Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 44 - December 21, 2006

1. Krome Detainees Protest
2. US and Canada Deport 99 Africans
3. Maine Activist's Home Raided
4. Swift Raids Protested

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*1. KROME DETAINEES PROTEST

On Dec. 8, Haitian and Jamaican detainees at Krome Service
Processing Center outside Miami in Dade County, Florida, refused
to leave their dormitory to protest delays in obtaining travel
papers from their consulates, immigration officials said; these
delays have delayed their stay in detention awaiting deportation.
The protest led Michael Rozos, field office director for the US
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Florida office of
detention and removal, to visit the Krome dormitory and speak to
the detainees there on Dec. 8, accompanied by a "disturbance
control team," said ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez. She said
team members were "dressed appropriately."

While the detainees were frustrated at the delay in travel
papers, some also talked about "the amount of people at Krome,"
Gonzalez said. A Haitian detainee attributed the tense atmosphere
to crowded conditions. "There are just too many people here right
now," he said. "We all are just desperate to get out." Krome's
publicly-stated capacity of about 580 detainees has been exceeded
for months. Gonzalez admitted on Dec. 14 that the number of
detainees at Krome was 927. Gonzalez said 120 detainees would be
transferred elsewhere on Dec. 19 and 50 others would be deported
soon.

In late September, dozens of detainees signed a letter to the
Miami Herald complaining about conditions at Krome. Another 255
detainees complained in a November letter that overcrowding at
the facility is "causing a lot of tension that leads to
confrontations, unsanitary dorm, showers, and clogged
toilets...."

Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) executive director
Cheryl Little said Krome "is becoming more and more overcrowded.
It's getting dirty inside, and people are getting ill because of
it." Little said one of her lawyers went to Krome Dec. 8 and was
told by a guard that there was a "riot " and that the facility
was in "lockdown." Little said the lawyer "was told that he
couldn't go in, and that he better check before coming over the
weekend because it might still be in lockdown." Gonzalez said
there was no lockdown, and visiting hours were normal over the
weekend of Dec. 9.

Ralph Latortue, the Haitian consul in Miami, went to Krome Dec.
13 for an annual holiday visit with Haitian detainees. Latortue
told the Miami Herald that 60 of the 83 Haitians at Krome
complained of mistreatment, lack of medical attention and
overcrowding. He said some detainees, particularly those with
criminal records, complained about delays in travel documents.
Under current Haitian government regulations, Latortue said,
authorities in Port-au-Prince must pre-approve the return of
Haitians with criminal records, and the process can take months.
Latortue said 75% of the 83 Haitians at Krome have criminal
records.

Latortue said that during his meeting at Krome, some of the
Haitian detainees told him about an incident on Dec. 8 that
involved an "altercation with guards." At least two detainees who
were witnesses told a FIAC lawyer that a guard pushed and
"punched" a detainee, as other agitated detainees watched,
according to Little. A worker at the facility who asked not to be
identified said guards interrupted some immigration court
proceedings during the episode.

ICE spokesperson Gonzalez said the dormitory protest was
peaceful, with Haitian and Jamaican detainees refusing to leave
their pod or dormitory to take meals. But Gonzalez acknowledged
that an allegation was later made "against a guard." She had no
details. "We take all allegations very seriously and it will be
thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken,"
Gonzalez said.

Jamaican consul Ricardo Allicock visited Krome on Dec. 11 to meet
with the more than 50 Jamaican detainees there. Allicock said
many of the detainees were frustrated that they would not spend
the holidays with their families back home because they have yet
to be deported. The majority of the Jamaicans there have been
waiting less than two months to be deported, he said. [Miami
Herald 12/16/06]

*2. US AND CANADA DEPORT 99 AFRICANS

Over the weekend of Dec. 16, ICE officers returned to the US
after deporting 82 Nigerians and 17 Liberians on a joint charter
removal flight conducted with the government of Canada. It was
the largest US deportation flight to Africa in two years. The
flight used chartered commercial aircraft and was staffed by
officers of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations.
Eight of the Nigerians were deportees from Canada; escorting
officers from Canada accompanied the flight. The others deported
on the flight had been housed at detention facilities across the
US; they were brought to the Batavia Federal Detention Facility
near Buffalo, New York, shortly before the flight. More than 60
of the deportees had criminal records. [ICE News Release
12/19/06]

*3. MAINE ACTIVIST'S HOME RAIDED

On Dec. 14, more than a dozen ICE agents raided the home of
longtime immigrant advocate Ben Guiliani in South Portland,
Maine. The agents were seen carting out numerous boxes of
evidence and computer equipment, according to the Maine Public
Broadcasting Network. A friend and fellow activist said agents
also showed up at Guiliani's office elsewhere in the city.
Guiliani said he was out of state when the agents showed up at
his house, but that family members were home. Nobody has been
charged or arrested, he said. The immigration agency notified
South Portland police of the operation shortly after 9 am, but
did not provide specifics of the investigation, said Police Chief
Ed Googins.

A US citizen of Mexican descent, Guiliani has headed the Maine
Migrant Workers Advocacy Group and has involved in workplace
lawsuits against Wal-Mart and the former DeCoster egg farm,
alleging bias and discrimination against Latino workers. He
helped win major improvements in working and living conditions at
DeCoster. He currently heads a firm called Azteca Consulting
Associates Inc., which is involved in a variety of government and
business matters, including import and export, Hispanic
relations, labor search management and safety consulting,
according to incorporation records. [Portland Herald (ME)
12/15/06]

*4. SWIFT RAIDS PROTESTED

On Dec. 14, dozens of activists in Des Moines, Iowa took part in
a rally protesting the arrests by ICE of some 90 immigrants at
the Swift plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. The Marshalltown raid was
one of six such raids on Dec. 12; in all, ICE agents arrested
1,282 workers at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in six states,
claiming the sweeps were part of an investigation into identity
theft [see INB 12/15/06]. [WHBF.com 12/15/06] On Dec. 17, clergy
members spoke out at an evening service in Des Moines called to
protest the raids. About 200 people came to Grace United
Methodist Church to hold candles and pray in solidarity with
detainees and their families. The "Making Room at the Inn" event
included multilingual speeches, prayers and hymns. "Jesus was not
mindful of Social Security numbers, or countries of origin, or of
native languages," said the Rev. Barbara Dinnen of the Las
Americas Comunidad de Fe of the United Methodist Church. [Des
Moines Register 12/18/06]

In a letter to President George W. Bush on Dec. 20, Iowa governor
Tom Vilsack complained that ICE officials were not responding to
family members' inquiries about loved ones detained in the Swift
raids. "To this day, the whereabouts of some of these people are
still unknown," Vilsack wrote. "Considering the hardship this has
on their families, silence as to their condition is not
acceptable." Vilsack urged Bush to also disclose the identities
and locations of the detainees to community leaders and faith-
based leaders in the six states "so officials can better address
the needs of family members left behind." Vilsack referred to a
morning news conference on Dec. 20 in which Bush called for
immigration reform, saying that "such changes... will come too
late for the families with children who are searching for their
parents today." ICE spokesperson Jamie Zuieback responded that
privacy concerns prevent immigration officials from publishing
the names of detainees, but they will work with Vilsack "on
matters of specific concern." [Des Moines Register 12/21/06] A
day earlier, Dec. 19, Vilsack and Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, the top
officer of the Iowa National Guard, wrote to Homeland Security
Secretary Michael Chertoff, calling ICE's actions in the raids
"completely unacceptable," saying agents undermined the public's
trust in government, potentially jeopardized the safety of law
enforcement personnel in Iowa and could have compromised
undercover operations. Vilsack and Dardis said they will not
cooperate with federal immigration officials in the future unless
they act more responsibly and provide better coordination with
state officials. [Des Moines Register 12/20/06]

On Dec. 15 in Colorado, immigrant rights advocates gathered in
Greeley, Durango, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction and
other communities to hold candlelight vigils and join hands to
support the families separated by the raids and protest the
treatment of the 260 workers arrested in the Dec. 12 raid at the
Swift plant in Greeley. "This tragedy is not about 'identity
theft' or 'criminal activity' as...ICE contends," wrote the
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition in a press release announcing
the vigils. "It is about women and men working to feed their
families and provide for a better life." [Denver Daily News
12/19/06; Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Press Release
12/14/06] On the evening of Dec. 18, a crowd of 75-100 people
from across the region gathered at the office of El Comite de
Longmont in Longmont to protest the raids. The group lit candles
and marched down Main Street before rallying on the steps of the
Longmont Safety and Justice Center. Many carried signs that read,
"No human is illegal." Others spoke of a basic human right of
people to try to improve their life and that of their family,
regardless of borders. [Greeley Tribune 12/19/06]

In San Antonio, Texas on Dec. 21, Latino activist groups held a
news conference to condemn the raids and call for an end to such
worksite enforcement until Congress can come up with
comprehensive immigration reform. [San Antonio Express-News
12/21/06]

On Dec. 15, over 200 people picketed outside the ICE offices in
Chicago to protest the raids. The protest was initiated by the
March 10th Movement, and members of the Centro Sin Fronteras,
Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Mexico Solidarity Network and the
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union also took part.
The UFCW represents workers at five of the six raided Swift
plants. [Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) 12/21/06]

On Dec. 20, more than 30 people rallied in below-freezing
temperatures outside the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in
downtown Salt Lake City, Utah to protest ICE's arrests of 154
workers during the Dec. 12 raid at the Swift plant 60 miles away
in Hyrum. A union member held a sign demanding "workers' rights,
human rights" for undocumented laborers. "We see this as a racist
act of state terrorism," said David Hansen, a member of the
advocacy group Brown Berets in Salt Lake City. The protesters
wore yellow bracelets to symbolize the ones ICE apparently used
to mark brown-skinned workers during the raid at the Swift plant
in Hyrum; white workers were given blue bracelets and were not
required to prove their citizenship, witnesses said. ICE
spokesperson Lori Haley said she knew nothing of the yellow
bracelets, but denied that ICE agents targeted Swift employees
because of their skin color. A handful of members of the anti-
immigrant Utah Minuteman Project held a counter-protest across
the street, waving signs that read, "defending our borders,
culture and language." [Salt Lake Tribune 12/21/06; KCPW News
12/21/06]

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