ICE raids hit Hudson Valley

Early on March 19, ICE agents raided an apartment building in the village of Mount Kisco, in the lower Hudson Valley area of New York state, allegedly searching for a fugitive. Local police said the fugitive, Estanslao Lopez, is an immigrant with multiple criminal convictions—though they wouldn’t release his rap sheet. Village police Lt. Patrick O’Reilly referred questions to immigration officials. “It was their operation,” he said. The raided apartment building was apparently Lopez’s last known address.

Lopez wasn’t there, but ICE arrested 20 immigrants who lived in the building and took them to an ICE location in Manhattan for processing, police said. ICE New York spokesperson Mark Thorn said the fugitive who was the focus of the raid—he would not identify the person—had been ordered deported. Thorn said the apartment building was targeted because the agency had information the fugitive would be there. “When we’re at a target location, we need to know who’s on the premises for officer safety,” Thorn said. “Everyone on the premises will be interviewed.” Thorn said those taken into custody were arrested for immigration law violations and placed in removal proceedings. (Journal News, White Plains/Mount Kisco/West Nyack, March 22, 23)

On March 22, ICE agents carried out a raid at a house in Mount Kisco. Mark Thorn confirmed on March 22 that a second operation seeking a fugitive had been carried out in Mount Kisco; he would not say whether the fugitive was the same person sought in the March 19 raid. A couple who lived at the house said they were awakened that morning by agents forcing open the
first-floor windows by their bed. They said they were handcuffed and taken with five other residents of the same house to Manhattan immigration offices where all seven were photographed, fingerprinted and released later in the day with court papers instructing them to return to immigration court for hearings.

Of the 20 immigrants arrested in the March 19 raid, 14 had been released by March 22, according to attorney George Echevarria. Several of those arrested on March 19 said they spent one night in Manhattan and two nights at a New Jersey jail before being released with orders to appear before an immigration judge in Manhattan on April 2. One of the men said immigration officials put the group on a Manhattan subway bound for Grand Central Terminal. No one in the group had cash to pay for the train ride back to Mount Kisco, but one of the men was able to use a bank card and buy the needed train tickets. (JN, March 23)

South Carolina tire campany aids ICE arrests

On Feb. 22 and 23, federal and local officials arrested seven men and six women at a tire manufacturing plant in Aiken, South Carolina. All 13 workers were charged in separate indictments with fraud and misuse of immigration documents for allegedly using false green cards to obtain employment at Carlisle Tire and Wheel. All made appearances in federal court and were being detained awaiting trial on $250,000 secured bonds.

Officials say the investigation began last year after a local woman told the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office that her identity was being used by someone employed at Carlisle; she discovered the identity theft when she was rejected for unemployment benefits. County investigators forwarded the information to federal authorities, who obtained employment records and found that a Carlisle employee had presented counterfeit documents—a green card in the name of the local woman—to get hired. After that employee was arrested, Carlisle officials asked ICE to review the immigration documents provided by other employees. That review prompted the Feb. 22-23 arrests.

“Carlisle’s pro-active efforts in this matter are highly commendable,” said Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt. The case was investigated by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Secret Service, Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General, US Marshals, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, and the Aiken Department of Public Safety. (WLTX-TV News, Columbia, SC, March 1; Aiken Standard, Feb. 27, March 3)

From Immigration News Briefs, March 24

See our last post on the immigration crackdown.