Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 21 - June 4, 2006

1. Did Injury Claim Prompt Cessna Raid?
2. Austin Restaurant Raided
3. Chicago Workers Win Delay, End Fast
4. ICE Pervert Gets Probation

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; fax 212-674-9139;  wnu@igc.org. INB is also distributed free via email; contact  nicajg@panix.com for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe.

*1. DID INJURY CLAIM PROMPT CESSNA RAID?

On May 30, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested five Mexican workers--some of them longtime employees-- at the Cessna Aircraft Co. plant in Wichita, Kansas. On May 31, the five were indicted on federal immigration charges; four of them face multiple counts of aggravated identity theft, among other charges.

Cessna spokesperson Robert Stangarone said the company had received an anonymous tip that those five workers had used false documents to get their jobs. After an internal review of the employment records of those employees, Cessna notified immigration authorities, Stangarone said. "Cessna's cooperation in this matter is a model for all employers," said US Attorney Eric Melgren. [AP 5/31/06]

Stangarone said an injury claim filed by a former worker, Rogelio Ortega, was unrelated to the arrests. Ortega, who is undocumented but was not arrested, worked at the plant for more than four years but was let go after an injury at the plant left him with work restrictions. After Ortega told the media about his struggle to get medical treatment for his job-related injuries, a Cessna attorney warned him in an Apr. 26 letter, obtained by Associated Press, that contacting the media is "a dangerous move" given his illegal status. In one interview with AP before the raid, Ortega pointed out seven undocumented workers on a list of employees who worked in his former department at Cessna. Three of the seven were among those arrested May 30. [AP 6/1/06]

*2. AUSTIN RESTAURANT RAIDED

Early on June 1, ICE agents raided Texas French Bread, a restaurant and bakery in Austin, Texas, and arrested five kitchen workers on immigration charges. One worker is fighting her deportation in immigration court; the other two women and two men have been deported to Mexico. Business owner Frederick Murph Willcott described the raid as "violent" and said the agents entered with their guns visible. Willcott said all the arrested workers have children and have worked at Texas French Bread for years, in one case about 10 years. "These people paid taxes. They worked like crazy," Willcott said. "The people that they took away hadn't done anything wrong."

Willcott said authorities told him they were following information gained from an investigation into a false document ring. ICE spokesperson Nina Pruneda said on June 2 that agents were called by the Texas attorney general's office to assist in the raid. She wouldn't say why Texas French Bread was targeted. A spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the investigation is continuing. Jerry Strickland, a spokesperson for Abbott, wouldn't comment on whether the June 1 raid was linked to a bust last February of a counterfeit document ring in Dallas.
[Austin American-Statesman 6/3/06]

*3. CHICAGO WORKERS WIN DELAY, END FAST

On June 1 in Chicago, immigration judge John Brahos granted a continuance of more than four months to Flor Crisostomo and five other workers arrested last Apr. 19 in an ICE raid of the IFCO Systems pallet company in Chicago. The six workers must return to court Oct. 12. Immigration judge Carlos Cuevas gave another 13 of the IFCO Chicago workers (or 15, according to the Chicago-based Spanish-language daily Diario Hoy) only a two-month continuance: they must return to court on July 31. Another three workers have immigration court dates set for June 6 and 7. A total of 26 workers were arrested at IFCO's Chicago warehouse during the Apr.
19 sweep; they were among 1,187 workers were arrested that day at 40 IFCO sites in 27 states [see INB 4/22/06]. [Diario Hoy 6/2/06; Chicago Tribune 6/2/06; Nuevo Siglo (Chicago) 6/2/06]

About 150 supporters of the Chicago-area workers rallied in front of the immigration court building before the hearings. [CT 6/2/06] Later on June 1, following the hearings, Crisostomo and Elvira Arellano annnounced the end of a hunger strike they began May 10, seeking a moratorium on raids and deportations [see INB 5/14/06, 5/28/06]. "We are ending the strike for the sake of our health," said Arellano. "Also to have the strength to return to Washington to lobby and prepare ourselves to support the next workers who will appear in court." [DH 6/2/06] Film student Victor Arroyo, who joined the hunger strike on May 13, and student Jesus Carlin, who joined it on May 16, also ended their fast on June 1. Roxana Licona ended her fast on May 31 for health reasons (she had joined it on May 13), but remained camped out in solidarity with the others at Tenochtitlan plaza on Chicago's south side. [NS 6/2/06; La Raza (Chicago) 6/2/06]

*4. ICE PERVERT GETS PROBATION

On May 5, ICE special agent-in-charge Frank Figueroa was sentenced to one year probation after pleading guilty in April to exposing his sex organs and disorderly conduct. Figueroa headed investigations at the ICE office in Tampa, Florida until his arrest last Oct. 25, when security cameras filmed him exposing himself and performing a lewd act in front of a 16-year old girl at a Florida mall [see INB 10/28/05]. When confronted by mall security officers, Figueroa reportedly first ran from them, then showed them his federal ID badge. During the sentencing hearing, Figueroa claimed he was just scratching himself but acknowledged that the girl might have seen his sex organs. The girl's mother pointed out that if the incident had happened a few months earlier, when the girl was 15 years old, Figueroa would have been charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Figueroa's wife and 14-year-old daughter also presented statements at the sentencing hearing, pleading for leniency. [WKMG local6.com (Orlando) 5/12/06]

END

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