O.C.-bound family held at LAX, returned to Australia
Man trying to visit infirm father in La Habra detained 26 hours.
By LOU PONSI, CINDY CARCAMO and DEEPA BHARATH
The Orange County Register
A La Habra physician wants an apology from customs officials she said detained her brother and his family – all Australian citizens – at Los Angeles International Airport for more than a day before deporting them back to Australia without being allowed to visit their U.S relatives.
The man was attempting to visit his ailing 84-year-old father, whom he had not seen for three years.
Nasima Begum, an infectious disease specialist with a practice in West Covina, had been concerned with the deteriorating condition of her father, Mohammad Sardar, who has heart disease.
Sardar and his wife, Halima, 70, have been living with Begum for the past three years.
Begum told her brother, who lives in a suburb of Sydney and is Sardar's only son, if he didn't make a trip to the U.S. to visit their father soon, he might never see his dad alive again. Sardar has been on oxygen around the clock for the past nine months
"As a physician, I know that his health is declining," Begum said.
On Jan. 13, Fazle Rabbi, 38, his wife, Rokeya, 36, and their 14- and 8-year-old sons – all Australian citizens with valid U.S. visas – made the nearly 18-hour trip from Sydney to Los Angeles.
When the family arrived at LAX, they were headed to the federal inspection station at Tom Bradley International Terminal when they were stopped by customs officials.
The Register's attempts to contact Rabbi were unsuccessful.
Rabbi told the Sydney Morning Herald that he and his wife were questioned, patted down and their luggage searched.
The couple was taken in a caged van along with their sons to a detention center, and then at 2:30 a.m. to a hotel, where they remained under guard, the Jan. 25 Herald article stated.
Only a few hours passed when Rabbi said they were awakened, taken back to LAX, and eventually put on a flight back to Sydney.
Rabbi told the Herald his family was given little to eat or drink during the ordeal.
"That behavior by immigration officers to civilians is not appropriate," Begum said. "We are American. … Why did they have to do this? We know that we are not criminal people."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they could not get into specific details of what happened because of federal privacy laws.
However, agency spokeswoman Kelly Rose Ivahnenko said Wednesday from Washington, D.C., that an Australian citizen could be denied entry to U.S. if the person had previously been denied a visa, had a criminal history or had overstayed a visa in the past.
Begum said her brother was living in Bangladesh in the early '90s and was denied a visa. Rabbi moved with his family to Australia four years ago, she said.
"It is very common for people from developing countries not to get visas," Begum said.
Officials also disputed the family's allegations of poor treatment.
Ivahnenko said the family was offered food and drink, which they initially refused but accepted later.
"I think it was McDonalds," Ivahnenko said.
On the 26-hour length of stay, Ivahnenko said the next flight to Australian did not leave until the following morning because an earlier flight had been canceled due to mechanical failure. Also, the family was taken to a hotel, not a detention center, she said.
Meanwhile, Sardar said he is longing to see his son.
"I was very much looking forward to seeing him," he said. "My wife, too, was dying to see him. We're both devastated and very sad."
Begum hopes her brother will soon be given permission to enter the country.
"All we want is an apology and for him to be able to come for two or three weeks to see his dad."
Friday, January 30, 2009
O.C.-bound family held at LAX, returned to Australia
Numerous arrests by Border Patrol at Riverside day-laborer site
10:00 PM PST on Thursday, January 29, 2009
By DAVID OLSON
U.S. Border Patrol agents Thursday swept into Riverside's Casa Blanca neighborhood and arrested at least 11 people on immigration charges, authorities said.
Riverside police Lt. Bruce Loftus said the arrests were made after numerous complaints of trespassing and loitering on and around Madison Street south of Highway 91, near a Home Depot.
Many day laborers typically gather in the area seeking work.
Loftus said Riverside police called the Border Patrol after they could not identify suspects.
Twelve people were arrested, and 11 were taken away by federal agents, he said.
The Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, a group representing day laborers, said as many as 30 people were apprehended.
Border Patrol spokesman Agent Richard Velez said he could not confirm the exact number of arrests but said it probably was not as many as 30.
Suzanne Foster, executive director of the day-laborer group, said members of her organization and the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network witnessed and filmed the arrests, which occurred between 5 a.m. and 1 p.m.
"The Border Patrol is going out of its bounds," Foster said. "We don't think the Border Patrol should aggressively raid people walking down the street or riding their bikes and not committing any crimes."
She accused the Border Patrol of racial profiling, by stopping random Latinos on the street.
Velez defended the arrests and denied targeting any ethnic group.
"We have a mandate from Congress to enforce our immigration laws, and that's what we're doing," he said.
The raid came a month after at least six people were arrested at a San Bernardino day-laborer site.
Foster said people have also been arrested at the San Bernardino Greyhound station.
Velez said Thursday night he could not immediately confirm arrests at the Greyhound station, although he previously said the Border Patrol keeps tabs on the station.
Mexican national sues over immigration hold
by PHIL FEROLITO
Victor Lemus Mendoza, a Mexican national, sat in the Yakima County jail on an immigration hold for more than two weeks before being turned over to immigration authorities.
In a federal lawsuit filed this week, his attorney argues the practice is both common and a violation of civil rights.
When federal authorities arrested Mendoza at his Pasco home on Jan. 13, they planned to file drug charges against him. But that didn't happen. Specifics on the drug case were not immediately available Thursday.
However, the U.S. Marshal's office now says Mendoza should have been turned over to immigration authorities as soon as it was determined that drug charges wouldn't be filed. It blames the delay on a paperwork glitch.
But Mendoza's attorney, George Trejo Jr. in Yakima, said it happens all the time and accuses federal authorities of using immigration holds to avoid the law which states a person can't be held more than 48 hours if charges aren't filed.
"That's the customary practice they follow," he said. "When you're talking 15 days without any action, without talking to a judge, that's ridiculous."
Within 48 hours of his arrest, Mendoza should have either been charged or turned over to immigration authorities, Trejo contends.
"It's our contention that an (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) hold is unconstitutional," he said.
The lawsuit also seeks to allow Mendoza to return to Mexico on his own accord without facing any penalties.
But an immigration hold in itself is a charge, said Lori Dankers, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle.
Immigration authorities can put an immigration hold on people here illegally once coming in contact with them, she said.
"Whether criminal charges get filed or not, ultimately he's going to be turned over to ICE," she said.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Three Illegal Chinese Immigrants Arrested In Salamanca
By The Post-Journal Staff
POSTED: January 29, 2009
Three Chinese citizens living in Warren, Pa., were charged with immigration violations at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca.
Chung Mau Ling, 26, of Warren, Al Jian Gao, 26, and Dao Mou Ni, 33, all of Warren, were all taken to a federal detention facility in Batavia after an investigation by the Cattaraugus County Sheriffs Department.
According to a police report, two men from the Republic of China presented false drivers licenses to employees at the casino, who then notified the Cattaraugus County Sheriffs Department Casino Division, who detained the men for questioning. The men could not speak English, and called a friend to translate for them. The friend was also found to be an illegal immigrant.
Sheriffs deputies then called Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents. They are now being held until removal proceedings can be completed.
Advocates for immigrants say Latinos unfairly targeted in Fells Point raid
(Click link for video)
By Scott Calvert | email@example.com
2:26 PM EST, January 29, 2009
Immigrant advocates today released video footage that they say shows federal agents unfairly targeted Latinos during a January 2007 raid outside a 7-Eleven store in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood.
The video, taken from store cameras, captured the raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The roundup netted 24 men suspected of being illegal immigrants. Most have since been deported or left the country voluntarily.
In the video, agents can be seen ignoring several black store patrons while rounding up Latino men. Advocates say a white man who had hired three Latinos for day labor was allowed to drive his pickup truck away from the 7-Eleven after the Latinos were taken into custody. His race could not be determined in the video.
In addition, the advocates say that the video shows agents detaining a number of Latinos who had been standing at a bus stop across the street from the 7-Eleven, a common hiring spot for day laborers.
"Today with this video we're fighting back," said Jessica Alvarez, chairwoman of the National Capital Immigration Coalition. "Today we are showing everyone exactly what our community has been telling us about the abuses, about the racial profiling."
Alvarez spoke at a late morning news conference at a Fells Point church a few blocks from the 7-Eleven on South Broadway.
Richard Rocha, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he has not seen the footage. But, on the issue of racial profiling, he said: "These allegations were thoroughly investigated in 2007 and were deemed to be unsubstantiated."
"In this case our officers used their training and experience to respond to a developing situation as it unfolded. They were approached by individuals asking if they needed workers. Those workers were questioned and ultimately it was determined they were in the country illegally."
CASA de Maryland, a Silver Spring-based immigrant advocacy group with a Baltimore office, released the video. The group announced it had sued the Department of Homeland Security in federal court for internal documents related to the raid.
CASA also said it had filed wrongful arrest claims with Homeland Security on behalf of three of the men detained in the raid. One voluntarily returned to El Salvador. The two others are free on bond in Baltimore while fighting the government's attempts to deport them. All are seeking $500,000 apiece.
Hoover family separated by immigration officials reunites with hugs and tears
Posted by Erin Stock -- Birmingham News January 29, 2009 4:30 PM
Imad Mohammad's brother, a defensive lineman at Hoover's Spain Park High, was waiting in the driveway to hug Imad when he pulled up this afternoon.
The two young men embraced, and Imad's mother joined them, before making her way with tears to her four other children.
"I love you. I missed you. I'm OK. I'm OK," she told her 5-year-old daughter, who stayed by her side and took a close seat next to her on the couch once everyone was inside.
Imad and his mother, Sana Alsaidy, were released late Wednesday from federal detention in Louisiana and returned home today. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents picked them up Jan. 12 at their Hoover home for failing to leave the country after a judge ordered it. Imad's father, Mohammad, also was detained, but he was released the same day to work and care for his five other children, all U.S. citizens.
"I'm so happy to have my kids back, to be able to touch and smell them," said Alsaidy, encircled by her children. "I don't want to be separated from my kids ever again."
ICE spokesman Ivan Ortiz said the mother and son were released because of the humanitarian concerns related to the five other children. He said they are required to report to ICE officers under the conditions of their release. They will be removed from the United States once they obtain travel documents, he said.
The Palestinian family lost an asylum claim but had another one pending when ICE agents picked them up, according to their attorney, who is planning to try and re-open the case based on the pending claim.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
More than 2 dozen people found in west Phoenix drop house
Reported by: Dave Biscobing
Reported by: Deborah Stocks
Last Update: 1/27 5:26 pm
Police raided a west Phoenix drop house Tuesday, discovering more than two dozen people packed inside the home.
A large team of officers descended on the residence near 69th Avenue and Thomas Road just before noon.
Several people were sitting, lined up along the street as officers investigated and conducted interviews.
Police said they learned of the drop house earlier in the morning.
They received a tip from a man who was released Monday from the drop house after his family paid several thousands dollars to get him out, Phoenix police spokesman Louis Samudio said.
Inside the house, there were between 25 to 30 people.
Police said it appears six of those individuals are tied to a human smuggling group
There appears to be no sign of serious injury, assault or sexual assault, police said.
However, more than half of the people inside the home were without shoes.
"Usually when they are kept at these homes for a period of time, (the coyotes) ask the people to take their shoes off, so it's more difficult to get away or escape," Samudio said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were also at the scene.
Chicago immigration activist marks year in church
The Associated Press
Published: January 28, 2009
Flor Crisostomo has quietly spent the last year inside a Chicago church writing letters, meeting with school groups and organizing political demonstrations toward her goal of U.S. immigration reform.
The illegal immigrant has defied a deportation order to her native Mexico and lived at Adalberto United Methodist Church, hoping to draw attention to immigration reform at a time when the economy and election of a new U.S. president have taken center stage.
"We have to have a plan," she told The Associated Press late Tuesday, the eve of her one-year anniversary at the church. "My people need a voice."
The 29-year-old Crisostomo said she has no immediate plans to leave, unlike immigration activist Elvira Arellano, who announced the end of her sanctuary at the same church in 2007 on her one-year anniversary. She was arrested and deported to Mexico shortly after leaving.
Crisostomo, who has also pushed for a renegotiation of North American Free Trade Agreement, said her work isn't done and she wants President Barack Obama to make good on campaign promises for reform. She wrote an open letter to Obama and planned to read it Wednesday at a news conference at the church.
"No one wants to end the system of undocumented labor more than the undocumented. That system left me unprotected from exploitation as a worker and unable to visit my children in Mexico. With legalization, we can also have employment verification and enforcement without destroying the lives of families and the economy of the Latino community," she wrote, according to a copy of the letter sent to The Associated Press.
Crisostomo said the hardest part about the last year has been getting politicians to listen to her message and living without her three children who are in Mexico with their grandmother.
"My children are strong and they understand why I am fighting," she said.
Crisostomo left her three children in Iguala Guerrero, Mexico, in 2000 when she paid a smuggler to drive her across the border. She said she was unable to find a job in Mexico that would support her family.
Once in the U.S., she worked at a factory and was able to send home hundreds of dollars each week for her family. But she was arrested by immigration authorities in 2006, during raids on IFCO Systems North America sites across the country. She was scheduled for deportation, but took sanctuary at the church instead.
Agents with Immigration Customs and Enforcement have not made attempts to go inside the church and arrest her.
Kids Begin Hunger Strike to Prevent Their Illegal Alien Mom From Being Deported (Latin American Herald Tribune)
Kids Begin Hunger Strike to Prevent Their Illegal Alien Mom From Being Deported
By Sonia Osorio
MIAMI -- The U.S.-born children of an undocumented Nicaraguan woman began a hunger strike to prevent the deportation of their mother, who has been held in a South Florida immigration detention center since last month.
Cecia and Ronald Soza told Efe that they began their hunger strike on Monday at the headquarters of Fraternidad Americana, a pro-immigrant organization based in Miami.
"We're doing this to help my mother get out of the immigration center and we're asking President (Barack) Obama to take her out of there because she's not a criminal," 12-year-old Cecia says.
Her mother, Marisela Soza, 32, was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Dec. 19 in Pompano Beach, north of Miami, as she was going home after taking Cecia to catch the school bus.
The undocumented immigrant appealed her case before an immigration judge, but ICE has set her deportation date for next Thursday, according to Fraternidad Americana.
Ronald Soza, 9, in a letter to Obama said that he and his sister are "devastated" by their mother's situation, adding that they need her to help care for them.
The boy said that in December upon returning to their house "instead of finding our mother waiting for us with open arms, we learned that we were orphans. It was as if she had died and we had been left along in this world."
"I hope that my family can enjoy happy times together again. Please, stop them (that is, ICE), help us so that Mama returns home with us," begged the boy in his message.
The Soza kids are having to get by without the care of their father, who is in hiding to avoid being nabbed by ICE.
"He doesn't want the same thing that happened to my mom to happen to him because we would be completely alone in the country," said Cecia.
Nora Sandigo, executive director of Fraternidad Americana, said that the children came to her organization's headquarters on Monday and announced that they would fast as a pressure tactic to prevent their mother's deportation.
The activist, who is also guardian ad-litem for the Soza kids and for 600 other children in a lawsuit against the federal government, called in doctors to give the pair medical exams.
"We're calling on the government to help the Sozas' mother, who is ready to be deported on Thursday. But something can still be done: President Obama has the authority to intervene and we're hoping that that occurs as quickly as possible," she told Efe.
In another letter that Sandigo sent to the U.S. government, she requests that Marisela Soza's deportation be postponed until a complete evaluation of her case can be performed.
The Soza children began their hunger strike three days after Fraternidad Americana asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue an injunction suspending the deportations of undocumented parents until immigration reform is approved by Congress.
Filing the motion was attorney and Fraternidad Americana President Alfonso Oviedo-Reyes, who is representing the children pro bono. He says that the deportation of undocumented parents of the plaintiffs is a violation of the civil rights of the minors.
He said that before 1996, minors with parents in this situation had the right to go to court and have their immigration status resolved if they could fulfill three conditions.
The conditions were that they had to have lived in this country for more than seven years, be of good moral character and show that the children would suffer if their parents were deported. EFE
Hialeah man accused of migrant smuggling
A man has been charged with migrant smuggling after a boat landed in Boynton Beach with eight undocumented migrants.
By ALFONSO CHARDY
Federal immigration officials on Tuesday charged a Cuban resident of Hialeah with human smuggling after he told investigators he brought by boat to Boynton Beach from the Bahamas eight undocumented migrants in exchange for $3,000.
Jovel Domínguez Hernández, 27, made his first appearence before U.S. Magistrate Judge James M. Hopkins in West Palm Beach federal court Tuesday morning, only hours after he was arrested on the beach Monday night along with seven migrants from Haiti and one from Sierra Leone. Domínguez is scheduled to return to court Monday for a detention hearing, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Stephanie Slater, a spokeswoman for the Boynton Beach Police Department, said authorities had ''unconfirmed information'' that Monday's boat was ''possibly coming'' from Freeport.
An affidavit filed in court by ICE senior special agent Jay Ingersoll confirmed that the boat that landed in Boynton Beach on Monday night had sailed from the Bahamas, but identified the port as Nassau, where it had been impounded last month.
Information in the affidavit suggested that the boat belonged to a suspected South Florida ring of migrant smugglers, and that Domínguez was known to federal investigators.
Ingersoll said in the affidavit that in December authorities stopped Domínguez in Key West and issued him a written warning related to human smuggling.
Slater said the undocumented migrants in Boynton Beach, who were not identified, were turned over to the Border Patrol and the Cuban captain to federal investigators.
Ingersoll's affidavit said that after Domínguez was placed under arrest, he told investigators that he was offered $2,000 to retrieve the impounded vessel at Nassau.
Once he retrieved the boat, Domínguez was quoted as telling investigators, he was approached by a man who offered him an additional $3,000 to smuggle three people to Boynton Beach.
The group grew to eight people.
Two who fled from Rochester police are suspected of being illegal immigrants (Foster's Daily Democrat)
Two who fled from Rochester police are suspected of being illegal immigrants
By JOEY CRESTA
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
ROCHESTER — A man and woman who allegedly fled from police after a minor accident on Ten Rod Road Monday night may be in the country illegally and are being held in county jail pending an investigation by immigration officials.
Jose Marcelo Herrera-Sanchez, a.k.a. Manuel Sanchez, 26 and Maria Lopez-Payan, 31, both of 31 Academy St. were arrested Monday night after fleeing from police who were investigating the two-car accident. The two were passengers in a vehicle involved in a minor two-car accident, according to Capt. Paul Callaghan, and they fled when police went to conduct a pat search on Herrera-Sanchez after noticing a bulge in his pocket.
Callaghan said the pair ran into the nearby woods. Police called in a K-9 unit and the dogs found Lopez-Payan hiding under a tree while an officer found Herrera-Sanchez also hiding in the woods. Callaghan said the unit was called in not only because the two allegedly committed a crime, but also to look out for their welfare in the cold temperatures.
Herrera-Sanchez and Lopez-Payan are both from Mexico, according to Callaghan, and arrived in the United States earlier this month. He said they originally arrived in Los Angeles, Calif., and came to Rochester by bus about two weeks ago. Neither speaks fluent English and an interpreter was present during their arraignments Tuesday in Rochester District Court.
After an initial investigation, police determined they were here illegally and they are now being held in Strafford County jail on a 48-hour immigration hold. Callaghan said the hold is to provide time for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to conduct an investigation into their status.
They are each charged with Class A misdemeanors of resisting arrest and not guilty pleas were entered on their behalf. Callaghan said Herrera-Sanchez allegedly gave police the false name of Manuel Sanchez. That allegation is still under investigation and he currently is not charged with giving a false report to police.
He and Lopez-Payan are each being held on $2,500 cash bail. If either posts, they will be monitored with a GPS by Strafford County Community Corrections.
Trial dates are scheduled for April 14 at 1 p.m. for both Herrera-Sanchez and Lopez-Payan. Callaghan said the court will work with the public defender's office to contract attorneys fluent in Spanish to ensure they are properly represented. It will be up to immigration officials to determine deportation, but he said that should happen after their New Hampshire charges are resolved.
Deportation saves accused rapist from trial
By John P. Kelly
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Jan 28, 2009 @ 05:16 AM
The courtroom fell quiet Tuesday as a young rape victim’s story of stolen innocence and emotional healing was read aloud.
Shackled and listening, the man who had held her down was sentenced to prison for at least two years.
But someone was missing from the courtroom.
The accused rapist.
Kamil Ostrowski was indicted in 2007 – while jailed for a different crime – on a charge he had raped the girl in Quincy when she was 14. But in April, federal immigration officials deported the 22-year-old to Poland before he could be tried.
The Norfolk County District Attorney’s office said immigration officials never notified them that Ostrowski faced deportation. But spokesman David Traub acknowledged Tuesday that prosecutors had learned Ostrowski was in federal custody but took no steps to prevent the accused rapist from being deported.
The office was told of the immigration matter by Ostrowski’s defense attorney, James Corbo. In future cases, Traub said, prosecutors may now decide to “act on informal information” of that sort.
“It was always the intention of this office to bring both co-defendants to trial,” Traub said.
Michael Sullivan, the 21-year-old accomplice, was sentenced to a state prison term of two to three years for pinning the girl to his bed a few days before Christmas 2003.
But for Ostrowski, who the girl said raped her, the communication breakdown may have resulted in a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Similar mix-ups between state prosecutors and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have occurred before.
Moonie Moses was deported to Guyana in 2002 prior to his trial for raping two teenage girls and a woman with cerebral palsy in Dorchester. Authorities later extradited Moses, who was sentenced last year to two life sentences.
A similar case played out in New Jersey this year, where 20-year-old Carlos Ulloa-Murrillo was charged with the aggravated rape of a 12-year-old girl, only to be deported to Honduras.
U.S. Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican, vowed Friday to file legislation to fix the “communication gap” between agencies.
ICE spokeswoman Paula Grenier said deportations of illegal immigrants are carried out unless local prosecutors convince a judge to order the convicted immigrant returned to state custody for trial.
“We are required to enforce immigration law, and that’s what we do,” Grenier said.
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, said local police and prosecutors too often have a weak understanding of immigration law that can lead criminals to “fall between the cracks.”
“They need to screen for immigration status from the get-go, from the time of arrest,” said Vaughan. “With ICE having great success in removing criminals from the population – in larger numbers than ever before – this becomes more and more important.”
Complicating matters, federal authorities are not required to check for outstanding criminal charges before deporting an individual, according to Charles Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.
In Norfolk Superior Court on Tuesday, the woman raped in Quincy sat in the courtroom as Assistant District Attorney Megan Kennedy read her victim-impact statement. Beyond robbing her of her virginity, the woman wrote that the attack led to years of depression, anxiety and flashbacks.
“I will never be able to have a normal relationship with a man,” Kennedy read.
At the time Ostrowski was indicted, he was serving a two-year jail sentence for robbing a man of $75 at knife-point on a Red Line train to Boston.
He and Sullivan were 16 at the time of the rape more than three years earlier, which prosecutors said occurred after the teens drank rum and played video games together. Ostrowski, who pleaded innocent, told investigators two weeks after the attack the girl willingly had sex with him.
After learning of Ostrowski’s armed robbery, ICE placed a detainer on him, essentially calling for him to be turned over once he finished his sentence. Ostrowski had been in the country illegally since he was 8.
In late November 2007, Ostrowski finished his sentence 87 days early – credit earned in jail – and was immediately taken into federal custody. After a hearing, he was deported on April 16.
Seven months later, after Ostrowski failed to appear in court, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Another Jail Death, and Mounting Questions
By NINA BERNSTEIN
Published: January 27, 2009
He lived 42 of his 48 years in the United States, and had the words “Raised American” tattooed on his shoulder. But Guido R. Newbrough was born German, and he died in November as an immigration detainee of a Virginia jail, his heart devastated by an overwhelming bacterial infection.
His family and fellow detainees say the infection went untreated, despite his mounting pleas for medical care in the 10 days before his death. Instead, after his calls for help grew insistent, detainees said, guards at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., threw him to the floor, dragged him away as he cried out in pain, and locked him in an isolation cell.
Mr. Newbrough, a construction worker who had served jail time for molesting a girlfriend’s young daughter, was found unresponsive in the cell several days later, on Nov. 27, and died at a hospital the next day without regaining consciousness. An autopsy report last week cited a virulent staph infection as an underlying cause of his death from endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves that is typically cured with antibiotics.
Accounts of Mr. Newbrough’s last days echo other cases of deaths in immigration custody, including one at the same jail in December 2006, which prompted a review by immigration officials that found the medical unit so lacking that they concluded, “Detainee health care is in jeopardy.”
But Immigration and Customs Enforcement never released those findings, even when asked about allegations of neglect in that death, of Abdoulai Sall, 50, a Guinea-born mechanic with no criminal record whose kidneys failed over several weeks. Instead, officials defended care in that case and other deaths as Congress and the news media questioned medical practices in the patchwork of county jails, private prisons and federal detention centers under contract to hold noncitizens while the government tries to deport them.
The 2006 report — and a set of talking points the agency produced for its press officers to use when discussing deaths in detention — were only recently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act; the group provided copies to The New York Times, which first reported Mr. Sall’s death.
“This facility has failed on multiple levels to perform basic supervision and provide for the safety and welfare of ICE detainees,” the six-page report concluded shortly after he died. “The medical health care unit does not meet minimum ICE standards.”
The report said the jail had failed to respond adequately as Mr. Sall grew sicker, and that even when he was found unconscious on the floor, employees “stood around for approximately one minute” before trying to revive him. The jail’s superintendent, who said he never saw the report, adamantly denied those conclusions this week.
But Tom Jawetz, a lawyer with the civil liberties union’s National Prison Project, said the new death at the same jail underscored the lack of accountability in immigration detention nationwide.
“Piedmont is a facility that was understaffed and underresponsive to clear medical needs,” Mr. Jawetz said. “The reports of Mr. Newbrough’s death raise serious questions about whether those failures were ever remedied.”
Asked Monday what measures it had taken after Mr. Sall’s death, the immigration agency promised a response but did not provide one. Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman, said earlier that an investigation of Mr. Newbrough’s death was under way.
The 780-bed Piedmont jail, run by governments of six Virginia counties, typically houses about 300 immigration detainees, and is now down to fewer than 150. But Ms. Nantel denied rumors that the agency was pulling them out, as it did last month at a detention center in Central Falls, R.I., where a Chinese computer engineer’s extensive cancer and fractured spine went undiagnosed until shortly before his death on Aug. 6.
In that case, investigators for the federal immigration agency found that the engineer, Hiu Lui Ng, had been denied proper medical treatment, and dragged from his cell to a van as he screamed in pain six days before his death.
The parallels with detainee accounts of Mr. Newbrough’s treatment are striking to Jeff Winder, an organizer for the grass-roots Virginia group People United, who was contacted by several inmates at Piedmont who also spoke to a reporter. The latest death has heightened the group’s opposition to plans by private developers and city officials to build another immigration detention center in Farmville, with 1,000 to 2,500 beds.
“ICE has no obligation to send detainees there after the next detainee dies,” Mr. Winder said. “Farmville could be left with the reputation as a place where detainees die of medical neglect.”
Ernest L. Toney, the jail superintendent, denied accounts that Mr. Newbrough had been mistreated, saying, “That is not our protocol here.” He referred all other questions about his death to the federal immigration agency.
But Dr. Homer D. Venters, an expert in detention health care who learned about the case from Mr. Newbrough’s family and reviewed the autopsy, said available evidence showed violations of detention standards that let the detainee’s treatable local infections rage out of control. Dr. Venters, a public health fellow at New York University, was critical of the medical care in immigration detention when he testified last year at a Congressional subcommittee hearing, and is on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement advisory group.
“First, Mr. Newbrough’s medical complaints were apparently ignored,” he wrote in a preliminary analysis of the case for Mr. Newbrough’s parents. “Second, Mr. Newbrough was placed in a disciplinary setting while ill and despite having voiced medical complaints. Third, Mr. Newbrough was not adequately (if at all) medically monitored” in the isolation cell.
During those last days, Dr. Venters added in an interview, even guards should have noticed that Mr. Newbrough was in critical condition as the bacteria colonizing his heart broke loose, creating abscesses in his brain, liver and kidneys. “When endocarditis is not treated, it kills people,” he said. With modern hospital care, the death rate is 25 percent or less.
“We were sitting here, powerless,” said Mr. Newbrough’s stepfather, Jack Newbrough, 70, a former Air Force sergeant who met Guido’s mother, Heidi, and Guido, then 2, when he was stationed in their native Germany. “I am just so disappointed in my country, this homeland security system they got set up.”
Mrs. Newbrough, 65, said her son, who had an estranged wife and three American-born children, had quit drinking after serving 11 months for molestation and, on probation, moved back to his childhood home in Manassas, Va., from a trailer park in Stafford. A 1999 article about life in the park, in the first issue of Tina Brown’s Talk magazine, featured him prominently — under the rubric “Dialing America.”
“Nobody knew he wasn’t American,” his mother said. “Even he didn’t know. He found out the day they picked him up here.”
His arrest last February, immigration records show, was a result of Operation Coldplay, which combs probation records to find past sex offenders whose immigration status makes them deportable. Mr. Newbrough had taken what is known as an Alford plea to charges of “indecent liberties with a minor,” and aggravated sexual battery in 2002 — denying his guilt, but acknowledging that prosecutors had evidence that could cause a jury to convict him of molesting his girlfriend’s 4-year-old.
Mr. Newbrough, who spoke no German, would have automatically become a citizen if his American-born stepfather had formally adopted him when he was a child, or if his mother had been naturalized while he was a minor, rather than just four years ago.
While Mr. Newbrough waited at Piedmont for nine months, an immigration lawyer argued that he had derived citizenship from his stepfather. An immigration judge disagreed. The appeal was pending in mid-November when Mr. Newbrough began to complain in phone calls of terrible back pain and stomach aches, his family said. When they urged him to tell the medical staff, they said, he replied: “ ‘I did. They just don’t care.’ ”
Several detainees interviewed by telephone last week said that in the two weeks before Thanksgiving, Mr. Newbrough’s back pain grew so bad that he began sobbing through the night, and some in the 90-man unit took turns making him hot compresses. By the Sunday before Thanksgiving, he was desperate, two detainees said, and banged at the door of the unit’s lunchroom, yelling for help. They said by the time guards responded, he was seated at a table.
“They told him to get up, and he said he couldn’t get up because he was in a lot of pain,” said Salvador Alberto Rivas, who identified himself as Mr. Newbrough’s bunk mate, awaiting deportation to El Salvador. “Because of the pain, he started crying, and he was trying to tell them he had put in requests for medical and didn’t get any. And then one of the guards threw him to the floor.”
“They drag him by his leg, in front of about 30 people,” said another detainee, who gave his name only as Jose for fear of retaliation, adding that many witnesses had since been transferred to other jails or deported.
“We didn’t know that he was dying,” added Jose, who wrote about the case in a letter published online by a Spanish weekly. “They took him to the hole. He was yelling for help in the hole, too.”
That information, he said, came from a detainee in the isolation section at the same time, but since deported, who was so upset by Mr. Newbrough’s death that he left his name and alien registration number — Rene Cordoba Palma, No. 088424581 — in case anyone wanted his testimony.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
State police detain 4 illegal immigrants after traffic stop
Published: Thursday, January 22, 2009 4:12 AM EST
Four illegal immigrants were arrested Tuesday in the vicinity of Gold Star Plaza shopping center, Shenandoah, state police at Frackville said.
A trooper stopped a vehicle for traffic violations near the entrance to the shopping center when it was discovered that the four men in the vehicle were not U.S. citizens and were illegal aliens from Mexico, police said.
The men were identified as Nicholas Espinoza Matlala, 23; Juan Antonio Vazquez Matlala, 23; Javier Castro Garcia, 35, and Humberto Lazcano Vergara, 30. Police said the four men are believed to be living in Shenandoah.
Police notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which requested the immediate detention of the four men.
Police transported the four men to Schuylkill County Prison, where they are lodged pending follow-up investigation by ICE and arrangements for deportation.
— Mia Light
Felon setenced to federal prison for illegal re-entry
Idaho Press-Tribune Staff
Friday, January 23rd, 2009
BOISE -- Rafael Madrigal, 50, a Mexican national who was living illegally in the United States, will serve 130 months in federal prison for illegal re-entry and unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm.
Madrigal was sentenced yesterday by Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill. He will be deported when his sentence is complete.
Madrigal was arrested in March 2008 by the Nampa Police Department following a traffic stop. During the stop, a dagger, methamphetamines, a bag of needles, nearly a pound of MSM (a common ingredient for cutting methamphetamine) and a sawed-off shotgun - an unregistered firearm - were found in Madrigal's vehicle.
Madrigal has three prior felony criminal convictions in the United States including a 1991 conviction in California for sale of cocaine, a 1997 conviction for transportation for sale (methamphetamine), and a 1998 conviction for possession for sale of a controlled substance (methamphetamine). He was previously deported from the United States in March 2002.
The case was investigated by the Nampa Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
U.S. Attorney Tom Moss commended the investigative work on the case.
"It is a priority for the Department of Justice to prosecute and imprison those illegal aliens who re-enter the United States and commit serious felonies here," he said.
Inmates checked at Palm Beach County jail to determine whether they're here legally
1,900 could be deported after serving time
By Jerome Burdi | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
January 24, 2009
Cooperation between local and federal law enforcement is working in Palm Beach County, where more than 1,900 jail inmates were targeted for possible deportation in 18 months, officials said Friday.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have an office at the county jail and pore through arrest reports looking for people who list foreign home countries. They then interview the inmates to determine whether they are in the United States illegally or are U.S. residents whose crimes warrant deportation.
Since the Criminal Alien Program began in June 2007 in the county jail, officials said they have identified 1,936 people for possible deportation. Nationally, immigration charges have been filed against more than 385,380 people.
"Those folks are brought into this facility off the street based on some local charge," said ICE field office director Michael Rozos, who oversees operations in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. "We don't go around picking people up willy-nilly."
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said working with ICE was crucial when the gang task force was formed years ago.
"These are people that have committed crimes and come to our facility," Bradshaw said. "ICE is making sure they don't go back into the streets."
A convicted criminal will serve jail or prison time for the local charges before facing federal immigration charges or possible deportation.
Immigrant advocates back the government's push to identify and deport criminals. But they are concerned that people booked into the jail on minor offenses end up being deported.
"I think everyone agrees that we need to make our communities safe and make sure those people who should be deported are deported," said Randy McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Charities Legal Service in Miami. "I'm worried that they're going to cast too long of a net and get people who aren't a danger."
Anyone who is not an American citizen, whether a legal resident or not, is subject to a review by immigration officials, said Rita Aleman, a West Palm Beach immigration attorney.
"It's just another method that the government uses to identify those who are here illegally," she said.
ICE officials say many of the people detained through the program are caught on serious charges including murder, kidnapping, robbery and sexual assault.
"The numbers are sign enough to promote public safety," Rozos said. "A lot of these people are here [in jail] for heinous crimes."
Two Men Accused Of Human Smuggling
POSTED: 8:29 am MST January 27, 2009
PHOENIX -- Yavapai County deputies arrested two men on suspicion of human trafficking.
Yavapai County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said deputies stopped a white Chevrolet Suburban on Interstate 17 Saturday afternoon for impeding traffic. The driver, who did not speak English, produced an "obviously fake" Mexican chauffeur's license when asked to show identification, D'Evelyn.
The Suburban contained 12 passengers, none of whom were wearing seat belts, D'Evelyn said. The vehicle's suspension had also been modified to handle extra passenger weight.
After questioning the men, deputies determined driver Alberto Correa, 28, and passenger Edgar Correa, 21, were working together to smuggle illegal immigrants, D'Evelyn said. Deputies discovered Edgar had a prior deportation case from February 2008.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement interviewed each of the detainees and confirmed all were illegal immigrants.
The Correas had been hired by a smuggler in Phoenix who provided the Suburban and $400 in gas money, D'Evelyn said. The Correas picked up the 11 passengers from a drop house in Phoenix, but their destination was unclear.
Alberto and Edgar Correa were arrested on suspicion of human smuggling, deputies said. Alberto was also booked on suspicion of possession of a forged instrument.
The remaining 11 passengers are in ICE custody and await deportation hearings, according to authorities.
Man Claims Border Patrol Busted Into Church
Reported by: Rita Garcia
Last Update: 1/26 10:27 pm
PORT ISABEL - A churchgoer says he and several others will not be going back to pray, because of who might show up. Raul Atkinson did not want to appear on camera, but agreed to talk with us about why he’s afraid to go to church.
He says he has faith and always makes time to pray. But Atkinson says he never thought he’d skip out on a service until some Border Patrol agents showed up.
Atkinson claims they weren’t there for mass. Instead, they were looking for information.
“We didn’t know what was going on. They just walked into our church asking for papers and IDs. And the ones that didn’t have any, they were picked up,” says Atkinson.
Atkinson tells us he watched as agents took a woman and children into custody. He says at first, he thought it was some sort of raid.
Atkinson says they were picked up during their prayer. He says no one was given a heads up and that Border Patrol agents walked right through the door and started asking for documents.
Border Patrol Agent John Lopez says no record of any arrests inside the Apostolic Assembly exists.
“As for as places that are worship centers, we will not - by policy, we will not enter these places, unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Lopez explains.
Atkinson says he’s been keeping in touch with the pastor. He hopes to be back in church soon so he can attend mass in peace without any interruptions or fear.
Since Border Patrol agents told us they did not go into the church, we checked with ICE officials. They also said there was no record of agents going into the church.