Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vegas police to identify jailed illegal immigrants (AP c/o San Francisco Chronicle)

Vegas police to identify jailed illegal immigrants

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(09-30) 11:36 PDT LAS VEGAS, CA (AP) --

Federal immigration officials and Las Vegas police have agreed to train some police officers to identify illegal immigrants in jail and start the process of deporting them.

The agreement will only apply to people in custody on other charges, said Steven Branch, field office director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention and removal operations in Nevada.

Once arrested, certain officers at the Clark County Detention Center will be able to "take it one step further to ascertain" a person's immigration status, Branch said. "Officers will step in and do what (ICE) agents are currently doing."

Officers tasked with identifying and processing illegal immigrants will receive four weeks of training and access to a federal database of known illegal immigrants, police spokesman Ramon Denby said.

Denby said the partnership has not yet started as details are being completed. The police department applied for the partnership last year.

A call by The Associated Press seeking comment from Sheriff Doug Gillespie on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Gillespie said last year in a newspaper interview that a partnership with ICE would not affect other parts of the department.

"I want to make it very clear that this won't change my position about police officers at Metro stopping people or going into businesses strictly because what is looked upon as illegal status," Gillespie told the Las Vegas Review-Journal late last year. "We'll be dealing with these people after they're arrested and booked into the Clark County Detention Center."

According to ICE, 62 local and state police groups nationwide have similar partnerships.

Leticia Saucedo, co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the partnership could have a chilling effect on local Hispanics, pushing them "further into the shadows."

"They won't want to come forward with information about crime because they'll be afraid of being arrested and deported," Saucedo said. This is going to make people more afraid of the police."

Denby said he did not think the partnership would affect relationships between the police and local Hispanics.

"We're not a fly-by-night organization," he said. "Before we run one individual, we're going to make sure we have the proper checks and balances in place."

Six men smuggled by boat to be deported (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Six men smuggled by boat to be deported

Written by Angelica Martinez and Mark Arner
12:23 p.m. September 30, 2008

CORONADO – Six men rounded up on the north end of Silver Strand State Beach are facing deportation Tuesday after they came ashore on a boat, according to the Border Patrol.

On Monday morning, the group hopped out of an 18-foot motor boat that had just landed on the sand, according to officials.

Rangers who patrol the state beach called police about 10:20 a.m., according to Coronado police. Upon beaching the Starcraft boat with an outboard motor, the men hopped out and ran toward nearby state Route 75.

Coronado officers helped detain several of the men and all were turned over to the Border Patrol, police said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized the boat and detectives determined it was used to smuggle people, not drugs. A member of the group, a 37-year-old man, was arrested on suspicion of human smuggling, said Border patrol spokesman Daryl Reed.

Beloved Long Island Pastor Faces Deportation (WCBS-New York)

Beloved Long Island Pastor Faces Deportation
Congregation Hopeful U.S. Immigration Will Prevent Rev. Haiko Behrens From Being Shipped Back To Germany

FRANKLIN SQUARE, N.Y. (CBS) ― Time is running out for a Lutheran minister in this country on a worker's visa. He's facing the possibility of being sent back to Germany.

His Long Island church is taking steps to keep him right here.

Reverend Haiko Behrens, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in Franklin Square, is worried that he could be deported.

"I would feel broken," Behrens said. "I would feel very sad, disappointed."

The 38-year-old Behrens is here on a five-year, religious worker's visa that is non-renewable. But he and his Japanese wife, Leah, also here on a visa, want to stay.

Behrens came to the U.S. four-and-a-half years ago, first to a church in Michigan, then here to Franklin Square 18 months ago.

He's applied for status that his attorney said is often granted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- a petition to stay and apply for permanent residence status, a green card. However, it's been 16 months, and his lawyer has heard nothing.

"And this is, really, I think the longest time that a case has been in this stage of limbo," immigration attorney John Whitfield said.

Behrens said immigration has made clerical errors in handling his case.

It's a worry not only for Behrens and his wife, but also for fellow clergy who support him, and his congregation who don't want to see him go.

"It's a scary thought that we have to go through, this bureaucracy and things aren't working out," parishioner Nancy Torrente said.

"I love the congregation. I love this country. I do all this to stay here," Behrens said.

For now, Behrens and his wife must wait with the possibility of leaving the country Nov. 5.

A spokesman for immigration and customs enforcement would not comment on the status of the application, saying, "We don't talk about individual cases."

Immigration officials arrest 76 in NJ sweep (Newsday)

Immigration officials arrest 76 in NJ sweep

September 30, 2008

NEWARK, N.J. - Immigration officials in New Jersey say 76 people have been arrested during a six-day sweep to pick up people on immigration violations.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say 60 of the 76 people arrested were fugitives, a classification that includes people who ignore an order of deportation or fail to report to immigration authorities.

Sixteen others were found to be living here illegally.

Out of the 60 immigrants classified as fugitives, 24 had some kind of criminal record.

ICE has 95 teams in place nationwide as part of its Fugitive Operations Program. Four of the teams operate in New Jersey.

Agents capture 85 illegal immigrants (Arizona Daily Star)

Agents capture 85 illegal immigrants

By Stephen Ceasar
For the Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.30.2008

U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended illegal immigrants in groups of 44, 29, and 12 over the weekend, reported that one agent was assaulted and say a fugitive wanted in connection with the death of a Border Patrol agent was reportedly sighted in Tucson.

Agents stopped a Chrysler minivan in Douglas about 4 p.m. Sunday. The driver ran from the vehicle into a house, said Rob Daniels, spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector. After the man was apprehended, agents found seven other illegal immigrants inside the vehicle. A woman who answered the door of the home admitted she was in the country illegally, said Daniels. Agents found a 36 illegal immigrants in the house. All 44 of the illegal immigrants were found to be Mexican citizens.

A dozen Mexican nationals were apprehended Saturday as the driver of a Ford pickup tried to race back into Mexico via the San Miguel gate, Daniels said.

Agents on horse patrol about 9:30 p.m. Saturday intercepted a group of illegal immigrants heading toward a family cemetery near Willcox. Agents approached the group and apprehended 29 people, but 10 got away. Among those caught, 11 were from Mexico, nine were from Guatemala and nine were from El Salvador, Daniels said.

Agents encountered a group of individuals who seemed to be following a single person in the desert about 3 a.m. Sunday near Nogales, said Daniels. The guide attacked one of the agents who approached the group, striking the agent with his elbow. The 28-year-old man from Nogales, Sonora, had a number of offenses on his criminal record, including DUI and a stolen property charge. He is now facing a charge of assault against a federal agent, Daniels said.

A man wanted in connection with the death of a Border Patrol agent who died after being run over in the desert near Yuma was reportedly spotted in Tucson, Daniels said. Jesus Albino Navarro-Montes, 22, is suspected of running over Yuma Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar on Jan. 19 in California's Imperial County Sand Dunes.
The exact location of the sighting could not be verified Monday by Border Patrol officials.

Illegal immigrant goes free in ID mixup (The Tennessean)

Illegal immigrant goes free in ID mixup

By JANELL ROSS • Staff Writer • September 30, 2008

A Davidson County judge dismissed criminal impersonation charges Monday against Jose Estrada, who was arrested in front of a Madison laundry after an officer didn't recognize his Individual Taxpayer Identification Card.

Estrada's case — one of many in Davidson County involving immigrants arrested because of insufficient or suspicious identification — drew attention earlier this month because it emphasized the critical need for some form of identification Metro police will recognize.

After officer James Pearce acknowledged in court his assessment of Estrada's ID as a "fake Social Security card" was not accurate, General Sessions Judge Michael Mondelli dismissed the charge, said Elliott Ozment, a Nashville immigration attorney handling Estrada's case for free.

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Card is issued by taxpayers not eligible for a Social Security number and was used by Estrada, a Mexican national in the country illegally, to pay federal taxes as recently as this year. Neither Pearce nor the district attorney were able to provide evidence that met the standard of a criminal impersonation charge in Tennessee.

"One of the essential elements in the charge of criminal impersonation is that you have to show injury or fraud upon another person and intent to defraud or injure another person," said Ozment.

"None of that was there in this case, and none of that was there in the presentation of this case."

Estrada said he initially pled guilty to the charge in an effort to get home more quickly. Mondelli, who accepted Estrada's guilty plea, agreed to rehear the matter because the district attorney's office joined Ozment in a motion calling for a trial.

In Tennessee, the inability to provide what police consider satisfactory identification can be grounds for an arrest. And, in Davidson County, a trip to the county jail can lead to deportation because the sheriff's office participates in a program that allows it to help enforce federal immigration law.

Estrada still must deal with his immigration case, but no date has been set for him to appear in immigration court.

Raids net 32 area illegal immigrants (Palo Alto Daily News)

Raids net 32 area illegal immigrants
Enforcement targets 'fugitives'

Tuesday Sep 30
By Shaun Bishop / Daily News Staff Writer

Nearly three dozen illegal immigrants in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have been arrested as part of the federal immigration enforcement agency's largest-ever operation in California, authorities said Monday.

A three-week enforcement surge led to 1,157 arrests of "immigration violators" statewide, according to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Of the 436 people detained in Northern California, 22 were from San Mateo County and 10 from Santa Clara County, said Craig Meyer, assistant director of the agency's San Francisco field office.

While the enforcement teams targeted "immigration fugitives" - people who have ignored deportation orders or have returned after being previously deported - about 40 percent of those arrested were other illegal immigrants discovered during the raids.

"We'd go in and we'd ID everybody and we'd run checks, and if we'd find out they were here illegally, we would take them in," Meyer said.

Many of the fugitives were deported within a day of their arrest, and illegal immigrants who were not initially targeted now face deportation proceedings, Meyer said.

As federal authorities praised the success of the operation, pointing out that more than 20 percent of those arrested in Northern California have criminal histories, others say the raids have negative consequences for neighborhoods.

When agents identify themselves as "policia" and arrest anyone they determine is an illegal immigrant, it makes people fearful of law enforcement, said Sheryl Bergman, director of San Mateo County programs for the International Institute of the Bay Area.

"People are going to be less willing to report crimes they witness," Bergman said. "They kind of undo all of the community relations work that the local police and sheriff's departments have been trying to build with the immigrant communities."

Of the 22 arrested in San Mateo County, 15 were targeted and seven were found during the raids; of the 10 in Santa Clara County, four were targeted and six were found.

Bergman said her office has fielded calls from five families in Redwood City and unincorporated North Fair Oaks who among them lost at least seven relatives in the raids.

One elderly man with a heart condition tried to fight deportation because it could put his life in jeopardy, but he was sent back to Mexico with his wife and son, she said.

Another, a woman whose former spouse tried to kill her, has been allowed to stay because she qualifies for a special visa for victims of violent crimes who agree to testify against their attackers, Bergman said.

Meyer of the immigration office said agents are simply enforcing immigration laws enacted by Congress.

San Mateo County sheriffs deputies did not assist in the raids, Lt. Ray Lunny said.

"Our policy has been unless they're involved in a criminal action, we're not assisting ICE with their program," Lunny said.

While Bergman agreed criminals should be punished, she said the raids should stop until Congress can enact meaningful immigration reform, likely after the next president is elected.

"To invest resources to target individuals who have committed no crime other than to try to fill the needs of our workforce, it just doesn't make sense to do that right now," she said.

Suspected illegals, coyotes found at Phoenix drop house (KTVK-Phoenix, AZ)

Suspected illegals, coyotes found at Phoenix drop house

08:46 AM Mountain Standard Time on Tuesday, September 30, 2008
3TV and azfamily.com Staff

PHOENIX -- Several suspected illegal immigrants are in custody after a drop-house bust in the West Valley.

Police said it was one of the suspected illegals who led them to the house at 75th Avenue and Indian School Road.

Officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the home Monday night. They discovered six suspected illegal immigrants, including one child.

Those people were being held against their will in exchange for money. None of them was hurt.

Investigators said somebody inside the house tipped them off when he called his sister Monday morning and told her that he was being for ransom. Police were able to track the call to the home.

Three alleged coyotes were also taken into custody.

Monday, September 29, 2008

CBP Officers Discover Three Hidden In Pickup (KGTV-San Diego, CA)

CBP Officers Discover Three Hidden In Pickup
Two Of Three Are Children

POSTED: 4:15 pm PDT September 29, 2008

SAN DIEGO -- A 30-year old Los Angeles woman driving a pickup truck from Mexico was arrested late Friday night at the San Ysidro port of entry after U. S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered three undocumented immigrants, two of them children, hidden in a compartment under the bed of the truck, CBP officials announced Monday.

The three women, including a 22-year old and her 11-year old sister, as well as a 14-year old, appeared to be unharmed and were detained as material witnesses, according to a CBP news release.

A 10-year old female U.S. citizen who was a passenger in the truck was released to a family relative, CBP officials said.

According to the news release, the green 1997 GMC truck entered the port just before midnight on Friday and was referred to the secondary inspection lot for a more comprehensive examination after officers became suspicious of the driver and the vehicle.

During the secondary inspection, officers discovered a non-factory compartment under the truck bed and noted what appeared to be clothing and strands of a woman’s hair coming from cracks in the compartment.

Once the truck bed liner was removed, the box-shaped sheet metal compartment was exposed. Officers cut out the center of the truck bed and found the three females lying on their backs.

The driver, a U.S. citizen, was transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center to await arraignment on the alleged smuggling attempt, government officials said Monday.

More Than 400 Arrested In Immigration Raids (KTVU-San Francisco, CA)

More Than 400 Arrested In Immigration Raids

POSTED: 11:44 am PDT September 29, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 400 people in Northern California, including Bay Area residents, are facing deportation by federal immigration authorities after a three-week enforcement operation that netted 1,157 arrests statewide, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials reported Monday.

Of the 436 arrested in Northern California for allegedly being in the country illegally, 185 are considered immigration fugitives, or those who have either ignored deportation orders or who have returned to the U.S. after being deported, ICE officials said.

The three-week "enforcement surge" ended Saturday, according to ICE.

Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie Myers said in a statement that a greater deployment of ICE's fugitive operations teams has contributed to record arrests this year of immigration fugitives.

"ICE is committed to enforcing these outstanding deportation orders and strengthening the integrity of our nation's immigration system," Myers said.

More than 20 percent of the Northern California arrests were of people who had criminal histories, ICE officials said.

One man, Jose Duran-Porras, 36, who was arrested at his home in San Pablo on Sept. 11, was a previously deported Mexican citizen with prior convictions for drug possession and receiving stolen property.

Duran-Porras was also scheduled to be prosecuted by federal authorities for allegedly making false statements on a passport application and for allegedly re-entering the country after deportation, according to ICE.

ICE officials said their fugitive operations teams target immigration violators posing a threat to national security or community safety, and that since October 2007, the number of immigration fugitives nationwide has decreased by more than 34,000, to approximately 560,000.

Authorities arrest 115 immigration violators (AP c/o WWSB-Sarasota, FL)

Authorities arrest 115 immigration violators

Associated Press - September 29, 2008 6:34 PM ET

MIAMI (AP) - Authorities say more than 115 immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested in South Florida following a 5-day targeted enforcement action.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports that its Miami Fugitive Operations Team arrested 74 immigration fugitives and 42 immigration violators throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties.

ICE reports that 18 of those arrested had criminal histories that included sexual assault, possession of cocaine, weapons charges, battery, aggravated assault, larceny, driving under the influence and theft.

An immigration fugitive is a person who has ignored a final order of deportation by a federal judge. Immigration violators await hearings before an immigration judge.

Statewide immigration raids result in 1,157 arrests (Los Angeles Times)

Statewide immigration raids result in 1,157 arrests
Federal agents target those who ignored deportation orders or returned to the U.S. illegally. More than 400 are arrested in the Los Angeles area.

By Francisco Vara-Orta, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
3:58 PM PDT, September 29, 2008

Federal immigration agents arrested more than 1,150 people in the largest collective sweep by specialized enforcement teams in California, authorities said today.

The sweep targeted those who ignored deportation orders or returned to the United States illegally after being deported, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

The raids, which ended Saturday, produced 436 arrests in the San Francisco area, 420 in the Los Angeles area and 301 in the San Diego area.

Of the 1,157 illegal immigrants arrested statewide, 595 had outstanding deportation orders and 346 had prior criminal convictions, Kice said. Those arrested come from 34 countries.

The squads responsible for the arrests, known as fugitive operations teams, were developed in 2003 to focus on apprehending foreign nationals who have ignored final orders of deportation or have returned to the U.S. illegally after being deported, Kice said.

The cases at the top of their list involve those wanted or convicted in violent or drug-related crimes, agency officials said.

"Individuals who defy immigration court orders to leave the country need to understand there are consequences for willfully disregarding the law," said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who oversees the federal immigration agency.

Kice released details of two arrests in the L.A. area.

Jose Avila, a Mexican national whose criminal history includes prior convictions for lewd acts involving a child and battery, was arrested Sept. 15 in Santa Fe Springs.

The 41-year-old was turned over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on an outstanding warrant for making a terrorist threat, Kice said. After he is released by local authorities, Avila will be returned to federal custody for prosecution on felony charges of reentering the country after his deportation last year.

In North Hollywood, Ramon Cedano, 47, a previously deported Mexican national with a prior conviction for selling heroin, was arrested Sept. 11 at his home.

Cedano was turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department on an outstanding drug warrant. Once he's turned back over to the immigration department, he will be prosecuted for reentering the country after deportation, a felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In recent years, the immigration agency has heightened enforcement at factories, offices and homes. In the Los Angeles region and surrounding areas, there are seven active fugitive operations teams that have conducted raids: four based in Los Angeles County, two in the Inland Empire and one in Orange County. Immigration officials have said they are going to add a eighth team, which would be based in Ventura County.

Here since age 10, man faces deportation to Mexico Irvington resident accidentally shot 4-year-old daughter (Alabama Press-Register)

Here since age 10, man faces deportation to Mexico Irvington resident accidentally shot 4-year-old daughter

Monday, September 29, 2008
Staff Reporter

Juan Carlos Martinez works a steady job in construction, has never been in trouble with the law and has lived in the U.S. since childhood.

But the simple fact remains that he entered from Mexico without permission, and now an accident with a gun could send him back.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators said they are sympathetic, both because Martinez, 30, has been here so long and because he nearly lost his daughter to a bullet in August as she slept in her bed.

"That's a humanitarian case when we make a decision what to do with that. ... It's a very tough case," said Dwight McDaniel, the assistant special agent in charge of the agency's Alabama operations.

Still, deportation remains a possibility.

To advocates of less restrictive immigration, the case reflects precisely what is wrong with U.S. policy.

"Our immigration system's pretty unforgiving," said Douglas Rivlin, a spokesman for the Washington-based Immigration Forum.

"I'm not sure why this guy getting kicked out of the country is good for us," Rivlin said. "It looks like we're getting tough on immigration. Really, we've created an underground and black market."

By some estimates, the U.S. is home to 12 million illegal or legally questionable immigrants.

Dan Kowalski, an immigration advocate who edits Bender's Immigration Bulletin, said he knows of no agency that keeps statistics on the number of people deported after having lived in the United States since childhood. But he said it's not infrequent.

"It happens all the time," he said. "I just know anecdotally from my colleagues around the country."

Martinez's status may never have come to light were it not for the bullet launched from his .22-caliber Beretta semiautomatic pistol early in the morning Aug. 26 at his trailer home in Irvington.

The bullet tore through the wall of the bathroom, where Martinez had the pistol, into the adjacent bedroom where his daughter, Stephanie Martinez, 4, was sleeping.

Rescue workers initially took the girl to the University of South Alabama Regional Medical Center. She spent several days at another hospital before being released.

Martinez initially told Mobile County sheriff's investigators that the girl found the pistol and accidentally shot herself. When confronted with evidence that showed otherwise, he admitted that he pulled the trigger by mistake, according to court records.

The Sheriff's Office later cleared him of any wrongdoing related to the accidental shooting.

McDaniel attributed Martinez's first explanation to panic. "He was very distraught, extremely distraught, and still is," McDaniel said.

Immigration investigators have no way to verify Martinez's claims that his family brought him to America when he was 10 but also have no reason to doubt him.

Martinez referred questions to his lawyer, Shane Taylor, who did not respond to messages left by the Press-Register.

Martinez may have a chance to remain in the United States if he can demonstrate to an immigration judge that he is of good character and that his deportation would result in "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" to his daughter, who is an American citizen.

But Rivlin cautioned that Congress has made it much more difficult for illegal immigrants to remain. Martinez, he said, may have to go to Mexico and apply for permanent U.S. residency.

The residency process would be a long one. A Mexican mother of an American citizen who applied for a visa in September 2001 would be getting it right about now, Rivlin said.

"Unfortunately, it's not a quick process," McDaniel acknowledged.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Immigration and Customs Enforcement team sought one suspect in restaurant last month (Peninsula Daily News)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement team sought one suspect in restaurant last month

Peninsula Daily News
Sunday, September 28, 2008

PORT ANGELES — An Immigration and Customs Enforcement team took an immigration fugitive into custody last month from the India Oven restaurant, said an ICE spokeswoman.

Joga Singh Khaira, 58, of India had been ordered deported by an immigration judge in 2001, "and had failed to comply," ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said.

"He was living illegally in the country," she added.

Khaira was taken to a facility at SeaTac.

The team from Seattle also checked the documentation of workers at the restaurant in downtown Port Angeles, she said.

"When we were there, we had reasonable cause to look at the documents of the individual people.

"There were five of them. All were aliens or natives of other countries.

"They were working there legally."

Dankers said that while the ICE fugitive operations team was in Port Angeles on Aug. 24, it "did encounter another individual who is not a fugitive, and who is illegally in the country."

She said that person, whom Dankers declined to identify, had fled the restaurant while agents were checking workers' documents.

The person was taken into custody, and will have an opportunity to go before an immigration judge, with the judge determining whether the individual is allowed to remain in the country.

The person was charged with a violation of an immigration law, which is an administrative charge rather than a criminal charge, and so the name can't be released under Department of Homeland Security privacy policy, she said.

Not Border Patrol

A story on Page A7 on Sept. 7 said erroneously that Border Patrol agents checked citizenship papers of workers at the restaurant that serves East Indian cuisine.

It was an ICE team, not the Border Patrol, that entered India Oven on Aug. 24, Dankers said.

"It was in ICE action," she said.

"We have what we call fugitive operations," in which teams of enforcement agents look for immigration fugitives, she said.

These are "people who have been ordered removed from the country by an immigration judge, but have failed to comply with that order," she explained.

The sole task of the ICE fugitive operations teams is to find immigration fugitives and carry out the judge's order, Dankers said.

Three such teams — out of 90 nationwide — are based in the Pacific Northwest. They are in Yakima, Seattle and Portland, Ore., she said.

They cover Alaska, Oregon and Washington state.

On Aug. 24, the Seattle team was in Port Angeles following leads in an investigation to find Khaira, she said.

Dankers said he was found at the restaurant and taken into custody.

Kelly Sidhu, one of the co-owners of the India Oven — who was at the Dairy Queen at the time — said she understood that no one had been taken into custody at the restaurant.

She had thought the agents were from the Border Patrol because of recent news reports of Border Patrol checkpoints.

Border Patrol spokesman Michael Bermudez had told the Peninsula Daily News that the action at the India Oven was not by Border Patrol agents.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Routine traffic stop results in chase, two arrests (Las Cruces Sun-News)

Routine traffic stop results in chase, two arrests

By Ashley Meeks Sun-News reporter
Article Launched: 09/20/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

MESQUITE — A traffic stop Friday resulted in two arrests and the probable deportation of four men from Durango, Mexico, two of whom fled on foot into a cotton field and a drainage ditch.

At 9:51 a.m., Doña Ana sheriff's deputies pulled over a 1997 Crown Victoria as it turned south off Yucca Road onto N.M. 478. Sgt. Craig Buckingham said the driver, 35-year-old Ruben Gerardo-Matias, was driving 50 mph in a 30 mph zone, that he failed to come to a stop and that he didn't use his turn signal.

Gerardo-Matias and front seat passenger Jose Jimenez-Olguin, 40, fled on foot, said Deputy Jaime Reyes, one of three deputies who caught him.

"He was playing meerkat," Reyes said. "You know how they hide and then they pop up and down? Picture a man in a cotton field popping up and down to see where his predators were."

Gerardo-Matias was detained soon after when a Border Patrol canine found him hiding in a drainage ditch. Reyes said Gerardo-Macias also had an outstanding warrant, but declined to state what it was for. Gerardo-Macias was treated at the scene for a head injury from diving into the ditch, Reyes said.

Gerardo-Matias and Jimenez-Olguin were arrested and expected to be charged with resisting, evading and obstructing law enforcement and sent to the Doña Ana County Detention Center, Buckingham said.

The two men in the back seat did not run and were turned over to the Border Patrol for deportation after it was determined they were in the country illegally, Reyes said. Officers did not know how long any of the men had been in the country. No drugs or weapons were found at the scene.

Traffic stop leads to three arrests (Charleston Daily Mail)

Traffic stop leads to three arrests

Tuesday September 23, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During a routine traffic stop, State Police troopers arrested a man accused of being in the country illegally.

Two other people in the vehicle were arrested for traffic violations, according to a press release from Sgt. K.G. McCord.

Cpl. L.G. O'Bryan stopped a truck with a defective light Monday evening on U.S. 119 near Southridge Centre, according to a press release.

A records check revealed the driver, 19-year-old Shane Carrannza of Forest, Va., had a revoked driver's license because of a previous drunken driving conviction, police said.

Shane's father, Jose Carrannza, 46, of Heroica, Mexico, was the owner of the vehicle and a passenger, troopers said. He had allowed his son to drive even though he knew his license had been revoked, McCord said.

Both are legal residents of the United States, but another passenger, identified as Olinnon Casto, 34, of Vera Cruz, Mexico, was found to be an undocumented immigrant, according to the release.

Shane Carrannza was charged with driving on a revoked driver's license. Jose Carrannza was charged with having no insurance and with permitting a person with a revoked driver's license to drive a vehicle.

All three men were arrested and taken to South Central Regional Jail, McCord said. Castro will be taken to York, Pa., for a deportation hearing.

A.M. Briefing: Two illegal immigrants detained, 13 suspected illegal immigrants detained (Centre Daily Times)

Saturday, Sep. 27, 2008
Two illegal immigrants detained, 13 suspected illegal immigrants detained [3rd & 4th items]

Two illegal immigrants detained

Two citizens of El Salvador were detained Wednesday afternoon after a traffic stop on I-80, state police at Rockview said.

Police said the two, identified as a 25-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman, were placed in the custody of federal immigration officers pending deportation proceedings.

13 suspected illegal immigrants detained

Thirteen people suspected of being illegal immigrants were detained during a traffic stop on Interstate 80, at mile marker 144 in Snow Shoe Township at about 4:20 p.m. Thursday, state police reported.

The six females and seven males in the vehicle were turned over to officials from Immigration Customs Enforcement for processing, according to state police.

A resident deported is a lesson for many (La Presna San Diego)

A resident deported is a lesson for many

September 26, 2008

By Mariana Martínez

Originally from Jalisco, México, Rito Arellano had lived in East Los Angeles since 1968.

Married, father of three daughters, Arellano used to work as a superintendent for an apartment complex in Pomona and had recently been to night school to obtain his license as an air-conditioning repair technician. That was until just a week ago, immigration authorities went after him.

The agents knocked on his door late Wednsday evening, all dressed in black.

“They told me they where looking for a fugitive and asked me if they could come in. I just felt ashamed the police was at my door and I told them they could come in”, remembered Arellano, “there where 4 or 6 armed men who came into my home and asked me to show them my identification, when they had my green card in their hands they told me “we came for you, we have an arrest warrant”, I never saw an arrest warrant or anything like that”.

They handcuffed him and assured his wife he was only going in for questioning, while in fact less than 24 hours latter he was on a bus to Tijuana, México.

Arellano is now in Tijuana, at the Elvira Refuge Shelter, the director is long time activist Micaela Saucedo, who doesn’t dismiss the fact this type of deportations are more common in the current election climate.

“They are intimidating people, taking them out of their homes, people like Rito with over 30 years of hard work for the US, someone who has payed taxes and raced good children”, she protests, “I think that because the elections are close, they use this tactic to make immigrants afraid to go ahead and file for citizenship, because they might loose it all for a minor incident that happened over 10 years ago”.

Arellano was in fact undocumented, but managed to get permanent resident status after the 1986 amnisty. He never went ahead and filed for citizenship, trusting he could do it when his greencard expired in 2012.

Gloria Saucedo, president of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, -a group looking into the case-, says this type of situations are common amongst immigrant communities, because people don’t know their rights, specially Hispanics, who are so slow at obtaining their citizenship.

“The moral of the story is, do not let minor incidents blow out of proportion, and don’t wait so long to become US citizens”, said Gloria Saucedo.

The L.A. Chapter for Hermandad Mexicana is now looking into the case to determine if Arellano´s rights where respected, because agents presented no warrant for his arrest and they didn’t take into account the fact that he is the sole breadwinner in his home, something that has stopped people from being deported in many other cases.

The problem that endend up in his arrest and deportation, started after a trip to Tijuana in 2001, right after the 9-11 attacks.

A long time friend invited Rito to go to Tijuana for the weekand, so they went down to Mexico along with his friends girlfriend.

“I didn’t ask their immigration status, I thought they where both legally in the US, otherwise, why would you leave?”, asks Arellano.

But on their way back, Arellano presented his paperwork but his friend lied about his citizenship and he found out the girl didn’t have a visa.

“They held me in jail for the weekend”, he remembers, “Monday morning they let me go, making me swear I was not going to press charges against them and to never do alien smuggling. They said “sign here, we are gonna send you home free” and an officer escorted me to San Ysidro”.

He remembers the officers told him to be aware if something was sent to him by mail, but he says it never did.

“I checked my mail every day for the next four years and nothing, nothing came. That’s the address I had for bills, checks, tax returns, coupons, bank accounts, how could I miss a letter from Immigration?” says Arellano with anger breaking his voice.

In 2004 he and his family moved from Woodier, California to Pomona and he considered the matter closed

He was so calm in fact he traveled to Guadalajara in 2007 for a niece´s wedding, when he came back he was held up in immigration but was allowed back into the country.

“If I was in fact a fugitive, why didn’t they stop me right there and then?” he asks, “I never hid or ran from the authorities, Im a decent man with over 30 years living in this country, trusting its laws, paying taxes and retirement fund, how could they do this to me?”.

ICE teams arrest 63 immigrants across state, in Edmond (The Edmond Sun)

ICE teams arrest 63 immigrants across state, in Edmond

EDMOND — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Friday that its local teams of officers arrested 63 fugitive immigrants and other immigration violators here and in surrounding communities as part of a five-day operation that ended Wednesday.

“Fugitive aliens” are illegal immigrants who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or who abscond after having been ordered to leave the country by a federal immigration judge.

Two local fugitive operations teams and other area officers began the operation last weekend and made the arrests in the following seven Oklahoma communities: Oklahoma City, Norman, Harrah, Mustang, Edmond, Chickasha, Jones and other surrounding areas.

Those arrested are from the following eight countries: El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Ghana, Guatemala and Honduras.

The fugitive operations teams and other officers that coordinated their efforts in this latest west Oklahoma operation are based in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lubbock, Texas.

“Our Fugitive Operations Teams are specially trained and solely dedicated to target fugitive aliens to help maintain the integrity of the immigration system,” Nuria T. Prendes, field office director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Dallas, Texas, said in a news release. “If you ignore a judge’s order of removal, ICE will find you, arrest you and you will be returned to your home country.”

Forty-five of those arrested had final orders of deportation; 18 were immigration violators encountered during the course of the targeted operation.

Nine of those arrested had criminal convictions, which included voluntary manslaughter, possessing and distributing controlled substances, grand larceny, extortion, assault, burglary, larceny and drunken driving. Two are gang members.

Two other gang members had nine outstanding state warrants; they were released to the Oklahoma City Police Department to first resolve their pending charges. The Oklahoma City Police Department collaborated with arresting the violent criminal targets.

During the first 11 months of Fiscal Year 2008, which began Oct. 1, the local ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in the area covered by the Dallas ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations have made 1,493 arrests. Of this total, 1,203 were fugitive aliens who had failed to comply with their outstanding deportation orders; 290 — including 32 with criminal convictions — were encountered by the ICE Fugitive Operations Teams during their targeted arrests.

ICE established its National Fugitive Operations Program in 2003 to eliminate the nation’s backlog of immigration fugitives and ensure that deportation orders handed down by immigration judges are enforced.

Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at about 570,000, a decrease of nearly 25,000 since October 2007.

Illegal immigrant facing charges deported (AP c/o KOLD-AZ)

Illegal immigrant facing charges deported

Associated Press - September 27, 2008 3:24 AM ET

PHOENIX (AP) - An illegal immigrant facing burglary charges in Arizona has been mistakenly deported to Mexico.

Luis Garcia-Villegas accepted a voluntary return to Mexico on September 17th.

Suspects facing criminal charges normally don't get the option of a voluntary return.

But a U.S. Customs and Immigration official says officials at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office weren't aware of the charges.

A spokesman for the sheriff's office says no procedures were violated.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office is investigating why Garcia was deported and is working to bring him back into custody.

Police arrested Garcia and two others on September 15th on suspicion of burglarizing the La Bodega furniture store in south Phoenix.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Police Log: Alleged illegal jailed after stop (Republican-Herald)

Alleged illegal jailed after stop [3rd item]

ASHLAND — Borough police took an alleged illegal alien, Javier Cruz-Perez, Mexico, into custody after a traffic stop Tuesday, police said Saturday.

Police stopped Cruz-Perez, who was driving with an illegal license plate near Fourth and Centre streets, at 4:55 p.m.

Cruz-Perez could not provide any form of identification and was transported to the state police’s Frackville station, where a live scan was conducted by Cpl. Leo Luciani, police said.

State police determined Cruz-Perez was an illegal alien, then transported him to Schuylkill County Prison on an immigration detainer from ICE. Additional criminal charges are pending as a result of the traffic stop, police said.

For the Record: 9-15-08 Police reports, Defiance Police (Defiance Crescent-News)

For the Record: 9-15-08 Police reports, Defiance Police [4th item]

Francisco Hernandez, 37, address unknown, was charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated. Hernandez was unable to provide proof of residency. Immigration was contacted and the defendant is being held on an ICE holder at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, rural Stryker.

127 workers picked up in raids Westlake and Vinton (AP c/o WXVT-Louisiana)

127 workers picked up in raids Westlake and Vinton

Associated Press - September 26, 2008 8:14 AM ET

WESTLAKE, La. (AP) - Federal officials say a search of Dunham Price's Westlake and Vinton plants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents netted 127 undocumented workers all of them male from Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras.

Authorities have not said what prompted the raid. Dunham Price is a cement and concrete products plant.

The workers were taken to a federal facility in Oakdale and were turned over to the Executive Office of Immigration Review. They will be tried in an administrative court, which will decide whether they should be deported.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Immigration Makes House Raid in Sylmar, Deports couple (San Fernando Valley Sun)

Immigration Makes House Raid in Sylmar, Deports Couple

Thursday, 25 September 2008

A recent Pew Hispanic Center study found that a majority of immigrants worry now more than ever about deportation. The poll, conducted among 2,015 respondents 18 and over in June and July, found that 53% of immigrants, a 10% increase over a year ago, are concerned immigration authorities will deport them, their family members or friends.

"We are in an environment of increased immigration enforcement and based on statistics, there has been an increase in removal of immigrants in past years", said study author Susan Minushkin, deputy director of the center, a nonpartisan research grup.

The concern over deportation became a painful reality for a Sylmar family that was recently split up when immigration agents came to their house and took away the parents, leaving four U.S.-born children under the care of an aunt.

At around 8 p.m. on Sept. 11, Rosa Cruz rushed to the home of her sister, 36-year-old Luz Sanchez and her husband, 34- year-old Juan Sanchez, on the 12100 block of Buckeye Ave. in Sylmar after receiving a call from her nine-year-old niece, Kimberly.

"She called me crying and told me, 'aunt, the police is arresting my mom'," said Cruz, a Palmdale resident.

"I told her I wanted to talk to the agents and when they got on the phone they told me, 'we're not the police. We're immigration and I'm going to take her (Sanchez) away," recounted Cruz. "They told me I needed to go and pick up the children and asked me how long it would take me. I told her it would take me about an hour, and she said 'you better hurry up or I'm going to take them to a foster home'."

"I don't even know how I got here," said Cruz.

When she got to her sister's house, Cruz encountered a chaotic scene, with several police cars parked in front of the house and helicopters flying over.

The police had been called because the Sanchez older son, 14-year-old Oscar had lunged at the immigration officers after they had apparently manhandled her mother, leaving her with a bruised ankle, according to Cruz.

Inside the home, both Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez were in handcuffs on.

"She (my sister) was resisting when she saw her children. It's very hard and sad because they have spent all their lives here and in one moment they destroyed a home," said Cruz.

Hector Cabrera, a neighbor and member of the neighborhood council, also witnessed the detention and was surprised by the commotion.

"This situation is an aggression against people," he said. "The children see how these agents are treating their parents. It was savagely."

He also asserts he had seen immigration agents parked at the corner of the block for several days, as well as at the Starbucks coffee shop in the nearby City of San Fernando.

"They just sit there and intimidate people. They're creating tension for the immigrant population," he said.

The detention of both parents has split the Sanchez family. Mr. Sanchez was deported to Mexico a day after. His wife was kept in detention but deported a few days later. Their four children, Oscar, 14; Kimberly, 9; Juan, 5 and 14- month-old Daniel, are now under the care of Cruz.

Both, Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez had been in the country since the age of 17, after arriving from the Mexican states of Zacatecas and Nayarit, respectively. Mrs. Sanchez was a homemaker, while Mr. Sanchez worked in a landscaping company.

Cruz said a lawyer had swindled her sister and brother-in-law out of thousands of dollars by pretending to legalize their status by making them apply under political asylum. Mexican nationals don't qualify for such protection and their petition had been rejected.

"The two were granted a voluntary departure to Mexico in June 2006. When they failed to leave the country as they were instructed to do by the immigration judge, the voluntary departure became a final order of deportation," said Virginia Kice, spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "I would underscore that this couple was instructed to leave the United States by an immigration judge more than two years ago.When they failed to leave the country in a timely manner, they became subject to arrest and formal removal."

Immigration lawyers and activists recommend that when immigration agents show up at your home, you ask if they have an arrest warrant with your name on it, otherwise you have the option not to open the door. If you are detained, you should ask to speak with your consular office and never, ever, sign anything.

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), is harshly critical of these type of actions.

"Raids continue to tear families apart and remain the most savage form of enforcement policy. We urge the Bush Administration to use its executive power to order an immediate moratorium on raids, detentions, and deportations while Congress gets the courage to move forward on realistic and humane immigration reform," she said recently in a press release.


Investigates Identity Theft and Potential Employers Sanctions Violations

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Phoenix, AZ - Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies investigating potential employer sanctions violations served a search warrant on Chandler based Legacy Custom Doors & Western Lock this morning. Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies were acting on an anonymous tip when they raided the business around 7:00am and arrested a total of 10 persons – seven (7) for felony identity theft charges.

According to Sheriff Arpaio, an additional three (3) employees were taken into custody for being or working in the U.S. illegally.

The search warrant was served at 325 East Comstock Drive in Chandler. Sheriff’s deputies seized computers, employment records and other documents from the property as detectives attempt to learn if company managers knowingly hired illegal workers.

Arpaio says the ongoing investigation began in April after his office received information from an anonymous caller to the Sheriff’s tip line. The caller alleged. Legacy Custom Doors knowingly employs numerous illegal aliens and that employees appear to possess fraudulent working documents. The caller also provided specific names of people involved and indicated that a number of workers had been deported from the United States only to return to the company’s employment a short time later. Information related by the caller alleges company management has made comments that the “Legal Arizona Workers Act” would cause the company to lose all but a few employees.

Legacy Custom Doors employs approximately 30 workers. Of those, Sheriff’s detectives identified 12 company workers suspected of felony Identity Theft.

This investigation is the fifth recent investigation into alleged violations of the Legal Arizona Workers Act conducted by the Sheriff’s Office and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Arrests resulting from these cases total 134 suspects on felony Identity Theft or other charges.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas says, “Once again a business has been found to allegedly have a large percentage of its work force made up of illegal immigrants. We hope as enforcement spreads so does the message that is not acceptable to hire illegal workers and undercut the wages of hard working citizens and legal immigrants.”

Sheriff Arpaio added, “Companies large and small must be diligent and proactive in determining employment eligibility. They can not turn a blind eye, nor can they knowingly violate the law. If they do, they run the risk of the combined efforts of my Office and the County Attorney’s Office investigating them.

We are not going to stop enforcing the laws, including state and federal immigration laws. We’re going to do all we can to close the door on illegal immigration.

ICE Raids Odessa Construction Site 9/24/08 (KOSA-West Texas)

ICE Raids Odessa Construction Site 9/24/08

Eddie Garcia
CBS 7 News
September 24, 2008

Odessa, Texas - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrest 17 sub-contractors at an Odessa luxury apartment construction site.

Investigators say none of the men could show valid proof that they crossed the border legally.

The raid happened at the Dorado Ranch apartments Wednesday morning.

Were told that 15 of these men are from Mexico and the other two are from Nicaragua; right now they're being held and questioned by ice agents.

Only CBS 7 cameras were rolling as ICE raided the Dorado Ranch.

ICE spokesperson Leticia Zamarripa said: "It appears now that all of these individuals entered the country illegally."

A background check is done on each of the men to see if they've been convicted of a crime while on US soil.

Zamarripa said: "If they have no criminal record they will more than likely be removed from the country."

ICE officials believe they know how these men got to the Odessa worksite.

"Several out of town contractors hired these individuals to do a variety of different jobs."

Zamarripa says ICE does not want to send the wrong signal to immigrants who are here legally.

"If they have the proper documents to live here and work here they have nothing to fear," Zamarripa said.

She gives a stern warning to those who are breaking the law.

"ICE is aggressively pursuing this type of investigation and don't be surprised if our special agents come knocking at your door."

Apartment management had no comment on Wednesday’s raid. At this point it's not known how these arrests will affect construction.

Illegal immigrant rethinks 911 call (Raleigh News & Observer)

Illegal immigrant rethinks 911 call
He reported a robbery; now, he's in jail and his brother is in federal custody

Published: Sep 24, 2008 12:30 AM
Lorenzo Perez, Staff Writer

RALEIGH - A Mexican immigrant who was robbed in his Knightdale home last week called 911 for help, but now he faces a criminal charge of his own.

Self-employed mechanic Jose Luis Segura-Rios said he has lived illegally in the United States for at least 15 years. The turn of events that landed him in jail and his brother in the custody of federal immigration authorities for scheduled deportation has Segura-Rios and his attorney questioning the case's impact on the willingness of illegal immigrants to seek police help as crime victims.

Segura-Rios was charged with a forgery count of common-law uttering after investigators determined he had provided them false identification and misrepresented who he was after the Sept. 16 robbery, according to the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Search warrants indicate that at least one of the suspects who broke into the Terry Lane house Segura-Rios shared with his brother and two other men was asked whether the motive for the robbery was to recover more than $200,000 from a cocaine deal. The warrant does not say why the investigators think the robbery was drug-related.

According to the search warrants, no drugs, drug paraphernalia or money related to the alleged transaction were recovered from the home, however, and Segura-Rios denied knowledge of any drug dealing in a Tuesday interview from the Wake County jail. Also, Segura-Rios said that as the robbers fled his home, a Wake County sheriff's deputy struck him in the leg with a baton as he tried to explain the robbers were getting away.

Asked whether he regretted calling 911 for help, Segura-Rios said Tuesday, "I'd have to think hard about it, because look what happens when you call 911. You end up losing, because you have no one protecting you."

Wake Sheriff Donnie Harrison said his department had little choice but to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for assistance after they determined Segura-Rios and two other men misrepresented their identities in follow-up interviews after the robbery.

"What we've got is a situation where we're investigating a home invasion, but the victims, for whatever reason, are giving us false information. So ICE assisted us, as they have in the past," Harrison said Tuesday. "Once ICE gets in that mode, I back away from it, but my concern was we need to know who we're dealing with, victims and suspects. Because if we're going to put a case together, we need to have the victims come in and testify."

Harrison added that his department did not detain Segura-Rios and the other robbery victims the night of the incident. But Segura-Rios' attorney, Robert E. Nunley, said that the sheriff's office tricked his client and the three other residents of the home into returning later for fingerprinting. Nunley said the four men were told investigators needed their fingerprints to distinguish them from other prints in the home following the robbery.

After they came to the sheriff's office to provide fingerprints, Nunley said, they were taken into custody. One of the four men living in the home had proper identification, according to investigators, and was later released.

"I'm rather offended by the heavy-handedness. I'm offended by the deception," Nunley said.

Harrison disputed, however, that his agency actively seeks to determine a crime victim's residency status whenever they call 911.

"If they call, we're coming," he said. "If the victims are truthful with us, [and] haven't committed any violations of the law, we don't care [about their residency status]," Harrison said. "At that point, we're trying to protect them just like we would anybody else. But when they start lying to us during our investigation, that throws up a red flag."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Judge Limits Otero County Sheriff's Department Immigrant Raids (KOAT-Albequerque, NM)

Judge Limits Otero County Sheriff's Department Immigrant Raids
POSTED: 11:40 pm MDT September 23, 2008

The Otero County Sheriff's Department has been under fire for months after raids in search of illegal immigrants.

A federal judge has now stepped in with an order that could effect how the deputies do their job.

The department has taken some heat in recent months after raiding a rural community just north of El Paso, Texas.

Norbert Sanchez, the Otero County Undersheriff, said, "We're following within the bounds of the law."

Sanchez said under Operation Stone-Garden, the county received federal money to help secure and stop crime around the border.

In 2007, deputies conducted a raid in Chaparral looking for illegal immigrants -- a raid that a civil rights group out of El Paso said was unconstitutional.

Betty Camargo, with the Border Network for Human Rights, said, "A few times they went with the people that would deliver pizza. The pizza delivery people or they would show up with the animal control people and they would use that excuse to ask for identification or immigration status."

The group first filed a lawsuit last year against the sheriff's office.

In March, the group followed up requesting an injunction or order banning deputies from illegal searches.

On Friday, a federal judge issued the order which won't allow deputies to engage in stops, searches or seizures without good reason relating to Stone-Garden.

It will also put a stop to targeting residents because of race to find undocumented workers.

Sanchez said, "I feel a lot of the heat we're taking is unjust. These are just allegations that were made against us."

Sheriff's deputies said they would continue the operation leaving residents on edge because some have seen the searches first hand.

Nohemi Gonzalez, who lives in the area, said, "My mom's neighbor, they just went and they just got her out of her house. They just knocked on the door and took her and all her kids."

Leaders with the Border Network said this is just the first step in helping defend the rights of residents in Chaparral.

Deputies said since that operation Stone-Garden began about two years ago, crime in the Chaparral area has decreased significantly.

22 seized in boat, believed to be illegal immigrants (San Diego Union-Tribune)

22 seized in boat, believed to be illegal immigrants [2nd Item]

SAN DIEGO: Nearly two dozen Mexicans in a fishing boat were intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents early yesterday off the coast of Torrey Pines, officials said.

At 3:30 a.m., authorities on patrol spotted a blue-and-white 26-foot panga vessel loaded with 22 suspected illegal immigrants.

Agents said they saw the boat as it was heading south at high speed without navigation lights. The boat stopped after a brief chase about a mile west of the Torrey Pines Golf Course, officials said.

The 16 men and six women aboard were wearing life vests. They were turned over to the Border Patrol to be processed for deportation.

Two of the men face possible federal charges of human smuggling, officials said. Three of the people in the group were detained as witnesses. The panga also was seized. –A.M.

Suspected Illegal Immigrants Arrested (WNEP-PA)

Suspected Illegal Immigrants Arrested

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2008 11:09 AM EDT

By Ryan Leckey

A bakery in Lackawanna County was raided Wednesday morning as federal agents look for illegal immigrants.

The bust happened at B.C. Bundt, Incorporated inside Stauffer Industrial Park in Taylor. Nearly two dozen suspected illegal immigrants found themselves hauled out of work on handcuffs.

Just as the first shift was beginning the day local police and federal immigration agents surrounded the place.

Authorities took 23 workers out of the bakery in handcuffs and placed into vehicles.

"They were surprised, never expected it. Their shift started at 7 a.m. We had people on surveillance here and as soon as everybody entered the building we came in," explained Taylor Police Chief Stephen Derenick.

He added the raid was five months in the making. It started after officers received several tips.

"My two officers who gathered the information got information from ex-employees," Chief Derenick said.

According to investigators, five of the 23 suspected illegal immigrants are women. They were taken to the state police barracks in Dunmore for processing before being taken to Philadelphia with the men who were arrested.

As for the bakery, neither workers nor management wanted to comment on the raid.

Before leaving, police said, federal agents also made copies of the company's computer records, such as employee files.

As for those arrested it will be up to immigration officials in Philadelphia to determine whether the 23 people are in this country illegally and what kind of charges will be filed against the B.C. Bundt Bakery in Taylor.

Deported in 1997, Suffern man again faces deportation (Lower Hudson Journal News)

Deported in 1997, Suffern man again faces deportation

By Khurram Saeed
The Journal News • September 24, 2008

SUFFERN - A 39-year-old village man arrested after his wife was threatened with a knife early this year is set to be deported after Suffern police learned he was living in the country illegally.

Jose L. Salas of Oakdale Manor had been deported a decade ago for entering the United States using a phony identity, but, at some point, he returned to the country and settled in Suffern.

Salas is from Peru.

On Jan. 18, police responded to Salas' home and arrested him after finding out that he had threatened his wife with a knife, police Detective Craig Long said last night.

The couple have a child, 7.

Salas was charged with second-degree menacing and fourth-degree possession of a weapon, both misdemeanors.

A routine fingerprint check of Salas came back with a different name. Suffern police then contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The investigation began to determine who he really was," Long said.

Authorities soon found out that Salas had been deported in 1997 because he had entered the country using false documents. Long said Salas had been working at a local supermarket.

"He was living and working in the community, but nobody knows for how long," Long said.

On Monday, Salas pleaded guilty in village court to a reduced charge of harassment, a violation.

ICE issued an immigration detainer form placed on Salas, which allowed them to take him into custody yesterday morning after he spent the night in a holding cell.

Suffern has applied to join a federal program, known as 287(g), that lets local and state agencies partner with ICE by checking into the immigration status of certain people. The agencies would have access to federal databases and can detain people on immigration charges. Village officials are waiting to see if they will be approved for the program.

Dancer's immigration status unclear after tragedy (Miami Herald)

Dancer's immigration status unclear after tragedy
A woman's immigration status is up in the air after her husband kills their daughter and then himself.

First her husband killed their young daughter before turning the gun on himself.

Now, 25-year-old Jissela Cabello may be deported back to Paraguay, her attorney says.

Jorge Rivera says his client lost her legal status when her husband, 34-year-old Victor Cabello, killed himself last week. Cabello had been in the process of obtaining his U.S. citizenship when he shot his sleeping child and then himself early Friday.

When he died, so did his citizenship petition, Rivera said.

Jissela Cabello, who works as a dancer at Alley Cats near Coral Gables, would have obtained permanent legal residence through her husband, Rivera said. If she does not obtain a special visa that provides legal permanent residency for victims of domestic abuse, she may face deportation.

Two weeks before the deaths, Jissela had called police about her husband, alleging domestic abuse. However, she soon bailed him out of jail and vowed she would never report him to the police again.

But at 8 a.m. Friday, she called Miami police again, asking for help in retrieving her clothes.

When officers arrived at the house in the 1700 block of Northwest North River Drive, they found the 4-year-old girl and her father shot dead.

Earlier that morning, according to Jissela, Victor had called her to say their daughter, Yesennia Nicole Cabello, was ill and that he was going to take her to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

He never did.

According to Jissela's account of what followed, she returned home only to find her husband in a jealous rage. He suspected her of cheating on him. When she admitted to having been in a motel with a married man, he snapped.

''Today, the three of us will die,'' he told her.

Saying he had already killed the child, Victor Cabello pulled a knife on his wife. She pleaded with him, and eventually persuaded him to go with her to buy some cigarettes. She took advantage of the diversion, hailed a taxi and fled to a friend's house. That is when she called police.

Before he took his own life, police said, Victor Cabello wrote a suicide note announcing the death of all three.

''He didn't understand that everything was over and that I wanted to be alone,'' said Jissela, who was been married to Victor for 12 years.

This week, she has buried her daughter and her husband. Now she faces the complicated process of obtaining the special visa.

Such a visa requires the domestic violence victim to present a certificate signed by a police officer confirming that she had worked with authorities to detain the abuser. Rivera said he was unsure whether they will be able to obtain the certificate.

Ana Santiago, spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service, declined to comment on the case, citing privacy laws.

Father of four on his own after wife deported to Mexico (Stockton Record)

Father of four on his own after wife deported to Mexico

By Jennifer Torres
Record Staff Writer
September 24, 2008 6:00 AM

Alejandro Machain was at work one evening two weeks ago when his son called and said, "Dad, the police took Mom."

It was about 7:30 p.m.

"I thought, 'What did she do? Maybe she hit someone in her car?'"

He called the Stockton Police Department, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, the California Highway Patrol. None of those agencies had logged an arrest at his home.

Then, a dispatcher told him U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were conducting a mission in San Joaquin County - Maria Machain was one of 10 residents arrested on immigration-violation charges Sept. 10.

By Sept. 11, she was on a bus full of women being deported to Mexico.

While, in recent years, San Joaquin County has not seen the large-scale immigration sweeps that have shaken communities and led to hundreds of deportations elsewhere in the country, immigration authorities remain active in the region.

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said that Sept. 10, one of the agency's Fugitive Operations Teams arrested 10 people in Stockton, Tracy, Ripon, Manteca and Lathrop.

"Four of those were subjects who had previously been ordered deported and failed to comply," Kice said. That group likely included Maria Machain.

Two of the 10 had criminal convictions in addition to immigration violations, Kice said. Eight already have been deported.

Established in 2003, the Fugitive Operations Teams focus on finding, arresting and removing people who have failed to leave the United States or report to a detention and removal officer after being ordered to do so. Immigration and Customs Enforcement credits the Fugitive Operations Program with a dramatic increase in arrests.

The team responsible for San Joaquin County is based in Sacramento and acts on information from a variety of sources, Kice said.

Alejandro Machain believes his wife was discovered only because she recently had applied for legal residency.

Alejandro and Maria Machain are from Guadalajara, Mexico.

Alejandro Machain is a permanent resident of the United States, and for the past decade has operated a Smog Check business in Stockton. The couple married in 2001, and soon after, he petitioned for her to become a permanent resident as well.

But in 1998, Maria Machain had been caught in El Paso, Texas, trying to enter the country with someone else's green card, her husband said. She was immediately deported.

About a year later, she was caught three times trying to cross through the mountains of southeastern California. On her fourth attempt, she made it.

The couple have four children, ages 3, 4, 5 and 7.

"They just came home and picked her up and drove her away," Alejandro Machain said.

On the morning of Sept. 11, Alejandro Machain drove to Sacramento, where his wife was in federal custody. By 3 p.m., he said, she was on a bus headed for Tijuana.

About 10 p.m., he and a Manteca man whose wife was arrested in the same enforcement action left for the border.

They got there at 8 a.m., and at noon, the women were dropped off at the San Ysidro border crossing.

Alejandro Machain gave his wife money to buy a bus ticket to her parents' home and a suitcase full of her clothes.

"They wouldn't let her take anything," he said. "Not even a jacket."

For now, neighbors are helping Alejandro Machain care for his children while he calls immigration lawyers seeking help.

"The little ones, they don't understand. They just want to see Mom," he said. "They're too little to comprehend what's going on. I told them she had to go to Mexico to be with Grandma, because Grandma got sick."

Until 2004, Border Patrol agents maintained an office on Rough and Ready Island, and as recently as 2000, immigration authorities were considering plans to open a 500-bed detention and processing center there.

In the late 1990s and the early years of this decade, raids of stash houses, farm camps and at least one restaurant in the county led to the deportation of hundreds of immigrants.

Rumors of immigration sweeps often fly through Stockton neighborhoods, advocate Luis Magaña said.

And at Hazelton School - which serves many migrant families - immigration worries sometimes keep parents from participating on campus, Principal Olivia Castillo said.

"Mothers will tell me, 'My husband tells me not to sign up for anything,'" Castillo said. "We tell them everything stays confidential. Their participation in the school is really crucial, really important."

Kice said there are 95 Fugitive Operations Teams working throughout the country, including 17 in California. Five operate in the northern part of the state, she said.

Tracy-based immigration consultant Albert Villela said it's common for undocumented immigrants to be discovered after their documented spouses submit green card petitions on their behalf.

"If someone's married to someone that's here illegally, let's say from Mexico, and the U.S. citizen petitions for the spouse, they have to go to Mexico for the interview. In most cases, they're barred from returning for 10 years," Villela said. "That's been, for a long time, really a risky application to do."

Alejandro Machain said he is frustrated. "We were trying to do things the right way," he said.

He said that if his wife isn't allowed to re-enter the country, he likely will close his business and move his family to Mexico.

"It's a very difficult situation," he said. "I cannot see my kids without a mother. In essence, they're destroying families and a family's livelihood."

Legal Permanent Resident Deported to Mexico (La Opinión c/o New American Media)

Legal Permanent Resident Deported to Mexico
La Opinión, Posted: Sep 24, 2008

LOS ANGELES -- A man who had lived in the United States for 30 years and had a green card was deported last week as a result of an incident in 2001 when he was stopped at the border with two people who did not have their papers in order, reports La Opinión. Rito Arellano, 55, was deported to Tijuana last week. His wife and three daughters say his detention and deportation are not justified.

Last Wednesday, about 10 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided Arellano's home in Pomona, Calif., supposedly looking for someone else. While looking over his green card, the agents saw that he had been detained seven years ago at the border. Arellano says the agents told him they had an order for his arrest, but did not show it to him, and then took him to a detention center in Los Angeles.

Arellano has been a legal permanent resident for more than 15 years. In 2001, he visited Tijuana with two undocumented friends. He was driving the car when they re-entered the United States. He was arrested and spent the weekend in jail on the charge of bringing undocumented immigrants into the country, but a judge released him for lack of evidence.

21 illegal immigrant workers arrested on Maui (Maui News)

21 illegal immigrant workers arrested on Maui
POSTED: September 24, 2008

Federal agents arrested 21 illegal immigrant workers early Monday morning at a Honokowai condominium construction site, the second such raid at the same site in a little more than a month, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The arrests were for "administrative immigration violations," particularly for entering the country without authorization, said agency Special Agent in Charge Wayne Wills.

The workers were at the Honua Kai project site where 23 alien workers from three different companies were taken into custody on Aug. 20.

Those arrested then included 13 employed by Global Stone Inc., officials said.

All those arrested Tuesday worked for Global Stone, which Wills said was operated by a number of the arrested men.

Prompted by complaints about illegal workers, the raids are part of a continuing investigation. Federal agents received cooperation from LEDCOR Hawaii, the project's general contractor, and they were assisted by the Maui Police Department. LEDCOR gave agents consent to enter the construction site.

"We are troubled by the fact that we continued to receive reports about unauthorized aliens working for Global Stone Inc. despite prior enforcement actions," said Wills.

Monday's "operation is part of ICE's ongoing efforts to target employers and employees who violate our nation's hiring laws.

"ICE will use every enforcement and investigative tool against employees and employers who fail to heed our warnings."

Hawaii U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said he was "deeply troubled by what seems to be the same companies repeatedly employing undocumented workers in our state.

"I know they feel that they can just plead ignorance about the status of their employees. But I strongly advise them to think again, because if there is enough evidence, we will aggressively pursue all available remedies."

The arrested workers - all men - included 12 from Mexico, eight from Brazil and one from Slovakia.

All were taken to a federal detention center in Honolulu where they face deportation proceedings.

Kyle Chock, executive director of Pacific Resource Partnership, faulted unethical contractors for the immigration violations.

"We don't begrudge the workers who come to this country in search of an opportunity to better themselves and their families, as Hawaii itself has an immigrant history," Chock said.

"But we are extremely concerned about employers who disregard the social and economical consequences they have on Hawaii's economy and the workers they employ."

Pacific Resource Partnership is a consortium of labor unions and development corporations formed to promote interests of developers who use union labor in Hawaii.

While commending federal immigration agents for their work, "we are deeply bothered by those employers who have repeatedly demonstrated their total lack of respect for the law by continuing to use subcontractors on their projects who persist in hiring illegal aliens," Chock said.
Global Stone obtained a Hawaii contractor's license on Aug. 13, just a week before the first raid that collared its employees.

It is registered as a business along with Blackrock Stone & Tile Co. with an address at a condo in Kahana, but state business records do not show the names of any of its principals.

Tuesday's raid was the latest in a series on illegal immigrant workplaces and homes this year.

In July, federal agents arrested 43 illegal immigrant farm workers in Waipahu during a raid on an apartment complex.

In May, immigration agents arrested 22 suspected illegal immigrant workers at two chain restaurants on Maui.

A few months before that, immigration officials arrested 19 foreign nationals on immigration charges at a downtown Honolulu construction site and a Halawa warehouse.

Culpeper raid nets five undocumented suspects (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Culpeper raid nets five undocumented suspects
Raid in Culpeper nets five of 19 undocumented suspects, but officials still satisfied

Date published: 9/24/2008


Four early morning raids by federal, state and local authorities resulted in the arrests yesterday of five undocumented Hispanics in or near the town of Culpeper.

Those raids, planned and carried out at the request of the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), targeted 19 subjects who were suspected of being gang members, criminals or former deportees who had re-entered the country.

While the raids netted only about a fourth of those targeted, Culpeper County Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Close said he wasn't disappointed.

"Given the nature of who we were going after, it was pretty good," Close said. "Gang members travel around frequently. This was a pretty good haul."

More than 30 agents--including town police officers, sheriff's deputies, state troopers and 12 members of ICE's Gang Prevention Unit--participated in the simultaneous raids on four different locations at about 3:30 a.m.

Planning began about six months ago, according to Culpeper town Police Chief Scott Barlow, who said local officials fax ICE a list of any undocumented immigrants who are arrested or come through the court system.

"When the list becomes worthwhile to cast the net, we cast the net," Barlow said, adding that the next raid might be in two weeks or six months.

Town public information officer Wally Bunker said ICE officials did not specify the charges against the five suspects, and did not release the names or ages of those taken into custody. There were no local charges filed.

At least one of the five was a woman, Bunker said, but local officials were uncertain as to the sex of the others.

Those taken into custody were temporarily jailed in Culpeper, then moved to federal facilities yesterday afternoon, according to Sheriff Jim Branch. He called the raids "a proactive effort" to rid the community of dangerous elements.

"Gang members here illegally; that's what this was all about," said Close.

None of those arrested, however, had been directly tied to any gang as of yesterday afternoon, Barlow said. He added that he believed one suspect was tied to a New York state gun charge.

"This will send a positive message," said Close. "I hope [those sought] all look for accommodations in Stafford County."

While those who participated in the raids were pleased with the outcome, all spoke of the futility of the situation.

"We just chase the problem from our community to someone else's community but the problem is still there," said Branch.

And no one at yesterday's press conference could guarantee that all of those arrested would not be back in the United States six months after they are deported.

Close blamed the entry and re-entry problem on a federal system that is not working.

"If the federal government had done its job, we would not even be here," he said, pointing to a stack of papers that contained the names of 1,842 suspected illegal aliens that his office had forwarded to ICE in the past two years.

No one, however, blamed ICE. All agreed that the agency is overwhelmed.

The officials said the safety of the community was their main concern. Barlow said a recent town police survey found that gangs were the No. 1 problem on the minds of those who responded.

And Branch said, "We want to show the community that we're taking very seriously the safety of the community."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Border patrol saves illegal immigrant from drowning (Yuma Sun)

Border patrol saves illegal immigrant from drowning

September 22, 2008 - 3:11PM

Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Yuma Station rescued a man early Friday morning after he began to drown in the Sanchez Canal.

Just before midnight agents working west of the San Luis, Ariz., Port of Entry observed three subjects illegally cross the international boundary.

"They jumped across the canal and started running," said agent Laura Boston, spokesperson for the Yuma sector. "It is a good size canal but not too wide. If you had a good running start you can clear it."

The Sanchez Canal is located west of the Port of Entry in San Luis, Ariz., and along the newly-built border fence.

As agents approached the subjects, they turned around and started running in an attempt to return to Mexico. Two subjects were successful; the third subject fell into the canal.

"He fell in the water and started showing signs of distress," Boston said.

An agent immediately jumped into the canal and was able to free the subject from some mud that he had become stuck in.

A second agent threw them a Res-Q Disc and pulled the agent and subject to safety. The subject was examined by a certified EMT Border Patrol agent and no injuries were discovered.

The subject, a citizen of Mexico, was taken into custody and transported to the Yuma Border Patrol Station where he was processed for removal.

Illegal Immigrants Held As Witnesses for Trial (Washington Post)

Illegal Immigrants Held As Witnesses for Trial

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 22, 2008; Page B01

Five men have been sitting in the Fairfax County jail for nearly a month now, although none is charged with a crime. Rather, they might have witnessed a killing. Some of them.

The men are being held as witnesses after the fatal stabbing of Adulio Morales-Bonilla, 36, in Fairfax City last month. Everyone in the case -- the victim, the suspect, the witnesses -- was in this country illegally. Fairfax City police enlisted the help of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and had the witnesses detained.

But then ICE told police that the witnesses were going to waive deportation hearings and might be returned to their native Honduras within a week. Faced with the possible collapse of their case, police obtained "material witness" warrants against the men and had them jailed without bond, even though the trial might not occur for another year.

Legal experts and attorneys for the witnesses expressed outrage that the men were being held to secure their testimony.

"What are we, in Guantanamo?" asked Abbe Smith, a Georgetown University law professor and expert in criminal defense. "They are simply witnesses. They happened to be someplace where something happened. That should shock the conscience of any American citizen."

Fairfax prosecutors say that increasingly, immigrants who are in this country illegally -- from victims to witnesses to suspects -- are failing to show up for trial. And when the Morales-Bonilla slaying presented the same potential problem, said Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh, prosecutors turned to Virginia's material witness law and simply locked up the witnesses indefinitely.

"We've got to do everything we can," Morrogh said, "especially in a murder case, to make sure the victim's rights are protected."

Prosecutors in Virginia said that they rarely use material witness warrants but that when they do, the witnesses usually are released on bond. No one could recall a similar situation, but several said they thought that Morrogh had done the right thing.

"As a prosecutor, you never particularly want to have a witness who doesn't like you," said Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney Richard E. Trodden. "But if they're telling you he's going out the door, you've got to do something."

Trodden and others said there is an alternative to holding the men in the Fairfax jail: custody or supervision by ICE. He said he hoped that ICE would realize "there's a greater good here" and not deport the men if they are released from jail.

Fairfax City Police Chief Rick Rappoport said police were trying to work with ICE on a compromise. Ernestine Fobbs, an ICE spokeswoman, could not discuss the Fairfax case but said that when illegal immigrants "are in our custody, we will work with the local law enforcement. But we can't hold them indefinitely."

Originally, six witnesses were detained. But defense attorney Michael J. Lindner persuaded Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush to release one of the witnesses, Luis A. Rodriguez, on Wednesday. Roush looked at the affidavit written by Fairfax City Detective Michael D. Boone and found that none of the six witnesses was identified as having any information about the case.

All the witnesses "were possibly inside the residence at the time of the murder," Boone wrote. "One of the occupants of the house was a witness to an argument between the victim and the defendant shortly before the murder occurred."

The defendant, Juan de Dios Morales, 37, of Fairfax City, "admitted killing the victim," Boone wrote. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 27.

Roush dismissed the witness warrant against Rodriguez, who faces deportation proceedings but who might be eligible to be released on bond in that case. He has no criminal record and has been working in this country for several years, Lindner said.

"The idea that in this country," Lindner said after the hearing, "that someone could sit in jail for a year without being charged with a crime, that's just insane. And I don't think the U.S. Constitution permits it."

Attorneys for the five men said they will fight to get their clients released. At hearings on Thursday and Friday, Fairfax General District Court Judge Penney J. Azcarate said she would release two of the men on $1,000 bond, but they remain jailed.

Three are being held without bond, including Jorge A. Moreno Rincon. His attorney, Lavonda Graham Williams, said her client is not planning to leave the country and planned to contest deportation.

In the affidavit, Boone said an immigration agent told him that all six men had waived their rights to deportation hearings and would be deported in a week. That created the sense of urgency among police and prosecutors that something needed to be done before all of their witnesses were shipped out of the country.

Lindner and Williams said that their clients had not waived their deportation rights and that Boone was misinformed. Lindner and William Pickett, an attorney for another witness, said their clients had no information about the crime.

The deportation would not have been an issue had Fairfax City police not summoned ICE in the first place. Rappoport said detectives needed the agency's help in sorting out who might have been involved in the slaying and what their immigration status was. Defense attorneys believe that they were brought in to pressure the witnesses to cooperate.

AG: Don't deport genital mutilation victim (CNN)

AG: Don't deport genital mutilation victim

From Terry Frieden
CNN Justice Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. attorney general is trying to prevent immigration authorities from sending a Muslim woman to her home country, where she was a victim of female genital mutilation.

In a stinging order overriding federal immigration courts, Mukasey blasted a decision that said a 28-year-old citizen and native of Mali should be expelled "because her genitalia already had been mutilated [so] she had no basis to fear future persecution if returned to her home country."

Calling the rationale "flawed," Mukasey sent the case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals with orders to reconsider.

The woman, a native of Mali, begged the court not to send her back to her Bambara tribe.

The 28-year-old said if she returned and had a daughter, the child also would be subject to mutilation. The woman also said she faced forced marriage if she had to go home.

Mukasey cited what he concluded were two significant factual errors in the court's rejection of her appeal.

"Female genital mutilation is not necessarily a one-time event," Mukasey said. He noted that the board in a previous case had granted asylum in to one woman whose "vaginal opening was sewn shut approximately five times after being opened to allow for sexual intercourse and child birth."

He also concluded that the Board of Immigration Appeals was wrong to assume that the woman "must fear persecution in exactly the same form [namely, repeat female genital mutilation] to qualify for relief."

Mukasey had been urged to look into the matter by angered members of Congress in the wake of the January decision.

"This recent action taken by the Board of Immigration Appeals is a step backward for the rights of women worldwide," declared Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, in a January letter.

"Female genital mutilation is a gross violation of a woman's human rights and has traditionally been grounds for the granting of an asylum claim," Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, said in the letter.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, issued a statement applauding Mukasey's action, and declaring female genital mutilation a "barbaric practice widely regarded as a human rights abuse."

The Justice Department acknowledged it is extraordinarily rare for an attorney general to jump into a relatively low-level immigration case. The immigration courts decide about 40,000 cases a year, and an attorney general has issued an opinion on a case only three times in the past three years.

Female genital mutilation is common in parts of Africa, Asia and in some Arab countries, according to the United Nations. The operation is viewed by some ethnic groups as a means to control a woman's sexuality and is sometimes a prerequisite for marriage or the right to inherit.

The procedure can cause tissue injury, severe infection and fever, among other complications. The U.N. has recorded cases in which hemorrhaging and infection lead to death.