terrorizing immigrant communities: perspectives on the ICE raids

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Marisa Treviño questions Julie Myers' characterization of social security misappropriation as a significant proportion of the broader category of identity theft.  This, of course, was the primary justification ICE gave for churning through immigrant communities again in its raids this week, leaving the emotional and spiritual equivalent of the wreckage left by a rogue tornado. 

While not trying to minimize the hardships and nightmares that a stolen identity wreaks on its victims, I have to take issue with Ms. Myers' statement when she says - "A significant percentage of identity theft is carried out by illegal aliens trying to avoid detection and gain employment.."

According to a survey released in November 2007 by the Federal Trade Commission, only 1% of identity theft victims report their identity being used for employment purposes.

Since it's known that undocumented immigrants main purpose of using fake Social Security numbers is to gain employment then Ms. Myers seems to purposely exaggerate the facts to paint the undocumented worker as a hardened criminal intent on causing personal harm.

When in fact, it's been reported to be the opposite.

When given the opportunity to purchase the documents needed, undocumented immigrants do so willingly and gladly -- even when they fall victim themselves to scam artists.

More here from the Center for Human Rights:

Agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today engaged in coordinated raids at Pilgrim Pride poultry plants in Mt. Pleasant (Texas), Batesville (Ark.), Live Oak (Fla.), Moorefield (W. Virginia) and Chattanooga (Tenn).

Pilgrim's Pride poultry (meat-packing) plants have about 55,000 employees and the company operates dozens of facilities mostly across the South and in Mexico and Puerto Rico. It is the nation's largest chicken producer.

Workers at the raided plants in Batesville (Ark.) and Live Oak (Fla.) are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). The workers at the plant in ChattanoogaTenn) are members of the Steelworkers.

45 immigrants were arrested at the plant in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. 100 people were arrested at the plant in Chattanooga (Tenn). About 100 immigrants were arrested at the plant in Moorefield (W. Virginia). About 20 workers were arrested at the plant in Batesville (Ark.), and about 26 in Live Oak (Fla.) (total approximately 300 arrests).

Julie Myers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement assistant secretary, told The Associated Press as the raids were under way that the enforcement action was aimed at those involved in identity theft. She defended the raids saying: "Identity theft is a horrible problem that can ruin a person's good name."

A spokesman for Pilgrim's Pride claims that the company uses the government's voluntary E-Verify program to check identity documents of new employees, but that system does not detect workers using someone else's valid identification.

The company was informed about the raid before it took place and reportedly cooperated with ICE in the planning and execution of the raid.

ICE conducted several other raids today. Shipley Do-Nuts dough factory in Houston was raided resulting in the arrest of 30 workers. Other raids today in western New York; Bradford, Pa.; Mentor, Ohio; and Wheeling and New Martinsville, W.Va. targeted immigrants working at Mexican restaurants. The owner and 10 restaurant managers were arrested and accused of employing unauthorized Mexican immigrants in seven restaurants in the four states. Authorities also arrested 45 immigrants during these raids.

We currently represent the UFCW in the case entitled UFCW v. Chertoff pending in federal court in Texas. The lawsuit challenges the manner in which ICE conducts raids by temporarily detaining US citizens and lawful residents during raids so as to maximize the number of unauthorized workers located and arrested, and failing to permit prompt access to legal counsel for those arrested as suspected unauthorized workers.

If you know of lawyers in the areas mentioned above willing to visit arrested workers to assess their cases, and possibly to also interview US citizens detained during the raids and who may be entitled to file Federal Tort Claims Act claims for damages, please let me know. Thanks.
_____________________

Peter A. Schey
President and Executive Director
Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
256 S. Occidental Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90057
www.centerforhumanrights.org
www.legalizationusa.org
www.immigrantchildren.org
www.casa-libre.org
www.vocesunidas.org
www.unityblueprint.org

(Contact info for Peter here.) 

And I don't have a link for this, from several California State Assembly members, but it touches on some very good points (the formatting of the names of the signers has gotten garbled in the transfer). 

April 17, 2008

The Honorable Michael Chertoff

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Lane, SW

Washington, D.C., 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

It is with a feeling of great dismay and mounting frustration that we respond to your comments in the Associated Press article dated April 12, 2008, regarding the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) recent raids.

As ICE continues with its record number of worksite raids throughout Southern California, a pattern of serious problems has emerged with regard to its interrogation, detention and deportation practices. Given your somewhat blithe defense of the department's actions, we felt it imperative to illustrate several examples of what actions you are defending.

On February 7, 2008, ICE carried out a worksite raid at MicroSolutions Enterprise, a toner and ink manufacturing company in Van Nuys. This raid resulted in numerous very clear violations of constitutional rights as well as the egregious and offensive mistreatment of workers.

Reports surfaced that during the raid workers were forced to self-segregate by documentation status. During the raid itself, ICE officials did not release legal residents and U.S. citizens until they were interrogated - ICE seemed to assume that the workers were guilty until proven innocent.

Additionally, ICE officials denied workers access to legal counsel as they were questioned and continued interrogations even when workers requested the right to legal counsel. It was not until the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, and the National Lawyers Guild sued ICE that workers were allowed legal counsel during their interviews. Legal representation is especially a concern when a person may be a legal resident but simply does not have possession of his or her documents.

Over 130 workers were detained and even those released on "humanitarian grounds" -- such as pregnant women, nursing mothers, and those with medical conditions -- were forced to wear electronic monitoring devices when they were sent back to their families and children. ICE then added another harsh and punitive restriction on these workers - a home curfew of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Of course, the American citizens most profoundly harmed by the raids are the children left at home alone when their parents are arrested. Often these individuals were also transported to detention facilities far away from their families. In this case, nearly half of the workers had children, and roughly two thirds of these children were American citizens. These Americans will be forced to either grow up apart from their parents or be denied some of their country's greatest promises as a result of this irrational enforcement action. 

The manner in which ICE has conducted its workplace raids and overly aggressive investigation practices is unacceptable on societal grounds and questionable, at best, on legal grounds. When enforcement actions are conducted beyond the scope of warrants and based on individualized suspicion, they result in harm to family members, housemates, neighbors, and other innocent bystanders (many of whom are lawful residents, or even U.S. citizens). As a result, families have been torn apart and communities left traumatized. Moreover, this method of indiscriminate immigration enforcement does little, if anything, to improve the safety and security of the United States.

While ICE's workplace raids generate attention and fear, they do not, as a rule, seem to be targeted at California's overriding immigration concerns: employers who knowingly and willingly abuse workers by disregarding the immigration laws. ICE's mission is critical and, granted, difficult without a comprehensive legal and policy framework. However, it must be held accountable for the manner in which it is carrying out the law in California. You can't simply brush aside constitutional rights just because the President and Congress have yet to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

In the coming weeks, we plan to schedule a meeting with you in which we can have a frank exchange. We hope that during this meeting you can provide us with some assurances as to how you will address the aforementioned issues. We also call on you to conduct an investigation into the practices described in this letter. Until such time as that investigation is completed, we call on you to halt worksite raids that are not conducted based on probable cause, given the serious abuses outlined above.

Sincerely,

FABIAN NUÑEZ                                                       KAREN BASS
Speaker of the Assembly                                              Speaker-elect of the Assembly

JOE COTO                                                                HECTOR DE LA TORRE
Assemblymember, 23rd District                                     Assemblymember, 50th District

KEVIN DE LEÓN                                                     MIKE FEUER
Assemblymember, 45th District                                    Assemblymember, 42nd District

FELIPE FUENTES                                                   WARREN T. FURUTANI
Assemblymember, 39th District                                    Assemblymember, 55th District

PAUL KREKORIAN                                                JOHN LAIRD
Assemblymember, 43rd District                                     Assemblymember, 27th District

MARK LENO                                                           SALLY LIEBER
Assemblymember, 13th District                                     Assemblymember, 22nd District

TONY MENDOZA                                                    GENE MULLIN
Assemblymember, 56th District                                     Assemblymember, 19th District

CURREN D. PRICE , Jr.                                          MARY SALAS
Assemblymember, 51st District                                      Assemblymember, 79th District

NELL SOTO                                                              WILMER AMINA CARTER

Assemblymember, 61st District                                      Assemblymember, 62nd District

JIM BEALL, JR.,                                                      SANDRÉ SWANSON
Assemblymember, 24th District                                     Assemblymember, 16th District

MERVYN DYMALLY                                              JOSE SOLORIO
Assemblymember, 52nd District                                    Assemblymember, 69th District

MIKE ENG                                                                LONI HANCOCK
Assemblymember, 49th District                                     Assemblymember, 14th District

DAVE JONES                                                           NOREEN EVANS

Assemblymember, 9th District                                       Assemblymember, 7th District

FIONA MA                                                                MIKE DAVIS
Assemblymember, 12th District                                     Assemblymember, 48th District


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This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on April 18, 2008 12:41 AM.

ICE raids shatter communities across the country during pope's visit was the previous entry in this blog.

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