Immigrant Raids Swell Across the Country
I've gone ahead and reposted a weekly report that is produced by Immigration News Briefs, whose umbrella organization is the Nicaragua Solidarity Network.
They do great work, and this is an issue that is escallating, as it seems all "evils" are on the rise these days.
Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 35 - September 23, 2006
1. House Passes More Anti-Immigrant Bills
2. Day Labor Raid in Connecticut
3. Colorado Air Base Raided
4. GA: 30 Arrested in Workplace Raid
5. WA: Industrial Laundry Raided
6. IL: Chinese Buffet Raided
7. FL: Raid on Prison Roofers
8. Mississippi Country Club Raided
9. "Return to Sender" Hits Michigan
NOTE: Immigration News Briefs will not be published for the next three weeks.
It will resume on Oct. 21.
Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the
Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New
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*1. HOUSE PASSES MORE ANTI-IMMIGRANT BILLS
On Sept. 21, the House of Representatives voted 328-95 to approve HR 6094--the "Community Protection Act of 2006"--an anti-immigrant bill which would allow indefinite detention, overturning the Supreme Court's June 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis ruling. The bill would also allow noncitizens to be quickly deported if the government believes they are gang members, and would bar suspected gang members from obtaining political asylum. The same day, the House voted 277-140 to pass HR 6095--the Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006--which would authorize state and local police to enforce federal immigration law, expand expedited removal, limit appeals and lawsuits in immigration cases and revoke the Orantes injunction, which protects Salvadorans from expedited removal. A third bill, passed unanimously, would impose a 20-year prison sentence for creating or financing a tunnel under the US border.
The Senate is due to consider these measures during the week of Sept. 25. On
Sept. 22 the Senate was debating a border fence bill approved by the House on
Sept. 14 [see INB 9/16/06]. It is possible that proponents of the enforcement
bills will seek to attach them to Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
appropriations bills which have already passed both houses and are being
reconciled in committee. Advocates are urging people who support immigrant
rights to contact their senators immediately to express opposition to these
bills. [National Immigration Law Center (NILC) Urgent Update 9/21/06; Los
Angeles Times 9/22/06; Washington Times 9/22/06; AP 9/22/06]
*2. DAY LABOR RAID IN CONNECTICUT
On Sep. 19, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 11
out-of-status day laborers from Ecuador who were waiting for jobs near Kennedy
Park in Danbury, Connecticut. Danbury police helped ICE with the sweep. Police
Capt. Robert Myles said his agency alerted ICE after receiving numerous
complaints from residents, and after warning the day laborers to stay out of
the roadway and in Kennedy Park. "The daily warnings which were given for a
period of over two months were ignored and [ICE] was called for assistance,"
"If they are having problems, why don't they call leaders and community organizations and have a meeting to pass this information down and find a solution?" asked Wilson Hernandez, founder of the Ecuadoran Civic Center in Danbury, on Sept. 20. A day after the raids, the number of day laborers at Kennedy Park was down by about 80% over previous days. [Danbury News Times 9/20/06, 9/21/06] Danbury mayor Mark Boughton is a fierce proponent of tougher immigration policies; with New York's Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy he co-founded the Mayors and County Executives for Immigration Reform, a lobbying group that calls for stepped-up enforcement measures and federal compensation to local governments for costs associated with immigration. [www.supportreform.org]
*3. COLORADO AIR BASE RAIDED
On Sept. 20, ICE agents arrested 120 immigrant workers at a housing- construction site at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado. The raided site is within a mile of what the Denver Post called "top-secret global- surveillance and missile early-warning facilities." At least 45 ICE agents took part in the operation, in partnership with officials from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI).
Air Force officials on the Buckley base blamed their contractor, Texas-based Hunt Building Co., a leading provider of military housing including facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hunt's superintendent on the project, Bruce Jackson, said he had no idea the workers were undocumented. "Certainly not," Jackson said. Hunt has 24 subcontractors, said Stephanie Shuhayda, Jackson's office manager. Jeff Copp, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Denver, said ICE will work with military special investigations officials "to identify the culpability between the subcontractors and employees and anyone else involved." The investigation that led to the raid was carried out over several months with help from federal labor officials and Aurora police, Copp said.
The $78 million, 353-unit housing project is immediately adjacent to the military base, but not actually on it. According to Abel Madera, a masonry subcontractor at the site, US military officials "know a lot of illegal people don't have IDs," so they set up the construction project to give workers access without having to pass through military checkpoints. Hunt officials said once the housing is completed, a wall will be built around it and it will then become part of the military base. The project began in January 2005 and was scheduled for completion "sometime next year," according to Shuhayda, the Hunt office manager.
An ICE news release said the arrested workers were all men, ages 18 to 50, from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Officials with the Mexican consulate in Denver said they were told by ICE that 98 immigrants, including three minors, were put on a bus to Mexico the day of the raid, Sept. 20. ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok confirmed that 98 of the workers were returned to Mexico because agents determined they had no criminal records. Three workers were found to have outstanding criminal warrants and were turned over to the Aurora Police Department. [Denver Post 9/20/06; Rocky Mountain News 9/20/06; El Paso Times 9/22/06; ICE News Release 9/20/06]
*4. GA: 30 ARRESTED IN WORKPLACE RAID
Early on Sept. 14 in Alpharetta, Georgia, ICE agents and local deputies arrested 30 men from Latin America who were employed by Forsyth Curb Co. Inc., a company specializing in curbs and gutters. According to the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, 20 of the workers are facing charges of first-degree forgery and identity theft because they used false documents to get their jobs; the other 10 are in ICE custody facing deportation. Sheriff's Capt. Paul Taylor said in a statement that the operation was "the result of an ongoing investigation " by his office and ICE. "It's a great example of local, state and federal agencies working together," said Taylor. The raid stems from an investigation last January in which Forsyth Sheriff's officials arrested six people for producing fake immigration and Social Security documents. A federal grand jury indicted the members of the alleged forgery ring in April. In July authorities gave the owner of Forsyth Curb Co. notice that employees were using bogus identification, Lt. Col. Gene Moss said. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution 9/15/06; Gainesville Times 9/15/06]
*5. WA: INDUSTRIAL LAUNDRY RAIDED
On Aug. 30, ICE agents arrested 26 Mexican immigrant workers in a raid at Northwest Health Care Linen, an industrial laundry in Bellingham, Washington that supplies linens to Puget Sound area hospitals. The agents had a sealed civil search warrant, according to ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice. The raid followed an audit of I-9 forms and other employment records; Northwest Health Care Linen owner Jim Hall said the agent investigating his business promised to give him a list of employees with questionable documents within 60 days. Instead, agents carried out the raid, an "extremely emotional event," said Hall, that could have been avoided. The company was shut down for two hours as armed agents in bulletproof vests interviewed workers, according to Hall. As of Sept. 1, 21 of the workers remained in custody at ICE's Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. The other five were released to care for children, Kice said. All face possible deportation. [Bellingham Herald 9/2/06]
*6. IL: CHINESE BUFFET RAIDED
On Sept. 20, ICE agents arrested 16 employees in a raid at Buffet City in Springfield, Illinois. The arrested workers are two women and eight men from China, and six men from Mexico. The restaurant's co-owner, Xiang Hui Ye, was also arrested and is being held by the US Marshals Service; on Sept. 21 he was charged in federal court with concealing or harboring "illegal aliens" and hiring or recruiting them for employment. The raid came a day before the Illinois Times named Buffet City as its readers' favorite buffet restaurant.
According to an affidavit by ICE special agent Brian Withers, Hui Ye provided housing for the workers in apartments near the restaurant. The affidavit says the restaurant underpaid workers $266,366 over a two-year period, as found in a review of Buffet City payroll information by a US Department of Labor (DOL) investigator. The affidavit says the investigation began on Jan. 15, 2005, when senior special ICE agent Tom Merchant received a phone call from a man who said he had been fired from Buffet City because he had told Hui Ye that he did not like working with "illegal aliens." The restaurant was placed under surveillance later that month. In April 2005, Merchant received a request for assistance from DOL investigator Fred Wrightman, who said he had received a complaint from a Buffet City employee about wage violations. In December 2005, five undocumented Mexicans who had worked at Buffet City were arrested near the restaurant. [State Journal-Register (Springfield) 9/22/06]
*7. FL: RAID ON PRISON ROOFERS
On Sept. 7, ICE arrested 15 immigrants employed by a roofing contractor doing work at the Federal Correctional Institution in South Miami-Dade, Florida. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officers at the facility initially detained three workers there on suspicion of fraudulent documents; the BOP officers then contacted ICE, which dispatched investigators. ICE Miami spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez said 13 of the detained men were from Mexico and two were from Guatemala. They all allegedly used fraudulent documents to get their jobs. All 15 were transported to the Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade and put in deportation proceedings, Gonzalez said. [Miami Herald 9/17/06]
*8. MISSISSIPPI COUNTRY CLUB RAIDED
On Sept. 13, ICE agents served warrants on the Country Club of Jackson, Mississippi, and arrested 18 suspected out-of-status workers there. All those arrested were employees of the country club, according to ICE spokesperson Temple Black. "Any folks ... who are a menace to the community, we will turn over to the US attorney for prosecution," Black said. The rest will be issued a "notice to appear" before an immigration judge, who will review their case, said Black. [Clarion-Ledger (Jackson) 9/14/06; WLBT 3 (Jackson) 9/13/06] Eleven workers were arrested Aug. 23 in a similar raid at a country club in Little Rock, Arkansas [see INB 9/2/06].
*9. "RETURN TO SENDER" HITS MICHIGAN
In "Return to Sender" raids from Sept. 8 to 13, ICE agents arrested 55 people, 11 of them with prior criminal records, in the area around Lansing, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek in western Michigan. Those arrested were from Burma, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Turkey and Yugoslavia. One man with a prior criminal record faces charges for having reentered after being previously deported. Most were detained in the Calhoun County Correctional Facility for processing and deportation. While ICE claimed all those without criminal records had ignored deportation orders, Grand Rapids Attorney Richard Kessler, who specializes in immigration law, said some were merely "in the wrong place at the wrong time," detained because they were at the home of the individuals being sought. The sheriff's offices of Calhoun and Kent counties provided "significant assistance" to the operation, ICE said. [Grand Rapids Press 9/16/06; AP 9/14/06]
> From October 2005 to August 2006, ICE fugitive operations teams arrested more
than 24,000 people nationwide, of whom "more than 9,000" had criminal convictions, says ICE. According to ICE, "more than 6,800" of those arrested have been removed from the US. ICE currently has 45 fugitive operations teams across the US and expects to have 52 by the end of 2006. [ICE News Release 9/11/06]
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