On June 12, more than 150 ICE agents executed search and arrest warrants at three sites in Portland, Oregon, connected with the Fresh Del Monte company and its Portland fruit and vegetable processing facility, arresting about 165 workers and three managers. Searches were carried out at two offices of American Staffing Resources Inc, a US recruitment company responsible for staffing at the Portland Fresh Del Monte plant. A search warrant was also executed at the Fresh Del Monte office within the plant. As part of the criminal investigation, a federal grand jury in Portland has returned indictments against three individuals alleging immigration, document fraud, and identity theft offenses.
The UN is expected to release a report shortly that will shed light on human rights violations of migrants in the United States. The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council by Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante, who conducted a controversial fact-finding mission in the US from April 30 to May 17. The visit was arranged to investigate concerns including arbitrary detention, separation of families, substandard conditions of detention, procedural violations in criminal and administrative law proceedings, racial and ethnic discrimination, arbitrary and collective expulsions and violations of children’s and women’s rights. [UN press release, May 17]
Now, let's see. A May 26 AP account by Larry McShane on the case of Syed Hashmi, a 27-year-old Pakistan-born US citizen and former Queens resident extradited from England back to New York to face terrorism charges, says he is accused of providing "military gear" to al-Qaeda in Pakistan. A June 1 AP account by David Caruso informs us that this "military gear" was rain gear—"waterproof socks and rain coats." And all he did was allow a friend to keep them in his London apartment. Are we the only ones who feel these "terrorism" cases are becoming alarmingly specious?
A prisoner has died in an apparent suicide at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the US military announced May 30. A statement by the US Southern Command said the inmate, a Saudi Arabian national, was found unresponsive and not breathing by guards, and attempts to revive him failed. Two Saudis and a Yemeni prisoner were found hanged in an apparent suicide at the camp in June last year. There were no details as to how the prisoner died. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has opened an inquiry into the incident. There are about 380 prisoners at the camp, some held for five years.
Interesting. A Pew survey finds that 87% of Muslim Americans polled (just some 1,000 out of the total 2 million-plus) condemn the practice of suicide bombings. But for those under 30, the 13% finding them sometimes justified doubles to 26%. So the lefty InterPress Service headline states: "Major Poll Finds U.S. Muslims Mostly Mainstream." The reactionary New York Post editorializes May 23 (all caps in original, of course): "TIME BOMBS IN OUR MIDST"
Declaring fires set at a police station, an SUV dealer and a tree farm were acts of "terrorism," US District Judge Ann Aiken May 23 sentenced former Earth Liberation Front militant Stanislas Meyerhoff to 13 years in prison. Judge Aiken commended for informing on his fellow arsonists after his arrest, saying he had the courage to "do the right thing." But he said: "It was your intent to scare and frighten other people through a very dangerous and psychological act – arson. Your actions included elements of terrorism to achieve your goal."
On May 17, key Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the administration of President George W. Bush reached a compromise agreement on a Senate immigration reform bill after months of closed-door negotiations. (Arizona Republic, May 18) Under the plan, which the Senate is set to begin debating on May 21, out-of-status immigrants present in the US as of Jan. 1, 2007 could initially seek "probationary" status while border security improvements and a high-tech worker identification program are put in place. Applicants could then seek a renewable "Z visa" that would allow them remain here. After paying fees and fines totaling $5,000 and waiting eight to 13 years, they could ultimately get on track for permanent residency—although heads of households would first have to return to their home countries.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer threw his support behind a proposal to curtail the president's recently expanded powers to take charge of the National Guard in domestic crises. "Given the Guard's growing importance in local emergencies, we are concerned about having the president assume more control over the Guard," said the governor's spokeswoman, Christine Anderson. Spitzer was reacting to a change in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 that expanded the president's ability to "federalize" the Guard during terrorist attacks, natural disasters, pandemics and other emergencies, without consulting the governors. (Newsday, May 15)