Tag Archives: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

UPDATE Postville: Agriprocessor CEO Indicted

Yesterday, authorities arrested Sholom Rubashkin, CEO of the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant that was raided on May 12th of this year by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

From the Iowa Independent:

The criminal complaint is the first against any high-level member of Agriprocessors management and comes in the wake of a massive May 12 immigration raid at the plant. In all, 389 workers — nearly half the plant’s workforce — were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

DHS Launches New Program, Wastes more of Your Money

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new program that is aimed at finding uncodumented immigrants held in county and city jails across the country.

While DHS and ICE defend this decision with statistics showing an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants charged with “deportable” offenses.

However, as Dave Bennion at Change.org points out, their is a definite political agenda driving the Department of Homeland Security’s information and decisions right now.

This is, as they say on The Wire, “juking the stats.”  The top priority of any agency is self-preservation.  DHS, as the new kid on the federal block, has to justify its multi-billion dollar budget, and cranking up deportations of newly manufactured “criminal aliens” is a favorite method.

The fear is that immigrants who have legal rights to a visa or asylum could easily be swept up into this massive effort, without access to adequate legal counsel that could provide them such options.

“Our concern is making sure that people have access to counsel or are advised of their rights,” said Kerri Sherlock Talbot, associate director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “Sometimes people are pressured into signing away their rights by basically stipulating that they are removable from the United States,” she said.

Also, even though ICE claims that it will only target “threatening” individuals, it is clear that non-threatening residents could very easily be included as targets.

Your tax dollars are hard at work deporting longtime residents who’ve committed misdemeanors, no matter how long ago or how inconsequential the underlying crime.  This is George Bush’s vision for this Nation of Immigrants.

Raids at What Cost?

Its not as though we need more reasons to condemn the immigration raids that have been tearing apart communities, denying due process and separating families. But, Frank Sharry has written a very enlightening article at the Huffington Post about the financial costs of the raids.

Remember the immigration raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, back in May? According to today’s Des Moines Register, the raid set taxpayers back $5.2 million. According to the newspaper, “That means it has cost taxpayers an average of $13,396 for each of the 389 illegal immigrants taken into custody.”

Keep in mind that the $5.2 million – disclosed through a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ‑ is only what ICE spent. That doesn’t include the cost of criminal trials against the workers charged with ID crimes, indigent defense, and prison. According to an accompanying editorial in the Des Moines Register, “Prison costs alone ran $590,000 a month as of mid-summer.”

So let’s do the math, shall we? If it cost $13,396 to arrest each undocumented worker in the United States, and estimates are that there are at least 11.5 million people who fit that definition, then you, I, and the rest of American taxpayers could be looking at forking over $154 billion to ICE alone.

How much more of this are we going to have to endure? Without Just and Humane immigration reform, our government will not only continue its militant tactics against immigrants, but it will continue to fund its terror with our taxpayer money. And at this point in our history, we can afford either of the two.

(more) Raids in California!

As I posted yesterday, the presidential campaigns continue to ignore Immigration issues, while the Bush administration continues to push enforcement only tactics in Raids across the country.

Yesterday concluded a 3 week series of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that arrested over 1,100 immigrants in San Francisco and San Diego. ICE continues its hold on unregulated power, while communities continue to suffer and live in fear.

For Basil Robledo, director of programs for the Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network in San Jose, the latest arrests are one more step on a disturbing path following last year’s failure by Congress to reform the nation’s immigration laws.

He said federal officials have instead turned to heavy-handed enforcement — a strategy that Robledo says has led to fear and broken families.

“It is a scary situation for folks in the community,” he said. “People keep their kids home from school. It creates less of a willingness to talk to police. They see ICE agents and they see a uniformed person, and that blends into all of law enforcement.”

Click here to call your Senator and vote YES for regulation of ICE Raids! It is time to put the humanity back into American policy.

ACTION: Vote Yes to Protect Our Rights!

On Thursday, Senators Menedez (D-NJ) and Kennedy (D-MA) introduced legislation aimed at protecting citizens and legal permanent residents who are unlawfully detained and deported by the Department of Homeland Security during immigration raids.

Amidst the chaos of ever-increasing immigration raids across the country, the bill is a long overdue call for regulation of the gestapo tacitcs of DHS and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Though both presidential candidates have been avoiding the issue of immigration during their campaigns, raids have been occuring with an alarming frequency everywhere from Hawaii to Maryland. ICE is out of control and has been conducting these raids without any Congressional oversight or regulation. Due process has been consistently denied to all people detained during these raids, as witnessed by countless testimonies – for more on this check out a previous post on  May’s raid in Postville, Iowa and this one covering the shocking violence used during a raid in Annapolis, Maryland.

With the raids out of control, this bill is not only welcome, but long overdue. It is time that be regulated, it is time they stop being above the law and it is time that Congressional oversight is implemented.

The bill will:

* Create due process protections, such as notification of immigration charges and access to counsel and phones, during immigration enforcement efforts;
* Require DHS to implement regulations to ensure that immigration detainees are treated humanely;
* Promote “alternatives to detention” programs that are more humane and cost-effective than traditional penal-style detention;
* Establish an ICE ombudsman to investigate complaints and to create DHS accountability; and
* Provide labor protections to ensure that ICE worksite raids do not undermine labor or employment law investigations.

Call your Senator and ask them to vote YES on S. 3594: Protect Citizens and Residents From Unlawful Raids and Detention Act!

Here is a quick video about how to call your Senator and ask for a YES vote!

Agriprocessors Fights Unionization

Apparently, not only are the owners of Agriprocessors facing child labor violation charges, stemming from May’s workplace raid in Postville, Iowa, but they are also fighting to take away the right of undocumented workers to join labor unions.

The Associated Press reports:

Agriprocessors Inc. has gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to urge the justices to reconsider their long-held position that workers in the country illegally have a right to join labor unions.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether to take the case, but if it does, it could have ramifications for a complicated area of U.S. labor law.

This is unsurprising, given that the raid on their Postville plant happened in the midst of workers attempts to unionize themselves to demand better standards.

A spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Scott Frotman, said the company’s only interest is preventing its workers from organizing and demanding better pay.

“This is another example of how this company uses a broken immigration system to drive down wages and working conditions at its facilities,” Frotman said.

Agriprocessors made headlines in May when 400 of its workers were detained during a raid on its slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa.

On Tuesday, Agriprocessors owner Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, his son Sholom Rubashkin and other managers at the company were charged with hiring minors to work at the Iowa slaughterhouse, including some children younger than 16 who handled saws and meat grinders.

Though misdemeanors, they were the first criminal charges brought against the plant operators and could carry jail time. The company denied the allegations.

After the charges were filed, the Orthodox Union, one of the largest kosher certifiers in the country, said it would suspend kosher supervision of the plant unless the company hires a new chief executive officer within “several weeks.”

Labor groups have long argued that if workplace protections weren’t extended to illegal immigrants, a company could feel free to ignore labor standards with impunity and retaliate against any employees who complained.

VIDEO: Persecuting Undocumented Workers

From Democracy Now:

Increased Raids and Checkpoint Arrests Endanger Undocumented Immigrants Threatened by Gulf Coast Storms

Undocumented immigrants along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast have resisted mandatory evacuation orders out of fear they could be arrested and deported at checkpoints. The climate of fear around deportation has worsened as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, continues to step up its raids across the country, with two of the largest raids in US history taking place in the last five months. We speak to David Bacon, award-winning photojournalist, labor organizer and immigrant rights activist and author of Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Migrants.

Be sure to watch both installments of the interview below.

Texas Coast Braces for Hurricane Ike

 Hurricane Ike is bearing down on the Texas Coast, predicted to make landfall tomorrow. And, as I posted earlier this week, undocumented immigrants continue to fear evacuation.

Federal authorities gave assurances they would not check people’s immigration status at evacuation loading zones or inland checkpoints. But residents were skeptical, and there were worries that many illegal immigrants would refuse to board buses and go to shelters for fear of getting arrested and deported.

“People are nervous,” said the Rev. Michael Seifert, a Roman Catholic priest and immigrant advocate. “The message that was given to me was that it’s going to be a real problem.”

Xicanopwr has been keeping us updated at Para Justicia y Libertad. Check it out for a closer and more personal view on the hurricane preparations in the region.

I am keeping all those in Texas in my thoughts this weekend – especially the undocumented immigrants that are fearing both the wrath of nature and of our government.

I hope immigrants have been brave enough to evacuate. I also hope that our government is brave enough to stand down and let all people move to saftey, regardless of immigration status.

UPDATE: Crime Rate up in Postville since May’s Raid

As kyledb at Citzen Orange reported earlier today, the AP is reporting that the crime rate has risen in Postville, Iowa since May.

POSTVILLE, Iowa – Postville’s police chief says he’s trying to add another officer to his staff as crime has risen in the city after an Immigration raid in May.

The Agriprocessors meatpacking plant was raided May 12, when 389 people were charged with being in the country illegally. Most were also charged criminally.

Postville Police Chief Michael Halse says the workers who have come to replace those picked up in the raid are temporary. He says he doesn’t know their backgrounds or where they came from.

Halse says he hopes life will return to the way it was before the raid, but predicted that normalcy could be years away.

So, let me get this straight. The Department of Homeland Security (through Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agents) spent tons of taxpayer money in order to arrest these “criminals” that were working insanely hard shifts at a meat-packing plant in order to feed their families. And since these “criminals” were apprehended and carted off to jails or sent back to their home countries, the crime rate has risen.

Interesting. I think their might be a slight flaw in the logic ICE used to justify this raid. What do you think?

Way to go ICE.

Raid in Sun Valley, California!

ICE staged another workplace raid on Wednesday, this time in California.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained 18 employees at Sun Valley Floral Farms Wednesday during a raid that is part of an ongoing investigation, according to federal officials.

I think that this excerpt, from the local paper, the Times-Standard, sums it up quite nicely:

One worker waiting for a ride at the Sun Valley gate said that employees had no warning of the raid. Asking that her name not be used, she said that an ICE agent said the agency was trying to shut down the operation, and had a list of people they were looking for. One of those detained was her friend, she said.

”It’s a crying shame,” she said.

Another employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, said hundreds of agents were searching the property, lining up workers for identification checks and even looking inside freezers. She said watching her co-workers getting handcuffed and taken away was demoralizing.

”People need to know that whatever their political view is this was not a human way at all,” she said.
Agents were checking badges of people entering and exiting the property. The employee said some of her co-workers were very frightened they’d be taken away even though they are legal. The whole experience was terrifying, she said.

”I’m white, I’m legal, but I’ve worked with these people and they are good people and it was very disturbing to watch these people taken away,” she said.