Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Tuesday, October 07, 2008


IRN and other NNIRR info is posted at http://www.nnirr.blogspot.com


1. CNN: 300 suspects held after Carolina immigration raid


2. New Haven Register: Judge finds cause for ICE raid hearings


3. Nogales International: U.S. Border Patrol disputes report of detention abuses by its agents


4. Huffington Post: A Matter of Justice



<><><> 1





300 suspects held after Carolina immigration raid

  • Story Highlights
  • Suspects worked at House of Raeford's Columbia Farms chicken processing plant
  • A number of relatives were among the detainees
  • The Charlotte Observer first reported plant workers were in the country illegally|
  • Raid the latest of several large raids across U.S. this year

GREENVILLE, South Carolina (AP) -- Federal agents detained more than 300 suspected illegal immigrants Tuesday in a raid at a chicken processing plant in Greenville, South Carolina.

The raid took place during a shift change, when police and federal agents spread through the House of Raeford's Columbia Farms plant and ordered all workers to show identification, according to officials and witnesses.

Maria Juan, 22, was one of about 50 relatives and friends of workers who huddled at the edge of the plant after the raid, some weeping and others talking frantically on cell phones. She was seeking information about her 68-year-old grandmother, a legal immigrant from Guatemala who went to work without identification papers but was later released.

"Families are going to be broken apart," Juan said. "There will be kids and babies left behind. Why are they doing this? Why? They didn't do anything. They only wanted to work."

Immigration officials kept the workers inside the plant and spent most of the morning trying to interview them and figure out how many are in the U.S. illegally, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald said.

The number could be large. A recent review found that immigration paperwork for more than 775 of 825 workers contained false information, McDonald said. Immigration agents scoured the plant for paperwork and other information for the investigation.

House of Raeford processes chickens and turkeys in eight plants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan. A sales manager at the Greenville plant referred questions to the company's Rose Hill, North Carolina, headquarters, where a woman answering the phone said there was no immediate comment.

Federal prosecutors and immigration agents have been investigating the plant's hiring practices for several months. Twelve people have been charged, most accused of falsifying documents. Seven have pleaded guilty, three are awaiting trial and two have fled, McDonald said.

The Charlotte Observer first reported in February that plant workers were in the country illegally and company managers knew it.

One plant worker backed up that account Tuesday.

"Everyone knew most of the workers were illegal. It was no secret. We just came in and did our work and you kept to yourself," said Dorothy Anthony, who works with sister Alice on the deboning line.

The women, both American citizens, were released after showing ID.

Many workers live near the plant, and drivers in the neighborhood stopped Tuesday to ask about them.

Officials are arranging to care for the children of workers detained in the raid, one of several nationwide this year.

In August, more than 600 suspected illegal immigrants were detained at a Mississippi transformer plant in the largest single-workplace immigration raid in U.S. history. And in May, federal immigration officials swept into Agriprocessors, the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant, in Iowa. Nearly 400 workers were detained and dozens of fraudulent permanent resident alien cards were seized from the plant's human resources department, according to court records.


<><><> 2


New Haven Register



HARTFORD - Judge finds cause for ICE raid hearings


Tuesday, October 7, 2008 2:58 PM EDT


By Mary E. O'Leary, Register Topics Editor


HARTFORD A Connecticut immigration judge Monday ruled there is sufficient cause to hold hearings to determine whether the arrests of illegal immigrants last year in Greater New Haven violated constitutional protections.

Attorneys for 11 of 31 undocumented residents picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in two incidents, one in New Haven, one in North Haven, were pleased with the ruling.

"I think all of our clients were delighted to be able to have a chance to tell their story, not just to the judge ... but also to the community at large," said Stella Burch, a Yale Law School student who has worked on the case since the first raid June 6.

The 16 immigrants at Monday's hearing broke into cheers when the ruling was explained to them by their attorneys outside the courthouse.

The lawyers, all connected with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at the law school, want any evidence gathered by ICE to be suppressed.

They contend the agents conducted illegal searches, lacked probable cause and arrested immigrants based on race, which violates the Fourth and Fifth amendments.

Leigh Mapplebeck, a senior attorney at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had filed briefs defending the officers' conduct, arguing the immigrants had not proven their cases.

Constitutional protections apply to all people living in the United States, not just its citizens. The attorneys said they believed the evidentiary hearings will be the first in Connecticut, which reflects a similar trend across the country challenging actions by ICE.

Judge Michael W. Straus also granted a separate hearing in February for one immigrant seeking asylum in the U.S.

The judge ruled he will not hear evidence gathered from a household on Atwater Street. Burch said the difference between this case and others is that the person at the door when the ICE agents entered would not testify for fear of being implicated in the proceedings.

A total of five people were arrested there, including the immigrant who applied for asylum. Straus ruled the illegal immigrants would be allowed to leave the country voluntarily within 60 days, if they lose their cases and all subsquent appeals are exhausted.

Burch said their clients at the Atwater Street house decided last year to accept the ruling, rather than pressure testimony from the housemate who was not arrested.

"This has been an incredibly traumatic experience for all of the individuals we represent," Burch said.

Straus said he would not address claims that the First and Tenth amendments also were violated by law enforcement agents in the raids; Yale attorneys plan to appeal that ruling. The First amendment protects the freedom of speech. Under the 10th amendment, powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states.

Of those arrested June 6 and June 11, 17 are on the docket before Straus; five are challenging earlier deportation orders in other courts, while five have left the U.S. Burch was not sure of the status of the four others, who are represented by other attorneys.

The suppression hearings will begin Oct. 20 for households on Warren Place and Peck Street raided on June 6, 2007, with others to follow.

Christopher Lasch, an attorney with the Yale clinic, wanted to begin his case by calling ICE agents to the stand, But Straus ruled against him.

Yale student Sara Edelstein said the judge set up the format for the hearings and left open the question of whether police would be called as witnesses.

"I don't think that the opportunity to put on witnesses, aside from our own clients, is foreclosed," Edelstein said.

Burch said the hope is for a "full and fair," hearing, which would entail, "calling all available witnesses who can testify to the events of June 6, 2007," including law enforcement officials.

After the hearings, if the evidence is not suppressed, Yale attorneys plan to go to the Board of Immigration Appeals, then to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

After 1984, the Supreme Court heightened the standard of proof to support a motion to suppress evidence in immigration courts to "an egregious violation" of constitutional rights. Lasch said more cases are being brought now because of the increase in ICE raids.

Mary E. O'Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or moleary@nhregister.com.


<><><> 3


Nogales International



U.S. Border Patrol disputes report of detention abuses by its agents


By Denise Holley

Published Tuesday, October 7, 2008 9:48 AM MDT


Volunteers who feed and bandage the feet of weary migrants at aid

stations just south of the Arizona-Mexico border heard the same

stories over and over again. Mexicans who crossed illegally into the

United States and were picked up by the Border Patrol alleged that

sometimes they received little or no water, only crackers to eat and

no medical care for injuries.


The report lists 12 areas of concern and Staton said the majority of

complainants were processed through Nogales, Ariz.


The allegations were a surprise to Gustavo Soto, supervisor and public

affairs officer at the Nogales station, he said.


The Border Patrol trains its agents in ethical practices and civil

rights, Soto said. "We try to treat people humanely and return them

(to Mexico) as soon as possible."


The majority of the 500 to 1,000 people who come through the eight

stations of the Tucson Sector each day are eligible for voluntary

return to Mexico, he explained.


"If they're in need of food and water, they just have to ask," Soto

said. Detainees get juice and crackers when they come in, but may be

repatriated to Mexico before a scheduled mealtime.


"As soon as someone indicates they need medical attention, we are

obligated to provide it," Soto said. "When they leave our custody,

they're in 100 percent better shape than when we took them in."


No More Deaths volunteers would dispute that statement. In the report,

migrants describe physical and verbal abuse in the field. A man from

Cancun alleged that agents kicked him in the stomach and he received

no medical care at the Nogales station.


After he was repatriated, the man had swelling in his genital area and

blood in his urine, according to volunteers at the aid station. He

declined the surgery recommended by the Mexican Red Cross because he

had lost his backpack and had no money, they said.


Several complainants alleged they were crammed into the back of a

Border Patrol vehicle without heat or air conditioning. On one

occasion, agents drove so fast they hit their heads against the side

of the compartment, they reported.


Others charged that agents poured out their water and fed their food

to their horses, according to the report.


When agents apprehend people in the desert, they make them throw away

the ditch water in their containers and give them bottled water, Soto



A few detainees said their belongings were not returned to them, so

they had no ID or money, said the report. At the Nogales station, Soto

showed the Nogales International how backpacks are checked and then

returned to the detainee when the person is repatriated or sent to

detention in Tucson.


If a person leaves his belongings behind, he can give the claim tag to

the Mexican Consulate and a representative can retrieve the backpack

within 30 days, Soto said.


Some people said they were returned to Mexico at a different time or

through a different port than family members, according to the report.

Soto said that goes against patrol policy.


"We try to maintain as much family unity as possible," he said. Unless

a family member is sent to Tucson, agents try to return the family



Men, women, families and unaccompanied minors are held in separate

cells at the station. Each cell contains plastic beds and a bathroom

with potable water, Soto said. If they are kept overnight, detainees

get a blanket.


The Border Patrol is highly scrutinized, Soto said. "We are probably

one of the most transparent agencies out there."


Representatives of the Mexican Consulate in Nogales, Ariz., visit the

Nogales station twice a day to meet with detainees, said Mario

Figueroa, deputy consul and consul for protection.


At the station, signs tell migrants they have a right to communicate

with the consul, Figueroa said. "Most of them just want to give notice

to relatives that they have been apprehended."


Minors traveling without family members are taken to a new shelter in

Nogales, Sonora, while consular officials try to find family members,

Figueroa said.


The consulate received 10 complaints from Mexican nationals alleging

mistreatment by the Border Patrol in 2007, he said. So far this year,

the number is 24.


If the migrant wants to pursue a complaint about the patrol, the

consul will help him, Figueroa said. But there's a catch " he must be

interviewed by a representative from the federal Office of the

Inspector General or Office of Professional Responsibility.


"We have to keep that person in our custody," Soto said. "If it's not

reported here, it's difficult to determine what happened."


Agents will take the person to a detention center in Tucson where

there are beds and showers, Soto said. After the detainee gives a

statement, he will be processed for formal removal. Unless he is the

only parent traveling with minor children, his family or friends may

be repatriated while he is in Tucson.


Only about 10 percent of the people apprehended have a criminal

record, Soto said. He sees the migrant workers as victims of smugglers

who lead them into an unforgiving desert with promises, lies, and

insufficient water.


"The smuggling infrastructure is completely organized," Soto said.

Smugglers "bait people" from towns in central and southern Mexico to

come north. "They tell them Phoenix is a day's journey (walking) from

the border."


It takes several days of walking to get from Sasabe to Three Points,

Soto said. "No human can carry enough food and water to make those



Smugglers wait in vans near the Mariposa Port of Entry for the

returned migrants who owe them money, Soto said.


Through its Alien Transfer Exit Program, the Border Patrol can

repatriate Mexicans who have been smuggled through Sonora to a port in

California, Soto said. "We're trying to remove them from the cycle of

the smuggler so they can make it back home."


In Washington, D.C., Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Tucson) hosted the

briefing, Staton said. Staff people from about 20 members of Congress

" including Reps. Gabrielle Giffords and Ed Pastor " attended and

volunteers visited the offices of other representatives to leave the



"A lot of people said it was the first time they had heard there were

problems with Border Patrol custody," Staton said. He blamed "a

culture within the Border Patrol" for the alleged abuses. "It happened

yesterday and it's going to happen tomorrow," he said.


"We're not looking to get justice for any one individual," Staton

emphasized. "We're trying to get standards and oversight for the whole

(Border Patrol) system."


To view the report, visit www.nomoredeaths.org.



<><><> 4


Huffington Post



Jane Guskin


A Matter of Justice

Posted September 11, 2008 | 06:26 PM (EST)

Two Muslim men that our federal government has unfairly accused of supporting Palestinian terrorist groups celebrated victories last week. Both men are Palestinian immigrants who have been living legally in the US for many years and have been active in bringing together diverse communities, opposing religious extremism and working for social justice. Both have children who were born in the US, and both are devoted to their families.

In Paterson, New Jersey, an immigration judge ruled on September 4 that the federal government was wrong to try to deport local imam Mohammad Qatanani. The ruling upholds Qatanani's petition for permanent legal residency, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had sought to deny by claiming he lied on his application about an arrest in Israel. (Like thousands of other Palestinian men, he was detained administratively there.) Immigration Judge Alberto Riefkohl was unconvinced by the government's evidence: "FBI Agent Angel Alicea's testimony has been found not credible ... and will be disregarded as unreliable," the judge wrote. "The court also finds DHS's other evidence is insufficient," he added. One of the government documents in the case is so sloppy that it repeatedly misspells the name of the group Hamas as "Ramas."

Qatanani and his family were not detained while they fought their deportation, and his win in immigration court was touted by his many supporters-including rabbis, priests, FBI agents and elected officials-as a sign that the US justice system works.

In the case of Sami Al-Arian, the same US justice system showed how unjust it can be. Al-Arian, a former Florida professor and civil rights activist, was released on bail on September 2 after spending more than five and a half years in jail fighting a vindictive prosecution. Here's a condensed timeline:

  • February 20, 2003: Al‑Arian is arrested and charged with supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He is denied bail and placed in solitary confinement for two-and-a-half years while awaiting trial. Amnesty International decries Al-Arian's treatment as "gratuitously punitive."
  • December 6, 2005: The jury acquits Al-Arian on eight charges while deadlocking 10 to 2 in favor of acquittal on nine others. The government keeps Al-Arian jailed and threatens a retrial on the deadlocked charges.
  • February 28, 2006: Al‑Arian doesn't want to spend another three years in prison awaiting a retrial, so he pleads guilty to one conspiracy count, acknowledging that he helped people who the government claims were associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and that he lied to a reporter about his knowledge of associations with the group. In exchange, he is offered time served followed by a speedy deportation. The government acknowledges that Al‑Arian's activities were nonviolent and that his actions created no victims.
  • May 1, 2006: Judge James S. Moody Jr. in Tampa ignores the plea agreement and gives Al‑Arian the maximum sentence: an additional 19 months in prison. Projected release date: April 11, 2007.
  • October 2006: Although the plea agreement released Al-Arian from cooperating with government investigations, Gordon Kromberg, Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, summons Al-Arian to testify before a grand jury looking into an unrelated case of alleged terror funding.
  • November 16, 2006: Because he refuses to testify, Al-Arian is placed under civil contempt until December 21, 2006. The time spent under civil contempt doesn't count toward fulfilling the remainder of his sentence.
  • January 22, 2007: Al-Arian is again summoned to testify before a second grand jury. After refusing to testify, he is again placed under civil contempt--postponing his release for another 11 months.
  • December 13, 2007: Judge Gerald Lee of the Eastern District of Virginia lifts the civil contempt order. New projected release date for Al-Arian: April 11, 2008.
  • March 2008: Kromberg subpoenas Al-Arian to testify before a third grand jury. Al-Arian again refuses to testify.
  • April 11, 2008: Al‑Arian is transferred into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency after finally completing his sentence. Instead of deporting him as originally agreed, ICE keeps him detained.
  • June 26, 2008: Kromberg indicts Al-Arian on two charges of criminal contempt for refusing to testify in March and October, even though Al-Arian provided two detailed affidavits and repeatedly offered to undergo a polygraph examination. A few days later, Al-Arian is transferred to the custody of the US Marshals to await trial on the criminal contempt charges.
  • July 10, 2008: Judge Leonie Brinkema orders Al-Arian released on bail. The government blocks his release on bail, claiming that ICE must detain him while preparing to deport him.
  • August 8, 2008: Brinkema postpones the criminal contempt trial pending a Supreme Court ruling on Al-Arian's appeal challenging the government's right to compel him to testify.
  • August 25, 2008: Al-Arian's attorneys file a habeas petition demanding his release on bail. Brinkema gives the government until September 2 to explain why it should keep him jailed.
  • September 2, 2008: ICE responds to Brinkema's deadline by requesting that Al‑Arian be released from its custody. At last, Al-Arian walks out of jail.

Al-Arian is still not free-he is under house arrest awaiting trial. But he is finally reunited with his family, thanks to the intervention of one rational judge, thousands of people who sent messages protesting his detention, and a Norwegian filmmaker who has helped spread the word about his case with an award-winning documentary, USA vs. Al-Arian.

But does it redeem our system?

If the government can find a way, through abuse of power and by stretching the limits of the law, to detain you for five years--in solitary confinement for most of that time--without even enough evidence to convince a jury, is that justice?


Jane Guskin is co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, published by Monthly Review Press in July 2007. Guskin also edits Immigration News Briefs, a weekly newsletter covering immigration issues. She lives in New York City.



<><><> the end / el fin / tamat <><><>



Post a Comment

<< Home