Saturday, August 30, 2008

Immigrant Rights Are Labor Rights

by Peter Rachleff, MRZine
August 19, 2008

Today's critical labor struggles revolve around immigrants' rights, while today's struggles over immigrants' rights are grounded in workplace and labor organizing. Global, national, and local histories have woven these issues tightly together. In the U.S. we are seeing the beginnings of a multifaceted movement which engages these dynamically linked histories. [...]

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Friday, August 29, 2008

At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office

I was recently stopped by Homeland Security as I was returning from a trip to Syria. What I saw in the hours that followed shocked and disturbed me.

By Emily Feder, AlterNet
August 18, 2008

I arrived at JFK Airport two weeks ago after a short vacation to Syria and presented my American passport for re-entry to the United States. After 28 hours of traveling, I had settled into a hazy awareness that this was the last, most familiar leg of a long journey. I exchanged friendly words with the Homeland Security official who was recording my name in his computer. He scrolled through my passport, and when his thumb rested on my Syrian visa, he paused. Jerking toward the door of his glass-enclosed booth, he slid my passport into a dingy green plastic folder and walked down the hallway, motioning for me to follow with a flick of his wrist. Where was he taking me, I asked him. "You'll find out," he said. [...]

Read the full article:,_denying_basic_rights_is_just_another_day_at_the_office/

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Immigration Detention: The Case for Abolition

The obvious question isn't being asked: why are people detained at all? Why should we spend more than $1.2 billion a year to keep immigrants in prison? What purpose does immigration detention serve?

by Jane Guskin, Huffington Post
August 27, 2008

On August 6, 34-year-old immigration detainee Hiu Lui Ng died in Rhode Island, in severe pain from a fractured spine and terminal cancer which went undiagnosed and untreated over the year he spent in federal lockups. Valery Joseph, another immigration detainee, died of an apparent seizure at the Glades County Detention Center in Florida on June 20, just two weeks shy of his 24th birthday. Ng had been living in the US for half his life, since he was 17; Joseph had spent two thirds of his life here, having arrived at age 8. The two men joined a list of at least 80 people who have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since January 1, 2004.

Since May of this year, investigative stories in the New York Times, Washington Post and CBS News have exposed a pattern of serious medical neglect in the immigration detention system which appears to have been a factor in many of these deaths. (ICE denies the charges, unsurprisingly.) [...]

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Food Crisis in Mexico: A US Policy Disaster That Bodes Increased Immigration

by Robert M. Saper,
August 12, 2008

Worldwide, people are suffering the effects of skyrocketing food prices. Mexico -- where over half the population are poor -- is part of this global disaster that, according to the World Bank, has already impoverished an estimated 100 million people. As Frances Moore Lappe of Food First indicates, this is perhaps the largest human rights crisis in decades; however, it is altogether avoidable because it is the product of bad policy. Mexico's vulnerability and the impacts on its population are easily anticipated as the result of eroding Mexican food security under U.S.-backed trade liberalization and the legacy of policies in the U.S., such as the recently approved 2008 Farm Bill, that grant unfair advantages to large agricultural corporations and prioritize profit over the basic rights of people.

In January 2006, a Mexican consumer needed about $74 to purchase the items in a market basket, a selection of basic products necessary for survival. By April 2008, the same items cost about $117 -- a staggering 58-percent increase in only 27 months. While food staples such as beans, rice, condensed milk, and eggs rose in price 79 to 114 percent over the course of 2007, there was only a 4.5-percent increase in wages.

The urgency of the issue is heard in the voice of a poor indigenous shopkeeper in Oaxaca: "I hope to God that prices come back down -- there is no hope otherwise." She then lamented, "Another one from our family will have to emigrate to the U.S." [...]

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Action Request & Update on ICE Raid in Mississippi

From: Arnoldo Garcia
Date: Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 7:55 PM
Subject: Action Request & Update on ICE Raid in Mississippi

Take Action – Make Calls or Send Faxes to Demand an End to Raids (see below)
Humanitarian Crisis in Mississippi:
ICE Detains Hundreds in Workplace Raid

Monday, August 25, 2008

After answering the phone, Bill Chandler, director of MIRA! (the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, based in Jackson), blurted out, “The ICE raid is in progress right now at Howard Industries, in Laurel, Mississippi.” Laurel is a small town of about 18,000 people; Howard Industries employs about 800 workers.

Earlier this morning, Department of Homeland Security agents began descending on different work sites in Mississippi to unleash another brutal immigration raid. According to Mr. Chandler, DHS began renting hotel space over the past few days, indicating the presence of hundreds of Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

MIRA also reports ICE placed the Southern Hens poultry plant under lockdown, which employs nearly 2,000 people in Mossell, Mississippi. Mossell is between Hattiesburg and Laurel on I-59.

And on Sunday night ICE set up roadblocks near the Wal-Mart in Hattiesburg, an illegal detentive stop to check for immigration status of passersby’s.

ICE agents have already gone into the Howard Industries plant in Laurel, where some 800 workers manufacture ballast for office lights, neon tubes and transformers. Approximately half the workers there are Latinos. Howard Industries has three plants; one in Laurel, Magee and Ellisville. ICE also raided Howard corporate offices in Ellisville.

ICE has arrested so many workers at the Laurel Howard plant that operations have been shut down. MIRA has already received reports of scores of children being left behind without their parents who ICE arrested at the Howard Industries plant.

ICE Raid, SB 2988 and MS’s Inglorious Present

The brutal ICE raid now taking place in Laurel and other parts harkens back to Mississippi’s shameful past of Jim Crow segregation, police brutality and violence. The current state laws, the national anti-immigrant climate and hangovers from Mississippi’s inglorious past made Jones County ripe for ICE to conduct their usual raids that trample on constitutional rights and communities.

Laurel has the distinction of being located in Jones County, headquarters for two notorious racist and anti-immigrant groups, the KKK and MFIRE, the Mississippi branch of FAIR, the national anti-immigrant group.

Earlier this year the Mississippi legislature passed and the Governor signed into law Senate bill 2988, the most draconian employer sanctions law passed to date in the U.S. that further criminalizes workers, especially immigrants, and opens the door for employers to discriminate against Latinos and others.

SB 2988 makes it a felony to work without authorization in Mississippi. SB 2988 imposes a one to five year prison sentence and hefty fines of $1,000 to $10,000. No one has yet been charged under SB 2988.

Today’s ICE raid however opens the door to using both federal and state laws, including SB 2988, in a new way. This has everyone on edge. Mr. Chandler added, “Now we are all waiting to see what will happen to people being arrested at Howard Industries.”

Support Needed to Counter ICE Raid Impacts

Mr. Chandler said, “We had been expecting the raids, either on the coast or in Hattiesburg. We were getting information that ICE was in hotels in the coast and other preparations were going on in Hattiesburg.”

MIRA began holding community meetings on the Mississippi coast and Hattiesburg areas all last week, getting the word out for the last ten days that an ICE raid was underway. MIRA advised workers of their Constitutional rights, to remain silent if arrested, and to prepare for the crackdown.

Now MIRA is seeking the help of lawyers. There is deep worry among the community about the raids and their aftermath.

MIRA has prepared social services and legal help for all persons, including families and others, affected by the ICE raid.

Bill closed by saying, “Most of what we are getting today is that ICE is focusing on Jones County; but haven’t had calls from all areas. We have had calls from chicken plants in and around Laurel. We had expected the raids to occur at chicken plants; it was a surprise, it’s a different industry. Howard Industries gets state and federal funding to operate.”

Support MIRA: Stop the ICE Raids

MIRA is now in meeting with families affected by the raid to assess what their needs are and also working with lawyers to deal with arraignments of workers swept up in the raid. MIRA needs attorneys to volunteer their services and help the detained workers.

Please visit the MIRA website to make an on-line donation at:

Send in a check or money order, payable to “MIRA,” write in the memo “Relief for families affected by raids” and mail to:

PO 1104
Jackson, MS 39215

To support MIRA’s legal project, call (601) 354-9355
For media inquiries, (601) 968-5182.


Take Action to Stop the ICE Raids

Call or fax the following officials, demand an END to ICE raids and to stop the attack the rights of immigrant families, workers and communities

Mississippi Congressional Delegations:

MS Gov. Haley Barbour
Tel (601) 359-3100 * Fax (601) 359-3741

Call your Congressional delegation:
Find your Senators telephone and fax numbers at:

Find your Representative’s number at:

Tell them: Stop all immigration detentions & deportations, end raids:

· ICE raids traumatize families, undermine worker’s rights and violate the rights of citizens and non-citizens.

· Immigration collaboration with local, county and state police and other public agencies undermine community trust and make our communities vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation.

· ICE raids and enforcement operations destabilize our communities and disrupt the economy.

· The problem with ICE raids is so fundamental that Department of Homeland Security should end all such enforcement operations.

· Congress must stop the raids and hold hearings on the impact on DHS/ICE on immigration raids and enforcement operations. Restore due process rights and make our communities safe!

To file a complaint against ICE agent on ICE abuses during enforcement operation or immigration raid:

Call the Joint Intake Center ATTN: Duty Agent
Fax (202) 344-3390 and (202) 927-4607
Toll-free: 1 (877) 2INTAKE (1-877-246-8253)


Arnoldo Garcia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados
310 8th Street Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94607
Tel (510) 465-1984 ext. 305
Fax (510) 465-1885

Join HURRICANE: the human rights immigrant community action network -- help build community power for justice & human rights!

Unete al HURACAN: la red de accion de comunidades inmigrantes para los derechos humanos -- construyendo el poder de las comunidades por la justicia y los derechos humanos!

Click here for Hurricane/Haga click para info sobre el Huracan:

Get a copy of Over-Raided, Under Siege, NNIRR’s new human rights report!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Attacks Against Immigrants Attack Black America

by Eric Ward, Imagine 2050
June 21, 2008

I’m African-American and my family moved to California almost a hundred years ago after a lynching took place outside their hometown in Kentucky.

I’m also undocumented, or in the current anti-immigrant vernacular, “illegal.” I don’t have the necessary documents to prove my identity. Therefore, within four years, I won’t be able to vote, have access to social services, or receive state identification to travel. [...]

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INB 8/23/08: Deport Flight to Southeast Asia; Hawaii Construction Raid

"We are drawing a line in our sand," US Attorney Kubo said. "Hawai'i has always been known for our aloha and acceptance of everyone, but there will be no aloha for those who lie, cheat and steal from us."

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 20 - August 23, 2008

1. Deport Flight to Southeast Asia
2. Construction Raid in Hawai'i
3. ICE Steps Up "Anti-Gang" Raids

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at


In a charter flight that left on Aug. 12 from Seattle, Washington, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 106 people--including eight women--to Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia. The 49 Filipinos, 44 Indonesians and 13 Cambodians were taken from different locations around the US to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington in preparation for the flight. The deportees included 46 people with criminal convictions. ICE officers and medical staff with the Division of Immigration Health Services accompanied the flight, along with consular officials from the countries involved. [...]

Read the full INB:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Two Articles on What It Means to Be "Illegal"

Both of My Grandfathers Were Illegal Immigrants (and Lou Dobbs' Would Be Today)
By Steven Wishnia, AlterNet
August 5, 2008

Morris Passoff, my mother's father, came here from what is now Belarus in 1910, when he was 14. As he was by himself, he got a woman on the ship to pretend she was his aunt so he wouldn't be turned back at Ellis Island as an unaccompanied minor.

Avram Wishnia and Hinde Greenberg Wishnia, my father's parents, came here from Paris around 1929, about five years after they had emigrated there from Poland. My grandmother was able to enter the country as an immigrant, as her father was already a U.S. citizen, but my grandfather had to come in as a tourist. In early 1932, he was expelled because his visa had expired -- even though he had an 8-month-old Brooklyn-born son, my father. My grandmother went to work in an overcoat factory while her parents took care of my father -- who was what the contemporary anti-immigrant movement calls an "anchor baby."

My family history belies the central beliefs of that anti-immigrant movement: the argument that "our ancestors all came here legally"; the racist attitudes that immigrants are alien scum; and the idea that immigrants, especially illegal ones, drive down wages. [...]

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What Part of 'Illegal' Don't You Understand?
By Lawrence Downes, New York Times
October 28, 2007

I am a human pileup of illegality. I am an illegal driver and an illegal parker and even an illegal walker, having at various times stretched or broken various laws and regulations that govern those parts of life. The offenses were trivial, and I feel sure I could endure the punishments — penalties and fines — and get on with my life. Nobody would deny me the chance to rehabilitate myself. Look at Martha Stewart, illegal stock trader, and George Steinbrenner, illegal campaign donor, to name two illegals whose crimes exceeded mine.

Good thing I am not an illegal immigrant. There is no way out of that trap. It's the crime you can't make amends for. Nothing short of deportation will free you from it, such is the mood of the country today. And that is a problem. [...]

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

INB 8/16/08: Detainee Dies in Rhode Island; Boston Raids Protested

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 19 - August 16, 2008

1. Detainee Dies in Rhode Island
2. Activists Protest Boston Area Raids
3. Workers Arrested at DC Airport
4. NC Parachute Company Raided
5. "Gang" Raids in Florida
6. "Fugitive" Raids in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Tennessee, Nevada
7. Al-Arian Trial Postponed

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at

Hiu Lui Ng died in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a Rhode Island hospital on Aug. 6, two days after his 34th birthday, from terminal cancer which had gone untreated for months.
Ng had come to the US from Hong Kong at age 17 and had overstayed a student visa. In 2001, a notice ordering him to appear in immigration court was mistakenly sent to a nonexistent address, records show. Because Ng did not show up at the hearing, an immigration judge ordered him deported. Ng remained in the US, married a US citizen and had two US-born sons. He was detained on July 19, 2007, when he and his wife showed up at the immigration office for his green card interview. Since then he had been detained at a number of jails and detention centers in three New England states.

Read the full INB:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Unions and Rights Groups Say Government Database Will Intensify Immigrant Crackdown

Simone Landon, Labor Notes Magazine
August 2008, No. 353

California may become the latest of several states to put restrictions on an online system that attempts to verify whether a job applicant can work in the U.S.

Unions and immigrants’ rights groups—including the Service Employees and the California Immigrant Policy Center—are sponsoring a bill to limit use of the federal program, calling it a tool the government uses to target immigrants in the workplace.

“We’ve had members who’ve lost their jobs and been discriminated against because of erroneous, flawed information from the federal government,” said Allen Davenport, government relations director for the SEIU California State Council. [...]

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Immigration Fairytales

Walter A. Ewing, Ph.D., New America Media
August 04, 2008

Editor’s Note: A recent report that suggests the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has declined because of immigration law enforcement ignores some critical factors, says Walter A. Ewing, Senior Researcher at the Immigration Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

It is commonsense that undocumented immigration is driven by economics. Most undocumented immigrants come from nations where economic opportunities are few and far between. Migrants would not leave behind families and homelands to embark upon potentially deadly journeys to the United States if there weren’t a good chance they could find jobs once they got here. And few immigrants would go back to countries that lack job opportunities unless there were no more jobs available in the United States. Not surprisingly, immigrants strive to build better lives in places where they can actually earn livelihoods.

Yet, a report released on July 30 by the Center for ImmigrationStudies (CIS) would have us believe that the decisions of undocumentedimmigrants about where to live are based more on the politics of immigration enforcement than the economics of their own survival. [...]

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ill and in Pain, Detainee Dies in U.S. Hands

By Nina Bernstein, New York Times
August 12, 2008

He was 17 when he came to New York from Hong Kong in 1992 with his parents and younger sister, eyeing the skyline like any newcomer. Fifteen years later, Hiu Lui Ng was a New Yorker: a computer engineer with a job in the Empire State Building, a house in Queens, a wife who is a United States citizen and two American-born sons.

But when Mr. Ng, who had overstayed a visa years earlier, went to immigration headquarters in Manhattan last summer for his final interview for a green card, he was swept into immigration detention and shuttled through jails and detention centers in three New England states.

In April, Mr. Ng began complaining of excruciating back pain. By mid-July, he could no longer walk or stand. And last Wednesday, two days after his 34th birthday, he died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a Rhode Island hospital, his spine fractured and his body riddled with cancer that had gone undiagnosed and untreated for months. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

American Girl

The life of a young Arab in Brooklyn was pretty much normal—until being thrown in jail with her family after 9/11 changed her idea of what it means to live here.

By Moustafa Bayoumi, New York Magazine
August 3, 2008

....[I]n February 2002, in the middle of the night, Rasha was shaken awake by a woman in a uniform who told her to get dressed. Oh my God, Rasha thought, somebody’s died, and she felt her heart drop and crack. She immediately glanced over to her sister. “What the hell’s going on?” she asked, but Reem just looked frightened. Shock and fear paralyzed Rasha, and her knees locked. “Ma’am, just get up,” repeated the female officer. “Get up and get dressed.” Disoriented, Rasha forced herself to slowly rise. She walked downstairs in her pajamas, a few steps behind her sister.

In the living room, she saw her entire family sitting awkwardly on the couch, and she sighed with relief. But then she noticed that her brother Munir’s legs were shackled. Shock turned to confusion as she realized that about fifteen law-enforcement officers—INS officials, U.S. Marshals, and FBI agents—had taken over their residence. The strangers, some with guns, walked through her house as if they owned it. Out the window she saw that it was the lights from their vehicles that had been shining into the living room....

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Monday, August 11, 2008

INB 8/10/08: Union Protests Arrests in Pennsylvania

Local 32BJ organized a rally on Aug. 5 in front of St. Patrick's Church on DeKalb Street in Norristown to protest the arrests and show solidarity with the workers. On Aug. 7 a crowd of 150 people, including members of Local 32BJ and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, attended a second rally on the Montgomery County courthouse steps in Norristown.

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 18 - August 10, 2008

1. Pennsylvania: Union Protests Arrests
2. March Protests Postville Raid
3. Farmworkers Arrested in Hawaii
4. Ohio Restaurants Raided
5. Raid at Arkansas Boat Manufacturer

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at


On July 31, ABM Janitorial Services Inc. lured 42 of its employees to its office in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in the suburbs just northwest of Philadelphia, where US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were waiting to arrest them for immigration violations. The company had sent the workers a memo telling them to attend a 4:30pm meeting at the offices for training and discussion on new policy procedure, according to Kate Ferranti, a spokesperson for Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represented most of the workers. The employees that attended the meeting were promised one hour of overtime, and were told that they could pick up their weekly paychecks at the beginning of the training; they were warned that if they did not attend, their paychecks would be withheld and they could face disciplinary actions, including termination. [...]

Read the full INB:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Coming Up (UPDATED): Aug. 13 Interview, Aug. 15 Protest

Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 7 to 8 pm

Radio interview with Jane Guskin and David Wilson
Authors, The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers

"Latino Media Collective"
Hosted by Oscar Fernandez, Janet Hernandez and Norberto Martinez
WPFW 89.3 FM, Washington, DC
Live streaming:

[Note: Because of special Pacifica programming, this program has been rescheduled from August 13 to August 20.]

* * *

Friday, August 15, 2008, 9 am

Protest: Against ICE and DHS
In support of Victor Toro and millions of undocumented immigrants

Protesta: Contra de la Migra
En apoyo de Victor Toro y millones de inmigrantes indocumentados

At 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY
(corner of Worth & Lafayette)

Information: Tel:718-292-6137, 212-631-7555, 641-715-3900 ext.97869#,,

Victor Toro is a citizen and national of Chile who was jailed and tortured there because of his opposition to the illegitimate Pinochet government (1973-1990). For more than 23 years, Victor and his wife Nieves Ayress (also a survivor of torture by the Pinochet regime) have been living in New York City and engaging in activism in the South Bronx, where they founded Vamos a La Peña, a nonprofit community organization that has served as a space for free expression and people's power for undocumented workers and other disenfranchised community members. On July 6, 2007,Victor Toro was arrested by US Border Patrol, an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security, while on board an Amtrak train in Rochester, New York. He was released on bond on July 9 and is now seeking political asylum with the help of his legal team. His wife Nieves is a US citizen; their daughter, Rosita Toro, is a legal permanent resident.

Victor Toro es un chileno quien fue encarcelado y torturado en ese pais por su oposicion al gobierno ilegitimo del dictador Pinochet (1973-1990). Durante mas de 23 años, Victor y su esposa Nieves Ayress (tambien sobreviviente de torturas bajo el regimen de Pinochet) han estado viviendo en la ciudad de Nueva York e involucrados en la lucha social en el Sur del Bronx, donde fundaron Vamos a La Peña, una organizacion comunitaria sin fines de lucro que ha sirvido como espacio de libre expresion y poder popular para los trabajadores indocumentados y otra gente marginada de esa comunidad. El pasado 6 de julio, 2007, Victor Toro fue arrestado por la Patrulla Fronteriza, agencia del Departamento de "Seguridad de Patria" de EEUU, mientras viajaba en un tren de Amtrak pasando por la ciudad deRochester, New York. Fue liberado bajo fianza el 9 de julio y ahora busca asilo politico con ayuda de su equipo legal. Su esposa Nieves es ciudadana estadounidense; su hija, Rosita Toro, es residente permanente legal

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Did Hate Speech Lead to Murder of Mexican Immigrant?

[The hate] is being whipped up by right wing, mostly Republican politicians who have absolutely nothing to show for eight years in power except an illegal war and a tanking economy, and who therefore have to find red herrings to distract the voters. This is being facilitated by irresponsible media personalities like Lou Dobbs who retail slanderous information about Latinos, Mexicans and immigrants for hours every week.

Emile Schepers, People's Weekly World
July 29, 2008

Three white youths have been arrested and charged by the Schuylkill County State’s Attorney with homicide and ethnic intimidation in the murder of undocumented Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez in the small Northeastern Pennsylvania town of Shenandoah. Ramirez, 25, was attacked by a group of youths as he walked home on July 12, and witnesses said that his attackers yelled anti-Mexican epithets as they beat and kicked him. A kick in the head put him into a coma and he died on July 14 in a nearby hospital.

Ramirez’s fiancée and mother of his children, Crystal Dillman, 24, told the press she is now leaving town because she does not want her kids to have to put up with the kind of ethnic attacks that were leveled against their father.

Though Shenandoah officials claimed that there had been no anti-Latino or anti-immigrant agitation in their town, these claims are suspect.[...]

Read the full article:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Citizens Sue After Detentions, Immigration Raids

By Emily Bazar, USA Today
June 24, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Nitin Dhopade, the chief financial officer for Micro Solutions Enterprises, was headed toward the accounting department on the afternoon of Feb. 7 to deliver checks he had just signed. Suddenly, he says, he encountered armed men and women wearing bulletproof vests and uniforms branded with "ICE," which stands for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Dhopade, 47, says he and 30 other administrative workers for the Van Nuys, Calif., company, which recycles used toner and ink cartridges, were marched down a stairwell lined by officers. The workers were ordered against a wall and told not to touch anything or use their cellphones. "There was no way you could leave. You were definitely detained," he says. "None of us were in handcuffs, but there was no way you could say 'I'm leaving.' "

That marked the beginning of a surprise raid that would result in the arrests of 138 suspected illegal immigrants, about one-fifth of MSE's workforce. Also swept up in the same raid were more than 100 U.S. citizens and legal residents, including Dhopade, a naturalized U.S. citizen from India. They say they were illegally detained at the factory for an hour when ICE agents blocked the doors and interrogated them, forbidding them to leave or go to the bathroom without an escort. [...]

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