Tuesday, March 31, 2009

80 arrested after border agents trace footprints (AZFamily.com)

80 arrested after border agents trace footprints

09:24 PM Mountain Standard Time on Monday, March 30, 2009

DHS / azfamily.com

The following news release was sent by the Department of Homeland Security:

DOUGLAS - Friday, agents working east of Douglas, Arizona successfully arrested 80 people after a Border Patrol Horse Patrol unit tracked their foot sign.

Agents assigned to the Horse Patrol tracked this large group for several hours until they were finally arrested just outside of the Fairchild Ranch. The group consisted of 79 Mexican males and 1 Mexican female. All individuals were taken into custody and transported to the Douglas Border Patrol Station for processing.

As agents documented the alien’s biographical information, their finger prints were entered into the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). IAFIS returns revealed that 21 of the males in this group of undocumented aliens had prior criminal records; one man was convicted in California for vehicular manslaughter.

New Immigration Raid Policy (Hartford Courant)

New Immigration Raid Policy
U.S. Says Agents Will Be Targeting Employers

By Josh Meyer and Anna Gorman | Tribune Newspapers
March 31, 2009

WASHINGTON - Stepping into the political minefield of immigration reform, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will soon direct federal agents to target employers for arrest and prosecution rather than the laborers who sneak into the country illegally to work for them, Department of Homeland Security officials said Monday.

The shift in emphasis will be outlined in revamped field guidelines issued to agents of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, or ICE, as early as this week, according to several officials familiar with the change in policy. It is in keeping with comments President Barack Obama made in the 2008 campaign, when he said past enforcement efforts have failed because they focused on illegal immigrants rather than the bosses who hire them.

"There is a supply side and a demand side," said one Homeland Security official. "Like other law enforcement philosophies, there is a belief that by focusing more on the demand side, you cut off the supply."

Napolitano "is focused on using our limited resources to the greatest effect, targeting criminal aliens and employers that flout our laws and deliberately cultivate an illegal workforce," a department official said. "Worksite enforcements can address both of these priorities; while the review is taking place, our interior enforcement efforts will continue to operate consistent with immigration law."

Homeland Security officials emphasized that the department will not stop conducting sweeps of businesses and arresting those illegal immigrants who are caught working.

Michael Cutler, a retired senior special agent with 30 years working on immigration, sharply criticized the proposed change, saying the administration needs to go after workers and employers to send a message that it will not condone illegal immigration.

Cutler, now a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, said it would be "dumb" to "go after employers and not the illegal aliens. That means they are going to make very few arrests. And the message that sends is that if you can make it across the border, you're home free, no one is going to be looking for you."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Plight of the illegal: Honesty leads to denial of re-entry (KAIT-Jonesboro, AR)

Plight of the illegal: Honesty leads to denial of re-entry

Posted: March 27, 2009 08:20 PM

JONESBORO -- It was the focus of discussion in the Presidential race last year. And, now immigration reform--namely changes in U.S. policy when it comes to illegal aliens--has hit "home" with a Region 8 family. In fact, you might say this very issue has torn their lives apart.

It's a move that Anita Munguia never saw coming for her, or her children, 4-year-old Olivia or 13-year-old Dakota.

"We lost our home because we couldn't make payments," said Anita, whose husband Felipe Munguia was denied re-entry into the United States. "We couldn't make payments on the home we bought here in Jonesboro and had to move."

All because husband and father, Felipe, is not allowed back into the United States for ten years. That's the penalty handed down when Felipe sought an appointment for permanent residency in February.

"We would have been better off to have never filed," said Anita. "We would still be together as a family...a family unit had we never filed."

Felipe came to the states in 1998 on a visa. It ran out, but he stayed--working construction and eventually became manager of a rice milling and distribution center. He married Anita, paid taxes out of his paychecks and became a father.

"How do you say 'Daddy' in Spanish?" asks Anita to Olivia.

"Poppy," she replies.

"He was very involved in the children's lives at school, going to parent-teacher conferences," explained Anita. "He didn't take anybody else's job. He didn't cause someone else to not be able to work."

Not wanting to make it look as if Felipe married Anita for Green Card status, the couple waited to apply for residency. They started the paperwork in 2004. That process would take them all the way to Little Rock, then the consulate in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico --now home to deadly attacks between drug cartels and Mexican soldiers.

"We had a lot of hope," said Anita. "We really truly felt like we would come back together. And then when we went for the appointment, it was devastating."

Felipe was penalized for two illegal entries into the United States. The first for allowing his visa to expire. The other for going back to Mexico when his father died.

"Had we not even written that on the application, they would have never known," explained Anita. "They never checked on him. He's never been deported. He's never been fingerprinted. He had never had any run-ins' with the law. As far as immigration is concerned, he was never here until we filed to try to change his residency."

So Anita is taking her husband's story to the President of the United States.

"He can pardon felons," said Anita. "I don't see why he can't pardon Felipe for entering the country illegally."

Meanwhile life without Felipe goes on.

"It's like everyday, it's a new hurt and going through his things when we had to move was really hard," said Anita. "Trying to pack up the things he left thinking that he would be back."

For now the Munguias' live in a rental home on a street that feels far from the name on the street sign, Paradise.

This afternoon we received an e-mail from Representative Marion Berry's office. In it, he says "The Immigration and Nationality Act does not allow for a waiver when someone illegally enters the country twice."

Man arrested for human smuggling near Holbrook

Man arrested for human smuggling near Holbrook


HOLBROOK - A routine traffic stop on I-40 resulted in the discovery of 18 undocumented aliens in the cab and camper of a 2004 Ford F-250 pickup.
Deputy Sheriff Bill Murray stopped the truck for speeding at milepost 296 east of Holbrook. After the occupants were found, the driver, Alexandro Silva Castelan, was charged with 17 counts of human smuggling. Castelan is also an undocumented alien.
The others in the vehicle told Murray they were all from the same town in Mexico. They had crossed the border together and were taken to Phoenix in a waiting van.
When in Phoenix, the aliens said Castelan agreed to take them from Phoenix to Oklahoma for $800. From there, they were to be transported to their final destinations in New York and Houston. All occupants of the truck were taken to Navajo County Jail where they were to be picked up by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers for deportation.

Binational, same-sex couples face immigration problems (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Binational, same-sex couples face immigration problems

By Mike Swift

Mercury News
Posted: 03/29/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT

Shirley Tan's calm and happy life — San Mateo County housewife, mother of twin 12-year-old boys, singing in the church choir — blew up at 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 28, with a knock on the front door.

Within minutes, the immigration agent standing there had the 43-year-old Tan in handcuffs. She is scheduled to be deported to her native Philippines on Friday.

If Jay Mercado, Tan's partner of 23 years and the mother of her sons, were a different gender, it's highly unlikely that knock ever would have come. As a U.S. citizen, Mercado could have sponsored a wedded spouse for legal permanent residency. But although Mercado and Tan married in San Francisco in 2004, federal law limits the definition of marriage to a man and a woman, and same-sex partners of U.S. citizens don't have a route to legal permanent residence extended to straight married couples.

It might be too late for Tan and Mercado, but on behalf of thousands of similar same-sex couples, Congress is considering changing federal law to allow same-sex "permanent partners" the same immigration rights as opposite-sex married couples. U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, who called Tan's situation "unacceptable," is among a group in Congress, including Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who hope to change immigration law to mirror many countries in Europe that allow gays and lesbians to sponsor a same-sex partner for legal residency.

"I support gay marriage, but that's not the question here," said U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York City leading the push for legislation to also allow same-sex couples access to permanent resident status. "The law shouldn't be gratuitously cruel "...That's what this does — it's a gratuitous cruelty to keep making partners choose between their countries and their partners."

Mercado and Tan, who first appealed for political asylum for Tan in 1995 and thought their case was still pending, said they were completely unaware a deportation order had been issued in 2002. If Tan is deported this week, they will have to decide between separating two sons from one of their mothers, or moving the family to a country they have never known.

"It's hard when they are breaking up families," said a tearful Mercado, as she sat next to Tan in the house the couple owns overlooking the Pacific Ocean. "Why can't they just leave us alone? Just because I am not a man, that I cannot petition her (for a green card), they are punishing us."

"The thing is," Tan said, "it's not only me who they are punishing. It is mainly my kids, because they are innocent. They are the ones suffering."

Cultural limbo

The federal Defense of Marriage Act, which limits marriage to a man and a woman, means gay couples in states that allow gay marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships have no legal status for the purpose of international travel or immigration.

Some argue that extending immigration rights to same-sex partners would increase the risk of fraud and further tangle the nation's already controversial immigration system.

"It's always a bad idea to let the culture wars be played out in our immigration policy," said Steven A. Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that favors curbs on immigration.

With no way to obtain legal permanent residence, many gay couples exhaust years of temporary U.S. student or work visas. But ultimately, as with Los Angeles filmmaker Michelle Paymar and her French partner Veronique Martinaud, there comes a day of reckoning.

Paymar, 51, said an attorney bluntly told them: 'You can stay in the United States and fight this year by year, or you could apply to emigrate to Canada, and you can get on with your lives.' "

Paymar and Martinaud moved to Canada last year. Yet, many who leave the U.S. never feel comfortable with their decision.

Many Californians keep their 415, 310, or 408 area codes, which ring in foreign living rooms. Some still watch the Bay Area 10 o'clock news on satellite or cable TV. They have organized expatriate clubs that meet in cafes in Vancouver and Amsterdam, where they might gather to watch Election Night coverage, or just share tips for finding a good doctor in their new country. Watching from afar, many were stunned by the passage of Proposition 8, even though it didn't affect their immigration status.

They worry about aging parents back home. They struggle to relaunch careers in a new country. And they bridle when U.S. immigration officers won't recognize a spouse they legally married abroad, because in America, they aren't really married.

Some, like Martha McDevitt-Pugh, a former Silicon Valley software manager who fell in love with a Dutch citizen a decade ago and ultimately moved to the Netherlands, would be on the first flight home if they could. Even though she moved to a country where she speaks the language, and where her marriage entitles her to work legally and obtain citizenship, she still deeply misses her mother, two brothers, a sister, nieces and nephews, who live in Silicon Valley — now an 11-hour plane ride away.

And she misses her native California, and high tech's work culture. "I landed there, and thought, 'This should feel great,' " McDevitt-Pugh said of Holland. "And it didn't feel great at all."

Even visiting the U.S. can be stressful for same-sex binational couples.

When McDevitt-Pugh flew into the Bay Area from Amsterdam with her wife, Lin, she was nervous about her documents bearing their hyphenated married name. Her legal marriage in the Netherlands does not exist in the eyes of U.S. law.

"It's the U.S. government that won't recognize my marriage," said McDevitt-Pugh, relieved after successfully clearing customs on a visit this week to celebrate her mother's 80th birthday. "It's still my name."

Others say they have traveled such emotional distance that even if same-sex marriage were legalized, they wouldn't come back.

"That phrase 'liberty and justice for all' ''? That's an empty promise for people like us," said ex-San Franciscan Tim Sally, who moved to Canada in 2007 with his German partner of 18 years, Bernd Vey.

Now living in Vancouver, the men will become Canadian citizens next year.

"I was angry and somewhat bitter about having to make this choice," Sally said. "But sometimes fate deals you a different hand than what you were expecting, and it ends up being a kick in the pants that moves you to a different level in your life."

Not settled

If choosing between a partner and your country is difficult, children make the choices even more agonizing.

It's unclear whether Tan can avert deportation. At this point in the process, it may require an act of Congress. Tan fears for her safety in the Philippines — as a girl, a relative who wanted her inheritance murdered her mother and a sister and shot Tan in the head.

Tan and Mercado are both the legal parents of their boys, who are citizens. Tan gave birth to the twins, who were conceived with eggs from Mercado, a naturalized citizen born in the Philippines.

The couple said their bid for political asylum was rejected because the threat came from a relative instead of a government. They appealed in federal court, and their former lawyer told them — for years — that the case was still pending.

"Always," Tan said, "we keep in our head that I am legal."

That lawyer, according to the couple and their current lawyer, never told Tan that her application had been rejected in 2002 — throwing her into illegal status.

"We have a person who has never committed a crime, who believed her case was winding its way through the courts," said Phyllis Beech, the couple's new lawyer. "And all of a sudden, she wakes up to the pounding at the front door."

Beech said the law is the villain. If Tan and Mercado were not gay, "none of this happens," because Mercado could have petitioned for permanent legal status for Tan. A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security declined immediate comment on the case.

Tan would be banned from the U.S. for 10 years if she is deported. If that happens, Mercado is prepared to leave her job and their home in the Bay Area to keep the family together in the Philippines.

"The main priority is to keep us all together," Mercado said. "We fought our families for our relationship. We are both from very close Catholic families. We stood up for our lives and now, just because of this we will be separated?"

Tan said whatever happens, she cannot live without her sons.

"They are my life now," she said. "I cannot be apart from them."

A study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA law school estimated there are about 36,000 binational couples living together in the United States, with nearly 30 percent of those couples in California. Much of Western Europe, along with Israel, South Africa and New Zealand, provides some form of "permanent partner" immigration status for same-sex couples.

Immigrant detention often unconstitutional, Palm Beach County public defender says (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Immigrant detention often unconstitutional, Palm Beach County public defender says
Police role in holding immigrants is unconstitutional, advocates say

By Luis F. Perez | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 30, 2009

A Palm Beach County assistant public defender has accused the Sheriff's Office of violating the U.S. Constitution by detaining undocumented immigrants sometimes for weeks or months. Daniel Cohen is fighting the jailing of immigrants based on a federal agent signing two sheets of paper. What they sign is not reviewed by a court, it's not a warrant or a sworn statement, and that goes against the Constitution, he says.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the sheriff take a different view.

"The sheriff is only trying to do what is required by the law," said Fred Gelston, a lawyer representing the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Cohen joins the American Civil Liberties Union and others across the country who are challenging local police departments' role in immigration enforcement. Immigration authorities say they're targeting criminals.

But advocates for immigrants say legal immigrants often end up in jail. These advocates say local law enforcement agencies profile immigrants based on their looks and often jail them for minor infractions.

Cohen points to Neyvin Antonio Padilla, who in December 2007 was arrested on suspicion of driving without a license in Belle Glade, even though he was in a parked vehicle. After Padilla spent a night in jail, a judge said he was free to go. Instead, Padilla was held for nearly two weeks without criminal or immigration charges, Cohen and Padilla family members said.

Nicole Navas, an ICE spokeswoman, said the agency's privacy policy prohibits it from releasing information on the case. Padilla, 20, was deported to Nicaragua two weeks ago, family members said.

"You're not talking about hardened criminals," said Katy Parker, a North Carolina ACLU lawyer who is reviewing immigrant arrests at seven sheriff's departments in that state. "You're talking about regular folks like you and me who happen to be undocumented."

Cohen has brought his accusations to Palm Beach Circuit Court a dozen times, but each time judges have said he is raising a federal issue outside their jurisdiction. Cohen can't pursue the cases in federal court because he's required to represent county residents who can't afford a lawyer in local courts.

Since June 2007, the Broward and Palm Beach County sheriff's offices have been part of ICE's Criminal Alien Program, which puts federal agents at the county jails to review immigrants' records. After an interview with those arrested, the agent determines whether to sign an immigration "detainer" and then another form called an "Order to Detain or Release Alien."

"This is basically two cops from two police departments deciding to detain someone without due process of the law," Broward County Click here for restaurant inspection reports Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said. Jon Feere, legal analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for tighter immigration controls, said deportation is an administrative proceeding. So the due process afforded immigrants there is not the same as in criminal cases.

"An illegal alien being removed isn't being punished," he said. "They're simply being returned from where they came."

Immigration Holds Mostly for Minor Offenses, Sheriff's Data Shows; Office Thwarted New Times' Attempts to Get Same Data (Phoenix New Times)

Immigration Holds Mostly for Minor Offenses, Sheriff's Data Shows; Office Thwarted New Times' Attempts to Get Same Data

By Ray Stern in News
Monday, Mar. 30 2009 @ 10:25AM

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office released records last week showing what New Times readers already knew:

Most jailed inmates kicked out of the country under the county's 287(g) agreement with the feds were picked up by local police forces for relatively minor crimes. Our September 30, 2008 article detailed why this is happening and passed on plenty of stats from various law enforcement agencies as factual evidence.

One group of stats we didn't get, though: The kind of stats just released by the county, which the Arizona Republic used as fodder today for a front-page article.

Not that we didn't ask for them -- as part of the research for "Police State," we asked Sheriff's Joe Arpaio's office for exactly those inmates stats, (though from earlier, random dates).

Paul Chagolla now a deputy chief with the office, refused to release the data, telling New Times that satisfying the request would violate federal law. Did something change, or was Chagolla lying?

Chagolla, who left the sheriff's public relations office on a bad note, is now the records division chief. Oy. With him in charge, we don't have to wonder why Arpaio's office has failed to release a completed report we requested last August, or why he reportedly fed false information last week to the state Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on fugitive warrants.

As to the stats themselves:

We didn't notice any "passenger failed to show ID" arrests, which could be considered the most minor of crimes -- especially when those arrests are based on bogus underlying violations. There were a few "driver failed to show ID" arrests. And there was one arrest -- and subsequent voluntary deportation, no doubt -- for fishing without a license.

The alleged crimes committed (sample above) by the illegal immigrants booked into jail, however, are not mostly victimless. Advocates for undocumented workers who commit crimes have a tall hurdle to clear in explaining why society would benefit more from the old "catch-and-release" method.

Surprise police arrest suspected human smuggler (YourWestValley.com)

Surprise police arrest suspected human smuggler

March 30, 2009 - 10:25 AM
Staff report

Nine undocumented immigrants were taken into custody Thursday, and the driver of the truck in which they were found was arrested, Surprise police said Sunday.

At 4:20 p.m. Thursday, Surprise police stopped a pickup on U.S. 60 and Patton Road for a traffic violation.

Upon approaching the truck, police observed passengers in the cab of the vehicle and several other passengers lying across the bed portion of the truck.

The passengers told officers that they had paid the driver to smuggle them to California and Oregon, police said. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were called and took the nine undocumented people into custody.

The driver, Antonio Perez-Rodriguez, 32, of Burlington, Wash., was taken to the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail and booked on nine counts of human smuggling.

Police arrest two after pursuit (The Carthage Press)

Police arrest two after pursuit

By Staff reports
Carthage Press
Mon Mar 30, 2009, 01:34 PM CDT


Two men were arrested on Sunday after a short vehicle pursuit, followed by a foot chase in the 700 block of Howard Street in Carthage late on Sunday.

Carthage police said Gelver Perez Hernandez, 22, and Juan Figueroa Martinez, 30, both of Carthage, are bring held in the Carthage City Jail on numerous charges and detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Police said both men had apparently been deported from the U.S. in the past.

A written release from Carthage Police Lt. Barry Duncan gave the following account of what happened Sunday:

At 10:34 p.m., an officer attempted to stop an erratic driver in a white Mitsubishi on McGregor Street at Oak Street in Carthage.

The vehicle accelerated in an attempt to get away from the officer. The vehicle ran a red signal light at Oak and Garrison and stop signs at Fourth Street and Main Street and Fourth Street and Howard Street. An uninvolved vehicle at Fourth and Howard had to take evasive actions to keep from being struck by the fleeing vehicle.

The vehicle stopped in the 700 block of Howard Street and the driver fled on foot. After a foot chase, and a search of the area, the driver was found hiding in the attic of a house, 700 block of Lincoln Street.

The Carthage Fire Department assisted by taking a ladder to the scene. Officers entered the small crawl space and arrested the driver.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

108 Arrested in the Past 14 Days (Borderfire Report)

108 Arrested in the Past 14 Days

Written by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Thursday, 26 March 2009 06:01


Phoenix, AZ. - Twenty-three more illegal aliens were arrested by Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies last night in two separate traffic stops in the valley, Sheriff Joe Arpaio says, bringing the total number of illegal immigrants arrested in just the last two weeks to 108. Half of those arrested in the past 14 days were booked in to jail on felony charges.

“My promise to the taxpayers of this county is this: as illegal aliens continue to pour into this county from Mexico, and they do, my deputies will meet them head on within the borders of this county with an equal degree of determination to stop them in their tracks,” Arpaio says.

Arpaio, whose law enforcement agency remains the only one in Arizona to enforce all aspects of the state human smuggling laws, says he is will not be intimidated by the March 10, 2009 announcement of an investigation into racial profiling by the U.S. Justice Department.

He has ordered his deputies to continue to crack down during the last two weeks – by raiding business establishments which knowingly hire illegal aliens, enforcing the Arizona anti-human smuggling laws, finding and shutting down drop houses, and enforcing the 287 G immigration laws which ultimately has resulted in the deportation of hundreds of illegal aliens.

He has also expanded his Tent City jail complex to make room for an increase number of arrests related, in part, to illegal immigration.

“I would be remiss in duties as Sheriff if I would succumb to the pressures of those fighting me on this issue,” Arpaio says.

“Murder and kidnapping are a direct result of human smuggling traffic, though few politicians will admit it or even talk about it.”

Despite the controversy, they seem to generate by protestors, elected officials and critics, Arpaio also says his deputies are making plans for a new crime suppression operation soon in a location that will be announced at a later time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Traffic stop nabs deportee with 14 aliases (Herald Times)

Traffic stop nabs deportee with 14 aliases

Herald News Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2009 @ 08:31 PM
Last update Mar 24, 2009 @ 08:33 PM

Freetown — A late night traffic stop Monday led to the arrest of a man who police allege has at least 14 aliases and re-entered the United States after being deported.

Freetown Patrolman Ryan Pereira stopped a vehicle for defective equipment around 11 p.m. on Water Street, and the driver couldn’t produce a license, police said in a press release.
The name the driver gave Pereira didn’t match the Registry of Motor Vehicles photo the officer accessed on the laptop computer in his cruiser. Confronted with this, the driver gave a second name and was arrested on a charge of providing false information to police, according to the press release.

At the Freetown police station, police identified 14 aliases the man allegedly used. They subsequently transported the man to the state police barracks, where police performed a Automated Fingertip Indentification System scan of the man’s fingerprints.

The fingerprint scan results identified the man as Ludalino Aguiar Moniz, 33, whose last known address was 232 Whipple St., Fall River. Moniz has an extensive criminal history, including crimes of violence, and was wanted on a pair of warrants, one for a charge of breaking and entering and the other for a charge of larceny, according to police.

Police also learned that Moniz had been deported and re-entered the country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a 48-hour detainer to keep Moniz in custody as the police investigation continues, the press release states.

In addition to the charge of giving police a false name, Moniz was also charged with driving with a suspended license.

New report blasts U.S. on immigrant detainees (San Francisco Chronicle)

New report blasts U.S. on immigrant detainees

Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More than 400,000 people a year are detained by immigration officials in the United States - including undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants who run afoul of the law and asylum seekers who come fleeing persecution - but according to a report released today by Amnesty International, conditions are often deplorable and detainees are routinely denied due process.

It's the second major human rights report in a week to indict the nation's immigration detention system. The system is attracting increased attention in part because the number of people in detention has grown exponentially in recent years and in part because of dozens of in-custody deaths and a lawsuit over the treatment of children.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last month ordered her department to examine all aspects of Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations and hired a special assistant, Dora Schriro, to oversee detention and removal conditions.

A spokeswoman for ICE, as the immigration enforcement agency is known, acknowledged Tuesday that concerns have been raised about the treatment of immigration detainees.

"We have already made appreciable gains in improving the detention system by adopting detention standards and monitoring the compliance with those standards," said Cori Bassett. "All that said, the care and treatment that some detainees receive does not yet meet our shared expectation of excellence, and we can all agree this is a reason for concern."

The cases of two Bay Area men illustrate two of the problems highlighted by the Amnesty report: Detainees often are denied due process, and the burden is on the detainees to prove they don't belong in custody.

Afghanistan-born Lemar Nasir of Fremont and Thailand-born Yuttasak Simma of San Francisco were taken into ICE custody in 2007, though both are naturalized U.S. citizens.

Though the men told immigration officials of their citizenship, neither had papers to prove it, and both languished in immigration custody in Santa Clara County jail - Nasir for 11 months, Simma for seven - before a lawyer finally secured their release.

Sin Yen Ling, an attorney with San Francisco's Asian Law Caucus who represented the men, called the cases a violation of the men's constitutional right to due process.

"Absent congressional authorization, you cannot use immigration laws to lock up a citizen," she said. "And this is not unusual: I have on my docket right now five to seven of these cases. People have legitimate claims to citizenship, and they inform ICE, yet there's no formal procedure to figure out what to do with these folks."

The Amnesty International report, "Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA," noted a variety of concerns over due process and the conditions of detention:

-- People in immigration custody don't have the same guarantees as criminal detainees to challenge their detention before a court, make a phone call or obtain legal representation.

-- Detainees can be transferred from one facility to another, sometimes in another state, with no notice given to their families or attorneys.

-- Two-thirds of people in federal immigration custody are housed in state or county detention facilities, usually alongside criminal detainees, even though violations of immigration law are considered administrative, not criminal, and asylum seekers have committed no violation.

-- Immigrants are subject to excessive use of restraints such as handcuffs, waist chains and leg restraints.

"In the criminal justice system, anyone arrested is assumed innocent, but in the immigration system, they're put in detention, and then it's the individual's burden to prove they shouldn't be detained," said Sarnata Reynolds, an author of the report. "That's why you'll see long periods of detention, because it's an incredibly high burden."

Both the Amnesty report and a study released last week by Human Rights Watch faulted ICE for failing to provide adequate medical and mental health treatment to detainees. Human Rights Watch, which focused on women's access to health care, emphasized problems with perinatal care and care for survivors of sexual violence.

Since 2003, 90 people have died in immigration custody, according to Schriro of Homeland Security. Immigration authorities last year pointed out that the death rate in immigration detention is a small fraction of that in other U.S. jails and prisons.

But earlier this month, Schriro testified before Congress that detainees did not always receive timely and appropriate medical care. She vowed improvements.

A 2007 lawsuit over the treatment of children in immigration custody led to improvements in the conditions at a private Texas prison where families are held.

The Amnesty report called on the Obama administration to consider alternatives to detention for immigrants who are neither a flight risk nor a danger to others. That's a proposal endorsed by San Jose Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee.

"Oftentimes there are alternatives, like these ankle bracelets and bonds and other ways to make sure the person doesn't disappear into the woodwork," said Lofgren, who is particularly incensed that asylum seekers are locked up until they can make the case they'd face persecution in their home countries.

"You've got people now waiting six months for a 20-minute (asylum) interview," she said. "Well, at $90 a day, the meter's running here. How can it possibly be cost-effective to postpone a 20-minute interview? It's stupid."

Online resources
-- To see the Amnesty International report, "Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA," go to www.amnestyusa.org.

-- To see the Human Rights Watch report, "Detained and Dismissed: Women's Struggles to Obtain Health Care in United States Immigration Detention," go to www.hrw.org.

-- For more information about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, go to www.ice.gov

Immigration detention by the numbers
1.1 million People currently in deportation proceedings.

400,000 People detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement every year.

31,000 People in immigration custody on average.

10,000 People in immigration custody on average 10 years ago.

$90 Cost per day to hold a person in immigration detention.

90 Number of people who died in immigration custody since 2003.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, office of Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Two die in crash; illegal smuggling of immigrants suspected (Salt Lake Tribune)

Two die in crash; illegal smuggling of immigrants suspected
Four of the surviving passengers were released to ICE custody.

By Melinda Rogers
The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 03/25/2009 07:38:31 AM MDT

Richfield » Two people were killed in an accident near Salina in Sevier County on Tuesday morning while possibly trying to enter the country illegally, investigators say.

A Toyota van carrying 12 people was eastbound on Interstate 70 in Salina Canyon when the driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel and veered off the road, said Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Cameron Roden.

The van hit rumble strips on the road and the driver woke up, but overcorrected the vehicle, causing it to hit a guardrail and roll, Roden said.

When the vehicle rolled, four occupants were ejected and thrown down a 50 foot embankment, said UHP Corporal Nick Bowles. Two males, whose names and ages were not released, died at the scene.

Four people were transported to the Sevier Valley Hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and then released to the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Bowles said the van was coming from California and bound for Denver.

Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for ICE, said the incident is being investigated as a possible human smuggling operation. She said the occupants in the van were Mexican and Guatemalan, while the nationalities of the two deceased men were still being determined.

If authorities determine the van's passengers were undocumented immigrants, Tuesday's incident adds to a string of rollovers resulting in the deaths of immigrants.

A minivan believed to be carrying undocumented immigrants rolled on Interstate 15 in Iron County in November 2007, killing 16-year-old Brenda Veronica Martinez. The driver of the van fell asleep at the wheel, according to UHP. After the vehicle flipped, six to eight other passengers in the vehicle scattered in several directions, leaving authorities to believe its occupants were undocumented.

In April 2007, Guatemala native Rigoberto Salas-Lopez received a federal charge of transporting illegal aliens resulting in death after the SUV he was driving in southeastern Utah rolled and killed eight people on April 17.

Salas-Lopez told ICE investigators that a man in Phoenix gave him $1,000 plus $500 in gas money to drive three Mexican and 11 Guatemalan immigrants from Arizona to St. Louis.

Five people also died in August 2007 after a Suburban carrying 11 people, mostly undocumented immigrants, flipped off Interstate 70, about 15 miles east of Green River.

Two passengers died in June 2007 when a pickup carrying undocumented immigrants overturned near Hurricane. The driver, Eswin Enrique Aquino-Lopez, pleaded guilty to a felony charge and was sentenced to 27 months in prison. Marvin Eduardo Barrios-Socop, 35, also was sentenced to 30 months behind bars in the incident for the charge of transporting illegal aliens.

In October 2005, two people died when a northbound Dodge Caravan loaded with 16 undocumented immigrants overturned on U.S. Highway 191 south of Moab.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Illegal Immigrant Busted Snowshoeing Across Border (WCAX-VT)

Illegal Immigrant Busted Snowshoeing Across Border

Burlington, Vermont - March 23rd 2009

Police say an illegal immigrant who was deported twice before was caught trying to snowshoe back into Vermont. Border patrol agents caught David Douglas, 45, after a sensor went off near the Morse's Line crossing and agents spotted snowshoe tracks. Davis was found shortly after in a farm field. He was sentenced to 3 years in jail. Douglas was last deported in 2004, on marijuana conspiracy charges.

Carbondale man gets deportation canceled (Glenwood Springs Post Independent)

Carbondale man gets deportation canceled

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

By John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — Rene Hernandez is happy to be close to his family after a Denver Immigration Court judge granted the Carbondale resident a cancellation of removal in his deportation case Friday.

Hernandez, 34, said Monday that he was nervous Friday morning before he went to court because he thought that he would be deported and would not be able to remain close to his two young sons.

“I was so happy that we won the case,” Hernandez said. “Because my boys are more important to me than anything. I am so happy that I am able to stay.”

According to Ted Hess, Hernandez’s Glenwood Springs attorney, Hernandez will now become a lawful permanent resident, unless the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) successfully appeals the case. The department has until April 20 to file an appeal, which Hess expects to happen.

Hess also stated in an e-mail to the Post Independent that cancellation of removal is a rare event and that there is a nationwide limit of 4,000 granted each year.

“Legally, his case is interesting because there are only three published cases by the Board of Immigration Appeals on post-1997 cancellations of removal,” Hess said.

In all three of those cases, according to Hess, the assumption was that the children involved would return to Mexico if the immigrant was deported. However, it was clear that the children would stay in the U.S. in Hernandez’s case.

Hernandez illegally entered the U.S. from Guerrero, Mexico, in 1994, according to Hess. He was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2006 after a domestic violence arrest, which occurred when he encountered his wife at the Oasis nightclub in Glenwood Springs.

Since getting a divorce in 2007, Hernandez has made child support payments of $924 a month.

The decision to grant the cancellation, according to Hess, was based upon the argument that if deported Hernandez would not be able to provide for his two American citizen sons because they would remain in Carbondale, with their mother, to whom Hernandez is no longer married.

In order for a court to grant the cancellation, an illegal immigrant must prove three stipulations: 10 years continuous presence in the U.S.; good moral character; and an exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to one or more U.S. citizens, which in this case happened to be his two young sons.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

7 men face trespass charges, immigration probe (The Journal-News)

7 men face trespass charges, immigration probe

By Leah Rae
The Journal News • March 21, 2009

SOUTHEAST - Decrying "a human tragedy," Assemblyman Greg Ball yesterday joined a town supervisor, Town Board member and TV news reporter in walking to a wooded encampment, where they encountered seven homeless men under a tarp by a campfire.

The men were Spanish-speakers, but Southeast Councilman Dwight Yee said he learned through the reporter that the men were working and sending money home to family members. Ball issued a press release saying, "Where is the humanity? This black market economy hurts legal immigrants, strains taxpayers and most of all, exploits illegal aliens like this."

Shortly afterward, the seven men were arrested by the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, with citations for trespassing, a violation. Last night the men remained in custody and were being interviewed by federal agents about their immigration status, according to the department.

Ball, R-Patterson, said he could not communicate well with the men and did not in fact ask them about their immigration status. "They were from Guatemala, on the outskirts of the city. I explained how my best friend was from Guatemala City," he said.

The camp was in a wooded area between Argonne and Starr Ridge roads, a 17-acre parcel owned by Brewster Development Inc., Capt. William McNamara said. A number of encampments have been found in recent years around town, and have been the sites of incidents including a homicide by drowning and two deaths presumably due to exposure.

Police said Yee alerted them to the encampment Tuesday and they notified the landowner, who then filed a complaint. The men were arrested at 10 a.m. yesterday and accused of littering by the Southeast zoning code enforcement officer.

Six of the men said they were from Guatemala, and the other said he was a citizen of Ecuador.

Asked why the men were taken into custody on a violation, McNamara said, "None of the offenders was able to produce positive identification at the time of their arrest. In such cases, law enforcement officers will take reasonable steps to verify the identity of the offender before they are released."

Supervisor Michael Rights commended the property owner "for cooperating with law enforcement to allow us to address this illegal encampment." He called the conditions pitiful, noting the open fire in proximity to a residential neighborhood. Rights said he contacted the county Community Affairs Office to find a place for the men to stay.

Yee said they found a mattress, debris and human waste on the site, along with a bathing area by a river. Asked about the possibility that the men could face deportation, he said: "A lot of people say this has been a federal issue. This federal issue is going to be handled by enforcing local laws. And by these local laws we can close down these tattered encampment sites along the border of Brewster. By doing so, it actually alerts the community of what's happening."

"They may be better off in jail, where it's warm and they get three meals a day," he added.

Police said the men appeared to range in age from late 20s to mid-50s. They identified them as Joel Marco Lopez, Manuel Salvator Perez, Alfredo Salazar, Carlos Abzun Mendez, Evon Zhimani, Manuel Pinto and Julio Rivera.

"If they don't belong and they're violating the federal laws, then they get deported, yes," said Yee, a retired New York City police lieutenant.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Neighbors hold car wash to keep children in home

Neighbors hold car wash to keep children in home

Published: March 20, 2009


Of the Keizertimes

When a single mother was placed under hold by immigration officials – apparently leaving her three children to fend for themselves – neighbors have stepped in to help.

The three children, ages 10, 6 and 2, are being cared for by friends and neighbors in her apartment complex while she sits in government custody awaiting deportation proceedings.

They've taken on tasks like making sure the older children get to school, get their baths and food – and even took the youngest boy to the hospital recently during a medical emergency.

And on Friday they organized an impromptu car wash in south Keizer to pay the rent on Blanca Miranda's apartment so her children will have a place to stay until deportation proceedings are completed.

Once that happens, they plan to use the remainder of any money raised to drive the children to the Mexican border to be reunited with their mother.

"We are neighbors," said Armando Heredia. "It's for the children and also for her, because she's a good neighbor."

Araceli Avila, who works for the Salem-Keizer Community Development Corporation that manages the complex, was on hand.

"We're trying to raise enough money to keep her kinds from being homeless," she said.

About a half-dozen of Miranda's friends were either holding signs or scrubbing cars. All have known Miranda and her family for several years.

Irene Zavala said it's important for neighbors to take care of one another.

"It's for the children," Zavala said, "and because I'm a mother too. I may need help someday."

For Rocio Lagos, getting out and pitching in was a simple decision.

"She is my neighbor and friend," Lagos said.

One dozen illegal aliens taken into custody (The Herald Banner)

One dozen illegal aliens taken into custody

Published: March 19, 2009 11:07 pm

Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — Twelve people suspected of being illegal aliens were arrested along Interstate 30 in Hunt County early Thursday morning.

All 12 of the individuals were still listed in custody at the Hunt County Jail as of Thursday afternoon, awaiting transport by immigration officials, according to Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks.

“We stopped a minivan at around 1 a.m. today at the 92 mile marker along eastbound Interstate 30,” Meeks said. “The driver had no valid identification.”

A search of the vehicle revealed none of the dozen men, ranging in age from 18 to 49, inside had valid identification and all were taken into custody.

Meeks said officials with the federal department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were contacted and have arranged to pick up the individuals .

Meeks said there was no information immediately available as to where the men were from or where they were going.

10 illegal aliens arrested Thursday (The News Herald)

10 illegal aliens arrested Thursday

March 20, 2009 06:52:00 AM
By TONY SIMMONS / Online Editor

Ten men in two separate incidents were arrested in Bay County Thursday and held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement for violating U.S. immigration laws.

According to a news release, the Bay County Sheriff's Office Illegal Alien Enforcement Unit and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of the Resident Agent in Charge/Panama City conducted an "I-9 outreach" at Construction Enterprises Inc., located at the Waterside Apartments of Jenks Avenue construction site in Panama City on Thursday, March 19.

During an I-9 outreach, employers are presented with forms they are required to fill out on each employee confirming they are U.S. citizens and eligible for employment, the news release said. This site had been previously visited by Sheriff's Office deputies after receiving citizen complaints about the possibility of undocumented workers employed at the site. During the initial visit, 20 to 30 people fled the scene, the release said.

Thursday, the Sheriff's Office Illegal Alien Task Enforcement Unit returned and attempted to present the I-9 Employers handbook to the superintendent on that site. Upon their arrival, "several foreign nationals fled the scene," the release said. BCSO Illegal Alien Enforcement Unit and Special Agents were able to detain some of the workers, and determined that they were in the United States contrary to immigration laws. Ultimately, eight illegal aliens working on the site were arrested:

Leobel Mazarlego, 22, of 7241 Coe Road in Panama City, a native of Mexico, was arrested for Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information; a Hold for I.C.E. was placed on him. It was discovered that Mazarlego had a warrant for Violation of Probation-DUI and Driving with no Valid Driver's License, the release said.

Alvaro Mendez, 27, of 2507 Drummond Ave., Panama City, a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail with a Hold for I.C.E.

Elvin Giovanny Chirinos-Alvarado, 28, of 2507 Drummond Ave., Panama City, a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail on a charge of No Valid Driver License; a Hold for I.C.E. was placed on him.

Marvin Osman-Fuentes, 25, of 7241 Coe Road, Panama City, a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail with a Hold for I.C.E.

Bairon Edgardo Soriano-Hernandez, 18, of 2507 Drummond Ave., Panama City, a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail with a Hold for I.C.E.

Roni Saul-Andino, 22, of 7241 Coe Road, Panama City, a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail with a Hold for I.C.E.

Juan Ramon Chirinos, aka Carlos Jose Menbreno, 33, of 2507 Drummond Ave., Panama City, a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail with a Hold for I.C.E.

Marvin Espinar, 20, of 2507 Drummond Ave., Panama City, a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail with a Hold for I.C.E.

In a separate incident Thursday, members of the Bay County Sheriff's Office patrol division and the Illegal Alien Enforcement Unit also arrested two other men who were going to a separate job site in the Bay County area. A traffic stop was conducted on a vehicle for speeding through a school zone in northern Bay County and the driver of the vehicle was found to not possess a driver license. Members of the Illegal Alien Enforcement Unit were summoned to the scene and determined that both the driver and his passenger were in the United States in violation of U.S. immigration laws. They were going to the Innovations Federal Credit Union currently under construction on State 77 in Lynn Haven.

Hervel Lainez-Colindrez, 27, of 5117 Edgemore Drive, Norcross, Ga., a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail for No Valid Driver License and a Hold for I.C.E. was placed on him.

Pompilio Hernandez , 26, of 4188 Fontana Court, Tucker, Ga., a native of Honduras, was booked into the Bay County Jail with a Hold for I.C.E.

Conn. public defender arrested over deportation (AP c/o Newsday)

Conn. public defender arrested over deportation

March 20, 2009

BRISTOL, Conn. - State police have arrested a public defender in Bristol Superior Court after a dispute involving deportation of one of her clients.

Police say 53-year-old Elisa Villa tried to block immigration enforcement agents from arresting one of her clients for deportation Thursday.

Villa is charged with hindering prosecution, interfering with an officer and breach of peace.

State police were called to the courthouse after being told Villa was not allowing the immigration officer access to 39-year-old Anselmo Antonio-Valerian, in court on motor vehicle charges.

Troopers say Villa hid the man in her office and pushed an immigration officer as he tried to take Antonio-Valerian into custody.

Villa is free on bond.

Eight illegal immigrants found traveling on I-95 (WTOC-GA)

Eight illegal immigrants found traveling on I-95
Posted: Mar 20, 2009 12:51 PM EDT

By WTOC Staff

RICHMOND HILL, GA (WTOC) - On Wednesday, March 18, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and Richmond Hill Police pulled over a suspicious blue Plymouth van with Arizona plates at mile marker 91 on Interstate 95.

The driver, Arturo Olivera Nolesco, had no license and inside the van were eight passengers.

All eight passengers were from Mexico and in the United States illegally. They were arrested and taken to a detention center for deportation.

ICE found out that each passenger paid $2,400 to be smuggled into the United States. ICE is still investigating.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Accused illegal alien caught in N.Y. Mills (The Observer-Dispatch)

Accused illegal alien caught in N.Y. Mills

Posted Mar 18, 2009 @ 02:44 PM


An alleged illegal alien from El Salvador was arrested in New York Mills Wednesday following a traffic stop, village police said.

Officer J. Toomey Jr. was on routine patrol at about 8:47 a.m. when he stopped a 1995 Ford Explorer heading south on Main Street for several traffic violations, he said.

The driver – Humberto Tejada, 41, who lives in Utica – was found to be an unlicensed and illegal alien from Central America, Toomey said.

Tejada was in possession of a forged U.S. Department of Justice-Immigration and Naturalization Service resident alien card, as well as a forged Social Security card, Toomey said. He also gave Toomey several different dates of birth.

Village police contacted the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Unit, as well as the U.S. Border Patrol, Toomey said. A joint investigation led the Border Patrol to respond to New York Mills and take the alien into custody.

Tejada was then transported to Oswego, where he will be further processed and detained in the Onondaga County jail to await federal charges, Toomey said.

Officers arrest illegal immigrant (Port Clinton News Herald)

Officers arrest illegal immigrant

News Herald reports • March 19, 2009

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP -- An illegal Mexican immigrant reportedly working at a Mexican restaurant near Port Clinton is being turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office.

The arrest of Pedro Lopez-Lopez, 19, 321 Cedar St., Port Clinton, stems from a traffic violation Tuesday night.

A deputy pulled over a vehicle driven by Lopez-Lopez on Ohio 53 and State Road for swerving around 9:45 p.m. The deputy cited Lopez-Lopez for not having a driver's license.

During further investigation, it was learned that he did not have a visa and was in the United States illegally, the report stated.

A co-worker from Casa Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant was called to the site where deputies stopped Lopez-Lopez, the deputy said. The co-worker then searched at Lopez-Lopez' home for proper paperwork, according to the report, but was unable to locate the information.

Over the course of the investigation, a supervisor from the Border Patrol confirmed Lopez-Lopez' status as an illegal immigrant for the deputy, the report says.

Wednesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa County Detention Facility said Lopez-Lopez was being held for the Border Patrol.

A person who answered the telephone at Casa Las Palmas on Wednesday could not confirm Lopez-Lopez worked there. He said to call back when a manager was working.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the restaurant is not connected to the Casa Fiesta franchise involved in a multi-agency illegal immigrant bust last July.

Fifty-eight people were arrested during raids of the eight Casa Fiesta restaurants, which are located in Norwalk, Ashland, Oberlin, Oregon, Sandusky, Vermilion, Youngstown and Fremont.

Walls said information on those raids is expected to surface in the next couple of months.

Deported felon arrested in Brighton (Wicked Local Allston-Brighton)

Deported felon arrested in Brighton
By Hannah McBride, Correspondent
Thu Mar 19, 2009, 11:30 AM EDT

Allston-Brighton - A deported felon living in Brighton was arrested March 11 after being pulled over for a cracked front windshield and broken lights on the van he was driving, police reported.

Police pulled over Sergio Lopez, 24, of 26 Hano St., who was driving a white minivan with California license plates, at the intersection of Market and Beacon streets around 10:16 a.m. after noticing the broken headlight and brake light, reports state. The car, owned by a woman from Chula Vista, Calif., was suspended on Feb. 19.

The suspect reportedly provided a false name, which had no matching records in any state, to police at the scene, but during booking, officers found he had an active warrant for auto law violations out of Waltham District Court and an active Massachusetts license, which officers found to be “extremely peculiar,” reports stated.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent revealed Lopez is a deported felon who was living in the country illegally. The suspect was held for court proceedings in Brighton until ICE begins deportation.

The van’s front seat passenger, Ruben Lopez, 41, of 14 Bracket St., Brighton, was arrested on an active warrant out of Dedham District Court for auto law violations.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Immigrant suspect says jail officials broke her arm (Arizona Republic)

Immigrant suspect says jail officials broke her arm

by Daniel González and JJ Hensley - Mar. 14, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

A woman suspected of being an illegal immigrant said Friday that her arm was broken when jail officials from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office tried to force her to sign a document volunteering to be sent to Mexico.

Maria del Carmen Garcia Martinez, 46, said six jail officials threw her to the floor, held her down with their feet, stomped on her and twisted her left arm behind her back after she refused to sign the document.

The accusations come as the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the Sheriff's Office for suspected civil-rights abuses and the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold investigative hearings into racial-profiling allegations against deputies enforcing immigration laws.

Maricopa County Sheriff's officials gave a different account of the incident, which happened at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Spokesman Doug Matteson said Garcia Martinez balled her hand into a fist as detention officials at the Lower Buckeye Jail tried to obtain a fingerprint. The print was needed on a federal form as part of her transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Garcia Martinez then backed away and started to yell and scream, Matteson said. Matteson said more officers arrived and tried to get her fingerprint but Garcia Martinez dropped to the floor and refused to get up. She tried to bite officers after they placed her in a control hold, he said.

"After that we stood her up and managed to get one finger out of a fist and actually get the fingerprint we needed," Matteson said.

Garcia Martinez was turned over to ICE officials on Thursday. ICE officials took her to St. Joseph's Hospital, ICE spokesman Vincent Picard said.

Emergency-room doctors treated Garcia Martinez for an "acute left elbow fracture" and other injuries, according to the woman's hospital records.

ICE officials released Garcia Martinez pending a hearing in April, Picard said.

Garcia Martinez said she was arrested March 6 after being suspected of showing a Phoenix police officer a fraudulent California identification card. The officer was at her north Phoenix house to ask questions about signs from a yard sale.

Photo Credit

Belmont police arrest illegal alien (The Citizen of Laconia)

Belmont police arrest illegal alien

Saturday, March 14, 2009

BELMONT — Authorities are holding an illegal alien from Mexico on charges of driving after suspension while the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is preparing criminal charges against him.

Belmont Police Officer Kevin Baron stopped a truck on Route 3 at approximately 3:30 p.m. for a minor motor vehicle violation, according to Police Chief Vinnie Baiochhetti. The officer found that the driver of the vehicle, who gave his name as Angel Silva Ventura of 199 Wilson St. No. 2, Manchester, had a suspended license.

Upon further investigation with ICE, Ventura was found to be in the United States illegally from Mexico.

Ventura eventually was taken to the Belknap County Department of Corrections jail while awaiting further criminal charges.

Suspected illegal immigrants spotted in pipe (AP c/o San Jose Mercury News)

Suspected illegal immigrants spotted in pipe

The Associated Press
Posted: 03/14/2009 02:49:02 PM PDT

SAN DIEGO—A robot dispatched Saturday to look for suspected illegal immigrants seen entering a drainage pipe at the nation's busiest border crossing spotted two people but they evaded capture, authorities said.

The search began after a motorist reported seeing about 12 people enter a storm drain in front of inspection booths at the San Ysidro port of entry that connects San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Vince Bond said. However, surveillance cameras showed only eight went into the storm drain opening.

The opening is in American territory just south of San Ysidro's 24 vehicle inspection booths, Bond said.

The opening connects to a 30-inch-wide drainage pipe that extends about 100 yards west to an open channel in San Diego, Bond said.

The robot spotted a man and a woman who fled before authorities reached them, said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

About 40,000 vehicles enter the U.S. daily at the crossing.

Sheriffs' offices try to navigate immigration law (The Tennessean)

Sheriffs' offices try to navigate immigration law
Some don't have resources or training specific to the task

By JANELL ROSS • Staff Writer • March 16, 2009

Some Middle Tennessee sheriffs' offices are being pushed further into enforcing immigration law without resources or training specific to the task.

Sheriffs in Robertson, Wilson and Williamson counties pass the names of suspected illegal immigrants in their jails on to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, often paving the way to deportation.

The sheriffs say they're doing their best to fulfill their local responsibilities but, in the process, are forced to navigate the nation's broken immigration system. Some immigrant advocates say the sheriffs' efforts amount to ethnic profiling and generate unhealthy fears of law enforcement.

Robertson County Sheriff Gene Bollinger calls it doing what he has to do.

"We don't go hunting for them," he said. "I don't believe in that. But we are going to enforce the law the best way we can with whatever tools a little department like ours has got."

Since January, Robertson County has transferred 23 suspected illegal immigrants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. Transfer numbers were unavailable this week from the other two counties.

ICE encourages local law enforcement to contact them if they suspect an inmate is a foreign national, said Temple Black, an agency spokesperson.

The U.S. State Department issues an annual handbook that walks jailers though their responsibilities under the terms of the Geneva and Vienna conventions.

The department doesn't address whether local jailers should ask immigration status questions or what to do if a suspected illegal immigrant is in custody, a state department official said Tuesday.

Terry Ashe, Wilson County's sheriff, calls the situation "a basic failure of policy." His office sends the names of non-U.S. citizens, or at least those who acknowledge they are, to ICE.

"When we come in contact with illegal immigrants in our jail, there is the practical issue … although we don't have the authority to enforce immigration law," he said. "Then there is the political issue. There is a real strong public outcry here about the illegal immigration."

The Williamson County Sheriff's Office refers suspected illegal immigrants to ICE based on charges — sex offenses, felonies, violent crimes, burglary, multiple driving under the influence or driving without a license.

Officials also send along names of those previously deported, said Sgt. Theresa Gray, who oversees the records division.

In the final six months of 2007, Williamson County booked 443 "undocumented aliens." The number ultimately transferred to ICE custody was not available this week.
Davidson has program

Wilson and Williamson counties are two of 95 law enforcement agencies nationwide that have applied to participate in a federal program that provides training on immigration and civil rights.

It also would give them access to a database and equipment that allows them to conduct direct and more complete inquires about an inmate's immigration status.

The Davidson County Sheriff's Office launched its program, dubbed 287g, which is named after a section of the federal immigration code, last year.

In one year, it processed nearly 3,000 suspected illegal immigrants. Most were deported or voluntarily left the country, the agency has said.

"What this really comes down to is a question of resources," said Jim Pendergraph, a former Mecklenberg County, N.C., sheriff who oversees ICE interactions with local law enforcement. "We have to try to do the most we can with the little money we've got."

In the meantime, sheriffs in Robertson, Wilson and Williamson counties can share the names of suspected illegal immigrants with ICE's Law Enforcement Support Center in Vermont or with an ICE office in Nashville.

The Vermont operation processes more than 728,000 inquiries each year from nearly 500 law enforcement agencies across the country.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall has said repeatedly the limited response from the Vermont clearinghouse led him to release suspected illegal immigrants — including a drunk driver who caused a fatal accident — and ultimately participate in the 287g program.

In December, Robertson County Sheriff Gene Bollinger issued a memo to deputies ordering that people stopped for traffic violations without ID are to be arrested, not cited. Once brought to jail, the names of all non-U.S. citizens without ID are to be sent to ICE.

If ICE does not respond or the background check returns "clear," Robertson collects more information from the inmate and then faxes it back to ICE with a note that the person is suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

"We aren't trying to enforce the immigration law. We don't have any kind of an authority to do that. We're passing what we have to the folks that do," Bollinger said.

The Rev. Tommy Vallejos, executive director of Clarksville-based HOPE, a Middle Tennessee Hispanic Advocacy organization, said he is concerned about Robertson County's two-step policy because officers must work from their suspicions without training in immigration matters. He said deputies have not managed to target "dangerous criminals" exclusively.

And the policy has had an impact that may not have been expected, he said. A Latino U.S. citizen couple Vallejos knows recently left Robertson County, tired of suspiciously frequent traffic stops, he said. And a Latino woman born in Texas considering a move to Middle Tennessee recently called Vallejos with questions about the area he wishes he didn't have to answer.

"This can't be good for Tennessee," he said. "People in Tennessee are scared of the police and people in other states think we're racists."

Immigration officials try to deport dead immigrant (AP c/o San Francisco Chronicle)

Immigration officials try to deport dead immigrant

Monday, March 16, 2009

Los Angeles, CA (AP) --

Relatives say immigration officials are trying to deport a dead man.

They contend Nasin Mauricio Rivera died last August, but a deportation hearing against the native Salvadoran is still set for a hearing scheduled this summer.

His former wife, Blanca Ramirez, says Rivera is already in El Salvador — his body was shipped back home for burial.

Rivera's attorney Alberto Lopez says he presented a copy of Rivera's death certificate, but officials told him it was insufficient proof that Rivera was indeed dead.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice says a certified copy of the death certificate is usually enough, but the agency is responsible for ensuring "the integrity of the process."

Illegal alien arrested delivering U.S. Mail (Verde Independent)

Illegal alien arrested delivering U.S. Mail

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Yavapai Sheriff's deputy was on routine patrol Thursday afternoon near Kimberley Way and Cornville Road in Rimrock when he spotted a 2001 silver Nissan operated in a suspicious manner.

The officer noticed that the vehicle had a "U.S. Mail" magnet fastened on the rear.

After the deputy pulled over the vehicle, the driver allegedly gave a false name.

The deputy, certified under the Immigration and Customs 287G provision, pursued the inconsistencies and the immigration status with the driver.

He identified the man as 35-year-old Sigifredo Parra-Reyes and found that he was in this country illegally from Mexico.

The passenger was the vehicle's registered owner, Sybil Maria Rogers, 35, of Rimrock.

Rogers, who was doing contract postal delivery, told the deputy that she was ill and had been letting her boyfriend, Parra-Reyes drive while she delivered the mail.

She was released without charges.

Parra-Reyes was booked into the Camp Verde Jail, charged with giving false information to a law enforcement officer and taking the identity of another.

An ICE detainer was placed on him.

A records check shows that he had been deported twice before.

One of the deportations was in 2002 after being convicted of drug trafficking charges.

DPS: 15 Illegal Immigrants Arrested In Mesa (KPHO-AZ)

DPS: 15 Illegal Immigrants Arrested In Mesa

POSTED: 5:53 pm MST March 16, 2009

PHOENIX -- A traffic stop for an unsafe lane change led authorities to a suspected drop house in a Mesa apartment complex Monday morning, authorities said.

According to a news release from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a DPS officer stopped a Ford Expedition on Interstate 10 a little before 7 a.m.

Upon approach, the officer noticed the driver was trying to conceal his face with a hood, DPS said. Additionally, several people were lying down on the floor in front of the second and third rows of seats.

The officer decided to issue a written warning and release the driver; however, DPS and the Phoenix police were notified, and they followed the Expedition to Mesa, the release said.

Once the SUV arrived at the apartment complex, officers discovered 12 people inside one apartment -- all of them illegal immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala, DPS said. Law enforcement officials also found three more illegal immigrants in another apartment.

All 15 people were detained and will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DPS said.

23 held in alleged Cloverleaf-area trafficking ring (Houston Chronicle)

23 held in alleged Cloverleaf-area trafficking ring

Houston Chronicle
March 17, 2009, 10:07AM

Immigration officials said Monday they detained 23 people in connection with the bust of an alleged human-trafficking ring this weekend at a home near Cloverleaf.

A Harris County sheriff's spokesman said detectives with the county's multi-agency human trafficking task force were questioning six people in connection with the case but provided few details about the suspects, such as their nationality or any possible charges.

Gregory Palmore, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in addition to the six suspects questioned by the Sheriff's Office, ICE has 17 people from Honduras and Mexico in custody.

The case unfolded Sunday afternoon after police received a call from a man who said his father was kidnapped and being held for ransom at a house in the 1400 block of Hillsboro.

Missouri teen avoids deportation, at least for now (Seattle Times)

Missouri teen avoids deportation, at least for now
Noe Guzman will get to stay in the country through his high school graduation, but faces an uncertain future after that.

Originally published Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 8:40 AM


Noe Guzman will get to stay in the country through his high school graduation, but faces an uncertain future after that.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has decided not proceed with deportation hearings for Guzman, a 17-year-old senior at New Haven High School in eastern Missouri.

Guzman and his mother left Mexico and came to Michigan when he was 4. His mother had obtained a Social Security number for him that belonged to a dead man. In 2003, the family, which had grown to include a stepfather and baby sister, moved to New Haven. The government learned about the fake Social Security number last year, as Guzman was seeking to join the military.

The decision by ICE buys only a little time. Guzman still must leave by November. His attorney, Katie Herbert Meyer, says he has few options that would keep him here — he has no relatives legally permitted in the U.S., no dependents, and he likely has no hardship which would allow him to avoid deportation.

U.S. policy requires Guzman to sign up for voluntary deportation before he turns 18. Otherwise, he would be forced to stay out of the U.S. for 10 years.

Guzman said he doesn't know what he'll do when he returns to Mexico. One option is to apply for a student visa and return to the U.S. as a college student.

Guzman became interested in the military when a Marine recruiter showed up at the school when Guzman was a freshman. The recruiter offered a free T-shirt to anyone who could do 20 pull-ups. He did 22.

Last summer, Guzman took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and scored at the 89th percentile, more than good enough. The plan was to sign up for delayed enlistment.

In August, Guzman was in St. Louis for a military physical when he was suddenly pulled aside and scolded for something he knew nothing about.

"They were yelling at me, saying things like, 'How could you think you could get away with this?'" Guzman said. "I was confused."

Guzman was handcuffed and shackled. An ICE agent told him that his Social Security number did not belong to him.

"I saw all these problems that illegal immigrants faced, and we had never had any of them," he said.

That was when he found out how he came to be in the U.S. He said his mother fled to the U.S. to escape an abusive husband and father, whom Guzman has never met.

Guzman had his first deportation hearing in October, another in December. A New Haven pastor, David Poe, state Rep. Charlie Schlottach and New Haven schools superintendent Kyle Kruse wrote letters to ICE on his behalf.

"It's just a shame that someone like Noe, who was trying to do the right thing and enlist and serve his country, got caught up in a net like this," Kruse said.

One option remaining would be for Congress to pass a special private bill allowing Guzman to stay. Only 36 of those bills have passed since 1996, according to a Feb. 22 article in the Washington Post.

"We should be deporting terrorists, not young men like Noe who want to contribute to our society," said Mark Silverman of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco.

Guzman has a girlfriend and friends who have offered support. But, he said, it has been hard.

"There are days when I really can't take the stress," he said.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Process identifies criminal illegal residents (Daily Tribune)

Process identifies criminal illegal residents

Thursday, March 12, 2009 6:07 AM EDT
By Shaun Byron, Journal Register News Service

Sheriff's Department works closely with immigration agents.

Three men stood in a hallway of the Oakland County Jail dressed in green jumpsuits, their ankles shackled.

They had been removed from their cells Wednesday morning and brought by guard to a narrow hall to wait their turn with immigration enforcement agents, who had been contacted by Oakland County Sheriff's deputies on the suspicion they are living illegally in the United States.

One man had been arrested on allegations of drunken driving. Agents say he had been deported twice to Mexico before his arrest.

Another had long overstayed his VISA from Kosovo, compiling a lengthy criminal record that included charges of stalking and domestic assault.

"Every county does it differently," Immigration Enforcement Agent Kevin Raycraft said of how law enforcement agencies send them information to review and identify possible illegal immigrants.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Oakland County Sheriff's Office invited media Wednesday to the Oakland County Jail to highlight their relationship and discuss the issues involved in reducing the number of illegal immigrants.

The process of identifying these suspected illegal immigrants is a part of the federal agency's Criminal Alien Program, which is designed to screen inmates and place detainers on them when it has been determined they are not legal U.S. citizens. Deportation proceedings are then started before those individuals are released.

Part of this screening process is the electronic scanning of fingerprints, which is then cataloged into a national database. That database carries any previously known information about a suspected illegal immigrant, such as any past contact with law enforcement.

By beginning this process as early as possible, illegal immigrants can be deported much faster, said La'Sal Austin, a supervisory detention and deportation officer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

One of the men who faced agents Wednesday had been sentenced to 365 days in jail. Once that sentence has been served and deportation proceedings have been completed, he will most likely be deported, ICE agents said.

About 27 percent of inmates in U.S. prisons are believed to be illegal immigrants.

The Oakland County Jail has an annual intake of about 25,000 to 27,000 inmates.

At least 1,100 have been identified as possible illegal immigrants through the fingerprint process.

It costs about $95 a day to house each inmate.

"We do get some reimbursement (from the federal government), but it's a constant budget battle," said Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, adding that they don't exactly know who that money is for when it is dispersed to them. "I don't think in the scheme of things that would be costly at all."

Bouchard said certain changes need to be made in order to more effectively enforce immigration laws.

Right now, anyone sentenced to serve time in a county jail isn't deported until after they serve that sentence, costing the taxpayers money.

"In my opinion, when you have … a murder, there is a justice expectation, that you want to see someone serve time for that violent crime," he said. "We've got a situation, where maybe for a property crime, and they are sentenced to a county jail for a year, the taxpayers pay for that full year.

"It would make sense to me ... as soon as they are convicted let's deport them back."

Bouchard said he would like to see the federal government look into enforcing this policy, as well as the ICE fingerprint database used in the CAP program to be connected with all law enforcement agencies.

Individuals taken into the jail already have their fingerprints taken electronically, which could faster identify illegal immigrants.

"They know immediately if we have someone living illegally in the country and has committed a criminal act," Bouchard said. "I think that would enhance our productivity."

Vincent Clausen, field office director for ICE in Michigan and Ohio, said the government is in the process of opening up the database to other agencies, with it being piloted in a large Texas county.

"Hopefully we can add Oakland County sooner than later," he said. "But the federal government works a lot slower than at the county level."

Nigeria: U.S. Deports 60 Citizens (This Day c/o AllAfrica.com)

Nigeria: U.S. Deports 60 Citizens

Chinedu Eze
12 March 2009

Lagos — United States of America has deported 60 Nigerians for committing various offences ranging from stealing, credit card fraud and immigration misdemeanors.

The deportees, consisting of 53 men and seven females, were brought into the country through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport , Lagos, by 2.00 p.m. yesterday, by private aircraft chartered by the American authorities.

The deportees were accompanied by law enforcement agents from the United States.

Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) source said 14 of the deportees were repatriated based on drug related offences, while others committed other immigration offences, ranging from illegal permit to fake visas.

They were received by Immigration officers, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other law enforcement agencies.

The 14 drug offenders were whisked away by NDLEA officials for scrutiny, while immigration officials took those with illegal immigration papers into custody.

Those cleared of any criminal offence were transferred to the hajj camp side of the international airport, from where they were allowed to go to their homes.

According to the immigration source, the issue of deportation had been a daily recurrence at the international airport where Nigerians are regularly deported from Libya, Egypt, Italy, Rome, Europe and America.

Catholics rally in support of Liberian immigrants (The Catholic Spirit)

Catholics rally in support of Liberian immigrants


Time is running out for Kirk patrick Weah and thousands of other Liberian immigrants who found temporary asylum in the United States during a decade-long civil war in the 1990s.

On March 31, many of the 3,600 Liberians living in the country under temporary protection status — some community leaders say the number is as high as 15,000 — face deportation unless President Barack Obama grants them an extension.

Some Catholics in Minnesota, which has one of the largest Li berian populations in the country, are among those advocating on their behalf.

Weah, a former political prisoner, testified against human rights violators in Liberia, including Chuckie Taylor, the son of former Liberian warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor. Last year, Chuckie Taylor was sentenced to 97 years in prison for war crimes. Weah said he fears for his and his children’s lives if he is forced to return to Liberia.

The 48-year-old Brooklyn Center man, who serves as executive director of the Liberian Human Rights and Refugee Welfare Organization, has called Minnesota home since he fled Liberia in 1998.

Weah’s ex-wife also faces deportation if an extension is not granted. Their sons, ages 10 and 5, are U.S. citizens.

“My oldest son, all the time he tells me that he doesn’t want to go to Liberia because the people there killed children during the war,” Weah said. “He tells me every day: ‘I’m not going to Liberia. This is my country.’”

Although the war has ended and a new democratically elected government has taken power in Liberia, running water and electricity are scarce, unemployment hovers around 80 percent, and the average life expectancy is about 40 years, according to the CIA World Factbook. The process of rebuilding the war-ravaged country is expected to take many years.

Temporary asylum

The United States has extended temporary protected status (temporary asylum issued to foreigners when civil unrest, violence or natural disasters threaten their safety) to Liberians since 1991, when armed conflict erupted in Liberia. Every year, Liberians on TPS were required to pay a fee to renew their status and work permission. Over the years, newly arriving Liberians also have been allowed to register for TPS.

In September 2006, the Department of Homeland Security announced the termination of Liberian TPS, effective Oct. 1, 2007.

On Sept. 12, 2007, President George W. Bush permitted Liberians registered under TPS to remain and work in the United States under an immigration status known as “deferred enforced departure” until March 31, 2009.

If a DED extension is not granted, deportation proceedings will begin immediately. Some Liberians may still be able to legally remain in the United States in another status or on a pending application for asylum or permanent resident status.

Michele Garnett McKenzie, director of advocacy for the Minneapolis-based organization The Advocates for Human Rights, said the Liberians were one of the first groups of nationals to receive temporary protective status when Congress passed it in 1990.

“It really just doesn’t make sense to have a temporary protected status or deferred departure that goes on for close to 20 years,” the attorney said. “That’s not temporary.”

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar have sponsored bills in the past to offer Liberians living under temporary protected status a chance to become U.S. citizens. But without an immediate extension, many Liberians will be forced to leave the country before any such legislation can be passed.

“For some, the only thing standing between them and an airplane is this DED status,” Garnett McKenzie said.

Grassroots support

Catholics and others in Minnesota have been sending letters to President Obama and rallying on behalf of the Liberians.

At St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center, where between 100 and 200 Liberians are parishioners, Father Pat Grile has spoken about the immigrants’ plight from the pulpit, according to parishioner Patrick Kugmeh, a Liberian immigrant who has U.S. citizenship.

The parish also hired an immigration lawyer to provide free legal counsel to Liberians and set up tables in the church so parishioners could sign petitions urging congressional leaders to act.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and their consociates also have been strong advocates for the Liberians. They are members of a grassroots coalition pushing for permanent residency for the Liberians.

“It seems very unjust to us that the United States would send these people back to a country that isn’t really able to receive them with any quality of life guaranteed,” said Sister of St. Joseph Virginia Webb.

On March 5, Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) gave a speech on the floor of the U.S. House calling for an extension of the deadline for Liberian immigrants living in the United States under deferred enforced departure.

“While progress has been made in stabilizing Liberia in recent years, it remains a nation still recovering from a civil war,” Paulsen said. “Many of the same fears and concerns that brought thousands of Liberians here in the first place have not been alleviated. Liberia is simply not ready to absorb the number of people who will be forced to leave the United States if this deadline is not extended.”

Meanwhile, Kirkpatrick Weah and other Liberian immigrants anxiously wait, their future uncertain, as the deadline for extension looms.

Weah still hasn’t decided if he’ll take his children, who have special needs, back to Liberia with him if he is deported, or if he will find someone to care for them in the United States in his and his ex-wife’s absence.

“That’s the difficult choice that I have to make, and I can’t really find a solution to it right now,” he said.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Four busts Friday net immigrants, pot in La Joya (The Monitor)

Four busts Friday net immigrants, pot in La Joya

March 9, 2009 - 8:46 AM
Jared Taylor
The Monitor

LA JOYA -- More than a dozen immigrants and nearly 900 pounds of marijuana were seized during four busts here on Friday.

The first incident occurred about 12:20 p.m. Friday. La Joya police officers were called out to investigate a report of suspicious persons at the Tierra Blanca subdivision near the intersection of Ebony Street and Palm Drive, said Officer Joe Cantu, a La Joya police spokesman.

Officers observed several people "running around" in the area, Cantu said. Four men and two women without immigration papers were arrested and turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol, which assisted with the call.

The second incident occurred about 9:42 p.m. Friday. An officer pulled over a maroon 2000 Chevrolet Impala on a traffic stop at the 300 block of East U.S. Highway 83 in La Joya, Cantu said. The car's driver and three passengers lacked immigration documentation and were arrested. The four people were turned over to Border Patrol custody.

About seven minutes later, at 9:49 p.m. Friday, officers made another traffic stop. Police pulled over a blue Ford Escort station wagon for a traffic violation on Ebony Street in the Tierra Blanca subdivision, Cantu said. Officers arrested four illegal immigrants and turned them over to Border Patrol.

The 14 immigrants arrested in Friday's three busts by La Joya police officers primarily came from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, according to La Joya police.

And at 10:59 p.m. Friday night, officers chased a 2000 Chevrolet van from U.S. Highway 83 into the Mesquite Estates neighborhood in La Joya, said Cantu.

The short chase ended after travelling about three blocks, when the van smashed into a tree and its driver took off on foot and got away from police, Cantu said. Inside the van was about 903 pounds of marijuana. The drugs were turned over to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force Saturday morning, Cantu said.

Woman accused of holding immigrants captive (The Monitor)

Woman accused of holding immigrants captive

March 6, 2009 - 10:40 PM
Jeremy Roebuck
The Monitor

McALLEN — A woman accused of holding seven undocumented immigrants for ransom in a stash house north of Edinburg is set to appear before a federal judge Tuesday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Maria Soto Rivera, 48, on Wednesday, after one of her alleged captives led them to a residence along U.S. Highway 281 in the tiny community of Faysville.

The man told investigators he had been held there with as many as 30 other illegal immigrants at one point by a woman he knew only as "America." She would not let them leave until their relatives paid more than $1,400 in additional smuggling fees, the man said, according to a criminal complaint filed in Soto's case.

He was only released after the woman felt satisfied he could not pay the money, the document states, but not before she threatened to have him and his family killed if he reported his captivity to police.

When U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived at the residence Tuesday, only seven undocumented immigrants remained in the home.

Soto, who is herself in the country illegally, told ICE agents that she used the alias "America" but had only been hired to deliver food to the residence several times a week, the criminal complaint says. She said she never asked if the occupants were undocumented but assumed that they were.

Soto now faces charges of transporting and harboring undocumented aliens. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in a federal penitentiary.

It was not immediately clear Friday whether she had retained or been assigned an attorney.