Homeland Theater

Migrants die on Mexican border

An unauthorized migrant drowned in a border canal in El Paso, Texas, on June 27 after a US Border Patrol agent trying to rescue him was hit in the head with a rock thrown by a suspected smuggler, Border Patrol officials said. The agent, who was not identified, fired at least one shot at the suspected smuggler and at another would-be immigrant, who fled back into Mexico, Border Patrol spokesperson Patrick Berry said. It was unclear how many shots the agent fired or whether either of the fleeing men were hit by bullets. The drowned man's body was found in the canal more than four miles east of where the agents saw him go under the water, Berry said. The shooting is under investigation; it was the third involving a Border Patrol agent in the El Paso area this year. (AP, June 27)

Texas activists protest ICE prisons

On June 23, some 500 activists marked World Refugee Day by gathering outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, an ICE detention center holding immigrant families with children in Taylor, Texas. The facility holds more than 500 immigrants, including hundreds of children. The Taylor Police Department was dispatched to the Hutto facility to prevent protestors from entering private property, but they did not try to stop the vigil.

ICE arrest locks down California school

On July 5, De La Salle High School in Concord, California, was locked down for 15 minutes while ICE sought to arrest a construction worker on the school grounds. Confusion erupted after two Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officers driving past the school that morning saw a suspicious man with a holstered handgun disappear between two buildings. The BART officers notified school administrators and the Concord police, which sent officers to the school to intercept the mystery gunman. The gunman turned out to be one of four undercover ICE agents seeking to arrest a Mexican immigrant employed by a contractor doing asbestos abatement at the school. According to ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice, the worker had a prior conviction for driving under the influence and had failed to comply with an immigration judge's order to leave the country. Kice said the employer told ICE where to find the worker, but the agents didn't realize it was a school until they arrived, and then they assumed that because it was summer, no students would be around, so they proceeded with the arrest.

Canada: Mohawks block roads, rail lines in National Day of Action

First Nations activists held protests across Canada over the Canada Day holiday weekend in a National Day of Action against the Conservative government emphasizing land claims and other disputes. In Ontario, camouflage-clad Mohawks, some reportedly armed, blocked Highway 401 between Belleville and Napanee for more than 10 hours June 29 and also halted passenger and freight train service along the Canadaian National Railway's busiest corridor. Rail service between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa was shut for several hours.

Los Angeles: protesters defend immigrant rights

On June 24, several thousand demonstrators, many carrying US flags, marched through Hollywood, California, to demand full rights for immigrants. Police estimated the crowd at 1,100. Organizer Raul Murillo said the marchers want lawmakers in Washington to know immigration reform is essential. (Los Angeles Times, June 25; Los Angeles Daily News, June 25) The Coalition in Defense of Immigrant Rights (CDIR), which organized the march, said more than 15,000 people took part. (CDIR Update No. 15, June 24, via Los Angeles Indymedia)

Immigration bill fails

On June 28, the US Senate defeated a measure that would have limited debate on immigration reform and cleared the way for final passage of a proposed "compromise" bill. The measure to end debate and move forward with the bill got 46 votes, 14 short of what it needed to pass. The measure was backed by 33 Democrats, 12 Republicans and one independent; opposing it were 37 Republicans, 15 Democrats and one independent. One senator was absent. The measure's failure means that immigration reform is likely dead until after the 2008 elections, according to the New York Times.

Undercover border agent kills migrant

Early on May 31, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed Benito A. Gonzalez after trying to handcuff him in an unincorporated area north of Escondido, California, just east of Interstate 15. Gonzalez was an out-of-status immigrant who lived in Sun City in Riverside County. The incident began when undercover Border Patrol agents pulled over a van suspected of carrying unauthorized immigrants, arrested the driver and 11 passengers and took them to a Border Patrol station. Gonzalez arrived in a separate vehicle and according to officials, confronted the lone undercover agent who had stayed behind to wait for a tow truck. The agent and Gonzalez scuffled in a parking lot and again in an adjacent lot after Gonzalez tried to run away, sheriff's investigators said. It was unclear whether Gonzalez was linked to the van stopped earlier. (San Diego Union Tribune, May 31; AP, June 5)

Hunger-striking immigration detainee force-fed in NJ

On June 15, a federal judge in Trenton, New Jersey, ruled that officials at the Monmouth County jail in Freehold can use intravenous or feeding tubes to force feed immigration detainee Samuel Izrailovich Shevaniya, who is on hunger strike. Shevaniya arrived at Monmouth County jail on June 7 and stopped eating on June 9. According to a petition filed on June 14 by the US Attorney's Office in Newark and obtained by The Star-Ledger, Shevaniya has "steadfastly indicated he has no intention of eating," and if he doesn't get food soon "his health will continue to deteriorate and he will ultimately die." Undersheriff Cynthia Scott, a spokesperson for the Monmouth County Sheriff's Department, said Shevaniya was cooperating with doctors, who will use either an intravenous tube or a feeding tube to deliver nourishment.

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