Thursday, June 26, 2008

ICE raids net 44 immigration violators in Central Nebraska (Grand Island Independent)

ICE raids net 44 immigration violators in Central Nebraska

By Robert Pore
The Grand Island Independent
Posted Jun 25, 2008 @ 10:40 PM

GRAND ISLAND — Grand Island was one of eight Central Nebraska communities where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations Team agents arrested 44 fugitive immigrants and immigration violators during a five-day initiative that ended Tuesday night.

According to ICE officials, during the five-day operation, which ended June 24, ICE Fugitive Operations Team members arrested immigration violators in Lexington (25 arrests), Grand Island (12 arrests) and Broken Bow (2 arrests). There also was one arrest in each of the following cities: Cozad, Gibbon, Hastings, Kearney and North Platte.

Twenty-eight of those arrested were fugitives, meaning they had defied an immigration judge's final order to leave the country and were targets of the operation.

The remaining 16 were immigration violators encountered by ICE officers during their targeted arrests.

Of the 44 apprehended, 10 have previous criminal convictions in addition to their administrative immigration violations.

Officials said arrests were made at homes and businesses in the days leading up to Tuesday.

Those arrested are from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador.

"It's important for us to send a strong message to anyone who ignores deportation orders handed down by federal immigration judges," said Scott Baniecke, field office director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Bloomington, Minn.

According to ICE officials, through May 31 of fiscal year 2008, which began Oct. 1, 2007, 542 illegal immigrants were arrested by Fugitive Teams in the five-state area covered by the Bloomington ICE office, including Nebraska.

Of the total, 452 were fugitive aliens; 90 were immigration violators encountered by the ICE Fugitive Operations Teams during their targeted arrests. Of the 542 apprehended, 103 had criminal convictions in addition to their administrative immigration violations.

In all of fiscal year 2007, Fugitive Operations Teams in the six-state area arrested 914 immigrants.

Last year, ICE officials said the fugitive operations teams nearly doubled the number of 2006 arrests, increasing from 15,000 to more than 30,000. Additionally, in 2007, the nation's fugitive immigrant population declined for the first time in history.

Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at about 572,000, a decrease of nearly 23,000 since October 2007.

Following are some of the criminal immigrants arrested by ICE's Chicago Fugitive Operations Teams during its Central Nebraska operation:

-- Alberto De Jesus Arias-Lopez, 28, a citizen of Guatemala, was arrested June 20 in Cozad. He was ordered deported by a federal immigration judge July 26, 2007, but failed to surrender. Arias-Lopez has convictions in Dawson County for assault and carrying a concealed weapon.

-- Juan Mejia-Perez, 33, a citizen of Guatemala, was arrested June 21 in Lexington. He was ordered deported by a federal immigration judge Jan. 10, 2006, but failed to surrender. Mejia-Perez has a prior conviction in Dawson County for assault.

-- Diego Avellan-Castro, 50, a citizen of Nicaragua, was arrested June 22 in Lexington. He was ordered deported by a federal immigration judge Aug. 8, 1990, but failed to surrender. Avellan-Castro has a felony conviction in Dawson County for cruelty toward a child.

Federal Agents Deport Illegal Workers (KGMB-HI)

Federal Agents Deport Illegal Workers

Written by KGMB9 News -
June 25, 2008 07:04 PM

Federal agents have busted another group of undocumented construction workers.

KGMB9 learned Wednesday, ten people from Mexico were arrested in February while working on a roofing project at the postal facility near the Honolulu Airport.

Agents from immigration and customs enforcement say they were all deported. The Pacific Resource Partnership is worried illegal aliens are taking away jobs from Hawaii's union workers.

"To have local people not working right now and to have companies bringing in and importing labor illegally. It's very frustrating, it seems like every week or every other week, we are hearing about a new raid that's happening particularly in our construction industry," said Kyle Chock, Pacific Resource Partnership.

In this case, the undocumented workers were brought in by a California contractor and postal officials reported them to customs officials and worked with agents to get them sent home.

Earlier this month agents arrested nine other Mexican workers at the construction site of a Kapolei self-storage facility.

Illegal aliens arrested in southeastern Wisconsin (The Journal Times)

Illegal aliens arrested in southeastern Wisconsin
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 10:43 PM CDT

RACINE — A five-day operation that ended Tuesday night led to the arrest of 38 illegal aliens in Racine, Milwaukee and Kenosha counties.

The operation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Fugitive Operations Team, according to a Wednesday release.

Those arrested were described as immigration violators and fugitive aliens – “illegal aliens who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or they abscond after having been ordered to leave the country by a federal immigration judge,” the release said.

Twenty-two of the people arrested in southeastern Wisconsin were immigration violators and 16 were fugitives. The people arrested are from Albania, China, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Ukraine and Yugoslavia.

“It’s important for us to send a strong message to anyone who ignores deportation orders handed down by federal immigration judges,” Glenn Triveline, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Chicago, said in the release. “ICE uses all the tools and resources at our disposal to locate criminal and illegal aliens and return them home.”

A spokesman for ICE said Wednesday no more information was available about the arrests made in Racine County.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

East Houston workers detained in ICE raid (Houston Chronicle)

East Houston workers detained in ICE raid

Houston Chronicle
June 25, 2008, 12:25PM

Federal immigration agents have detained at least 170 workers at an east Houston plant as they conduct a major raid to investigate allegations that the company is employing illegal immigrants.

The raid, involving 150 to 200 agents, was launched about 7 a.m. at Action Rags U.S.A, 1225 Port Houston, just north of the Houston Ship Channel.

Officials would not specify the information that led them to plan the raid, which is at least the second major immigration enforcement action in Houston in recent months.

Federal agents swarmed the Shipley Do-Nuts headquarters in north Houston on April 16, detaining 20 workers who they said were illegal immigrants.

The sign at Action Rags includes the phrase ropa usada, Spanish for "used clothing." A number of companies in Houston buy and sell used clothing, much of which is cut up for use as industrial rags.

The agents are questioning workers to determine their immigration status, said Bob Rutt, special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement criminal office in Houston.

Of the detained workers, 60-70 percent are women, Rutt said.

ICE officials have released 16 employees so far. ``One was a U.S. citizen and another 15 were here in status and are legally authorized to work," Rutt said.

Ten female workers who are pregnant were detained. ``We are processing them here for humanitarian purposes and will release them here under an order to report to an immigration court,'' Rutt said.

He said that four employees were transported from the facility for medical treatrment, including a woman transported by helicopter to a local hospital after she fell 20 feet off a stack of wooden pallets in which she was hiding.

"Right now, we're still trying to secure the interior because we found several individuals trying to locate hiding spaces inside," said Greg Palmore, spokesman for ICE in Houston.

A plant supervisor who would not provide her name said the company employed 240 people at the site.

Rutt said no member of the company's management has been arrested, but confirmed that ICE is conducting a criminal investigation into the company's hiring practices.

Scores of ICE vehicles are parked at various spots at the plant, as numerous agents in body armor can be seen talking with workers and walking around the site.

At 9:45 a.m. an ICE helicopter was flying over the plant to check if any employees were hiding on the roof.

Workers at an adjoining plant have gathered in a nearby lot and along railroad tracks to watch the events.

Houston police are providing perimeter security for the federal action.

Calls to Action Rags were not answered this morning. Action Rags U.S.A.'s Web site describes the company as a leading grader and exporter of used clothing. ``We specialize in selling used clothes to worldwide markets including Africa, South America, India and Pakistan,'' according to the Web site.

Dozens of family members gathered on the street outside the plant entrance at Port Houston near Tilgham. Many of them rushed to the facility after employees called them on their cell phones during the raid.

Bernardo Olvera came to ask about his sister, Juana Maria Olvera, who he said was working in the plant and is in this country illegally.

"She doesn't have any papers to work there," Olvera said. "I'd like to talk to her to see if she could give me the keys to her husband's car.

"This is bad, what they do," he said. "But what can you do? The people here are just working. They're not doing anything wrong. These women are hard workers; they're not criminals."

Another relative of a worker said most of the plant's employees are women.

East Ohioans on Alert for Illegal (Wheeling News-Register)

East Ohioans on Alert for Illegal

By GABE WELLS Staff Writer

POSTED: June 25, 2008

ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Belmont County residents appear on edge as a suspected illegal immigrant who avoided arrest in a diving leap from a massive retaining wall remains at large.

Erick Perez Hernandez may be dead, but the search for him continues today. He was one of 11 suspected illegal immigrants detained in a traffic stop at 12:08 a.m. Tuesday on Interstate 70 between Bridgeport and St. Clairsville, but he managed to escape by jumping head-first from the highway before falling 70 feet to the ground below.

Hernandez was not found Tuesday despite a massive search that included airplanes, helicopters and multiple police departments. If the suspect is still alive, sheriff's officials said Tuesday he is seriously injured.

At least five reports regarding Hernandez' whereabouts were made early today and late Tuesday to the Belmont County Sheriff's Department.

In three separate calls, Blaine residents requested a deputy to search the area because they suspected Hernandez was near their home. Each of those callers told sheriff's officials their dogs were barking, which was unusual for the late-evening or early-morning hours.

Deputies also were called to at least two potential sightings of Hernandez. At 12:07 a.m. today, a caller in Colerain informed the sheriff's department he believed Hernandez was in his driveway.
The deputy found a man had just been dropped off in the area, but it was not the suspect.

At 5 a.m. today, a deputy received a report of a man matching Hernandez' description riding a bicycle in Blaine. A patrolling deputy saw the cyclist - a white male in an orange T-shirt - and reported it was not Hernandez.

Today, Belmont County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Joseph Hummel said, if Hernandez is alive, he will soon need to seek food or aid. The chief said the search is a priority.

"If he isn't (dead) he is one miserable fellow," Hummel said.

"Time is on our side. We haven't let up. We've got a full-court press going."

The 10 other suspected illegals were transported to the Belmont County Jail on felony charges. Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson said Tuesday that officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement picked up those individuals and transported them to Columbus.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Desert heat too much for illegal immigrants (KPNX-AZ)

Desert heat too much for illegal immigrants

by Mark Phillips - Jun. 22, 2008 02:43 PM
12 News

The U.S. Border Patrol found 17 illigal immigrants south of Gila Bend Sunday. Two children and a woman were part of the group. They had been wandering in the desert for three days. When they were found they were dehydrated and several were in serious condition. The immigrants were taken to several valley hospitals. Three ended up at Banner Estrella hospital.

The immigrants were discovered along state route 85 approximately 71 miles from the Arizona-Mexico border. Temperatures in the area approached 115 degrees during the day and there was little relief at night.

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies assisted the Border Patrol. The immigrants will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after they are treated.

Cardboard license plate leads to man's arrest (Asbury Park Press)

Cardboard license plate leads to man's arrest

By Matt Pais • STAFF WRITER • June 23, 2008

LAKEHURST — A 26-year-old Asbury Park man was arrested Saturday night after police learned the Pennsylvania license plate on his car was a cardboard fake, authorities said.

The Mitsubishi Gallant driven by Armando A. Alfaro-Hernandez was pulled over at 7:45 p.m. after Officer Michael Rodriguez ran the car's license plates through a mobile data terminal in his police cruiser and learned the car was unregistered.

During a roadside investigation, Alfaro-Hernandez admitted being an unlicensed driver, Sgt. Ronald Heinzman said. Later, Rodriguez removed a plastic cover from the car's license plate and found the tag to be a color photocopy of an actual license plate.

"It looks exactly like a real plate, and it was under this clear plastic lens," Heinzman said. "It was just a flimsy piece of cardboard — a knockoff."

Alfaro-Hernandez was charged with third-degree fraud for possessing a stolen document and hindering his apprehension for initially providing police with a false name, police said. Heinzman said police found multiple motor-vehicle summonses in the car issued under different names and later learned Alfaro-Hernandez was wanted on a $339 warrant issued by the Allenhurst Municipal Court.

The driver was also issued motor-vehicle summonses for being an unlicensed driver, having an uninsured vehicle and an unregistered vehicle, and possessing a fraudulent identification card, police said. He was transferred to Ocean County Jail in Toms River, where he was being held Saturday in lieu of $2,500 bail.

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement was later notified because Alfaro-Hernandez is an undocumented alien. ICE is expected to place a no-bail detainer on Alfaro-Hernandez, Heinzman said.

Heinzman and Special Officer Jennifer Emer assisted Rodriguez at the scene.

Miguel Goes to Jail (

Miguel Goes to Jail
Jun 23, 2008

On Friday, June 13, it seems that Officer Collin Hastey had a full day with only one, somewhat insignificant, incident.

Officer Hastey responded to grocery outlet in reference to a juvenile shoplifter in custody. They said a young Hispanic male attempted to steal beer earlier that day and was run off from the store. He returned and was caught the 2nd time. Officer Hastey judged the boy to be 13 or 14 years old.

A strong odor of alcohol came from the young Hispanic male. He said his name was Miguel Sanchez and was 13. Told that he lived on Fleming Street in an apartment with migrant workers, Officer Hastey transported him there but no one was at the boarding house. Miguel was slurring his speech and could not be understood. Sheriff's Deputy Humberto Dean was requested to translate.

While waiting, an alcohol test on Miguel showed a reading of 0.327 grams, the legal driving limit is .08. They retrieved a notebook from his apartment with phone numbers and began making calls. Miguel told Deputy Dean that his parents left him in Miami with friends and went back to Mexico. He had a brother and uncle in South Carolina, but no local family or guardians.

With the high alcohol, he was transported to the hospital and DFACs was notified. The hospital stated they could not treat him because of no legal consent. DEFACs stated they could not help because of the lack of knowledge of his family situation and lack of foster care in the area.

DEFACs contacted immigration for any information on the boy or his family and were no help. Deputy Dean continued to try to locate family using the notebook of phone numbers and finally talked with an uncle. The uncle stated he was 22 years old from Veracruz, Mexico.

Officers really doubted that because Miguel was only 4'5" tall and weighed 80 lbs. Miguel now said his date of birth was 08-10-93 or 94 or 95.

Miguel was transported back to Fleming Street to canvass the migrant community as they were returning from the fields. Officers located some neighbors that stated Miguel worked for a man named Ventura. Deputy Dean called him and Ventura arrived and recognized Miguel. Dean stated that Miguel was 18 years-old.

Deputy Dean overheard Miguel tell Ventura (in Spanish) that he told police that he was young so he could avoid prosecution. Miguel then begged Ventura to help him lie to the police. Deputy Dean overheard this conversation in Spanish.

Officer Hastey then booked Miguel Sanchez for shoplifting, public drunkenness and obstruction. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) was notified of this incident.

Clues Sought in Triple Slaying (WSET-VA)

Clues Sought in Triple Slaying

posted 11:11 am Mon June 23, 2008 - Henry Co., VA
reporter: Shelley Basinger posted by: Scott Wilson

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are now on the scene of a triple homicide in Henry County.

Police say they found three Hispanic men shot at the Ridgecrest Trailer Park early Monday morning. All three later died.

Officers chased a car they saw leaving the park. We're told two black men were inside, but by the time police caught up with the vehicle on Ervin Street it was empty.

ICE agents have joined the investigation because authorities aren't sure if the men are legal citizens. Police found what they believe to be drugs inside the trailer.

Stay tuned to ABC-13 News for the latest.

Federal inmates pay off for Pike County (Pocono Record)

Federal inmates pay off for Pike County

By Stephen Sacco
Times Herald-Record
June 23, 2008

LORDS VALLEY, Pa. — Warden Craig Lowe of the Pike County Correctional Facility recoups roughly half of his $8 million annual budget by housing detainees for U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement.

Lowe charges the federal agency $81.50 a night per prisoner. That's close to $4 million a year for the prison's books. And the prison's space is at a premium.

"We get calls all the time asking if we have beds," Lowe said.

The facility, located about 15 miles outside Milford, also houses prisoners from other counties and the U.S. Marshals Service. It has 301 beds, enough to house county prisoners and have beds left over.

Mike Gilhooly, an immigration and customs enforcement spokesman, says the agency uses an average of 123 beds per night in Pike County. Last year, 311,000 people were detained in this country by the federal agency, but Gilhooly couldn't estimate the costs to taxpayers.

Lowe says federal detainees stay for days or for months; most are waiting for a hearing or permission to return to their country. In 2007, 729 immigration and customs detainees passed through the facility, compared with 682 in 2006 and 881 in 2005.

Other counties want to get into the act. Orange County is currently in negotiations with the feds to house detainees. Ulster County recently contracted with the U.S. Marshals Service to house prisoners for $102 a night, says Warden Ray Acevedo. Sullivan County Jail officials did not return calls for comment.

Demand for prison space has risen across the country. A report issued in February by the Pew Center — a nonpartisan research organization that tracks issues shaping the country — found one out of every 100 American adults is confined to prison. There are 2.3 million people imprisoned in the United States, the most of any country in the world.

There is an extensive inspection process that enables prisons like Pike's to house these federal detainees. The Pike facility is one of two in the nation to receive a superior rating from federal authorities, and Lowe has been named Pennsylvania's Warden of the Year.

The prison has more than 100 volunteers offering 100 programs ranging from religious education to job training. It has a recidivism rate of 10 percent to 20 percent, while the national average is 75 percent.

ICE agents detain, charge Postville man (Des Moines Register)

ICE agents detain, charge Postville man


A Postville man was detained today on a busy street corner by immigration-enforcement agents in plainclothes.

Eduardo Ixen, a handyman who worked with real-estate firm GAL Investments, LTD., was detained this afternoon by two agents based on a tip, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Tim Counts.

Ixen was charged with the being in the country illegally, Counts said, but said he didn’t know where Ixen was taken or what time he was arrested.

“All I can say is that all of our agents act on specifics pieces of intelligence,” Counts said. “Nothing is random.”

Counts said Ixen was likely not on the list of 697 illegal immigrants from the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant sought in an affidavit.

Counts declined to say whether Ixen’s detention was a result of a larger campaign to round up the remaining illegal immigrants sought from the original affidavit. It is unknown how many of them are still at large because the names on the affidavit remain sealed.

“Anyone who’s in the U.S. illegally faces potential arrest and removal under U.S. immigration law,” Counts said. “We are an investigative law enforcement agency. All our actions are based on leads and specific intelligence.”

Nina Taylor, who said she’s been helping out at GAL since the raid, said she knew about Ixen’s arrest, but said he wasn’t officially employed by the real-estate company.

“It’s kind of sad, because he’s a real hard worker,” Taylor said. “He’s married to an American woman, he wanted to make good.”

Only two arrests have been reported since the largest single-site immigration raid in U.S. history at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant on May 12.

The raid led to 389 arrests, including 306 on criminal charges.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said earlier this month that federal authorities have not entered the outstanding warrants into a widely used law-enforcement computer system. The system, run by the National Crime Information Center, routinely alerts police if there's a warrant out for someone they stop for a traffic infraction or other offense.

Postville Police Chief Michael Halse said earlier this month that his department does not routinely act as an immigration-enforcement arm because it can't afford the training, and he said he wants immigrants to feel comfortable reporting crimes to his officers without fearing that they will be deported.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Residents angry about condition of neighborhood (Plano Courier)

Residents angry about condition of neighborhood
By Stephanie Flemmons, Staff Writer
Created: Thursday, June 19, 2008 10:37 PM CDT

Residents of an east Plano neighborhood are giving up on help from the city and police after they believe numerous calls reporting illegal activity have gone unanswered.

The Southwood Estates, tucked away off Jupiter Road. and 15th Street, houses families who claim their lives are in danger.

Resident Al Acosta believes he sees the writing on the wall.

“Prostitution is becoming a problem on Avenue R and E. 15th,” he said. “Gang graffiti is appearing when it never was before. The litter and trash being thrown in our yards and street is unbelievable. If the City of Plano doesn’t keep a close watch on all this, we will have much more crime and litter to deal with. East Plano is going down and nobody cares.”

Acosta believes the apartments surrounding his home are being rented to illegal immigrants who have their own method of justice.

“Everyone thinks the illegal immigrants in east Plano are Mexican,” Acosta said. “They are Guatemalans, and the Amber Vista Apartments houses hundreds of them. They will never assimilate into the community.”

Acosta said his daily routine consists of picking up dirty diapers, used condoms, beer bottles and drug paraphernalia from his front yard.

After calls to the city manager, Plano police and federal immigration authorities went unanswered, Acosta believes he’ll have to sell his home and move to a safer neighborhood.

Resident Barbara Hilliard, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1979, said the music at night is so loud it rattles her windows. She believes the drug activity, too, has become increasingly worse.

“It started getting scary in the late ’80s early ’90s,” Hilliard said. “I will never allow her grandchildren to play in the yard by themselves. My husband is now deceased and my children want me to move. This is my home and I don’t want to leave.”

Deborah and Jim Donavan, who own a 5,800 square foot home sitting on 1.5 acres, have offered their backyard for police to place surveillance so they can too witness the illegal activity.

“We walk outside to enjoy our backyard and we’ll smell dope,” Deborah said. “The foot traffic through our yard and neighborhood has increased. The violations have increased and it doesn’t seem the police support to keep up with it is increasing. I’m afraid to allow our grandchildren in the yard in fear of what they may witness.”

The Donavan’s backyard has served as a shortcut for individuals from surrounding apartments and townhomes to travel to the Plano Bazaar or the beer store, they say.

“We have major issues,” Jim said. “We have called the city over and over in the five years we have lived here. We can smell people smoking dope, people are drunk in the grass and urinate on our fence. It’s as if they don’t care if you can see them. I know the city can’t control everything, but something needs to be done.”

Hilliard said she put up the tallest fence she could to eliminate backyard traffic.

“I don’t know what we can do to stop this,” Hilliard said. “I’d like the city to do something.”

Rick McDonald, Plano police spokesman, said beat officers and neighborhood officers have been working in that area, contacting numerous businesses and apartment complexes and addressing these issues.

“Anytime a citizen notifies the police of any violation we do report on the call,” McDonald said. “We’ve had officers in that area for every shift.”

McDonald said if someone calls reporting a possible illegal immigrant residing in their neighborhood, they refer them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He said if there is criminal activity involved, Plano Police will investigate.

“If it consists of a class b misdemeanor or higher, we notify ICE,” McDonald said. “If they are charged with a class b or above they are usually deported.”

Carl Rusnok, ICE spokesman, said people have to have evidence to support criminal activity in order for ICE to get involved.

“Because of the number of illegal aliens, we have to organize our mission based on the threat they make to the public,” Rusnok said. “We target the violent street gang members as opposed to the nonviolent. But, anyone in the country illegally could be arrested and deported to their country of origin.”

Rusnok said ICE works closely with local law enforcement agencies for the anti-gang initiative, which has been in effect since Feb. 2005.

“Operation Community Shields is designed to handle the gang problem,” Rusnok said. “We have up to date intelligence where gang members reside and hang out and we work together with local law enforcement to accomplish the common goal of combating crime.”

Acosta said he does not believe there is an overwhelming amount of gang activity in his area, but does believe the crime still affects the citizens of Plano.

“It would be nice if ICE would focus on crime at this level, but they won’t,” Acosta said. “There is too much out there.”

Rusnok said ICE has a specific annual budget used to deport illegal aliens every year.

“It’s only a matter of time before innocent bystanders will be affected,” Rusnok said. “Again, this is why we work with local law enforcement agencies across the country.”

He said this year, 8,300 illegal aliens have been removed from the country and 700 gangs have been depleted.

Acosta said since ICE is unresponsive, he hopes the city building standards will enforce their city codes to change the standards of the property.

Dianna Tullius, Amber Vista property manager, said on April 1, the property was repossessed by Trans America Band, and since then Tullius said multiple changes have been made.

“We are managing the banks money and changes are already done,” she said.She said when she took over control from the old managers, the property was in deferred maintenance.“There was nothing being done,” Tullius said. “They had no money to fix anything.”

Since April 1, Tullius said the rod hand rails have been replaced, the trees have been trimmed, landscape has been planted and the curbs have been painted.

She said a security company has been hired to monitor activity Fri.-Sun to help eliminate loitering and drinking, which will come in affect today.

“The people from Keep Plano Beautiful have praised me on the amount of less litter and leaves around the property,” Tullius said. “When I first came I got tired of picking up the trash. Since I have fined residents and sent out a letter using strong language reminding people that this is there home and the stop acting like pigs.”

Potential buyers are being interviewed, which Tullius said she take place in approximately 60 days.

Scott Neumeyer, Plano Building Inspections said they have a current sub-standard structure case that is currently active, which the department plans to re-inspect next week.

He said when it comes to inspections, many it is common to have non-critical and critical violations. He said the Amber Vista staff corrected most violations in the time given.

As for the residents of Southwood Estates, they can only hope this is the change they have hoped for.

“The standards will be up for awhile and then they’ll go back down,” Hilliard said. “The landlords are making money, and it seems like that’s all they care about.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Agents arrest five supervisors at poultry plant (Greenville News)

Agents arrest five supervisors at poultry plant
More arrests expected in immigration probe, authorities say

By David Dykes • STAFF WRITER • June 18, 2008

Federal agents have arrested five supervisors at a Greenville poultry plant as part of an investigation into alleged immigration violations, authorities said Wednesday.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald said immigration officials arrested the House of Raeford Farms employees after finding what appeared to be false information on employment records at the local chicken-processing facility on Rutherford Road near North Pleasantburg Drive.

McDonald said the investigation involving Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been ongoing for months.

"There will be additional arrests," McDonald told The Greenville News.

In a statement, House of Raeford said it was "cooperating fully" with immigration officials and "will continue to do so."

Immigration officials said four men, all of Mexico, were arrested Tuesday based on criminal arrest warrants for charges that included aggravated identity theft; fraud and misuse of permits, visas and other documents; and false statements.

All had their initial court appearances and were in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, the officials said.

Those arrested were identified in court records as Simon Gomez, Juan Rodriguez, Juan Suarez and Evaristo Vasquez.

The fifth person arrested, identified in court records as Guadalupe Templos, made his initial appearance Wednesday in federal court in Greenville before U.S. Magistrate William Catoe. Templos, facing similar charges, said in court he was from Mexico.

McDonald said each of those arrested had "supervisory responsibility."

He said they allegedly supplied false information on federal immigration forms for employment verification.

Attorneys for the five men couldn’t be reached for comment.

Affidavits filed in U.S. District Court by a federal immigration agent alleged that the employees used an invalid Social Security number, an invalid alien registration card or another person’s Social Security number to get their jobs at the plant.

The agent, Paul A. Anderson, described in one affidavit how in May, as a result of a work-site enforcement investigation, he received an employment verification form from the human resources manager of a company in Greenville.

The company wasn’t identified, but McDonald confirmed it was the local plant of North Carolina-based House of Raeford.

Anderson said that in June he ran a record check through the immigration enforcement database on the resident alien card Templos provided to get his job, and found the card’s number belonged to another person, according to the affidavit.

A record check also found Templos used a Social Security number that belonged to someone else, Anderson said in his affidavit.

In its statement, House of Raeford said it supplied federal agents with information they requested for an audit of employment verification forms and the company supports efforts to enforce immigration laws.

In a series earlier this year about working conditions in the poultry industry, The Charlotte Observer reported that House of Raeford increasingly relied on Latino immigrants. The newspaper also reported that the company had hidden the extent of injuries that have occurred inside its factory walls, and workers who were hurt have been either ignored, intimidated or fired.

The director of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission said Wednesday that the agency is continuing its review of the poultry company’s practices, including its reporting of workers’ injuries at its Greenville plant.

Gary R. Thibault, executive director of the state commission, said his agency should complete that review "in the near future."

He has declined to discuss specifics.

In a statement posted on the company’s Web site, House of Raeford officials said it is company policy that injury records are kept "in accordance with OSHA guidelines and legal requirements for recording medical incidents and attention given to employees."

They were referring to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, whose role is to promote the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing workplace standards.

The company, based in Raeford, N.C., has plants in North Carolina and South Carolina, including Greenville and West Columbia.

Hillsborough police stop van of illegal immigrants (Burlington Times News)

Hillsborough police stop van of illegal immigrants

June 19, 2008 - 8:53AM
McClatchy News Service

HILLSBOROUGH -- Police on Tuesday stopped a van carrying 17 people they say are illegal immigrants.

Hillsborough officers found the van on Interstate 85 after investigating a fight at a nearby fast-food restaurant, police Chief Clarence Birkhead said Wednesday.

Police in a news release said two Texas men were fighting over a fee one of the immigrants paid to get to Hillsborough.

Yuliant Fernandez, 32, and Amilcar Tamayo, 31, both of Houston, were charged with aggravated assault and other offenses. They were turned over to federal immigration authorities, as were the other people in the van, police said.

Birkhead said officers focused on identifying the people involved in the fight. The two men arrested had Texas identification, he said. The other people didn't have ID and spoke little or no English, he said. There were men and women, and one child, he said.

Officers found evidence in the van that the people may be in this country illegally and decided to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Birkhead said.

``Ultimately, they decided it would probably be in everyone's best interest, again thinking about their well being, ... to take custody of the detainees,'' Birkhead said. ``We were very concerned about getting those other individuals to a safe location. We focused on the incident, not necessarily their immigration status.''

The van was a 15-passenger van rented in Houston, Birkhead said.

Illegal aliens arrested for stealing identity (Dyersburg State Gazette)

Illegal aliens arrested for stealing identity

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Two Mexican nationals face deportation after they were arrested for identity theft on Monday at a local contractor's office.

Ricardo Palomo-Coronado, 30, and Delfino Martinez-Sanchez, 54, were removed on Wednesday from the Dyer County Jail by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

According to reports from the Dyersburg Police Department, the Dyer County Sheriff's Department and the Nebraska State Patrol, the two were arrested with identity documents from a man named Christopher Inskeep.

Inskeep had reported his wallet missing in Lincoln, Neb. in 2004. Nebraska State Patrol investigator Jeff Ward was alerted in 2008 Inskeep's name had appeared on an employment document from Forcum Lannom in Dyersburg, where the subject worked from 2005 to 2006.

A Nebraska investigator called Forcum Lannom and asked for employment documents for the man using Inskeep's name. He received images of a Texas driver's license and Social Security card with Inkeep's personal information.

On Monday, a Forcum Lannom staffer called Ward and said a Hispanic male who identified himself as Inskeep was to arrive shortly to apply for a job.

Dyersburg criminal investigators arrived at 10:30 a.m. to find two Hispanic males, a Hispanic female and a male child sitting in a van with the doors open, filling out employment documents.

The group attempted to start the van and leave when police arrived, the report said.

The female driver was identified as Rosalia Manzanares, Clarkton, Mo. and showed a Missouri driver's license and Social Security card with her name.

Manzanares told police she did not know the names of the two men.

Police found the men had Inskeep's information on a Social Security car and Kansas driver's license.

An ICE investigator interviewed the two at the police station and found Palomo-Coronado admitted he had purchased the Inskeep documents in Missouri for $1,500. Delfino Martinez-Sanchez had a Texas driver's license and Social Security card in the name of David Loza-Gracia.

Palomo-Coronado said he had entered the U.S. illegally in April and had been previously deported. Martinez-Sanchez said he had entered the country illegally in 1999.

Both said they were from Mexico and were using the IDs to obtain work, said the report.

During the mens' appearance in Dyersburg City Court on Wednesday, the initial identity theft charges (which are felonies and cannot be tried in a municipal court) were lowered to misdemeanor criminal impersonation charges.

Palomo-Coronado and Martinez-Sanchez were given a 30-day sentence, suspended to time served. Court costs were also suspended.

The man had to use a court-ordered translator for the hearing, but thanked Judge Dean Dedmon before returning to their seats.

UPDATE: ICE detains about 50 illegal aliens (Murphreesboro Post)

UPDATE: ICE detains about 50 illegal aliens

TMP - June 19, 2008 - 12:32 PM
Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2008 1:38 pm

About 50 employees from two Rutherford County restaurants and one in Nashville were detained Tuesday by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the U.S. Attorney’s office reported.

The three restaurants involved were Chef Wang's Restaurant in Murfreesboro, Famous Chinese Restaurant in Smyrna and New Famous Chinese Restaurant in Nashville. Agents also investigated at a home on Clark Boulevard and Hamilton Street where a boy and a woman waited outside for several hours.

Illegal aliens identified and detained were from Mexico, El Salvador, the People's Republic of China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Each will be processed in accordance with U.S. Immigration law.

ICE agents, with the assistance of the Metro Nashville Police Department, Murfreesboro Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol conducted worksite enforcement actions at the three Middle Tennessee restaurants.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Three sex offenders in U.S. illegally (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Three sex offenders in U.S. illegally

Staff Reports

Police arrest man wanted by ICE (Worcester Telegram & Gazette News)

Police arrest man wanted by ICE


Sunday, June 15, 2008

LEICESTER— Police are holding a Spencer resident without bail on a federal immigration detainer, two default warrants and charges resulting from a traffic stop.

Tritan Mane, also known as Dritan Manaj, 25, of 42 R. Jones Road, was taken into custody at 1:30 a.m. yesterday after he was stopped for speeding on Route 9 and handed an international driver’s license and an Albanian passport to Officer Scott Brooks. Police Chief James J. Hurley said Officer Brooks determined that the international driver’s license was not valid because of the length of time Mr. Mane has been living in Massachusetts.

Chief Hurley said Mr. Mane was initially charged with speeding and driving without a license. During booking at the police station, his fingerprints were taken using the Police Department’s live-scan fingerprinting system, which automatically sends the prints electronically to state and federal databases for comparison.

Mr. Mane identified himself as Dritan Manaj, but the fingerprint comparison results showed a match with Tritan Mane.

Officers then searched state and federal databases and found two outstanding warrants for his arrest, as well as an outstanding warrant and order to detain issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Chief Hurley said Mr. Mane was being held without bail pending arraignment tomorrow in Western Worcester District Court in East Brookfield.

He was charged with speeding, a marked lanes violation, driving with a suspended license, refusing to provide positive identification, providing a false name to avoid prosecution, and providing a false name and Social Security number. He has a default warrant from Westboro District Court for leaving the scene of a property damage accident, driving negligently, driving without a license, and a marked lanes violation. He also has a default warrant from Central District Court in Worcester for driving without a license, driving an unregistered motor vehicle, and driving with a suspended registration.

Chief Hurley credited Officers Brooks and Daniel Dyson, who assisted in the investigation, for paying attention to detail while booking Mr. Mane.

Police Blotter: ALIEN INVESTIGATION (Lebanon Daily News)

From Police Blotter [4th item]
Lebanon Daily News


ALIEN INVESTIGATION: State police picked up Wilber Solorio-Vargas, 23, Mexico, on a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer yesterday at Hollywood Casino at Penn National, police said.

An investigation has been initiated to determine whether Solorio-Vargas is subject to removal from the United States, police said.

Activist Being Held at Northwest ICE Detention Center in Tacoma (Bay Area Indymedia)

Activist Being Held at Northwest ICE Detention Center in Tacoma

Sun Jun 15 2008

"Jonah" Larrama, a traveler who spends most of his time in SF and NY, is being held at the Northwest ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. He is known locally from Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, and various tenants' rights, homeless rights, bike rights and animal rights activities among other things. He was arrested at the end of May for trespassing to watch the sunset from a roof of a building in Seattle and spent some time in county jail. An ICE raid took place at the jail and he was transported to the Northwest Detention Center because his citizenship status is in question.

The Northwest Detention Center is a private for-profit immigration prison owed by a corporation called GEO, which operates prison facilities in Australia, The UK, South Africa, the US and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The facility's housing capacity is 1,000 detainees, making it the largest detention center owned by GEO Group on the West Coast. They are notorious for mistreating their detainees, sometimes to the point of fatality. The GEO Group is an international corporation that operates prisons around the country and is frequently in the news for its abuse of prisoners in its care resulting in many preventable deaths.

There will be a variety show benefit at Station 40 in SF at 3pm on Sunday, June 22nd. Read More

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Police bust 5 illegal immigrants in Mount Kisco cocaine raid (Lower Hudson Journal News)

Police bust 5 illegal immigrants in Mount Kisco cocaine raid

By Rob Ryser
The Journal News • June 13, 2008

MOUNT KISCO - Five Guatemalan nationals in the country illegally were arrested last night on felony drug possession charges after a raid netted more than 50 packets of cocaine with a street value of $3,000, police said.

The raid at 13 Spring St. and the referral of the suspects to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency capped a month-long investigation that started with neighborhood tips about drug dealing on the quiet residential street, two blocks from the Northern Westchester Hospital Center.

Westchester County police, assisted by Mount Kisco police, took a search warrant to the apartment shortly after 8 p.m. yesterday and found the cocaine packaged for sale, police said.

Charged with two counts each of felony criminal possession of a controlled substance were Jose Villeda, 23, Mario Villeda, 37, Edgar Miguel, 25, Jose Martinez and Samuel Lemus, 17. Mario Villeda was also charged with second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor.

The five we due to be arraigned in Mount Kisco Village Court this afternoon.

ICE officials were expected to place detainers on the suspects, signaling an intention to take the immigrants into federal custody, police said.

Suspected illegal immigrants detained in Lavaca County (Victoria Advocate)

Suspected illegal immigrants detained in Lavaca County

June 13, 2008 - 10:00 p.m.

HALLETTSVILLE – On Friday, for the second time in a week, Lavaca County law enforcement officials pursued and detained suspected illegal immigrants.

About 8:40 a.m., Lavaca County Sheriff’s Deputy J.R. Peters attempted to stop a Dodge pickup on alternate U.S. Highway 77 at alternate U.S. Highway 90. The driver did not stop and continued onto Farm-to-Market Road 340. The truck left the road and went through a fence, said Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon.

“About 10 people bailed out of the vehicle and fled on foot,” the sheriff said. “An extensive search on foot and with all-terrain vehicles did not turn up the other subjects.”

Two men and two women were detained and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Hallettsville Police Department, Shiner Police Department, and three Lavaca County constables assisted the sheriff’s office. Area residents also assisted in the search.

In a separate incident Monday afternoon, Yoakum Police received a report of possible illegal immigrants at a local business in the bed of a pickup covered with a blanket. As an officer arrived, the truck was leaving and the driver ignored attempts to stop the truck, according to a news release from the Yoakum Police Department.

The pickup traveled north on alternate U.S. Highway 77, then ran through a gate and crossed a pasture to Lavaca County Road 315. At some point, the occupants of the truck fled on foot. Area residents reported sightings to law enforcement as Yoakum Police were assisted by the Lavaca County Sheriff’s Office and Shiner Police Department. Fourteen people were detained and turned over to federal immigration officers.

Immigration sweep nets 42, provoking outcry (Providence Journal)

Immigration sweep nets 42, provoking outcry

By Karen Lee Ziner

Journal Staff Writer

01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, June 14, 2008

NEWPORT — Community advocates yesterday denounced a two-day immigration sweep on Aquidneck Island as an inhumane and deliberate effort to spread fear, and they said the raids on Wednesday and Thursday had already pushed people into hiding.

At a news conference in Washington Square, half a dozen speakers said agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement had gone into restaurants, stores and apartments during the sweep, but in some cases appeared to be targeting people because they appeared foreign and were driving landscaping trucks.

“This is nothing less than Gestapo tactics, and it has to stop,” said Alison Foley, a Providence lawyer. She said she and others are trying to get legal aid and other assistance to detainees and their families.

Immigration agents, assisted by state and local police, arrested 42 people from Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico in Newport and Middletown, according to Paula Grenier, spokeswoman for ICE in Boston.

She said 21 had ignored final orders of deportation, 12 had illegally reentered the country after being deported, and 9 others were determined to be in the country illegally. Grenier said the agents are members of ICE’s Rhode Island Fugitive Operations Team.

Bruce E. Chadbourne, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal in Boston, said the agency “is committed to restoring integrity to our nation’s immigration system, and one way to do that is to ensure removal orders are carried out.”

Chadbourne said, “The United States welcomes law-abiding immigrants, but foreign nationals who violate our laws and who commit crimes against those in our communities will not be allowed to stay. Rest assured, ICE will use all available resources to remove from the country those not legally allowed to be here.”

But the Rev. Raymond Tetreault, pastor of St. Teresa D’Avila Church in Providence, called for a hiatus.

“They should call for a cessation of deportations right now, until Congress passes immigration reform,” the priest said. “They shouldn’t make the raids to begin with.” Father Tetreault acknowledged that the detainees were in the country illegally, “but they are coming to work. They’re supporting the economy. They’re doing what we want people to do.”

Carlos Escobedo, consul general for Guatemala in Providence, said he has asked ICE for a list of detainees, and their whereabouts.

“I will ask to visit them,” Escobedo said at the news conference. “We are worried about the families, especially about the children. Somebody told me there are six children without protection.” (That could not be confirmed). Escobedo said he wants to ensure that eligible detainees get their rightful hearing before an immigration judge.

Francesco Hernandez, who owns a landscaping company, said one of his employees alleged that ICE agents took down the license plate number of his truck, when they happened upon it at a local gas station. He said the truck has his company’s name on the side.

“A worker for me was driving the truck, and he was putting gas in the truck at the Shell station,” Hernandez said. “ICE came to put gas in their car, too.” Hernandez said his worker told him that when the agents spotted the truck, they got into an argument over trying to figure out “who is illegal” in the vehicle. That’s when one of the agents copied the plate number, Fernandez said.

“I was thinking they are going to come to my house,” Hernandez said. “But I have nothing to hide.”

The news conference on the steps of the Newport Old Colony House was just blocks from St. Joseph Church, which hosted forums two years ago in which immigrants complained they were being targeted by police and federal agents.

Yesterday afternoon, the church’s pastor, the Rev. Hugo Carmona, predicted that the latest sweep will force people underground.

“People are going into hiding. People right here don’t feel comfortable,” Carmona said. “Some families are completely broken. They feel very scared. People are not going to come out. They’re not going to go to work. They’re staying home.”

Zoila Valladeres, who owns a convenience store on Broadway that sells Guatemalan and Mexican products, said she learned about the immigration raids from a customer when she opened the store Wednesday morning.

“He was as pale as a piece of paper,” said Valladeres, of the customer. “He said, ‘Do you know Immigration is over there’ ” at a nearby store? “And I’m like, ‘Where?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, they’ve got several of my friends.’ He was so nervous.”

Valladeres said another merchant on her block told her that ICE agents had asked what time her store would be opening.

“Maybe they thought I was hiding?” she said. “If they want to come in, let them.”

Rosanne Sieglar, a Newport artist, said she was supposed to attend the wedding next week of a friend she’s known for 10 years, but she learned the ICE agents had arrested and detained him. “He was supposed to be married,” she said. “He has a masonry business. He worked so hard. He used to work at the Black Pearl [restaurant].”

Sieglar said the man’s relatives “are terrified. They’re hiding out somewhere.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

Immigrants arrested in federal raid (Tallahassee Democrat)

Immigrants arrested in federal raid
24 in custody of ICE after sweep of local restaurants

By Nic Corbett • DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER • June 13, 2008

A Tallahassee business owner says four of her establishments were targeted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Wednesday, an operation that resulted in the arrest of 24 illegal immigrants.

Those arrested were employees at four of Rosie Cabrera's businesses: El Mercadito Mexican Store on West Tennessee Street, Los Compadres restaurant on North Monroe Street, the Los Amigos restaurant in Woodville and the Los Amigos restaurant on Capital Circle Northeast, said her lawyer, James Countess.

Countess is a criminal defense lawyer but he said he doesn't anticipate criminal charges in this case.

"When (ICE agents) find illegals they remove them, so it's not necessarily a criminal matter. It's generally more of a civil matter," he said.

Countess said Thursday he has only had a brief conversation with Cabrera.

The immigrants, arrested at "a local area restaurant" after a search warrant was served there, are in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and will be placed in administrative removal proceedings, agency spokeswoman Nicole Navas said. She would not name the restaurant.

They will have the opportunity to present the facts of their case to an immigration judge, she said.

The immigrants, from Mexico and Guatemala, were arrested as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Navas said seven other people were released for humanitarian reasons, but she would not elaborate.

15 Nabbed In Drop House Raid (KPHO-Phoenix, AZ)

15 Nabbed In Drop House Raid

POSTED: 7:55 am MST June 13, 2008

PHOENIX -- Fifteen people, including four suspected human smugglers, were taken into custody Thursday after authorities raided a west Valley home.

Phoenix police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Public Safety teamed up to raid the suspected drop house at 49th Avenue and Indian School Road.

Police said one of the men in the home contacted a group of human smugglers in Mexico on June 2 and paid them $1,500 to bring him to Phoenix.

The smugglers sold him to another group, which brought him and 10 other illegal immigrants to Phoenix and kept them in the west Valley drop house, police said.

On Tuesday, police said, the smugglers told the man to call his wife and tell her that he and the others were being held against their will and that she would have to pay an additional $3,500 for his release.

The man's wife contacted ICE instead.

Authorities raided the home around 6 p.m. Thursday and said they found the 11 immigrants and four suspected smugglers inside. The smugglers had locked the immigrants in a bedroom and taken their shoes to prevent them from escaping, according to police.

Authorities said they also found weapons inside the home, including a shotgun and a handgun.
The 11 immigrants were turned over to ICE to be returned to Mexico.

The suspected smugglers were arrested on charges of kidnapping, extortion and misconduct involving weapons.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Police nab 44 in CC as part of statewide roundup (Corpus Christi Caller-Times)

Police nab 44 in CC as part of statewide roundup

By David Kassabian
Originally published 03:13 p.m., June 10, 2008
Updated 03:13 p.m., June 10, 2008

Federal agents working with state and local officers arrested 44 people in Corpus Christi during a six-day sting that ended this weekend targeting gang members.

The sting, led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and centering on eight Houston area cities, netted 149 statewide including 67 gang members and people known to associate with gang members, according to a customs enforcement news release. Officers and agents began the sting June 2 and ended Saturday.

Of the 44 people arrested in Corpus Christi, 30 were gang members or associates, the release said. The action was part of a larger, nation-wide effort dubbed “Operation Community Shield,” which targets gangs by deterring, disrupting and dismantling how gangs operate. Officers trace and seize the groups’ cash, weapons and other assets, prosecuting as many members as possible, the release said.

“We continue to look for ways to work with our federal counterparts to reduce crime and remove criminals from the streets,” Corpus Christi police Chief Bryan Smith said in the release. “This operation was a huge success.”

287(g) now operational (The Daily Citizen)

287(g) now operational

By Kim Sloan

Published: June 11, 2008 12:12 am

After a three month wait, the 287(g) program is now up and running at the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office.

A woman charged for failure to appear on a charge of driving with a suspended license was found to be an illegal alien after she was processed through the system, Sheriff Scott Chitwood said on Tuesday. The woman was not identified by the sheriff’s office. She will be turned over to officials with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A representative from ICE was at the sheriff’s office Tuesday afternoon completing the installation of the equipment needed for the program. The program, known as 287(g) for the section where it is found in federal law, will not cost the county any money and is funded entirely by the federal government, Chitwood said.

“We have been on their time schedule,” Chitwood said of the delay in implementing the program. “It’s been three months since the training was completed and we now have it installed.”

The sheriff’s office now has access to a database that will let officials know if a person has been caught illegally crossing the border, been deported before or does not have legal status in the United States. Six deputies trained in Gainesville in February on how to use the equipment and the database.

Under the program, when a suspect is booked into the jail, his or her information such as name, date of birth and Social Security number are run through the database. If ICE information indicates the suspect is in the country illegally, the suspect will be booked into the ICE system and a hold will be placed.

“When (the inmate) is finished with state or county time, there is already a detainer in place,” said Capt. Rick Swiney with the sheriff’s office. “That way you don’t put them out on the street. This will take a little more time but we think it is well worth it.”

ICE rounds up three in Dalton (The Daily Citizen)

ICE rounds up three in Dalton

By Kim Sloan

Published: June 11, 2008 12:34 am

While most criminals do their crimes in secret, gang members “tend to flaunt” their criminal activity, says David Nahmias, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

“Gang members drive a car on a crowded street and fire an entire magazine of bullets,” Nahmias said. “We don’t do a good job of identifying crimes as gang related. There’s a lot that goes on that is not identified.”

Graffiti is one of the first signs of gang activity, Nahmias said.

“When you see the graffiti, that’s when you start dealing with the problem,” he said.

With school out, law enforcement officers see an increase in gang activity. This can range from graffiti to drive-by shootings.

“We are trying to get ahead of the problem,” Nahmias said. “(Gang activity) progresses from minor petty crimes to drive-by shootings to murders.”

Last week officers with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a state-wide sweep that resulted in three arrests in Whitfield County for immigration violations and more than 120 arrests from the areas of metro Atlanta, Savannah and Albany. The three arrested in Dalton were members of the Fifth Avenue gang, said Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for ICE.

The arrests were the result of a week-long investigation, Gonzalez said. Those arrested, who were not identified by ICE, were taken to an ICE detention center in south Georgia.

The sweeps are just one way the federal government targets gangs, Nahmias said. Another method is to focus on individual gang members who break the law.

“We work with ICE to identify those gang members,” Nahmias said.

Recruitment begins when kids are in junior high. And the perception that gangs are tied to immigration is acceptable, Nahmias said.

“These are young people without strong ties to the communities who don’t feel like they have viable options,” Nahmias said.

But things are improving, he said. The public may not see the work that officials such as those with the Conasauga Safe Streets Task Force do every day to identify gang members. And large investigations, which Nahmias would not disclose, are going on across the district, he said.

While law enforcement officials are working to curtail gang activity, members of the public can keep kids from getting involved in gangs.

“The one thing we have heard is to give kids in middle school and early high school some alternative to being on the street,” Nahmias said. “This is the most important time.”

Sun Valley Floral Farms loses half its work force in illegal immigration crackdown (Eureka Reporter)

Sun Valley Floral Farms loses half its work force in illegal immigration crackdown

By VIVIAN DUNLAP, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Jun 10 2008, 11:17 PM

“Yesterday was probably one of the hardest days,” Lane DeVries said. As president and CEO of the company that he has co-owned since 1991, Sun Valley Floral Farms, DeVries had to let go 283 of the company’s workers Monday in an illegal immigration work site enforcement sweep by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement organization, also known as “ICE.”

“I’ve been at Sun Valley for 25 years,” he said. “Of the group that we had to regretfully let go, there were people that had been with the company for 17 years.”

Still reeling from the experience, DeVries recalled how it all came about. “In November of last year, ICE requested that we provide I-9 forms of every team member that is working in our company, so we did so,” he explained. “They came to pick up the boxes with the I-9’s in them and we didn’t hear anything.”

Then, “Last Monday, we had a visit from an ICE agent with a letter saying a good number of our team members appeared to have their numbers, social security numbers or alien registration numbers, incorrect,” he explained.

“Regretfully, we had to let go about a little over half of our work force.”

Pat Reilly, public affairs spokesperson for ICE, said that what happened to Sun Valley Floral is not unusual, and a necessary enforcement step in the battle against illegal immigration.

“Work site enforcement is a priority for ICE. Why? Because we think this is the magnet that has contributed to illegal immigration,” she explained. “People are coming here to take jobs. By going and asking employers to join us in combating illegal immigration by showing due diligence in their hiring process, we are turning off the magnet. We are saying it is going to be harder for you to get a job.”

Reilly said that ICE focuses on ensuring that employers are complying with immigration laws by conducting inspections like the one that occurred at Sun Valley Floral. “We go to employers routinely to do I-9 inspections,” she explained. If it is found that employee’s numbers aren’t matching up to the proper identification, ICE takes the next step — which Reilly said entails “usually some kind of a notice that is sent out that says ‘you have irregularities in your I-9’s.’”

In addition, Reilly said that the Internet-based “E-Verify” system is in place at that employers can use to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.

Operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration, Reilly said “E-Verify can tell you if (employees) are using fraudulent numbers. They’re even getting to the point where there are pictures involved as well, because fraudulent ID’s are a nuisance.”

The ICE Web site states that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has “significantly enhanced its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in the United States,” and, compared to the civil fines on employers of the past, today’s standards are much stronger.

“Today, ICE relies heavily on criminal prosecutions and the seizure of company assets to gain compliance from businesses that violate the employment provisions of our nation’s immigration laws,” the site states.

DeVries witnessed first-hand the “significantly enhanced” efforts that ICE speaks of in its Web site. “That is clearly what is happening here. The guidelines have changed over what happened in the past,” he said. “In the past when you hired someone, they provided a documentation. You checked based on authenticity and that was the standard. If a document appeared to look authentic, based on that standard, you hired someone. That standard has changed, and today there is a verification process. In that sense, moving forward it will be much clearer.”

“The fortunate news is that we are in one of our slower times right now,” DeVries said of the timing of it all. “If there is any consolation at all, that is at least one. Nonetheless, we have a lot of work to do.”

He said that Express Personnel was one of the first to offer assistance by bringing a group of 25 personnel Tuesday morning to help out. “We are also recruiting at the local high schools by getting both the graduates and the students that are out for the summer. We are also looking for radio and TV advertising, so we’re looking at a number of programs,” he said of restaffing the company, which ships flowers to wholesalers and supermarkets throughout the country.

Facing the problem of dealing with perishable crops and flowers that need to be picked and shipped, as well as bulbs that need to be harvested in the weeks to come, DeVries said there is only time to learn a lesson from the experience, pick up and keep going.

“We have our job cut out for us,” he said, “and it is by no means a cakewalk.”

Indians on Hunger Strike to Avoid Deportation (New American Media)

Indians on Hunger Strike to Avoid Deportation

New America Media , Commentary, Arnoldo Garcia, Posted: Jun 12, 2008

Editor’s Note: Indian guest workers who say they were trafficked to the post-Katrina Gulf Coast have launched a hunger strike to stay in the United States. Arnoldo Garcia is director of the Immigrant Justice and Rights Program at the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Immigration Matters regularly features the views of the nation's leading immigrant rights advocates.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On June 11, hundreds of workers from India who were trafficked to the post-Katrina Gulf Coast held a rally outside of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. They demanded that the Attorney General grant them "continued presence" in the United States under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The workers were brought here in 2006 with H2B visas, a U.S. guest worker program, but faced threats and abuse in the United States.

Communities and organizations around the country held various local events and actions on that day to support the Indian workers' demands and challenge the use of guest worker programs.

The Indian workers, who allege that they were recruited by force, fraud and coercion by a U.S. company – Signal International, LLC – say they were sold false promises of well-paid and secure construction jobs. They say they were also led to believe that they could bring their families and build new lives in the United States. Each of them reportedly paid recruiters $20,000 for these dreams, selling their homes and plunging their families into debt, only to arrive into an American nightmare. The workers were held in forced labor, crammed into tiny living quarters with 24 men to a small room. They faced constant threats and humiliation by their employers.

Saket Soni, of the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, who helped organize the workers, said, "When we started to organize the workers last year, Signal sent armed guards to the labor camps at the break of dawn. They pulled organizers out of beds, imprisoned them on company grounds, and attempted to deport them. Three hundred workers went on strike to demand the release of their captive organizers."

A year later, the workers escaped from their labor camps and convinced Congress to hold a hearing this year to investigate Signal's criminal trafficking practices and the use of guest worker programs in the Gulf Coast. They were also able to pressure the Indian government to hold criminal proceedings against the recruiters in India.

On May 14 this year, the Indian workers launched a hunger strike in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, to avoid the ongoing threat of deportation by the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The workers desperately need to be protected under the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act, to be released from the continued terror of deportation and to safely participate in the federal government's investigation.

According to Colin Rajah of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, "Guest worker programs around the world have become a means for exploiting immigrant workers as cheap and disposable labor to maximize corporate profits. Workers who are funneled into such programs as the H2B program in the U.S. often have to pay exorbitant fees to their recruiters, and then are forced to work in sub-human conditions with the threat of firings, deportation and abuse if they refuse. Large companies are working in cahoots with the government in denying immigrant workers equal treatment and their rights as workers and as human beings."

Feds nab 11 gang members in two day sweep in Brockton aimed at curbing violent crime (Enterprise News)

Feds nab 11 gang members in two day sweep in Brockton aimed at curbing violent crime

By Maureen Boyle
Posted Jun 12, 2008 @ 11:53 AM

Eleven gang members were arrested in a federal immigration sweep aimed at ridding the streets of violent street gangs.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, along with Brockton police, arrested 11 gang members and associates along with 11 others with criminal records for deportation.

The two-day operation, ending today, is the latest in the ICE Operation Community Shield enforcement effort.

Those arrested had criminal records for chargse ranging from assault to kill and racketeering to witness intimidation and malicious destruction of property.

Those arrested as part of the operation are foreign nationals from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Haiti, according to ICE.

Of the 22 arrested, 16 were permanent residents with criminal convictions making them eligible for deportation. Five were illegally living in the country and one was wanted on a warrant for deportation.

The sweep comes as federal, state and local law enforcement officials try to find ways to keep violence down in the city as the weather heats up.

State police have boosted patrols in the city, working side-by-side with Brockton officers on some patrols, in one attempt to keep the lid on crime.

Working with federal officials and agencies has also been another way to target some violent criminals in the city.

“Public safety is a significant part of ICE’s role in protecting the homeland, but it is also a shared law enforcement mission,” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent-in-charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Boston, in a prepared statement. “ICE works closely with other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe, which in this case is the removal of criminal gang members and others who threaten the safety of Brockton neighborhoods.”

Gang members arrested in immigration sweep (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Gang members arrested in immigration sweep
By Linda Spice

THURSDAY, June 12, 2008, 11:09 a.m.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today announced the arrest of eight suspected criminal illegal immigrants accused of having Entered Without Inspection (EWI) in and around Sheboygan earlier this week.

The arrests are a result of ongoing efforts to identify, arrest and turn over violent individuals known to be members or organized criminal street gangs to federal immigration authorities for administrative proceedings, according to Van Hollen's office.

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Sheboygan Police Department and the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office as well as Wisconsin Department of Justice Special Agents participated in the arrests as part of Operation Community Shield. The program is a national law enforcement initiative that targets violent transitional street gangs through the use of ICE's broad law enforcement powers, including the unique authority to remove and deport criminals, including illegal immigrants and those with legal permanent resident status.

"The identification and arrest of illegal aliens who organize and are members of criminal street gangs must be a top priority of all law enforcement. The success of this operation speaks for itself. These street criminals are now out of Wisconsin neighborhoods and off the streets," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen in a statement. He went on to say, "I am grateful to the Sheboygan Police Department, the Sheboygan County Sheriff, and the ICE officials with whom we have and will continue to work cooperatively."

Those arrested are being held in a federally contracted holding facility in Wisconsin. They will be brought before federal officials to consider their ultimate disposition and deportation, according to Van Hollen's office.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To Bond or Not to Bond (Santa Fe Reporter)

To Bond or Not to Bond

By Mark Sanders

Published: June 11, 2008

As an employee at Santa Fe County’s jail, Nancy Hun, 29, has seen plenty of undocumented immigrants deported after landing in the facility. Three weeks ago, it hit home.

Hun learned the father of her 5-year-old daughter had been arrested when a local bail bond agent called her. Hun’s former boyfriend, Guatemala-born Juan Carlos Trujillo-Santiago, had been arrested by Santa Fe police for resisting arrest and needed $150 bond for his $1,500 bail. Hun agreed to pay the bond so Trujillo-Santiago could await his trial at home.

That never happened. Hun soon learned an “immigration hold” had been placed on Trujillo-Santiago, giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 48 hours to come retrieve Trujillo-Santiago. Subsequently, he would be transferred to ICE’s custody and deported.

Thus, Melissa Valdez from Jerry Gonzales Bail Bonding advised Hun there was no reason to post bond.

This advice has immigration advocates concerned. Officials from Somos Un Pueblo, a human rights group focusing on New Mexico’s immigrant community, say there have been numerous recent incidents in which family members were discouraged from posting bond.

Somos Executive Director Marcella Diaz advised Hun to pay the bond anyway.

Most family members of undocumented immigrants are advised, like Hun, not to pay bond due to the ICE hold, Diaz says. “We know that that’s illegal. Anyone who is afforded bail—it could be high, could be low—but once you’re afforded bail, you have the right to post it.”

In the case of Trujillo-Santiago, “the judge clearly did not think of this man as a flight risk,” Diaz tells SFR, noting Trujillo-Santiago’s low $150 bond. “He should have had the opportunity to go back [to court] and deal with this.”

Most of the time, men and women with ICE holds will never have the opportunity to go back to court because there is a strong likelihood ICE will deport them first. However, Diaz notes, there is always the possibility that ICE won’t show up.

This was not the case for Trujillo-Santiago. Hun paid his bond immediately and ICE came to get him the following day.

But Diaz says a person who does not receive bond can sit in jail for weeks waiting to see a judge. During that time, she says, taxpayers are footing the bill for an immigrant who will likely be deported right after seeing the judge. Diaz notes that many families faced with the harsh reality of their loved ones being deported would rather just get it over with.

Trujillo-Santiago’s initial arrest was unconnected to his immigration status. The City of Santa Fe Police Department was part of a multi-state gang raid the weekend of May 16 with ICE, US Marshals and state and county law enforcement agencies. A tip led to a raid on a Zepol Road apartment where there were several undocumented immigrants at the apartment; none were arrested. Trujillo-Santiago, however, crawled out a window and ran from the apartment—apparently believing police were there on an immigration raid—and was arrested after leading police on a foot chase.

“Basically, had this guy just stayed in place and cooperated, he would have been fine,” Santa Fe Police Capt. Gary Johnson says.

ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa says Trujillo-Santiago was subsequently interviewed by ICE agents who discovered he was undocumented.

Bond agent Valdez confirms she advised Hun not to pay the bond after learning of Trujillo-Santiago’s immigration status.

“We don’t like to take people’s money if they’re not getting out of jail,” she explains. Her agency does not refund bond money, regardless of the circumstances. “With that 48-hour hold, most of the time Immigration is going to pick them up.”

It’s a philosophy other bondspeople share. “The whole purpose of family members putting up bail money is so that a person can be released,” Elvie Lucero, co-owner of A-Bonding Co., says. “With ICE holds, that complicates things.”

Dolores Archuleta of Madrid Bail Bonds says she’s seen a spike in ICE holds over the past two or three months. She concurs with Lucero and Valdez. “We have to explain to families that [their loved ones] aren’t getting out of jail. They’ll be deported,” she says.

Currently, Trujillo-Santiago is in the Otero County’s jail awaiting deportation. Hun wants to see him, but does not know how long he will be there before being sent back to Guatemala.

Working in the jail, Hun says, it never bothered her to see inmates serving time for crimes and then getting deported.

“I understand that no matter where you’re from or what you do, if you commit a crime, I’m sorry,” she says. “But as far as [Trujillo-Santiago] and others who are taken into ICE custody just for being illegal, and then get put in these facilities and moved around—that does bother me. I know they’re not committing a crime, and yet their families may not even know English and wonder where their loved ones are. Within this year there’s been so much drama with ICE all over the US. I’ve seen it, but when it hits home, it’s harder to deal with.”

Illegal alien arrested in Dunklin County for DWI pleads guilty (Daily Dunklin Democrat)

Illegal alien arrested in Dunklin County for DWI pleads guilty

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Mexican citizen pled guilty June 10 to unlawful entry into the United States,according to United States Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway.

Carlos Gomez-Perez, 39, pled guilty to one felony count of unlawful entry into the United States. He appeared before United States District Judge Charles A. Shaw.

On January 5, 2008, Gomez-Perez was arrested in Dunklin County, Missouri for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. He was later identified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as Carlos Gomez-Perez, a Mexican citizen illegally in the United States.

Gomez-Perez was transported to the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in St. Louis, Missouri where an INS Database check revealed he had a prior immigration history in the name of Carlos Gomez-Perez and that he was born in Mexico.

Upon review of his INS file, ICE learned that Gomez-Perez had previously been deported from the United States to Mexico. On July 2, 2001, he was convicted of attempting to enter the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation in violation of 8 U.S.C. §1325(a)(3), in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and was sentenced to probation without supervision for a period of five years.

ICE obtained verification from the United States Immigration Records Division that prior to Gomez-Perez's re-entry on or about January 5, 2008, he had not applied to the Attorney General of the United States or to the Secretary of Homeland Security for permission to re-enter the United States.

Gomez-Perez now faces a maximum punishment of two years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing has been set for September 24, 2008.

Hanaway praised the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for its work on the case. Assistant United States Attorney Paul W. Hahn handled the prosecution for the government.

Pastor to be deported in Indian tribe case (Lawrence Journal-World)

Pastor to be deported in Indian tribe case

June 11, 2008

— A pastor ensnared in the federal prosecution of a group that claims to be an American Indian tribe was sentenced Tuesday to time served for falsely claiming he was a U.S. citizen to get a Social Security card.

Jaime Cervantes, 45, who had already served nine months, was handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation to Mexico. He was arrested in September as part of the prosecution of the Kaweah Indian Nation and its self-proclaimed chief, Malcolm Webber, in an alleged scam to sell tribal memberships to immigrants under the guise that the documents would give them U.S. citizenship.

Investigators now believe that between 10,000 and 15,000 immigrants in at least 15 states were defrauded into buying tribal memberships in the group, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson said.

“Once this case was filed, we saw a dramatic drop off in that activity,” Anderson said.

Cervantes, who pleaded guilty in April, was the first defendant in the case to be convicted.

His 19-year-old daughter, Noa Cervantes, told The Associated Press that her father believed Webber’s claims that those who joined the tribe would essentially be “reborn” as U.S. citizens.

“My client is more of a victim in this case than a witness,” Cervantes’ attorney, Roger Falk, said after Tuesday’s hearing.

Noa Cervantes said that Webber had come to her father’s church, Pentecostal United Hispanic, to preach and tell church members about an opportunity “only for Christians” to become U.S. citizens through membership in his tribe.

“My father believed he was a man of God,” she said in Spanish. “He deceived him and all the Christians in the church.”

When Webber spoke at the church, Cervantes and his wife were in the country legally under a 10-year work visa that expired in September 2007, Falk said. Cervantes paid $200 to enroll the family as tribal members, Noa Cervantes said.

Anderson said that the government has heard similar accounts from others about Webber.

Jaime Cervantes will likely be deported in two to three weeks. The trial for the remaining 10 defendants charged in the Kaweah Indian case is scheduled for Aug. 5.

Bill halts deportation of high school valedictorian (Fresno Bee)

Bill halts deportation of high school valedictorian

06/11/08 16:09:48

The father of the Bullard High School valedictorian who had faced deportation to Armenia will be released Thursday from a detention facility in Arizona so that he can be reunited with his family in Fresno, federal officials said Wednesday.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a Senate bill Tuesday evening that halts the deportation of Arthur Mkoyan, 17, his mother Asmik Karapetian and Ruben Mkoian, Arthur's father.

Arthur, a 4.0 grade-point average student, learned of Feinstein's bill shortly after his graduation ceremony Tuesday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had ordered Arthur and his mother to leave the United States in late June and return to Armenia. Arthur's 12-year-old brother, a U.S. citizen, would have had no choice but to leave with the family, family members have said.

Ruben Mkoian is in a detention facility in Eloy, Ariz., but because of the bill, he will be released Thursday, said Virginia Kice, a ICE spokeswoman.

"We are preparing to release him," Kice said.

The private bill would grant permanent legal residency, but private bills rarely pass. As long as the bill is pending or is reintroduced, however, it protects its beneficiaries from deportation.

Arthur's family, who entered the United States on tourist visas, had fled the former Soviet Union and had been seeking asylum since 1992. Ruben Mkoian's application for asylum was rejected.

Mkoian, who spells his name differently from his son, appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The court rejected his appeal, saying he hadn't demonstrate that Armenian officials would be unwilling to protect him or that he would be tortured if he returned to Armenia.

Once Asmik Karapetian learned her husband was coming home, she said she was in shock.

"Everything is happening so fast. Oh, my God. It's like a dream," Karapetian said.

ICE doubles security efforts to ensure violence doesn't spill over (El Paso Times)

ICE doubles security efforts to ensure violence doesn't spill over

By Adriana M. Chávez / El Paso Times