcement agencies. In addition, the Salvadoran National Police and ICE's Attaché Office in El Salvador aided with the case by conducting searches and interviews of MS-13 associates in El Salvador. Over the course of the probe, 17 other alleged gang members were taken into custody on criminal charges; some of them are also named in the 52-count indictment unsealed on Oct. 23. [ICE News Release 10/23/08]


On Oct. 28, ICE agents arrested 23 workers from India at the construction site for an ethanol plant near Casselton, North Dakota. All 23 had been hired several months ago to work for Wanzek Construction Inc. of Fargo. A task force led by ICE made the arrests without incident when the workers showed up for what had been announced as a staff meeting at the Wanzek Construction office west of West Fargo. The raid was prompted by a tip from Wanzek Construction. Company president Jon Wanzek said members of his staff contacted authorities after noticing irregularities on the workers' identity documents, a few weeks after they were hired. The workers "just went through the normal process" to get hired, Wanzek said. "They just came in and applied just like everyone else." Company officials "have cooperated throughout the investigation in this case and they are to be complimented for making this investigation possible at all through their initial report," said Drew Wrigley, US Attorney for North Dakota.

All 23 workers face federal felony charges for possession of counterfeit documents. They also are accused of falsely claiming they were US citizens. Wrigley said they entered the US legally on a temporary worker visa and were issued a temporary social security card. "What happened then, we allege, is that they subsequently got counterfeit social security cards which look the same, have the same number which is legitimate for them but now doesn't have the limiting information on it. That opens a whole variety of opportunities for them, for employment and then to overstay that visa," Wrigley said. The false Social Security cards also enabled them to obtain driver's licenses from Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi and Nebraska, said Wrigley. [The Forum (Fargo) 10/28/08, 11/1/08; Grand Forks Herald (ND) 10/29/08 from The Forum; Minnesota Public Radio 10/29/08; AP 10/29/08; (Bismarck, ND) 10/28/08]

According to the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, the workers arrested in North Dakota were among a group of some 500 people trafficked to the US after Hurricane Katrina by Gulf Coast employer Signal International, LLC and subjected to forced labor in Mississippi and Texas labor camps. The workers escaped the labor camps earlier this year, reported the company's human trafficking to the Department of Justice, filed a federal class action lawsuit in New Orleans against Signal International and labor recruiters in the US and India, and held a march to Washington and a hunger strike to demand protection as witnesses to trafficking [see INB 3/29/08, 6/22/08]. The criminal trafficking investigation triggered by their protest is still open.

Upon realizing that they were being targeted by ICE, the workers in North Dakota presented letters explaining they were victims and witnesses to the federal crime of human trafficking. The letter listed their attorney's name and contact information. They communicated that they did not want to be questioned without legal counsel. ICE summarily refused the workers' requests and questioned them individually without attorneys or interpreters.

"It is an outrage that workers who courageously came forward at great personal risk to cooperate with the Department of Justice in a federal trafficking investigation were targeted by ICE and then denied access to their own legal counsel," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. "Why isn't ICE spending national resources investigating criminal traffickers, instead of targeting and terrifying the victims?" asked Saket Soni, director of the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. "Since these workers have come forward to report Signal International, LLC, to the Department of Justice, they have faced ICE surveillance, ICE arrests, and now an ICE sting operation." [New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice 10/29/08]

On Oct. 31, the 23 workers made a court appearance at the Cass County Jail, with three interpreters communicating via speaker phone. Hearings are usually held at the federal courthouse. "There's some logistical difficulties, as you might imagine, with a case that involves 23 defendants all coming in en masse like this," Wrigley said. US Magistrate Judge Karen Klein set the detention hearing for next Nov. 7 after defense lawyers asked for more time to prepare. Nick Chase, assistant US attorney, told the magistrate that he expects a federal grand jury will consider the evidence against the workers early in the week of Nov. 3. [The Forum (Fargo) 10/28/08, 11/1/08; AP 10/29/08]


On Oct. 29, ICE agents raided several dairy farms in northeastern South Dakota, arresting 27 people. The South Dakota Highway Patrol said it arrested 13 people for having false identity documents; ICE arrested 14 others on administrative immigration charges for allegedly being in the US without permission. One of the raided dairies was operated by Prairie Ridge Management in Veblen; the others were not identified. ICE spokesperson in Minnesota Tim Counts said an investigation began three months earlier when a man stopped by the Highway Patrol presented suspicious documents. He says further investigation revealed others who were using invalid or stolen Social Security numbers to register vehicles. The raid involved six law enforcement agencies, including ICE. [AP 10/30/08; KELOLAND TV (Sioux Falls, SD) 10/30/08; (Sioux Falls) 10/29/08]


Just before 6pm on Oct. 24, local police in Alabaster, Alabama, acting in cooperation with ICE, served a warrant at Rodriguez Construction in connection with a two-year investigation into businesses and individuals employing unauthorized workers. A helicopter hovered above the site during the raid. Temple Black, regional spokesperson for ICE in New Orleans, said 31 male Mexican immigrants were detained. Two of the men--a father and son--were released after questioning. The others were transferred to the Perry County Correctional Center in Uniontown to be held pending deportation. [Shelby County Reporter 10/27/08]


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