Top Immigration Headlines: November 2011
As the United States inches toward election season, passions are running high about immigration reform.
Many states have passed immigration laws enabling local law enforcement to apprehend individuals suspected to be illegal immigrants. In conjunction with these efforts, Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to use its resources to identify and arrest illegal immigrants across the country. In Arizona, drug smuggling is an issue, while in Utah the number of immigrants has declined.
Matt O’Brien of the Oakland Tribune reported that a Mexican immigrant, Francisco “Pancho” Ramos Stierle, was placed into deportation proceedings after he was picked up by Oakland Police for protesting as part of Occupy Oakland. Ramos Stierle was meditating outside of Oakland City Hall when he and 31 other protesters were arrested by Oakland Police. When the fingerprint check with the federal Secure Communities database revealed that Ramos Stierle was deportable, he was transferred to ICE custody. Ramos Stierle came to the Bay Area on a student visa that expired in 2008 and has since been a full-time peace activist.
ICE agents raided a China Buffet restaurant in Waterville, Maine, according to the Kennebec Journal. The agents reportedly arrived at 11 a.m., before the restaurant was to open, and began asking for identification of employees. Although ten employees were questioned by the agents, no one was taken into custody. Agents also searched other Asian restaurants in nearby Portland, Brewer and Lewiston. In September an owner of a Mexican restaurant was arrested and charged with harboring illegal aliens.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that an Albuquerque firefighter who was being held in ICE custody would not be deported after all. The firefighter, Jose Gonzalez, a legal resident who has lived in the US for more than 20 years, was picked up by immigration authorities last month after being charged in connection with a drive-by shooting 15 years ago when he was a juvenile. Gonzalez won his case and will return to his job at the Albuquerque Fire Department.
A 70-foot long tunnel discovered in Nogales, Arizona, was being used to smuggle drugs across the border, according to Daniel González of The Arizona Republic. The tunnel, concealed under the front porch of a home, was the first discovered in Arizona since October. Twelve tunnels were discovered last fiscal year in Arizona. Federal officials attribute the increase in tunnels to increased security along the border.
Lee Davidson of The Salt Lake Tribune reports that surveys of foreign-born residents of Utah revealed that immigration decreased in the state from 2008 to 2010. Experts attribute the decline to a combination of factors, including job shortages and a local heated debate on illegal immigration. Others say that immigration has decreased due to the increasing danger of traveling across the border through regions controlled by drug cartels. The decrease is not specific to Utah; immigration is down across the country.