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The superintendent of the Irving school district said that some immigrant parents had pulled their children from school over fears that they or their families would be deported. The superintendent, Jack Singley, said that about 90 children had been withdrawn from 33,000-student public school district in the last week. The Mexican Consulate has advised people to avoid driving through Irving, a Dallas suburb, in response to the Irving Police Department’s participation with federal immigration authorities in a program to identify illegal immigrants who have been arrested and to deport them. The Irving police have turned over more than 1,600 people to immigration officials since the program began last year.
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New York Times
October 4, 2007
Armed squads bursting into homes in the dead of night with shotguns and automatic weapons, terrorizing families and taking away anyone who lacks identity papers, even if they have raided the wrong house. It may sound like Baghdad, but it is the suburbs of New York City, the latest among hundreds of communities around the country where federal agents have been invading homes and workplaces in search of immigrants to deport.
Federal officials say the raids are a focused campaign to catch gang members and other fugitives. That would be good if Immigration and Customs Enforcement were carefully extracting the dangerous criminal sliver from a population of 12 million illegal immigrants. But as immigration raids have vastly increased, they have become something murky and ugly.
ICE is catching modest numbers of undesirables, but also a much larger by-catch of peaceable immigrants. Its agents have set off waves of fear and outrage, not only among illegal immigrants, but among citizens whose privacy and security they have violated, through unchecked aggression, carelessness and incompetence.
Last week, dozens of federal agents fanned out across Nassau County, Long Island, to execute warrants on accused gang members. County Executive Thomas Suozzi and Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey were so dismayed that they have refused to cooperate on further raids until ICE gets its act together.
They described a seriously botched “cowboy” operation by dozens of ICE agents — some in cowboy hats — who had not trained together, used inappropriate weapons and mistakenly drew them on Nassau officers. They said that ICE misled them — that what was supposed to be a targeted gang crackdown was actually something much more sloppy and indiscriminate. They said the agency ignored repeated invitations to check its list of targets against Nassau’s up-to-date gang records and ended up raiding many wrong homes.
The raids were stunningly ineffective. Nassau says they caught only 6 of 96 fugitives. ICE, using a looser definition of “gang member,” said it got 13 in Nassau and 15 in neighboring Suffolk. There, Peggy De La Rosa-Delgado, an American citizen, said her Huntington Station home was raided by mistake last Thursday at 5:30 a.m. It was the second predawn raid looking for the same man at the same wrong address. Her husband and three teenage sons, legal residents, were terrified, she said.
ICE officials callously shrug off such mistakes as collateral damage, but advocates for immigrants have filed a class-action lawsuit asserting that recent raids in the New York City area were unreasonable searches conducted by agents who did not show warrants and misidentified themselves as police officers. Mr. Suozzi has written to the Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, asking him to investigate the Nassau debacle.
Mr. Suozzi deserves praise for having the courage to oppose mindless immigration enforcement while affirming a commitment to sane policing and public safety. President Bush has repeatedly insisted that the undocumented immigrants cannot, and will not, be rounded up. He and Mr. Chertoff must stop these reckless raids.
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It’s not just about blacks: Injustice bigger than Jena
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
We black Americans seem to need a major event or outrage every so often to revive our mass energies in ways that remind of us the 1960s civil rights movement. In the 1980s we had mass arrests at the South African embassy to protest apartheid. In the 1990s there was the Million Man March to redeem black fatherhood and proper role modeling. In 2007 we have the “Jena Six.”
Thousands flowed into tiny Jena, La., last week. They came to march on behalf of six black youths who were originally charged with attempted murder for allegedly beating up a white youth last December at the local high school in what many describe as a schoolyard fight.
The “Jena Six” case actually began months earlier when three nooses appeared in a tree at the high school. That was one day after black students defied a school tradition that designated the tree to be a whites-only gathering spot. The principal expelled three white students for hanging the nooses, but the school superintendent reduced the expulsions to a few days of suspension.
Tensions grew as various interracial fights, attacks and angry confrontations, mostly off-campus, in later weeks resulted in young white males receiving slaps on the wrist, at most, while young blacks received school expulsions or criminal charges.
It was the local district attorney’s decision to charge six black students with attempted second-degree murder, while white students had gone free for other attacks, that touched off the national uproar. The white student who was beaten allegedly taunted blacks with racial slurs and was a friend of the students who had hung the nooses. He was treated and released after a few hours in a local hospital.
I don’t make light of anyone’s beating, but the attempted murder charge was an excess wretched enough to be a virtual invitation to the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who led the march with Martin Luther King III.
Suddenly little Jena became a symbol in many minds of every injustice or racial grievance, real or perceived, that black folks have endured in recent years, from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to the gross disparities between federal sentences for crack and powder cocaine.
The Jena Six put real names and faces to Justice Department statistics that show African-American men to be three times more likely than white men to face jail once they have been arrested. The biggest disparity is among men convicted of aggravated assault, according to the National Urban League’s annual State of Black America report. It found that black men are sentenced to an average of 48 months in jail — almost one-third longer than the average sentence received by white men.
But now that the crowds have gone home and Jena is once again a quiet little oil and lumber town, will the big march have lasting significance, like the movement that helped end apartheid and free Nelson Mandela? Or will it be like the Million Man March: a stirring memory and a great applause line for political speeches, but not much follow-through?
It was the bad fortune of the Jena Six demonstrators that they had to share the spotlight with another media eruption, the latest misadventures of O.J. Simpson. Charged with armed robbery in Las Vegas for allegedly trying to steal memorabilia from his own glory days, Simpson needed no help from bloggers or talk shows to get wall-to-wall coverage.
Simpson returned to TV screens like a cheap sequel to a movie you’d rather forget. He reminds us of one of America’s most racially divided moments. Simpson’s acquittal of double homicide charges gave white Americans a shock that their black friends, neighbors and co-workers have been long acquainted with, the chilling sense of denied justice. And for black Americans with an eye for bitter irony, Simpson’s acquittal showed a strange form of progress, at best: America had progressed enough to let a rich black man buy his way out of accountability in the way once reserved for rich white men.
But that’s not a good enough standard of justice for a great people or a great country. As demonstrated by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s fiasco with Tawana Brawley or the recent bogus Duke University rape case, unequal justice doesn’t always tilt against black folks or Latinos. We simply have been statistically more vulnerable to it.
In this increasingly diverse country, Americans should not have to spend another century playing one-downs-manship, competing to see whose race or ethnic group can be the most victimized. The best legacy for the Jena Six march would be a new movement, dedicated this time to the reduction and elimination of unequal justice wherever it appears. I don’t care who leads it, but it shouldn’t be for blacks only.
Page is a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist specializing in urban issues. He is based in Washington, D.C. (email@example.com )
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As the city’s elderly return, many find Katrina has left them only rubble or a life of squalor
By Richard Fausset
Times Staff Writer
September 18, 2007
NEW ORLEANS — For many elderly survivors of Hurricane Katrina, life has become a minor-key coda of rubble and ruin, of discomfort and displacement, of strained social services and fear of depredation.
About 40,000 of New Orleans’ 85,000 elderly have returned since the city flooded two years ago, said Howard Rodgers III, executive director of the New Orleans Council on Aging.
The public and private sectors are doing what they can for the elderly, but they are overwhelmed by the need. Space is available at nursing homes, though it is more limited at the assisted living centers that cater to the moderately infirm. Like anywhere, though, seniors here are loath to give up their independence. For some, the alternative is squalor.
On a late summer morning, Juliette Allen, 64, was sitting calmly among the roaches that crawled around her dank apartment. Her home nursing-care company had sent over an exterminator, who was spraying the walls. It was sweltering hot; Allen said her social worker was trying to find an air conditioner.
Allen’s husband John, 75, was in the hospital with heart and lung trouble. Allen said she and her husband weren’t ready for assisted living. Their Ninth Ward home was badly damaged; reconstruction would begin soon, but was not expected to be completed until Christmas.
Joyce Simms Wood, 77, also refuses to go to a nursing home. She prefers to stay alone in a trailer in front of her damaged house in a ghostly New Orleans East neighborhood.
Wood can barely walk. The handicapped ramp that the government built her is useless, she says, because it has steps. A church group came by to gut her house, but Wood suspected them of stealing and ran them off. A Meals on Wheels truck brings her food.
“A nursing home,” Wood growled, “is a slaughterhouse.”
Other seniors have had better luck and better health, and are patiently rebuilding. Former merchant seaman Andrew Frick, 83 has faced down some sad times alone in a government trailer in Meraux, a suburb. But he has arranged for his house to be remodeled in Chalmette and expects to be home before long.
Former handyman Charles Taylor, 81, knows that fixing Katrina’s damage will be his life’s last job. He has stomach and liver cancer, he says, and only six months to live. He has been slowly restoring his modest Ninth Ward duplex for the relatives who will survive him.
His age and condition have made the work slow and painful.
“But I ain’t going to stop though,” he said. “I might die, but I ain’t going to give up.”
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New America Media, Commentary
Jean Damu, Posted: Sep 13, 2007
Editor’s Note: Raids on undocumented workers today are nothing new for African Americans, who saw raids on their own population more than 150 years ago.
In August local law enforcement and immigration officials in a small Pennsylvania town began receiving reports that undocumented immigrants were being offered sanctuary at a nearby residence. Furthermore, the reports went on to say, during the daytime hours, the immigrants were blending into portions of the local population and working in one of the city’s factories.
After several weeks of investigation, the authorities determined that, in fact, the reports of the undocumented immigrants’ activities were true.
In response to this perceived emergency, an interagency task force of immigration and local police personnel was organized. It was decided that an early morning raid would be the quickest and safest way to take the immigrants into custody and to prepare them for deportation.
The raid was carried out in September. After a brief struggle, the undocumented were overpowered, handcuffed and taken to jail, where they were told to prepare themselves for hearings to determine their eligibility for deportation.
The above incident is not unusual. It has played out countless times, in countless cities across the nation, as the United States struggles to come to grips with a moral question that is rooted in economics – the issue of undocumented workers.
The unusual aspect of the story, however, is that it did not take place in 2007 or 2006. It took place in the town of Christiana , Pa. And it took place in 1850.
In 1850, it was not the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that conducted the early morning raid, but rather an office of the U.S. Marshal and Deputy Marshal. And in 1850, the undocumented that were being rounded up were not Latinos or Asians but rather fugitive enslaved Africans who had crossed into Pennsylvania from Delaware in an attempt to escape slavery.
The fugitives were given sanctuary by members of the Black Self-Help Society, an armed organization that was formed many decades before the African Blood Brotherhood and the Black Panther Party. The group foreshadowed by only a few years the entry by massive numbers of blacks into the Union armies to fight the formerly officially endorsed “slavocracy.”
The right-wing political powers of the 21st century that re-configured the Immigration and Naturalization Service into ICE – the agency that is currently conducting raids against “illegal immigrants” as a response to the so-called “war on terrorism” – are direct descendants of those who created the U.S. Marshals and Deputy Marshals to enforce the fugitive slave legislations of the 18th and 19th centuries.
In the case of the Federal Marshals, the enforcement of immigration laws was fueled by politicians’ pandering to the political forces that would deliver free labor to the agrarian south and keep the United States a white man’s country. This objective was eloquently articulated in America ’s first immigration legislation adopted in 1789 as part of the establishment of the federal government and the year the U.S. Marshal’s office was brought into being.
Though the conditions of life are vastly more complicated today than when the first immigration laws were enacted, one can easily come to the conclusion that one of ICE’s unstated missions is to help maintain white supremacy. If this is not true, then why does no one discuss the issue of undocumented white workers who enter the country from Europe and Canada?
It is tempting to argue that the immigration movement is completely analogous to the abolitionist movement. That would be a mistake. After all, who would want to claim that deporting someone to Mexico is the same as returning them to slavery? But the similarities are powerful enough to convince many African Americans that it is in their best interest to support those who struggle against black people’s historic enemies.
It took decades of abolitionist work and unprecedented armed struggle to wrest the practice of slavery from the breast of America . Similar decades of educational work and political organizing were required to convince the majority of Americans that legalized discrimination in the form of the Jim Crow laws was also wrong. That struggle continues to this day.
Today there is much misunderstanding and confusion over immigration: some say the issue is too complicated, that there are too many global economic forces at work for the lay person to fully grasp. This is no different from earlier times when much confusion and misunderstanding existed in regards to slavery. In both cases, racism and unbridled white supremacy joined hands to generate the confusion.
Though the issue of immigration has been around since the birth of this nation, the current immigration movement is still in its early stages. If it is to achieve the perceived successes of the civil rights movement, it must do a better job of uniting with that sector of the U.S. population that so clearly participated in and benefited to a significant degree from the civil rights movement: Black America. On the other hand, African Americans should be sensitive to the current conditions in which many immigrants find themselves. These conditions, after all, are not unfamiliar to us.
Jean Damu is a member of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
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
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30 Mexican workers level kidnapping allegations against police in
By HOLBROOK MOHR Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. — Thirty Mexican nationals with visas to work in the
U.S. claim police in Pascagoula kidnapped and threatened them with
arrest or deportation if they did not return to an employer.
The workers, backed by the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, the
American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups, said
Wednesday that Pascagoula Police Capt. George Tillman threatened to
send them to jail if they didn’t return to work for a recruitment
The workers plan to file a lawsuit accusing Tillman of “kidnapping,
kidnapping with intent to enslave, false imprisonment, human
trafficking, and violations of the workers’ civil and constitutional
rights,” they said in a news release.
Enrique Garcia, 41, one of the workers, said Tillman told the workers
the company “owned” them.
Interim Pascagoula Police Chief Eddie Stewart said in a statement that
the allegations were without merit. He said they stemmed from a “call
for service in which two private contractors were in a dispute over who
employed a group of workers.”
Officers handled the situation properly, he said.
“Our responding officers, with the assistance of Immigration Customs
Enforcement, explained to both the private contractors and the workers
their options,” Stewart said.
Jackson County Assistant District Attorney Brice Wiggins said Wednesday
his “office has not received a complaint or allegation on the matter.”
The workers said they received H2B temporary visas to work for
Southwest Shipyards in Channelview, Texas, but left the company because
they were paid less than they were promised and working conditions were
Under terms of their visas, the workers were permitted only to work for
the company that sponsored them. A message seeking comment left after
hours Wednesday with Southwest Shipyards was not immediately returned.
The workers said they were promised jobs by a labor recruiting company
but that after six days of waiting in cramped mobile homes the company
had put them up in, they left for Pascagoula Miss., where they found
work repairing ships.
The workers said an official from the labor recruiting company tracked
them down and showed up with Tillman and at least two other officers on
Aug. 2. They said Tillman told them the recruiting company owned them
and that could be jailed if they didn’t return to work.
Garcia said the workers were not searched, handcuffed or detained by
the officers, but that the way they were handled merits their
“Capt. Tillman told us that we had two options: that either we go back
to work … or be detained,” he said.
Patricia Ice, an attorney for the Mississippi Immigrants Rights
Alliance, acknowledged that the men were in violation of their visa
agreement by leaving the original employer. But the company had
violated agreements with the workers, she said.
The workers, all from Veracruz, Mexico, said they paid a recruiter
between $1,500 and $2,000 to come to the U.S., expecting to make $16.50
an hour. Instead, they said Southwest Shipyards paid them $14 an hour,
of which they only kept $12 an hour after transportation and living
expenses were deducted.
With outside help, the workers escaped to New Orleans, where they have
been living without work or money, according to The (South Mississippi)