Immigrants on hunger strike in Chicago; more raids from coast to coast

As of May 25, two immigrant mothers who began a hunger strike in Chicago on May 10 were still consuming only liquids as they called for an end to all deportations until Congress finalizes a legalization bill. Elvira Arellano and Flor Crisostomo, both of whom were arrested in immigration raids and are fighting their own deportation, have been joined by three other hunger strikers and are camping out in a plaza on Chicago’s south side. They plan to continue their fast until at least June 1, the day when 23 of 26 Chicago-area IFCO Systems employees arrested in a nationwide sweep on April 19 face hearings in immigration court. Crisostomo is one of the “IFCO 26.” (Chicago Tribune, May 25)

Immigrant rights activists held new protests throughout the week of May 15. About 1,000 people rallied in Washington DC in the rain on May 17. (Washington Times, May 18) Some 200 people marched in San Francisco on May 17. (San Francisco Chronicle, May 18) In New York City, a May 17 march in Queens drew more than 200 participants (“dozens,” according to the local Spanish-language daily El Diario-La Prensa), while a May 20 march in Manhattan drew close to 1,000 (“several hundred,” according to the New York Times). (Eyewitness reports; ED-LP, May 18; NYT, May 21) Several dozen people also rallied in Brentwood, Long Island, on May 20. (Newsday, May 21)

Raids: 179 arrested in Las Vegas

Between May 20 and 25, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 179 out-of-status immigrants in Clark County, Nevada, in a sweep ostensibly aimed at people who had failed to comply with outstanding deportation orders. Only 87 of those arrested were found to be violating deportation orders; 92 merely lacked legal status. “Fugitive operations teams” based in Los Angeles and Phoenix were recruited to help local Las Vegas area ICE agents carry out “Operation City Lights”; ICE said in a news release that its agents also received “substantial assistance in the operation from the Nevada Department of Public Safety Parole and Probation Division.”

The majority of those arrested were Mexican citizens; others came from Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Egypt, the Philippines, Samoa and Iraq. As of May 25, 134 of those arrested had already been removed from the US, according to ICE. Officials said those who had not yet been deported—including an Iraqi man—were awaiting travel documents from their home countries. “Whether it’s Iraq or Peru, we will reach out to officials in that country to obtain travel documents,” said ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice.

“I find it hard to believe that this wasn’t done to show Congress and the American public that they can deport people,” said Jeremiah Wolf-Stuchiner, a Las Vegas-based immigration attorney and the head of the local chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). “Although people say it’s impossible to deport 11 million people living here illegally, ICE is showing they can do this.” (AP, May 25; ICE News Release, May 25)

35 Indonesians held in New Jersey

Before dawn on May 24, about 24 officers from the ICE field offices in New York City and Newark arrested 35 Indonesian immigrants in a sweep through the area of Edison, New Jersey. Of the total arrested, 32 had been denied asylum or ordered deported; the other three were out-of-status immigrants caught fleeing the scene of the raids. Agents issued a notice for 15 other people who cooperated to appear at the ICE office for processing. Most of the deportation orders for those arrested were issued between two and five years ago, authorities said. Some of them had been appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), though the majority of those appeals were denied within the last year, authorities said.

“When they receive their orders from the immigration judge, they should have contacted our office to start the official removal process,” said Raymond Simonse, acting Newark ICE field office director for detention and removal operations. Simonse said about 20 of those arrested lived at an apartment complex in Woodbridge. The others were at different sites in Edison and Metuchen. According to Simonse, ICE planned the raid after research teams identified a large pool of people in the same area who had ignored final removal orders. “We put together an operation to gather them all at once, so that those we didn’t get couldn’t abscond,” Simonse said. Simonse said local police departments were notified just prior to the operation, but did not participate. Those arrested are being held at Hudson County Jail, Middlesex County Adult Correction Center and Elizabeth Detention Center, Simonse said. (Home News Tribune, NJ, May 25; ICE News Release, May 24)

From Immigration News Briefs, May 28

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