Immigrant Rights News - Thurs, March 20, 2008
Immigrant Rights News – Thurs, March 20, 2008
1. Frontera NorteSur (FNS): “Femicide Resurfaces in
2. Home News Tribune: “Petition cites detainee's death. Middlesex jail draws scrutiny”
3. The New Mexican: “Immigration advocates say prison expansion will only compound problems”
4. Bloomberg News: “Bush Crackdown on Illegal Aliens Stretches Marshals to Limit”
5. Beaufort Gazette: “Federal ID program deadline looms with 3 governors holding out”
Frontera NorteSur (FNS)
March 20, 2008: Women’s/Human Rights News
Femicide Resurfaces in
Once again, the spectre of femicide is haunting
A 16-year-old student at
Her sexually assaulted and severely beaten body was discovered on Thursday, March 13 off the highway that leads from the
Lujan’s body was discovered in the same area where the corpses of other femicide victims were found in the past, including 16-year-old ECCO computer school student Paloma Angelica Escobar, who disappeared in 2002 under similar circumstances as Lujan did and almost six years to the day of the latest victim’s murder. The Chihuahua-Aldama highway zone is near the headquarters of the
The Lujan slaying bore resemblances to other women’s killings that struck
“Let there be no doubt, we will get the murderers of Paulina,” vowed Chihuahua Governor Jose Reyes Baeza, adding that authorities would not fabricate scapegoats in the murder case.
According to PGJE spokesman Rene Medrano, 18 persons have rendered declarations in connection with the Lujan crime. A young man who’s been mentioned as a posible suspect, Alexis Garcia, complained that presumed friends and family members of Lujan unfairly have harassed him. Garcia said he had “nothing to do with the crime.” Early press accounts of the Lujan murder mention the possibility that the victim could have met her killer via an Internet blog and e-mail.
Paulina Lujan was the fourth women murdered in
Additionally, the Lujan crime occurred within a broader context of escalating violence in the region involving organized crime gangs and Mexican security forces. Two days prior to Lujan’s disappearance, Mexican soldiers and suspected members of the Sinaloa drug cartel engaged in a bloody
Youths, meanwhile, demanded greater security for
Sources: El Heraldo de Chihuahua, March 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 2008.
Articles by Jorge Armendáriz, Ever Haro Guillen, Octavio Marquez, E. Fernandez, Ernesto Topete, Jose Hernandez Berrios, David Pinon Balderrama, and Manuel Ruiz. La Jornada, March 15, 2008.
Article by Miroslava Breach B. Lapolaka.com, March 13, 2008. Cimacnoticias.com, March 6, 2008.
Article by Dora Villalobos Mendoza.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border
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Home News Tribune
Petition cites detainee’s death
Middlesex jail draws scrutiny
Home News Tribune Online 03/15/08
By KEN SERRANO
The man, detained under the name Arturo Alvarez, died March 2 at St. Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick after suffering a heart attack at the jail Feb. 29, authorities said.
A petition signed by 93 detainees was sent to Michael Chertoff, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Attorney General Michael Mukasey, complaining about what the detainees called a lack of medical treatment for the heart-attack victim and another man at the jail.
The petition contends that Alvarez asked for help and was given Tylenol and his own medication, "but no doctor was available to see him."
Nicki Newby, an organizer for the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee, said the group plans to call on the
"We've heard similar stories from other jails in
Michael Gilhooly, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement, denied the allegation of medical neglect.
"When it became apparent that the individual was ill, he received proper medical care," Gilhooly said. "We take the health and welfare of our people very seriously."
As with the deaths of all detainees, the case has been referred to the bureau's internal affairs office, said Mark Vogler, assistant field office director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement's detection and removal office in
The dead man's real name was Arturo Suarez-Almenares, and he was 72, Gilhooly said.
Officials with knowledge of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release details of Suarez-Almenares, said he arrived from
A few years later, Suarez-Almenares started establishing a lengthy criminal history in
State Department of Corrections records have him listed as Arturo Saurez.
An order of removal was long ago made final against Suarez-Almenares, Gilhooly said. But Cuban nationals cannot be repatriated because of edicts by the Castro government. So they live in a sort of immigration limbo and are kept in a permanent probation-like program that requires them to maintain contact with immigration authorities.
Gilhooly said Suarez-Almenares was about to be released when he fell ill.
A friend of Suarez-Almenares, Avello Guillermo of
Guillermo was unsure if Suarez-Almenares had family, although he has heard of a sister in
Gilhooly said there is no known next of kin.
For now, his body will remain at St. Peter's morgue. If no one claims his remains, the federal government is obligated to bury him, Gilhooly said.
The petition also alleged the neglect of a detainee identified as Cemar Koc.
The petition claims the detainee complained of pain to a first shift duty officer, got no help, and after complaining to a second-shift officer lost consciousness.
Les Paschall, CEO of CFG Health Systems, a limited liability corporation that runs medical and mental-health services at the
Paschall said he could not confirm that a detainee by the name of Koc was at the jail, also citing security restrictions, but he said he is investigating the neglect claim.
The company's parent corporation is Center for Family Guidance, based in Marlton.
Gilhooly said the medical services there are routinely inspected along with the facility. They were last inspected in April 2007 and are scheduled for another review this month.
Newby said the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee is focused more on Immigration and Customs Enforcement than the medical services provider, although they are still trying to find out more about both.
"The death of Arturo Alvarez, like at least sixty other deaths in detention in the
The county jail receives about $100 a day per detainee, said Ed Cicchi, warden of the jail. That payment is largely a profit since detainees are taking up otherwise empty space.
The contract allows for up to 187 detainees to be kept there, although the number fluctuates.
Cicchi declined to discuss Suarez-Almenares' death or the claim about Koc, citing restrictions in the jail's contract with Immigration authorities.
The New Mexican
Bryan Gibel | For The New Mexican
A privately operated prison designed for detained immigrants will be ready to open three months from now in a remote location in
Last May, the county issued more than $62 million in bonds to pay for the 1,086-bed processing center. The facility will be able to admit up to 250 immigrants per day and generate more than $25 million in annual revenue for the county when it reaches full capacity.
Because of more aggressive enforcement actions, demand for facilities like this to house people accused of running afoul of
Even before construction began in Chaparral, N.M., Immigration and Customs Enforcement indicated an interest in expanding the facility to 2,000 beds, according to documents prepared for
As the numbers of people detained has grown, so have complaints about their treatment in privately operated facilities. ICE pulled all 600 of its detainees from the
The company also operates a facility for immigrant detainees in
Management and Training currently manages the Otero County Prison Facility next door to the new processing center in Chaparral. Immigrant-rights advocates say they repeatedly hear complaints about practices there.
ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa declined to comment on when the new facility will open. She said the deal with the county hasn't been finalized.
ICE will pay $78 a day to house detainees awaiting deportation or transfer in Otero II. It will have courtrooms and administrative offices as well as a fleet of at least 15 buses and vans.
Conditions for detainees in Chaparral
Detainees who come to
"We hear repeatedly from people that beg us if there's anything we can do so that they can stay here and not have to go back to the Otero facility," Olguín said. "We've gotten reports of lack of access to medical care. There's virtually (no) library. They are very, very secluded out there."
DMRS is the only organization with regular access to the Otero prison, and that is limited, according to Olguín. It is difficult to obtain first-person stories from most immigrants because when they leave the facility, they are deported.
However, some detainees have complained of being held in solitary confinement in Chaparral, even though many are detained without criminal charges, said Edgar Maldonado, a DMRS representative who visits the prison once a week to give a presentation on the deportation process.
"We'll hear that detainees are put in the "shu" because they didn't do this or that. It's kind of like solitary," he said. "They're put in there if they don't behave, cause problems or don't follow the rules. It varies. Sometimes they'll be in a week."
Olguín also said her organization has seen problems gaining access to health care, and had to contact ICE directly to get at least one issue resolved.
"We had to intervene in the particular case of one man," she said. "His family was frantic, because when he'd been detained, he'd been detained without his medication, which he needed to have, and his health was really deteriorating. We had to complain to the ICE officials here in
Maldonado said the incident happened in the summer of 2007. The man was probably a diabetic and was having trouble walking, he said.
Federal authorities are also investigating the death of a Korean woman who died at an
It is not clear where the detainees went after ICE pulled them out last July. But
Zamarripa declined to comment on any of the specific allegations of mistreatment "because of the detainees' privacy rights." But she said ICE regularly monitors complaints from its detainees in Otero County to make sure ICE detention standards are met and, "We haven't encountered any complaints of the nature that have been described." A Management and Training spokesman referred all questions to ICE.
Limited access to legal representation
In addition to complaints about harsh conditions, detainees in Chaparral hardly ever have legal representation because there are no free legal services in
That means lawyers have to travel in from
"If you talk to most attorneys, they don't really want to go out there," he said. "It's not very far, but when you factor in the travel time and the time it takes them to bring the detainee over to you, it adds up. That makes it more difficult for people who are detained out there to get representation."
DMRS has repeatedly raised issues with ICE about detainees' inability to make phone calls to nonprofit organizations for legal advice, Olguín said.
"One of the prison standards requires that detainees be able to make free calls to the nearest nonprofit organization that can potentially provide assistance," she said. "With Otero, detainees needed to give the prison staff the numbers they want to call so they can be placed on a special permission list. The problem is, if you're an immigration detainee, you don't know our number, so you can't give it to the detention facility staff."
The situation has improved since the prison posted contact information for nonprofit legal services for immigrants, but detainees still complain of difficulty getting a working line and having to pay for their phone calls with calling cards, Olguín said.
Maldonado said providing legal advice and responding to the grievances of immigrant detainees at the
"I hear complaints, and the reality is that we don't really have the resources to get involved and to double check that things have been resolved," he said. "The new facility is almost ready to be opened up. I'm not sure what we're going to do when that happens, because we're already swamped."
BY THE NUMBERS
283,000: Number of people detained on immigration charges in FY 2007
30,000: Number of beds available for detainees
400: Number of facilities to house detainees
1,086: Capacity of Otero II
$25 million: Anticipated yearly revenue to the county from Otero II
Bush Crackdown on Illegal Aliens Stretches Marshals to Limit
By Jeff Bliss
March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Richard Tracy used to help ensure that Southwest Airlines Co. planes stayed on schedule. Nowadays, he's directing traffic of a different sort: a surge of illegal immigrants into the criminal justice system.
Tracy supervises 21 deputy marshals in the federal courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, where they guard a growing number of people facing criminal charges for illegally entering the U.S. ``We are in a pinch every day,'' said Tracy, 43, who tracks his officers' movement with magnets on a white board in the lobby.
Two months after the Bush administration expanded a program to haul undocumented residents off to jail instead of shipping them home, the U.S. Marshals Service is overwhelmed.
The 600 marshals stationed on the border with
are dealing with as many as 6,000 new defendants a month. That's taking them away from other tasks such as capturing escaped prisoners and rounding up sex offenders, according to Justice Department documents obtained by Bloomberg News. Mexico
David Gonzales, the head marshal in Arizona, said ``Operation Streamline'' shows how a well-intentioned program to crack down on illegal aliens can be undermined by inadequate funding and the strain it places on all layers of the criminal- justice system.
``You can only stretch people so far,'' Gonzales said.
In January, the Bush administration -- impressed with the program's success near
Del Rio, Texas, where it started in 2005 -- began a version of it in , and plans to bring it to other parts of the border in the next few years. Tucson
Support in Congress
Congressional supporters said the program's been so effective that they want to implement it along the entire 1,952- mile border with Mexico, where about 1 million undocumented immigrants are apprehended every year, most to be quickly returned to their native countries.
``The uncontrolled flood of illegal immigrants is unacceptable,'' said Representative John Culberson, a Texas Republican who has fought to increase the program's funding.
Ron Colburn, deputy chief of the Border Patrol, which arrests the immigrants who are later detained by the marshals, said Operation Streamline was designed to work within the limited resources of the criminal-justice system.
``We would probably freeze the entire court system in one day'' if every illegal immigrant was prosecuted, Colburn said. ``It's selective prosecution.''
Desperate for Resources
Yet if Culberson and his allies have their way, the border court and detention system, already overburdened by drug, sex and violent crime cases, will buckle without more resources, defense lawyers say.
The lawyers said the program processes so many defendants so fast -- which is how Operation Streamline got its name -- that some may not get fair trials.
ssss``Things are moving so quickly, somebody may slip between the cracks,'' said Heather Williams, supervisor of the public defender's office in
An internal report in January by the Marshals Service said, ``The sheer number of prisoners'' along the border ``makes finding sufficient detention space on a daily basis particularly challenging.''
Operation Streamline's defenders said it's been effective at low cost, requiring only about $4 million in fiscal 2008.
Before the program started, illegal crossers had so little to fear from prosecution that hundreds would walk up to Border Patrol agents daily asking for notices to appear in court, officials said. The immigrants would then fail to show up for the hearings, disappearing into the country's interior.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the program is aimed at clamping down on crime, adding that Bush wants to spend $100 million next fiscal year for border anti-crime efforts, including prosecuting illegal crossers. ``That request is supporting the administration's commitment to reduce illegal immigration,'' Stanzel said.
That commitment is played out every day in
, where convicted immigrants are jailed an average of 30 days before being deported. If caught again, they can be tried as felons. Del Rio
Now, only a trickle of immigrants hazard the crossing at
Del Rio, according to the Border Patrol, which has expanded the program to Laredo, Texas, and . Yuma, Arizona
, arrests dropped 70 percent in the first 12 months after Operation Streamline was expanded there in 2006, as immigrants turned back or looked for other areas to cross, the Border Patrol said. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents in 2008. Yuma
Congress, however, hasn't provided enough resources to process all the people picked up, said
's head marshal. Gonzales, Arizona
``We're years away from dealing with the large numbers'' of agents at the border, he said. ``It's a whole system you have to think about.''
last week, 50 defendants sat in a courtroom with earphones as an interpreter relayed the charges. They answered the judge's questions in unison until they received sentences ranging from time served to 180 days, depending on whether they had previously attempted to cross. Tucson
For the marshals under
, who once helped run Southwest Air's ground operations, cell phones and BlackBerry e-mail devices are as essential as firearms, since they must dash between courtrooms while communicating with each other. Space is at a premium in the courthouse cellblock. Tracy
`Crazy in Here'
``It gets kind of crazy in here,'' said Raymond Kondo, assistant chief deputy
U.S. marshal in . Tucson
The immigration workload has left the marshals struggling to enforce a law requiring them to go after sex offenders who fail to register with their communities, a Feb. 20 internal report said.
They are ``being forced to balance the apprehension of child predators and sex offenders against the judicial security requirements'' of handling immigrant detainees, the report said.
Border-detention facilities are in danger of overflowing, the report from January said.
``If you don't have'' more court resources, ``you're setting up a very expensive hotel system,'' said Victor Cerda, former chief counsel at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The 100 new deputy marshals funded in this year's budget and the 52 positions created in the agency's $933 million proposed budget for fiscal 2009 fall short of the 220 deputies the service wanted for enforcement in 2006.
No funds have been provided for the 500 additional deputies and 125 administrative employees the marshals estimate they need to help round up fugitive sex offenders.
Representative Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat and Operation Streamline booster, said the initial flood of cases ebbs when illegal aliens realize the penalties they face.
``The spike goes down after a while,'' Cuellar said.
While Cuellar and Culberson said they're pushing for more funding, money won't be enough without jail space and other resources, said Johnny Sutton, the U.S. attorney for the West Texas district where the program began.
``You can't just wave a magic wand and say it's going to work nationwide,'' he said. ``There are huge obstacles.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bliss in Washington at email@example.com.
Federal ID program deadline looms with 3 governors holding out
Story highlights With a deadline looming for states to ask for extensions to comply with stricter driver's license requirements,
Published Thu, Mar 20, 2008 7:29 PM
By JIM DAVENPORT
Proponents said the
"We're not just simply thumbing our nose at the federal government," said state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens. "The black letter of the law is we will not comply with Real ID."
Meanwhile Thursday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff held a conference call with six governors tapped by the National Governors Association to talk about the law, which he has argued is needed to raise standards for obtaining government-issued IDs. Real ID-compliant driver's licenses would have several layers of new security features to prevent forgery. They would also be issued after a number of ID checks, including verification of birth certificates.
To bring the states in line, Chertoff warned that any state that does not seek an extension by the end of March will find that, come May, their residents will not be able to use their licenses to board domestic flights.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, along with the governors of
"We're pleased that states continue to work with us toward implementation and this will be an ongoing dialogue," she said.
Kudwa said estimated costs of complying with the program have come down by 73 percent to $3.9 billion and that the added cost for a driver's license should be about $8. Meanwhile, the agency is offering about $380 million in grants for states to comply.
Besides the three states that have yet to respond to the extension request,
"An extension request is not an extension simply for more time, it's an extension to move toward compliance. So it needs to be a good-faith request for extension," Kudwa said.
Citizens from states that don't get extensions will have to show passports or federal IDs to board planes or enter federal buildings to avoid the hassle of more rigorous security screening.
Given Homeland Security's interpretation, signing an extension would mean
"If it does come to a head, we've found it is best just to tell them to go to hell, and run your state the way you want to run your state," Montana Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer said last week.
Maine Gov. John Baldacci plans to respond by the March 31 deadline. The Democrat's staff on Thursday was continuing to review the waiver language to see what's the best way to respond to Homeland Security, but his press office said that doesn't mean the state will seek an extension. Baldacci has said he does not want Mainers inconvenienced because they lack sufficient credentials.
Associated Press Writer Glenn Adams in
, contributed to this report. Augusta, Maine
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