On Dec. 4, ICE agents raided Idaho Truss & Component Co., a wood framing company in Nampa, Idaho, just west of Boise, arresting 16 of the 22 workers present. The workers, all Mexican men, were expected to be placed into deportation proceedings for administrative immigration violations. ICE’s investigation began with a tip from the public, said ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers. ICE then initiated an investigation after reviewing the employment records of individuals who were helping build military housing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, about 50 miles south of Boise. Further investigation revealed that some of the workers may have secured employment using false Social Security numbers and other counterfeit identity documents. The company had been providing information to ICE for the past several weeks, said Idaho Truss President Kendall Hoyd. ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Metro Violent Crimes and Gang Task Force based in Nampa and the US Postal Inspection Service. (ICE news release, Dec. 4; Idaho Statesman, Dec. 5; Boise Weekly, Dec. 10)
On Dec. 7 about 80 people took part in a vigil at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise to support the arrested workers and protest the raid. The vigil was organized by Idaho Community Action Network and Catholic Charities of Idaho. (AP, Dec. 8 with info from Idaho Press-Tribune; Boise Weekly, Dec. 10) On Dec. 8, a group of about 30 women from Mujeres Unidas de Idaho held a lunch meeting where they grilled two federal prosecutors and Don Buechner, the ICE agent in charge of Boise, about the raid. Buechner told the group that the investigation at Idaho Truss began with an encounter with two unauthorized laborers working at Mountain Home Air Force Base. ICE also received three letters from concerned citizens alleging that Idaho Truss was firing legal workers and hiring illegal workers. “Whether or not that’s true or not, that sort of got us into investigating a little further,” Buechner said. (Boise Weekly, Dec. 10)
On Dec. 9, a federal grand jury in Boise indicted all 16 of the arrested workers on federal charges including possession of counterfeit alien registration receipt cards, misuse of Social Security numbers, and illegal entry or re-entry after deportation. Twelve of the workers immediately pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time served and returned to ICE custody for removal from the US. Three workers are scheduled to go on trial on Feb. 10, 2009 for reentry after deportation. One worker has not yet entered a plea. (ICE news release, Dec. 12; AP, Dec. 12)
From Immigration News Briefs, Dec. 28
See our last posts on the politics of immigration and the struggle in Idaho.