Monday, March 31, 2008

Alien Sues, Saying NYPD Called in Feds (New York Sun)

Alien Sues, Saying NYPD Called in Feds
Staff Reporter of the Sun
March 31, 2008

An unlicensed cab driver will seek to show a federal jury this week that the police department is failing to abide by Mayor Bloomberg's pledge that the city won't alert immigration authorities to illegal aliens who otherwise obey the law.
The case of the cab driver, Waheed Saleh of Jenin in the West Bank, indicates that a New York City police lieutenant casually tipped off a federal immigration officer about Mr. Saleh's immigration status, court documents in the case show.
Mr. Saleh's civil trial against the lieutenant and another police officer is expected to begin tomorrow. It may be the first time that the city has been called to account in connection with Mr. Bloomberg's Executive Order 41. Issued in 2003, that order was intended to encourage illegal immigrants to seek out help from the police department and other agencies and allay fears that the city would turn their names over to federal immigration officials.
Court records show that police officers considered Mr. Saleh to be a troublemaker who could turn violent when confronted by the minor annoyances of big-city life, such as a dispute over a parking spot or the high price of cigarettes. In one instance, officers responded to a 911 call from a bodega employee who claimed Mr. Saleh threw a pack of cigarettes at him after a dispute over its price, according to court documents. In another instance, police officers broke up a fistfight between Mr. Saleh and another man over a parking spot, according to depositions. Police believed that Mr. Saleh, earlier in the fight, had tried to use his vehicle to ram a person standing in the street, the documents say.
Mr. Saleh maintains that the immigration tip-off was in retaliation for the repeated complaints he had made against the second police officer he is suing, Kishon Hickman, who policed the intersection of 231st Street and Broadway in the Bronx, where Mr. Saleh often sought fares for his cab. The complaints, which alleged general harassment but were never substantiated, were made to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates allegations of police misconduct.
Mr. Saleh's lawsuit claims that the retaliation he believes he faced in response to his complaints amounts to a violation of his First Amendment rights. Two acquaintances of Mr. Saleh have filed affidavits in court claiming that Officer Hickman told them to tell Mr. Saleh to drop his complaints or the police would cause him difficulties.
Depositions of police officers and federal immigration officials do indicate that police at the 50th precinct did try to get Mr. Saleh deported. When an agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rodger Werner, was at the precinct house in late 2003 or early 2004 in search of someone other than Mr. Saleh, a police lieutenant, Kevin Nicholson, volunteered him with Mr. Saleh's name, Mr. Nicholson, who is now a captain, said in a deposition. And on December 20, 2004, Mr. Nicholson and other officers tipped off the federal agents that Mr. Saleh could be found at his usual intersection. Mr. Nicholson sat in a nearby car until the federal immigration agents had arrested Mr. Saleh.
There is some dispute as to what role Officer Hickman, the recipient of Mr. Saleh's complaints, played in alerting immigration authorities about Mr. Saleh. In a deposition, Officer Hickman said he had never spoken to any federal immigration officers about Mr. Saleh. In a police report and a deposition, a second immigration officer, Mark Limongelli, claims he was in contact with Officer Hickman about what Mr. Hickman described as Mr. Saleh's "disturbances in the neighborhood," including his driving an unlicensed livery cab.
The city's policy for not sharing information with the federal government about illegal immigrants contains an exception for immigrants suspected of crimes. Given Mr. Saleh's trouble with the law, he appears to fall under that exception. Police policy in effect at the time, but no longer, required communications between the NYPD and federal immigration officials to begin with a written report that went through the NYPD's Intelligence Division. A police Internal Affairs Bureau report concluded that Captain Nicholson did violate the procedures on alerting the federal immigration officials in Mr. Saleh's case. But the report, which was filed in federal court, found that Mr. Saleh's claim that Captain Nicholson was acting in response to the complaints against Officer Hickman was unsubstantiated.
"What you people believe is I am trying to get this guy for complaining," Captain Nicholson said of Mr. Saleh in a deposition. "It is not the truth."
Captain Nicholson, in the deposition, said he was not aware of the procedures required of NYPD officers who wanted to pass on information to immigration authorities. He said he believed he was allowed to release information about immigration status to federal agents if the the alien "is engaged in criminal activity."
Mr. Saleh is represented by the firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP. Lawyers on the case could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the city law department declined to comment.
"It may be sound practice for NYPD officers to alert ICE when they encounter unlawful aliens under normal circumstances, but when they do so for retaliatory purposes, they run afoul of the Constitution," the judge handling the case, Sidney Stein of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, wrote in a ruling allowing the case to go forward last year. ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Judge Stein noted that there is no evidence to suggest either Captain Nicholson or Officer Hickman had ever contacted federal immigration officials about any other illegal immigrant besides Mr. Saleh.
At one point, Mr. Saleh had been released from federal custody on bail. His current whereabouts could not be verified. He is expected to be present for his trial.

Immigration agents arrest 49 during raids of Dallas Latino night clubs (Dallas Morning News)

Immigration agents arrest 49 during raids of Dallas Latino night clubs

10:36 PM CDT on Sunday, March 30, 2008

By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

A task force led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided more than two dozen mostly Latino night clubs, restaurants, pool halls and other businesses Saturday night, arresting 49 undocumented immigrants employed as security guards, officials said.

All of those arrested work for two local security companies, which authorities declined to identify Sunday.

"We don't want to compromise the investigation so we're not releasing the two security company names yet," said Jamille Bradfield, spokeswoman for the Dallas County district attorney's office, which is participating in the investigation.

It's unclear if more arrests are expected, officials said.

At 11 p.m. Saturday, teams made up of local, state and federal officers simultaneously hit 26 businesses in the Love Field area, northwest Dallas, Old East Dallas and Lakewood. No injuries were reported.

Authorities recovered four pistols. Federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from possessing firearms.

Those arrested also face charges of being in the country illegally.

Five of the suspects face charges of document tampering in order to get licensed as a security officer and to carry a firearm, Ms. Bradfield said. That is a third-degree felony, and the punishment range is two to 10 years.

"Hopefully, this operation will help us send a message that we will not tolerate the falsification of documents for undocumented aliens under the guise of providing security," said Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins in a statement Sunday.

Among those businesses raided were Ojeda's Restaurant on Maple Avenue and the Dallas Gentlemen's Club on West Northwest Highway.

None of the managers at any of the businesses reached had any comment.

Four of those arrested were from El Salvador, and the others were Mexican, authorities said.
One of the Salvadorans was in the U.S. legally, immigration officials said.

It's unclear what charges he faces.

In addition to ICE and the district attorney's office, the following agencies also participated Saturday night: the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Dallas Police Department; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission; and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Immigration arrests scared, confused family (News Gazette)

Immigration arrests scared, confused family

By Steve Bauer
Sunday, March 30, 2008 9:47 AM CDT
A series of arrests last month by immigration officials at a Champaign mobile-home park had a family – including three children – afraid, confused and without electricity.

Federal agency officials, immigration advocates and an immigration attorney all agree that immigrants need to know their rights in such a situation.

Very few immigrants know what to do when confronted by immigration agents, said Pedro Gaytan, a paralegal with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

"There are always newcomers," Gaytan said. "They are very nervous. They don't know who they are dealing with. People get confused (about) what will happen to them."

The Feb. 20 arrest of a 30-year-old illegal immigrant, Fernando Delgado-Cruz, had the local Latino community concerned, according to Alejandra Coronel, chair of the Latino Partnership, a local advocacy group.

"When I came, everybody was in a panic, asking, 'What should we do?'" Coronel said.

The arrest of Delgado-Cruz, also known as Fernando Lopez, was one of a dozen that day by agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Most were taken into custody as illegal aliens wanted on criminal warrants, said spokeswoman Gail Montenegro. Immigration agents discovered the true identity of Delgado-Cruz, who now faces federal criminal charges for illegal re-entry to the U.S.

Coronel said that when Delgado-Cruz was arrested, family members were not sure what was happening or who was involved. The family claimed that agents did not identify themselves or show warrants, only pictures of unknown people, she said. At one point, agents shut off the power to the mobile home – on a day when the high was 22 degrees.

Montenegro said the agents had civil warrants for all the people they took into custody, including Delgado-Cruz.

Delgado-Cruz was awakened by the commotion after working a night shift at a local restaurant, his wife said. Agents handcuffed him and took him away – without his shoes or jacket, she said.

The men later turned off the power to the mobile home and deactivated the wife's cell phone, she said through Coronel, acting as interpreter.

It was when agents returned to the trailer looking for a brother that they turned off the power for the safety of the officers, Montenegro said.

Coronel, who has worked with Champaign police, said family members called her because they thought the men were local police, she said. Coronel then found out that no local law enforcement agencies had participated in the raid.

"We needed to find out who was in this mystery," Coronel said. "She wanted to know where they took her husband."

She said that in her previous encounters with police, local officers have always been polite and respectful. They always identify themselves.

Many Latino residents come from countries where police are brutal or corrupt, so the immigrants are fearful of police, she said.

"People are here because they want to help their family," Coronel said. "They sacrifice so much."

Champaign police Deputy Chief John Murphy said he and Lt. John Swenson, commander of the north police district, responded to a call to the family's home from Coronel.

"We are always looking for a way to reach out to the Hispanic community," Murphy said.

Murphy said he and Swenson discovered that an electric switch between the power pole and home had been shut off.

"So we flipped it back on," he said.

Murphy said he contacted the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency about the lack of notice to local police about their raid.

"We had no idea they were going to be here," Murphy said. "We let them know we did not do business here that way."

Murphy said it's rare that local police would shut off power in any raid. Such circumstances might include a Special Weapons and Tactics raid, where police had information of possible danger or other more serious situations.

"We would not be turning the power off in a run-of-the-mill arrest," he said. "It's not where we would shut the power off to a trailer occupied by a woman and children in the middle of winter."

Montenegro said the operation targeted criminal aliens – illegals in Champaign and Macon counties with criminal convictions. The warrants were administrative charging documents that put them in deportation proceedings.

When the agents went back to the mobile home looking for the brother of Delgado-Cruz, there were four ICE agents – two each in the front and back of the mobile home – Montenegro said. The agents identified themselves and repeatedly knocked on the door, but there was a washing machine or something running in the mobile home.

"Our agents couldn't hear what was going on in the trailer," Montenegro said. "For officer safety reasons, they shut off power so they could hear."

When the agents left, they "inadvertently forgot to restore the power," she said. "We regret any inconvenience that may have caused."

The agents were at the mobile home less than five minutes, she said.

In all, Montenegro said, the agency made four civil arrests on administrative warrants at that mobile home, including two brothers of Delgado-Cruz, and all four were illegal aliens with criminal convictions.

Matt Kuenning, a Champaign attorney whose practice includes immigration law, said immigrants have the same constitutional rights as anyone in the U.S. Kuenning is also an adjunct professor teaching immigration law at the University of Illinois College of Law.

"Any person accused of a crime in this country enjoys the same rights as any other," he said. "That includes an alien, legal or illegal."

Those rights include the right to remain silent, right to due process, right to protect against unreasonable search or seizure and the right to an appointed attorney if there is a financial need, Kuenning said.

Marti Jones, executive director of the Immigration Project based in Granite City, said immigrants, like U.S. citizens, are sometimes hard-pressed by authorities and are persuaded to talk to police without an attorney or let police in their homes without a warrant.

"Law enforcement officers can make insisting on the exercise of one's constitutional rights a very time-consuming and expensive process," Jones said. "It's usually easier to just give them whatever they want."

"Unfortunately, that basic human fact has led us all to assume as a practical matter that someone who does insist on exercising his or her legal, constitutional rights, must have something to hide – thus turning the common law maxim of 'innocent until proven guilty' completely on it's head," Jones said.

Gaytan said many of the migrant workers in the Champaign County area come from Texas. The first advice he has for immigrants dealing with ICE agents is to ask to speak to a lawyer.

"If somebody gets arrested by ICE, they shouldn't sign anything," he said. "Sometimes they sign for their own deportation."

Legal advice on immigration or deportation issues is available through the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago at 800-824-4050.

Diego Bonesatti, downstate organizer for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said in a phone interview that the ICE agents come to Champaign every three or four months.

"People think ICE will net most people in a workplace raid," he said. "Those are the most public of kinds of things, but it seems like more of the day-to-day stuff is much more individual."

He said immigrants have rights: "Our position, as an organization, is that people do have a right to ask for a warrant."

ICE agents should show an arrest warrant or search warrant, he said, but if the residents let the agents in to the home – giving consent to enter or search – a warrant may not be needed.

In cases involving felony criminal charges, immigrants have a right to an attorney, including an appointed attorney if they cannot afford one. But if the agents are not talking about a criminal matter, but only talking about deportation, which is a civil process, immigrants have to pay for their own attorney.

Montenegro said the advice to immigrants dealing with ICE or any other law enforcement agents is to cooperate fully – or face criminal charges.

"Provide true and inaccurate information," she said. "Don't lie to law enforcement officers."

Four Mexican Immigrants Arrested During Traffic Stop (State Journal)

Four Mexican Immigrants Arrested During Traffic Stop
Posted Sunday, March 30, 2008 ; 10:00 AM
Story by Latasha Hughes

CHARLESTON -- Troopers arrest four undocumented immigrants from Mexico after a traffic stop early Sunday morning.

South Charleston State Police stopped a green Toyota pick-up truck on Oakwood Road after it failed to stop at a stop sign. The driver, Carlo Ortiz, 32, of Mexico, did not have a driver's license or any form of identification. Christobal Lopez, 22, Alexander Perez, 25, and Hugo Romero, 21, all from Mexico, were also in the truck.

All four immigrants were arrested and transported to the South Central Regional Jail for initiation of the removal process, which will begin Monday.

Police say the Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be investigating why the immigrants were in the country and why they were in the Charleston area.

Illegal Immigrants Arrested In Nebraska (WOWT-Omaha)

Illegal Immigrants Arrested In Nebraska
Last Updated: 10:34 PM Mar 29, 2008
Reporter: Oskar Garcia, Associated Press

Federal agents arrested 25 illegal immigrants after a two-day operation, customs officials announced Friday.

The Associated Press reports the arrests were made Wednesday and Thursday in Grand Island, York, Sutton, Gibbon, Hastings and Shelton.

Of those taken into custody, 15 are from Guatemala, eight from Mexico, one from El Salvador and one from Iran. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Tim Counts said the arrests were made in homes, businesses and other places.

Five of those arrested had criminal records other than immigration violations, including 43-year-old Salvador Rocha of Mexico, convicted in 1991 for smuggling illegal immigrants, 19-year-old Hugo Galaviz of Mexico, convicted of possessing burglary tools and a suspected gang member and 35-year-old Ruben Perez-Mora of Mexico, convicted of drunken driving in both Nebraska and Georgia.

Two others who were arrested were not named, but one had been convicted of marijuana possession and the other of a misdemeanor for failing to appear in court to face a petty assault charge.

All are being held in the Phelps County Jail.

9 arrested by Customs in raid on Flowood restaurant (Sun Herald)

9 arrested by Customs in raid on Flowood restaurant
Posted on Sat, Mar. 29, 2008

Agents closed Stix, a Japanese chain restaurant, during the raid Friday. It is unclear what the nationality is of the eight people arrested. A ninth person was arrested later in the day.

John Dowdy, chief of the U.S. attorney's criminal division in Jackson, declined comment, saying the records in the case are sealed.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said six men and two women were arrested initially.

Authorities from several agencies shut down the restaurant, turned away customers without explanation and could be seen carrying clear plastic bags filled with cash to unmarked vehicles.

Students, parents and teachers hit the streets to protest ICE raids and military recruiters (

Students, parents and teachers hit the streets to protest ICE raids and military recruiters
March 2008
By staff

Los Angles, CA - Students, teachers and parents demonstrated here with Latinos Against War on March 20, the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, marching from Roosevelt High School to the building that houses a military recruiting center and the Eastside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) center.

The militant protest hit the largest recruitment center in Los Angeles, which targets young Latinos in the East Los Angeles high schools.

Protesters also slammed the ICE raids and deportations, demanding full legalization for the 12 million immigrants. They also protested the increase in repression against Mexican, Chicano and Latinos communities, by ICE, which targets workplaces and engages in home raids.

The march and rally built support for the planned May 1 march for legalization, against ICE repression and opposing the war in Iraq. The march and rally will take place in downtown Los Angeles.

Latinos Against War organizers note they have organized a protest on the anniversary of the Iraq war for the last five years in Boyle Heights with the firm aim of building local grassroots movements for self-determination and against repression.

The march and rally was organized by Latinos Against War and Chicano Club El Sereno Middle School and supported by Mecha de RHS, American Friends Service Committee, International Action Center, Students for a Democratic Society-UCLA, SEIU 721 Latino Committee, May Day Unity Coalition and Padres Unidos de Boyle Heights.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Border Wreck Kills 3 in Texas; 14 Hurt (AP)

Border Wreck Kills 3 in Texas; 14 Hurt

PENITAS, Texas (AP) — A pickup truck crammed with suspected illegal immigrants collided with an SUV near the Mexican border Thursday, killing three people and injuring 14 others.
Police said there were at least 20 people in the truck when it crashed before dawn on U.S. Highway 83, the main east-west artery along the border in the Rio Grande Valley.
"There were bodies all over the place," said Penitas interim Police Chief David Harris.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said three illegal immigrants were in custody. Pruneda said 14 others were being treated for a variety of head and back injuries in five area hospitals; one was believed to be paralyzed.
The majority of those found are believed to be Mexican nationals. Pruneda said all were men except for one woman and a 15-year-old boy, who had extensive internal injuries.
Investigators were trying to determine if the driver was among those injured or if he escaped, Pruneda said.
Information was not immediately available on the condition of the other driver. Department of Public Safety troopers were investigating the cause of the accident.
Some of the survivors told police they had been hurried into the back of the truck and had not gone far before the accident. "I think they had paid a fee" to be smuggled across the border, Harris said.
Blood stained the grass at the scene, which happened to be in front of L&I Funeral Home. The gold pickup came to rest against a telephone pole, just feet from the funeral home's display headstones.
The area is a major immigrant-smuggling corridor. Lately there had been an influx of immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, but most of those involved in Thursday's crash are believed to be Mexican, La Joya police spokesman Joe Cantu said.
The smugglers have little regard for the safety of their passengers. Accidents where immigrants are tossed from the open beds of pickups are not unusual, Cantu said.
Looking at the smashed pickup with an extended bed, Cantu estimated there could have been as many as 30 in it. "They get in — it's like sardines," he said.
The smugglers often escape when the groups are nabbed, Cantu said, adding, "These guys run like gazelles."

Drophouse found after fire erupts at Glendale house (The Arizona Republic)

Drophouse found after fire erupts at Glendale house
Brent Whiting
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 27, 2008 09:28 AM

Sixteen suspected illegal immigrants were detained Thursday morning after Glendale firefighters were called to a home near Olive and 47th avenues.
Firefighters forced entry into the suspected drophouse and discovered the 16, who were reluctant to leave despite a small electrical fire that had erupted in the attic, authorities said.
"It was a bad situation, but the 16 people were safely removed," said Sgt. Jim Toomey, a Glendale police spokesman.
One of the 16, a 21-year-old pregnant woman, complained of abdominal pains and was taken to a Valley hospital for a precautionary medical check, Toomey said.
Two other people, possibly "coyotes," or alien smugglers, managed to escape through the rear of the home in the 8800 block of North 46th Drive, just south of Olive.
All of the suspected illegal immigrants were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, a federal agency that will determine their immigration status, he said.
About 6:15 a.m., neighbors called firefighters to report smoke and possible fire in the attic of the home, Toomey said.
"Firefighters determined that there was, in fact, electrical wiring in the attic creating smoke, but there was little actual fire," he said.

Two face immigration charges (Casper Start-Tribune)

Two face immigration charges (2nd item)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Wednesday in Casper two Nicaraguan citizens suspected of administrative immigration violations, an agency spokesman said.

The agents executed search warrants at two homes in Casper as part of an investigation into fraudulent documents, said ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok. They arrested two women, who will remain in U.S. custody until they go through immigration proceedings.

The women, who were not identified, will have an opportunity to go before a federal immigration judge. The judge will determine whether they will be deported, Rusnok said.

Casper police assisted the agents, which enforce immigration and customs law, during Wednesday's operation. The investigation into the women was about a month old, Rusnok said.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Council Bluffs store raided; 16 illegal immigrants arrested (Omaha World-Herald)

Council Bluffs store raided; 16 illegal immigrants arrested
Published Wednesday March 26, 2008

Federal immigration agents raided a Council Bluffs clothing company today and arrested 16 workers for allegedly being in the country illegally.
The 11 women and 5 men were "rank and file" employees of American Clothing Co., 3211 Nebraska Ave., said Tim Counts, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Calls to the company were not answered this morning.
Counts said the alleged undocumented workers were mostly from Mexico; two were from El Salvador. They were picked up on administrative immigration violations that were not criminal in nature, Counts said.
The two-hour work site enforcement operation began at 8:40 a.m. Work at the company halted while employees were questioned, Counts said.
Those arrested were being fingerprinted and processed Wednesday at the Homeland Security building in east Omaha. As is the case with administrative violations, the workers will have the opportunity to a hearing before an immigration judge before deportation.
Counts said the raid was part of an ongoing investigation.
"There is nothing random, nothing spontaneous about this," he said.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Indian workers in US allege surveillance (Thaindian News)

Indian workers in US allege surveillance March 25th, 2008 - 10:08 pm ICT by admin

New York, March 25 (IANS) Nearly 100 Indian workers who broke an alleged human trafficking racket and are marching from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., to meet the Indian ambassador, have alleged surveillance by US immigration authorities. The workers who quit Signal International’s shipyard at Pascagoula, Mississippi, earlier this month and filed a class action suit against their employer and recruiters, say they have faced surveillance and harassment by immigration officials since the beginning of their “satyagraha” march last Tuesday.
According to their press release, they saw a suspicious man photographing them Friday as they left the Civil Rights Memorial Centre in Montgomery, Alabama.
When confronted, he turned aggressive and refused to identify himself. A member of the surveillance team of the US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) later identified the man as an ICE agent, the release said.
A third man, who identified himself as head of Alabama ICE, Mickey Pledger, suggested that the workers had been under covert surveillance from the start of their march. “Just because you don’t see us doesn’t mean we haven’t been there.”
Objecting to the surveillance, Hemunt Khuttan, one of the workers, said: “Our satyagraha is not an immigration issue. It is a fight for human rights.”
Commented Saket Soni, director of New Orleans Workers’ Centre for Racial Justice that is helping the workers: “Alabama ICE’s attempt to intimidate human trafficking survivors is unconscionable. We expect Ambassador Ronen Sen to ask US immigration authorities to call off the secret surveillance.”
When the workers reach Washington, D.C., later in the week, Sen has agreed to meet them to see how their legitimate grievances and concerns could be addressed.
Among the workers’ demands is high-level talks between the US and Indian governments on a bilateral labour agreement that will end abuses of the guest worker programme in the US.
The 100 workers belong to a group of about 500 Indian welders and pipe fitters, who each allegedly paid $20,000 to US and Indian recruiters on false promises of permanent residency in the US, and instead were forced to work for Signal on 10-month temporary H2B guest worker visas in Gulf Coast shipyards under deplorable conditions.

American dream lost by deportees (Nogales International)

American dream lost by deportees
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 8:49 AM PDT

By Denise Holley

Almost everyone here in this dusty camp at the Mariposa Port of Entry would like to be somewhere else.

Deported from the United States and bused just across the border, Mexicans congregate at this aid station that offers water, coffee, soup and bread in a dirt lot of tents and trailers behind the Mexican Customs building.

The camp is a bi-national project of Sonora's State Commission for the Care of Migrants and No More Deaths, a coalition of humanitarian groups in Tucson that tries to prevent migrants from dying in the desert. It opened in June 2006 with "a tarp, a tailgate and a table," according to a report by No More Deaths. About 136,386 deportees passed through the camp in its first year.

"Their suffering ... doesn't end with deportation," said Maryada Vallet, a volunteer with No More Deaths. Many recently were plucked from the desert and arrived thirsty, hungry and exhausted. Often, their feet need treatment. Volunteers offer first aid and try to help the deportees connect with organizations in Sonora so they can return to their homes.

Oscar Muro Perez would like to get to Ensenada in Baja California, where a hospital has his records and could treat his possibly broken nose. Before he arrived early on March 20, a Border Patrol officer had punched him in the face when he was getting out of a van, he said.

An ambulance took Muro, bleeding from the nose, to a hospital in Nogales, Sonora, he said. But it had no X-ray machine and he had no money to fill a prescription for pain pills.

Muro, from Torreon, Coahuila, had worked at a carwash in Phoenix for three months and slept at a mission, but never got paid, he said. Then the boss reported him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and he was picked up Dec. 31 and jailed in a detention center.

"I want to go to Mexico and not return to the United States," Muro said, breathing through his mouth. His children live in Ensenada and he wants to join them.

A short stay

Mercedes Silva had a very short stay in the United States. Now three months pregnant, she just wants to be reunited with her husband, she said. The couple from Jalisco crossed the border at Sasabe in the early morning darkness on March 20 with two friends.

Border Patrol agents found them about three hours later, Silva said. They took her husband to a detention center and she has no way to contact him.

He was probably detained under a new U.S. Border Patrol policy to detain and prosecute some of the border-crossers, Vallet said as she gave some prenatal vitamins to Silva.

Under "Operation Arizona Denial," the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector selects about 40 of the hundreds of migrants picked up daily and detains them for criminal prosecution, said Jesus Rodriguez, public affairs spokesman.

"They look at all the records," Rodriguez said. If the person has a criminal record, a warrant or a previous illegal entry, or is not Mexican, he or she may end up in detention instead of the Mariposa camp. "It just depends."

Different dilemma

Pedro Saucedo has a different dilemma - he's been deported to a country he left 28 years ago and hardly knows anymore, he said. Originally from Michoacan, he lived in California and worked with a series of temporary permits. He applied for the 1986 amnesty program, but never got a permanent resident card.

Deported in February, Saucedo promised a coyote $1,000 from his bank account to take him back to the United States, he said. His group was left in the desert to walk to Tucson, where another coyote drove them to Phoenix.

Ransom demanded

There, coyotes called his friend in Las Vegas, Nev., and demanded a ransom of $2,000, Saucedo said. His friend said he didn't have the money. The coyotes stripped the group of men to their underwear and threatened to beat them. They were rescued when Phoenix police showed up at the drop house.

With his fluent English, Saucedo would like to go to Tijuana and work for a resort or hotel, he said. "That's the only hope I have."

In the meantime, Saucedo helps serve food and clean up the camp, and occasionally interprets, he said. He sought help at Grupo Beta, a Mexican agency that helps immigrants, where he got one phone call and a cup of Ramen soup. He called his friend in Las Vegas and asked him to mail his birth certificate to a human rights representative in Nogales, Sonora.

Grupo Beta will pay half the cost of a bus ticket for a deported migrant, Saucedo said. But he doesn't have any money and neither do most of the others at the camp.

"So many here need to go somewhere," said Gilberto Flores, who manages the camp. He's also a deportee who used to live in Campbell, near San Jose, Calif.

34 illegal workers arrested at construction site (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

34 illegal workers arrested at construction site
By Jane Roberts
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 34 illegal workers early today at the construction site for the Tennessee Air National Guard. The men were employed by several contractors and subcontractors building the $225 million base at the corner of Swinnea and Shelby Drive.
The arrests were made on the airport property. The raid was planned after a tip from the U.S. Air Force office of special investigations that illegal workers were reportedly working there.
The arrested were being processed this afternoon the ICE detention and removal office in Memphis. They will be placed into deportation proceedings for violating U.S. immigration laws. According to ICE, each of the arrested people said they were from Mexico and were in the United States illegally.

Huerta turned over to ICE (McKinney Courier-Gazette)

Huerta turned over to ICE
Mother pled guilty to leaving kids in car on highway,
turned over to federal immigration authorities

(Created: Monday, March 24, 2008 9:14 PM CDT)

BY DANNY GALLAGHER, McKinney Courier-Gazette
A woman who pled guilty to leaving her two children in a car that ran out of gas on a highway has been turned over to federal immigration authorities.
The Collin County Detention Center turned Margarita Huerta, 32, of Sherman, over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after she completed her jail sentence, according to jail records.
Lt. John Norton of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office said the jail turned Huerta over to ICE officials on Friday after the conclusion of her sentence.
Huerta pled guilty last month in the 416th District Court to two state jail felony counts of abandoning/endangering a child and received a 100-day jail sentence. She only had to serve 24 additional days in the county jail since the court subtracted the 76 days she spent in the jail since her arrest to her sentence, according to Collin County court records.
Nina Pruneda, an ICE spokeswoman, said federal officials can pursue deportation for citizens who are in the country illegally once they are convicted of a crime. Agents from ICE’s Criminal Alien Program, also known as “CAP,” conduct a “thorough” review of a convicted person in the jail to determine their immigration status. Once the person has completed their court appointed sentence, ICE agents can lodge an immigration hold to be executed upon their release.
Pruneda said the person has to be convicted of a crime in order to receive an immigration hold. Upon their release, their immigration status is referred to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where their case will go before an immigration judge who will determine the person’s deportation status.
Pruneda also said if the person deported has children with legal resident status, it is the person’s responsibility to find them guardians before they are deported.
Deputies arrested Huerta on Dec. 14, 2007 after she left her 5-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son in a vehicle on the southbound side of U.S. 75 north of Telephone Road, Lt. John Norton of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office said.
Huerta’s vehicle ran out of gas and she left the vehicle to get help. Soon after she left, her daughter got out of the vehicle and attempted to cross the street into oncoming traffic, Norton said.
Kyle Mitchell, an auctioneer from Terrell, told the McKinney Courier-Gazette back in December that he spotted the little girl running across the highway as he was driving north on U.S. 75 in front of his tractor-trailer. He said she darted out right in front of his vehicle.
“There was a Yukon or a Tahoe sitting on the inside shoulder of the highway with no hazards lights on, sitting right on the yellow line real close to the inside lane,” Mitchell said. “I had gotten over to the right hand lane and by the time I was getting to the Tahoe, all of a sudden a little girl appears, ran in front of the Tahoe and right across the highway. I shut the truck down and hit the horn real loud because I lost sight of her.”
Mitchell said he got out of his truck and ran back to check on the little girl. She was not injured. The girl said she left the vehicle because she was scared, Mitchell said.
Huerta flagged down a motorist, Melissa Lynn of Watauga, just after they exited U.S. 75. Norton said the two began talking and “as a result of their conversation,” Lynn returned Huerta to her vehicle, where Melissa police officers and Collin County sheriff’s deputies were already at the scene of the abandoned vehicle.
Collin County sheriff’s deputies took Huerta into custody and filed charges against her since the incident took place on a stretch of road outside Melissa city limits.
Contact Danny Gallagher at

ICE officials encourage tips (Milford Daily News)

ICE officials encourage tips By Danielle Ameden/Daily News staff
Posted Mar 25, 2008 @ 01:07 AM

With illegal immigration perceived as a "fairly severe" problem here, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents told selectmen last night they may be able to crack down in town with the help of local police.
But watching a presentation from two special agents, the board learned just how tough a task ICE has: chasing after not only illegal immigrants, but narcotics traffickers, weapons and military technology thieves, gangs, cyber criminals and human smugglers.
"Our focus is on criminals; our focus is not only illegal aliens," said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of Boston's ICE office. "We are often pegged as 'immigration,"' he said, but "customs is also at least 50 percent of what we're doing."
Still, as undocumented men, women and children from countries such as Brazil and Ecuador flock here, Foucart said his agency embraces tips from police. But with limited resources, it comes down to prioritization, he said.
"They can and will act," said state Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford. "They can make Milford a priority if the right information is provided."
Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin said the door is open between his department and ICE, the largest law enforcement branch of the federal Department of Homeland Security.
"They are our eyes and ears for the streets," said Foucart, crediting Milford with helping ICE nab local roofer Daniel Tacuri and 14 other illegal immigrants during a pre-dawn December raid of his Jefferson Street home.
Milford Police Officer Joseph Shuras tipped off ICE on the case.
Tacuri, 32, who came here from Ecuador, has pleaded not guilty to 39 federal counts of harboring and employing illegal immigrants and making false statements.
"They were right on that investigation and did a bang-up job on it," O'Loughlin said of ICE.
The agents, Fernandes and O'Loughlin reported, were the beginning of a strong relationship to catch criminals.
"Thank God we have you," Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis told the agents.
A particular priority for ICE right now, Foucart said, is targeting illegal immigrants posing a threat to public safety and national security, and those who have re-entered the United States after being deported.
Fernandes said he is trying to bring in a state official in charge of immigration and refugee issues to talk with Milford leaders about Gov. Deval Patrick's priorities on the topic.
Last night's discussion touched on how to target the people who employ the estimated 20 to 35 million illegal immigrants in the country.
"Handcuffing a few employers certainly goes a long way on making it known you're serious about it," selectmen Chairman Bill Buckley said.
He called the impact of illegal immigration here broad and widespread, from the local schools to the emergency room. Buckley said many in the community would like an ICE van parked in the middle of Main Street.
"I think it's fair to say Milford has a fairly severe illegal immigration situation in the town," said Selectman Brian Murray.
Fernandes underscored the importance of local communities working with ICE and understanding the agency's resource constraints.
"It's not going to be they put people on every street corner and pick up the crimes themselves," he said. At the same time, he said, they can't act on everything if Milford calls up ICE tomorrow "and says, here's 500 leads."
Danielle Ameden can be reached at 508-634-7521 or

Chinese teens picked up by border patrol (Port Huron Times Herald)

Chinese teens picked up by border patrol
Group found walking along M-29

Times Herald

Three teenage Chinese nationals are being housed in the St. Clair and Washtenaw county jails after being arrested in Clay Township shortly after officials said they illegally crossed the border.
The teens -- ages 16, 17 and 18 -- were picked up by border patrol about 11 p.m. Saturday while walking along M-29 about two miles north of the Walpole Island ferry crossing, agent Kurstan Rosberg said. They were wearing wet clothes, Rosberg said. He didn't know where they crossed the St. Clair River.
The 17- and 18-year-old told officials they are from the city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, an area just south of Shanghai. The youngest refused to give a hometown. All three spoke poor English, Rosberg said. They had passports but no other travel documents.
The case has been turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Rosberg said, which will move the group out of the jails to a contracted immigration detention facility. Rosberg did not know when the three will have an immigration hearing.
Rosberg said catching illegal immigrants from China is unusual. Last year, only seven of the 904 illegal immigrants picked up by the Detroit sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection were Chinese.
Sector Detroit has monitoring stations along Michigan's eastern border from Sault Ste. Marie to Trenton. More than three-quarters of the people arrested by the sector last year were Mexicans, Rosberg said. The majority of the others arrested were from Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Rosberg did not have specific information about arrests made by agents from the local border patrol station in Marysville.
The Saturday arrests highlight a trend of human smuggling into Michigan that begins in Toronto, Rosberg said.
"In general terms, what we've seen is a pattern for crossings in this area (that begins) in Toronto. It's a 'decision point.' From there, they go here or Buffalo or Vermont," he said.
Contact Bobby Ampezzan at (810) 989-6273 or

Immigration Agency Arrests 34 Workers At Construction Firm (Washington Post)

Immigration Agency Arrests 34 Workers At Construction Firm

By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2008; Page B05

Federal immigration authorities converged on a Prince William County construction company just before sunrise yesterday, arresting 34 Latin American nationals for being in the country illegally.
Workplace raids are rare in the Washington area, and the roundup at CMC Concrete Construction in the Manassas area appears to be the largest in the region in nearly two years, according to a review of news releases on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Web site.
The workers -- who come from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador -- are being charged administratively and are in ICE custody undergoing deportation proceedings, said Ernestine Fobbs, a spokeswoman for the customs agency.
News of the arrests spread quickly through an immigrant community already on edge after a county law took effect this month allowing Prince William police to check the immigration status of people stopped for other infractions.
Fobbs said the agency had executed two search warrants in connection with the operation. Because those warrants were under seal, Fobbs said, she could not discuss how or why the company had drawn federal attention, nor confirm that CMC Concrete Construction was the agency's target.
James Rybicki, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said no employers had been charged. But he added, "Obviously, we'll be reviewing the case for possible criminal charges."
Public records identify Felisberto J. Magalhaes as the president of CMC and Maria Brandao Magalhaes as its secretary and treasurer. A relative of the owners who entered the company's administrative suite in a Manassas office complex yesterday afternoon to meet with several ICE agents declined to comment.
A few miles away, at a large lot where CMC workers come to pick up equipment before heading out to job sites each day, about a dozen remaining workers stood in groups discussing the morning's events.
A 32-year-old Mexican man, who asked that his name not be published for fear of retaliation from his bosses or the government, said he and three others had driven off the lot in one of the company's pickup trucks when they noticed a silver van behind them flashing police lights.
"We thought maybe we had run a light or there was something wrong with the plates -- we figured at worst we were going to get a traffic ticket," he said.
Instead, the man said, an armed immigration agent leaned in the window and demanded identification.
"Everyone grew very quiet. We were horribly sad, but more than anything, resigned," the man said.
He said agents were able to retrieve records demonstrating that CMC had successfully sponsored him for legal permanent residency years ago. But he said two colleagues in the truck had no such proof to offer and were handcuffed, along with five workers riding in a pickup behind them.
Minutes after the roadside detentions, other workers said, immigration agency vehicles entered the lot and more than a dozen agents fanned out in pursuit of several fleeing workers.
When the Mexican worker finally reached the lot, he learned that his younger brother was among those taken away.
"You feel so impotent, to see someone you know, who is just trying to work, go through this and to not be able to help him," he said.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Citizenship in death for some US troops (AP c/o Marin Independent Journal)

Citizenship in death for some US troops

By HELEN O'NEILL AP Special Correspondent

Compliance Issues Put Recruiters on the Hot Seat (Workforce Management)

Compliance Issues Put Recruiters on the Hot Seat

Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy now entails an explicit shift to criminal arrests for workplace immigration law violations. Officers commonly stage raids at the workplace and then move straight to corporate headquarters.

By Fay Hansen

With immigration law enforcement actions rising, employers who have not trained their recruiters in new state regulations and federal I-9 compliance run the risk of stiff penalties and jail time.

Most experts agree that comprehensive immigration reform is dead in the current election-driven environment, and until new federal legislation is enacted, recruiters will be caught in the crackdown on undocumented workers that is sweeping across whole industries.

New draconian state laws and federal raids leave recruiters with responsibilities that can lead to violations with heavy penalties.

"We’ve never seen corporate executives go to jail before," notes Lynda Zengerle, partner and head of the immigration practice at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington. "Now it is commonplace."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy now entails an explicit shift to criminal arrests for workplace immigration law violations. In fiscal year 2007, ICE made 863 work-site criminal arrests of corporate officers, managers and contractors, up from 25 in 2002, and 4,077 administrative arrests, up from 485 in 2002. ICE officers commonly stage raids at the workplace and then move straight to corporate headquarters.

"We will continue to see an increase in enforcement," says Frieda Glucoft, partner and chair of the immigration and naturalization practice at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles. "It’s a harsh climate. I-9 audits are exhausting. Most employers are very forthcoming and have good systems, but the rules change almost daily."

On November 7, the Department of Homeland Security published a new Form I-9 and a companion employer handbook. As of December 26, employers are in violation of the law if they are still using the old I-9 forms. "Some big companies are very organized and doing a very good job with compliance," Zengerle says. "They follow up with questions if they are uncertain about the requirements."

But other companies are in disarray, she adds.

"We are in a big mess because individuals are now responsible for hiring illegal aliens but they don’t monitor the actions of their HR and recruiting departments. They just assume everything is in order, and some of these executives are going to jail."

State complications
In addition to the new I-9 compliance issues, recruiters face a hugely complex collection of state laws. By the close of 2007, state legislatures passed nearly 250 new laws related to immigration. A new West Virginia statute sets stiffer penalties for employing unauthorized workers, including fines, jail sentences and revocation of business licenses. A 2007 Tennessee law also includes the temporary suspension of the employer’s business license as a penalty for hiring illegal immigrants.

Arizona’s new statute is the most severe, and the new model for states moving toward a crackdown. Under the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which went into effect January 1, all business owners in Arizona risk losing their state and local licenses if they knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented workers. Employers must check the legal status of new hires using E-Verify. An employer’s business licenses can be suspended for 10 days for a first offense and revoked for a second offense.

The new law is already changing the face of recruitment in Arizona. Some employers are centralizing their recruitment functions to limit the risk that recruiters and hiring managers at individual locations may violate the law. Others have instituted a hiring freeze until recruiters complete training programs and establish controls to avoid violations.

With an estimated 350,000 undocumented immigrants working in the state and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, recruiters in Arizona now face a huge challenge in filling jobs at the lower end of the pay scale. Widespread reports of immigrants relocating to other states or returning to their home countries indicate tighter labor markets ahead.

Lawsuits contesting the Arizona statute are still moving through the federal courts.

"If the Arizona law is upheld, we will see many states follow," says Bonnie Gibson, managing shareholder of Littler Mendelson’s global corporate migration law group in Phoenix. "If these states adopt the same business license punishment, the stakes will be large. They have the power to wreak havoc at the local level."

Training programs
For I-9 compliance, the federal government’s June 2006 list of best practices is a good starting point, according to Betsy Stelle Morgan, partner and head of the international executive transfer practice group at Baker & McKenzie in Chicago. She suggests that employers should also analyze their workforce and their past experience with immigration, review their protocols for I-9 compliance and install an I-9 compliance officer. I-9 compliance is particularly important in the context of mergers and acquisitions.

Establishing strong policies and protocols for handling I-9s can help protect the company if there is an investigation. "Employers should take a proactive approach by establishing internal I-9 protocols and conducting both internal and external I-9 audits on at least an annual basis," Morgan advises.

Morgan has seen a notable increase in federal enforcement actions.

"The message from the federal government is that it will not only enforce the law, but it will also expose immigration issues to the media, with the potential for reputational damage to the company," she says.

Recruiters are now walking a fine line between immigration laws and anti-discrimination laws.

"For recruiters, the key is that immigration status is not ripe until an offer is extended and accepted," Morgan notes. The only permissible question until then is whether the candidate is authorized to work in the United States. Immigration status should not be a factor in the hiring decision.

Unnecessary verification may violate the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provisions.

"This creates a difficult situation, but careful training on I-9 compliance can help recruiters feel comfortable with the process," Morgan says. "The company should include in the I-9 training program all recruiters and employees who have contact with applicants and new hires through the onboarding stage."

Zengerle also advises employers to include all recruiters and employees involved in the hiring process in I-9 workshops or seminars.

"It’s important to provide a focused session to get everyone on the same page for I-9 compliance," she says. "The time and money will be well spent and will save the employer heartache. Recruiters need to have their questions answered to avoid problems. The law is constantly changing."

The training program should walk recruiters though the I-9 documents.

"Many recruiters don’t know what the documents listed on the back of the I-9s should look like and have no idea of what they should and should not accept," Zengerle says. "We’ve seen recruiters accept documents where the applicant pasted a new photo over an existing photo."

The training should include information on penalties so recruiters are fully aware of the consequences for improperly completed I-9s. To ensure that recruiters stay abreast of new developments, employers can sign up for the distribution lists of any number of law firms that send out bulletins on changes in immigration laws, Zengerle notes.

With the spike in federal enforcement actions and new state laws, more employers are signing up for the federal E-Verify program as a safeguard in hiring.

"E-Verify may be a good fit for some employers," Morgan says. "Companies should review the memo of understanding for E-Verify to see if they need to register."

An employer who verifies work authorization under E-Verify establishes a rebuttable presumption that it has not knowingly hired an unauthorized alien, but E-Verify does not provide a safe harbor from work-site enforcement.

Zengerle advises all employers to use E-Verify.

"There’s no downside, and it is an important step in compliance," she says. "Smithfield Foods, for example, lost a very significant number of its employees in ICE raids, but no one went to jail because the company had been using E-Verify for years."

Zengerle advises employers to sign up for E-Verify, not ICE’s Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program. Launched in 2006, IMAGE employers use E-Verify and submit to ICE reviews of hiring practices.

"IMAGE requires the government to come into the workplace and audit all I-9s, and employers should be wary of this," Zengerle notes. "IMAGE is useful because it verifies all employees, unlike E-Verify, which only verifies new hires, but some industries would be shut down if employers used IMAGE. Agriculture is a good example. We would all be paying $10 for a head of lettuce."

E-Verify continues to draw fire, however. Although Arizona’s new law requires employers to use the system, Illinois passed legislation in August 2007 that barred its use, but then backed off after the federal government filed a lawsuit challenging the Illinois law. Other states are actively debating the use of E-Verify. In the meantime, recruiters across the country face a barrage of conflicting requirements.

"We are looking at many Arizonas on the horizon," Gibson says. "Congress and the federal agencies are at fault, but they are never going to point the finger at themselves, and there is some employer-bashing going on here. It’s nativist."

The broader problem for employers and recruiters is that the nativist sentiments fanned by the debate over illegal immigration spill over into issues concerning all work visas.

"You really need to divide the world of foreign nationals into two buckets: skilled and unskilled," Gibson says. "The risk we face is that analytically and legally, they are separate issues, but politically, they have become conflated."

HR executives and recruiters should be working to help shape public opinion on the immigration issue, Gibson notes. If the country goes the way of Arizona, recruiters will be looking at hundreds of thousands of open positions they simply cannot fill.

Workforce Management Online, February 2008

Nine arrested on immigration charges (AP c/o Winston-Salem Journal)

Nine arrested on immigration charges
Charlotte restaurant employees believed to be undocumented

Saturday, March 22, 2008

CHARLOTTE, NC - Nine workers at an Italian restaurant have been arrested on immigration charges after federal officials got information about undocumented employees.
The Charlotte Observer reported yesterday that agents from U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement arrested the workers at an Olive Garden restaurant Thursday afternoon, shortly before the restaurant’s busy dinner hours. A manager at the restaurant referred questions to a company spokeswoman who did not return phone calls from the newspaper Thursday night.
The workers, who were escorted into a van after their arrest, are from Indonesia, Mexico and Guatemala, authorities said. The workers’ names and the charges they face have not been released.
ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said that the workers will go before an immigration judge who will consider deportation. He said that their immigration status is not public record.
The daughter of a woman who was arrested said that her mother had worked at the restaurant for eight years. Adriana Sanchez said that her mother, Amalia de la Cruz, 56, is from Mexico.
“We want to talk to her and tell her not to sign anything,” Sanchez said as she went to see her mother at the Mecklenburg County Jail.
Rocha said that the investigation was ongoing but didn’t provide details. He also declined comment on whether the restaurant would be held liable.
Companies can be fined for violating immigration laws, and prosecution is possible if investigators find evidence of criminal wrongdoing, Rocha said.
“No industry regardless of size, type or location is immune from complying with the law,” Rocha said.
“Illegal employment is one of the main drives behind illegal immigration, which makes work-site enforcement a crucial element of our enforcement efforts.”

Local immigrant raids stir action (Ann Arbor News)

Local immigrant raids stir action
by Geoff Larcom The Ann Arbor News
Saturday March 22, 2008, 7:35 PM

"The most important thing is to listen and learn what is happening."
- Laura Sanders, a longtime Ann Arbor social worker.

Her voice cracked and tears welled in her eyes as she spoke in Spanish, her children by her side.
"They took my husband away last Wednesday and left me alone with my children," the woman said through a translator. "I don't understand. I just came here to work. Please help me find a way so my children can see their father again."
The woman said she doesn't want to be sent back to El Salvador. Her family had fled poverty and unemployment for a chance to work in the United States.
"It's not about me," she said. "It's about my children. I don't want my children to suffer."
The emotional moment crystallized the concerns voiced by a group of more than 100 people who gathered for an emergency meeting Saturday morning at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Ypsilanti.
The contingent included members of area religious groups, immigration rights organizations, activists and University of Michigan Law School students who form the Washtenaw County Interfaith Coalition for Immigration Rights.
They gathered to raise awareness and plan a response to a series of recent raids on area immigrants' homes by federal agents from the U.S. Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
U-M law student Josh Ludmir, a member of a student group that educates about immigrant rights, translated during the meeting, which lasted about two and a half hours.
"There is a huge, diverse community in Washtenaw County that won't tolerate these violations of human rights," said Laura Sanders, a longtime Ann Arbor social worker who helped to organize the event.
Sanders spoke of what she called several "horrific" violations of human rights that have occurred in Washtenaw County in recent weeks.
About two dozen immigrants attended the meeting, where about a half-dozen shared their concerns or stories with the audience.
A man who works in an auto shop tearfully spoke of his fears after officials came by and took down employees' license plate numbers.
"The only reason we are here is because of our families," Ludmir quoted him as saying. "I hope at some point to be able to obtain documentation and (we'll have) immigration reform."
Minsu Longiaru, an attorney with the Washtenaw County Workers' Center, said that in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the federal government has greatly stepped up its efforts to detain immigrants and is pressuring local law enforcement officials to get involved. About 300,000 undocumented immigrants were detained last year, Longiaru said.
Last week, four members of the coalition went to Detroit to speak with immigration officials in a failed attempt to post bond for an area man recently detained by agents.
Margaret Harner, a member of the First Congregational Church who also helped organize Saturday's event, said the group was well-received. But they hope federal officials will come to a future public meeting of the coalition to discuss the treatment of immigrants.
The group discussed strategies to help, including talking to politicians, writing an economic impact statement, fundraising and establishing a sanctuary for those affected by raids.
"The most important thing is to listen and learn what is happening," Sanders said.
Geoff Larcom can be reached at 734-994-6838 or

Migrants caught off Point Loma (North County Times)

Migrants caught off Point Loma
By: North County Times wire services Saturday, March 22, 2008 10:39 PM PDT

SAN DIEGO ---- Eleven Mexican migrants were apprehended early Saturday aboard a 30-foot recreational vessel about 3 miles off Point Loma, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The boat was spotted by a 33-foot Coast Guard patrol vessel at 4:50 a.m., said Coast Guard spokeswoman Anastasia Devlin.
A Coast Guard cutter arrived at the scene shortly thereafter to pick up the 11 migrants, including one pregnant woman, Devlin said.
The group was then transported to the Coast Guard station in San Diego, where they were met by agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for further investigation and processing, Devlin said.
The operation was a joint effort among the Coast Guard, the Border Protection's Air & Marine Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, all of which come under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Man accused in teen's slaying is in U.S. illegally (L.A. Times)

Man accused in teen's slaying is in U.S. illegally
By David Zahniser,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 23, 2008

An alleged gang member accused of killing a 17-year-old high school student just one day after being released from jail has been living in the country illegally, possibly for more than a decade, federal immigration authorities said Saturday.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has filed paperwork naming 19-year-old Pedro Espinoza, the suspect in the March 2 killing of Los Angeles High School football star Jamiel Shaw Jr., as a potential candidate for deportation.
Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency, said an immigration hold was issued for Espinoza on March 13, nearly a week after he was arrested in connection with Shaw's death.
No such hold was placed on Espinoza on March 1, the day he was released from a Los Angeles County jail after serving roughly four months for exhibiting a firearm and resisting arrest, said Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore.
"We are going to follow up to determine whether or not we have had prior interactions with this individual," Kice said.
The federal immigration agency confirmed the deportation filing on the same day that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa participated in a ceremony dedicating a memorial in Arlington Heights where Shaw was killed.
A highly regarded running back for his school's football team, Shaw was named the Southern League's most valuable player in 2007. He had drawn the interest of recruiters from Stanford and Rutgers universities, his family said.
The killing outraged civic leaders and reignited a citywide debate over the role that race has played in a recent spate of homicides.
Both the immigration agency and the Sheriff's Department have employees who interview jail inmates about their immigration status. Those interviews can be undermined when inmates give aliases or inaccurate places of birth, authorities said.
After his most recent arrest, Espinoza was "uncooperative," telling immigration investigators he did not know where he was born or the whereabouts of his family, Kice said.
The next day, investigators found a relative of the suspect who said Espinoza had been smuggled into the United States from Mexico when he was 4, Kice said.
In the greater Los Angeles area, the immigration agency files several thousand immigration holds each month on inmates who are considered deportable, Kice said. Those inmates are identified as deportable if they are living in the country illegally or if they are legal residents who have been convicted of certain crimes.
The immigration hold placed on Espinoza will mean little if he is convicted of first-degree murder."If this prosecution goes forward and he's convicted, in all likelihood he's looking at a very, very severe sentence," Kice said.

Prosecution of landlords worries activists, ACLU (Lexington Herald-Leader)

Prosecution of landlords worries activists, ACLU

By Brandon Ortiz

Immigration activists and the ACLU are accusing the federal government of overreaching in the prosecution of two Lexington landlords who had rented to 60 illegal immigrants.
The case, possibly the first of its kind in Kentucky, potentially places landlords in the uneasy situation of being on the front lines of the U.S. crackdown on illegal immigration. It's a task that opens the door for discrimination claims and is something landlords are not trained to do, say civil libertarians and lawyers for landlords and immigrants.
The charges, says Michael Aldridge of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, are an attempt by the federal government to intimidate landlords and immigrants.
"It fuels a phobia, it creates this feeling of discrimination in the community, and I am sure it heightens everyone's uneasiness across the board," said Aldridge, the group's executive director. "It's a horrible situation."
Father and son landlords William Jerry Hadden and Jamey Hadden are accused of harboring illegal immigrants from 2000 to November 2007 at the Woodridge Apartments and Cross Keys Apartments in Lexington. Authorities said they were renting to 60 illegal immigrants.
The charges elicited cheers on conservative blogs and talk radio. Anti-immigration activists see it as a bold new front in the crackdown that will discourage illegal immigrants from settling in Lexington.
Businesses that profit from illegal immigration, they say, should be punished.
But civil libertarians and advocates for immigrants are alarmed by the case.
They note the Haddens were charged even though it is not illegal to rent to undocumented immigrants. Outside of landlords who accept federal Section 8 housing subsidies, landlords have no obligation to check a tenant's legal status.
"That is why these charges are so shocking," said Cori Hash, a lawyer for the Immigrant Rights Project at the Maxwell Street Legal Clinic. "When I heard about it, my jaw dropped."
On Feb. 29, a federal grand jury in Lexington indicted the Haddens on 32 criminal charges, including harboring, conspiracy, money laundering and encouraging and inducing illegal immigrants to live in the United States.
The majority of counts stem from 60 illegal immigrants the Haddens had rented to. Authorities say the men harbored illegal immigrants from 2000 to November 2007. The allegations might technically fall under the legal definition of harboring, Aldridge said. But the Hadden case goes far beyond the law's original intent, he said.
The charges aren't likely to hold up in court, Hash said. Harboring laws were intended to target human traffickers or employers who are trying to hide their work forces.
But the indictment alleges that the Haddens did far more than simply rent to illegal immigrants.
According to the indictment, the Haddens knowingly hired two Mexican citizens to manage the apartments and weakened their application process to accommodate illegal immigrants. They stopped requiring credit checks, Social Security numbers, past addresses, employment history and references for applicants, ostensibly so illegal immigrants would not be rejected for apartments.
One of the employees would encourage undocumented applicants who did not have Social Security numbers to provide IRS tax identification numbers instead, according to the indictment. The tax numbers are used to process tax returns for illegal immigrants.
Applications were translated into Spanish. And after Kentucky Utilities started requiring Social Security numbers to obtain electrical service, the apartment complexes opened accounts in their names and distributed the billing statements to tenants.
This concealed the identities of tenants, according to the indictment.
Officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lexington and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago could not point to any similar cases where landlords had been prosecuted.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gail Montenegro declined to comment on the Hadden case since it is pending in U.S. District Court in Lexington.
"Anyone who is knowingly harboring, or housing or transporting illegal aliens is subject to criminal prosecution," Montenegro said. "They shouldn't be surprised if they are facing criminal charges."
The Haddens' attorney, Tucker Richardson of Lexington, declined to comment. But he has said he will aggressively fight the charges.
News of the charges against the Haddens made landlords all over town uneasy, said Stephen Marshall, a Lexington attorney who represents several landlords.
Marshall said he received several phone calls from concerned clients.
It places landlords in a particular bind, Lexington lawyer Charlie Ward says, because they do not have grounds to evict a tenant simply because he or she is undocumented.
Landlords do have grounds, however, if they can prove the tenant lied on the application, or if the lease requires the tenant to have legal status, Ward said.
But landlords who are not thorough in their screening are pretty much stuck with them, he said.
Marshall said he is working with the Lexington Fair Housing Council to develop guidelines for landlords. Landlords must be careful, he said, because they have to treat each applicant the same; they can't give an applicant more scrutiny just for being Hispanic or foreign.
Hash is worried the Hadden case will lead to illegal evictions and homelessness for illegal immigrants. But she said she has not heard reports of that yet.
Nonetheless, the Hadden case raises several red flags, said Jody Williams, president of the Greater Lexington Apartment Association. The apparently relaxed to non-existent screening policy at the complexes is alarming. It seems to support the claim that the men were knowingly renting to illegal immigrants, she said.
All landlords, Williams said, should require identification, Social Security numbers and credit histories.
"Otherwise, they're not doing their responsibility to protect their communities," she said.

News researcher Linda Niemi contributed to this story. Reach Brandon Ortiz at (859) 231-1443, or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1443.

Immigration Referrals by Police Draw Scrutiny (New York Times)

Immigration Referrals by Police Draw Scrutiny

Published: March 23, 2008

WOODBURY, N.J. — A green-card holder from Guatemala said he was asked about his immigration status last month when he went to pick up his nephew from the West Deptford, N.J., police station.
An illegal immigrant from Mexico was arrested March 5 when the car in which he was a passenger was pulled over for rolling through a stop sign in South Harrison Township, N.J.
Seven months after the state attorney general, Anne Milgram, ordered local police departments in New Jersey to question people they arrest for certain crimes about their immigration status and to report illegal immigrants to federal authorities, the rate of such referrals has nearly doubled.
But immigrants and their advocates say that some people have been unfairly swept up in the dragnet because of overzealous enforcement or confusion over how Ms. Milgram’s directive was supposed to be implemented, creating a chilling effect on some immigrants’ relationships with the police.
“This is imposing an incredible human cost on these immigrants,” said Maria Juega of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund. “They fear contact with authority. Any remote or direct link with the government is now a risk for an immigrant.”
The directive was announced last August amid outrage after a triple murder in which one of the suspects was an illegal immigrant who had been released on bail after previous arrests. It urged officers to inquire about citizenship and nationality when booking people for felonies or drunken driving.
From September through February, New Jersey law enforcement agencies referred 8,874 cases to a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Vermont, up from 4,589 for the same period a year earlier. In the latest period, there were also 1,501 referrals to a Newark office of the federal agency, and while officials could not provide the previous year’s numbers, they said there had been a noticeable increase.
According to statistics from the federal agency, of the more than 10,000 New Jersey referrals since September, 1,417 people were charged with immigration violations. Through January, immigration authorities placed detainers on an additional 1,468 people — giving federal agents the right to hold suspects who are released from jail. A spokesman for the agency said it could not immediately provide the number of people who had been deported.
Scott Weber, the field office director for the enforcement office in Newark, said that in roughly a third of the cases, his agency would file a detainer or immigration charges; another third involved individuals who could be deported after their court cases; and the rest might be United States citizens or legal residents.
“We’re most proud of the way this has facilitated communication,” Mr. Weber said. “We’re not asking agencies to do anything other than their job, or to take into custody anyone they wouldn’t have.”
Mr. Weber said the federal agency was mindful that the directive prohibited racial profiling. “There’s been good adherence to the directive in spirit and word,” he said.
In an interview, Ms. Milgram said the directive had helped keep serious criminals in prison, as federal immigration authorities detained those who had “murdered people, who stabbed people, who were arrested for D.W.I. or who molested kids,” but who might otherwise have been released on bail, on parole or at the end of their sentences.
But advocates for immigrants said the directive caused collateral damage; they cited cases in which people had been questioned about their status during routine traffic stops — especially in rural areas — or witness interviews. That, Ms. Milgram has said, should not happen. Misdeeds like carrying a fake driver’s license that lawyers say rarely result in jail time now can lead to deportation.
“I do think these are potentially serious offenses,” Ms. Milgram said. “A false driver’s license is a felony. That’s a policy question. That, to me, is not a criticism of the directive.”
While Ms. Milgram said that only two credible complaints about the new policy had come to her office, immigration advocates said it was unlikely that those here illegally would lodge complaints about the local police with the state attorney general.
Ms. Milgram said she planned to release data about the directive to the public later this year. For now, state and federal officials were unable to say where the large increase in referrals was coming from, and some prosecutors said in interviews that they had not yet tallied the number of deportable arrests that local departments report to them.
What is clear is that the directive is being enforced unevenly across the state.
Mark W. Ott, the police chief in Bridgeton, a South Jersey town of about 22,000, said his department had referred 36 cases to the immigration authorities since August; a police spokesman in Newark, the state’s largest city — and the site of the schoolyard slayings that inspired the directive — said that the police there had referred none.
Police departments in Camden County made 37 referrals, after arrests on charges ranging from shoplifting to assaulting a police officer. Here in Gloucester County, the prosecutor’s office said that the police had notified them of eight referrals since January 2007.
Lt. Anthony Traina of the Paterson Police Department said he had not yet compiled the number of referrals that had been made since the directive was issued. “We don’t actively look for this stuff,” Lieutenant Traina said. “Everyone comes here from another country. Our investigations rely on an open dialogue with the community. It hasn’t changed.”
Ms. Milgram’s order tells the police to ask about immigration status when arresting someone for what are known as indictable offenses, and then to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement if it is suspected that the person is here illegally. The directive forbids officers from asking the immigration status of witnesses or crime victims, or of persons “requesting or receiving police assistance.”
These two aspects of the order both played out in West Deptford, a township of 20,000 in Gloucester County, after Eldar Salazar was pulled over on Feb. 13 by an officer who said he was driving 39 miles an hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone.
The police said that Mr. Salazar, a janitor who does not speak English, presented a fake driver’s license and was arrested.
The police chief in West Deptford, Craig J. Mangano, said that one of his best officers had made the arrest and had the right to ask about immigration status. But an uncle of Mr. Salazar’s, Francisco Escobar, 45, who has a green card and works as a cook at a steak house, said, “I feel like the police are chasing illegals.”
He added: “My nephew didn’t drink. He didn’t get into trouble. He just worked.”
And now it looks as though Mr. Salazar could be deported.
The rest of Mr. Escobar’s account raised the possibility that some officers either do not understand or are ignoring the language of the directive. When his nephew called him after being arrested, Mr. Escobar said, he went to the police station and spoke to an officer, whose name he does not remember.
“The officer asked whether I was legal,” Mr. Escobar said. “Where I lived. Where I lived before. And how long I had lived at my present address.”
After he had waited at the police station for two hours, Mr. Escobar said, the officer told him that Mr. Salazar, who had given false identification, would have to stay at the station. (He said he later charged nearly $11,000 on a credit card to bail Mr. Salazar out of jail.) Chief Mangano said his officers had probably asked for identification to make sure Mr. Escobar was who he said he was.
An episode this month reveals another growing complaint among immigrants: that the police start fishing for documents during routine traffic stops.
Manuel Guzman, an organizer with the Farmworkers’ Support Committee, said that he was pulled over for ignoring a stop sign in South Harrison, a burg of 2,400 in South Jersey. The officer checked Mr. Guzman’s license, which is normal procedure, but then went a step further, asking his passenger for identification. The passenger, a member of the farm workers’ group who insisted that he be identified only by his first name, Aurelio, handed the officer a Mexican consular identification and was arrested.
Mr. Guzman was never given a ticket, and Aurelio was not referred to the federal authorities and was released. Mr. Guzman said he thought he was pulled over because he had Pennsylvania license plates; many illegal immigrants in New Jersey register their cars in Pennsylvania, advocates and law enforcement officials say, because the identification requirements are less stringent.
The South Harrison police chief, Warren Mabey, said the officer thought Aurelio was another man with the same name who had several outstanding warrants. The chief said the arrest had nothing to do with racial profiling: On the same day, the same officer pulled over 10 other drivers, including seven white men, a white woman, and two other men, one Hispanic and one black. “If our intent was to pull over every Hispanic with a Pennsylvania license plate,” Chief Mabey said, “we’d do it all day.”
When officers do pull over drivers in New Jersey, they now have broader powers to find out who is in the car. A New Jersey Supreme Court decision in February held that the police can run the names of passengers in cars they stop through a national criminal database.
That may be what happened to a 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Guatemala who was deported in February. Tatiana Durbak, a lawyer who spoke with the deported man’s father, said the young man was a passenger in a car that was pulled over. When he gave the officer a Guatemalan identity card, he was arrested and referred to immigration authorities, according to the father, who asked that his son’s name not be published.
That type of enforcement, immigrant advocates say, contributes to rising anxiety. But law enforcement officials say those stops are useful: According to a spokesman for the federal agency, a 22-year-old with the same name as the one described by Ms. Durbak had been ordered deported in 2004, and was wanted on a fugitive warrant.
Several police officials said they had rolled out the directive with little instruction and in many cases officers were asked to simply initial a book that said they had read it.
The Newark Police Department is one of only a few in the state that is providing a comprehensive training program. It came after a Newark police official violated the directive in September by questioning a photographer from the Brazilian Voice, a local newspaper, about his immigration status after the photographer and his editor informed the police that they had found a woman’s body on a trash-strewn side street.
Ms. Milgram acknowledged that better training was needed, and said that she would issue new instructions requiring it. “I’m far from saying the directive is perfect,” she said.