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1/1/05: Immigration News Briefs from CHRI

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    Immigration News Briefs Vol. 8, No. 1 - January 1, 2005 By: Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI) e-mail: nicajg@panix.com 1. AZ: More
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2005
      Immigration News Briefs
      Vol. 8, No. 1 - January 1, 2005
      By: Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI)
      e-mail: nicajg@...

      1. AZ: More Farmworkers Arrested
      2. PA: Four Detained for Videotaping
      3. CA: Muslim Cleric Agrees to Leave

      Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News
      Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity
      Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;
      fax 212-674-9139; _wnu@..._ (mailto:wnu@...) .


      On Dec. 23, US Border Patrol agents arrested 94 undocumented
      immigrants at a "tactical checkpoint" in Dome Valley, in Yuma
      County, Arizona. Authorities said the majority of the immigrants
      were on their way to farm-related jobs in Yuma County. Some were
      traveling on three labor buses and the rest were either in
      harvest-related work vehicles or in privately owned vehicles,
      said Joe Brigman, spokesperson for the Border Patrol's Yuma
      sector. Three days earlier, on Dec. 20, the Border Patrol
      arrested 138 immigrants in a similar sweep at a checkpoint in the
      same area [see INB 12/25/04]. The "tactical checkpoints" are set
      up to apprehend vehicles which try to circumvent established
      checkpoints nearby. [Yuma Sun 12/24/04]


      On Dec. 27, local police detained four Guatemalan immigrants in
      Chester County, Pennsylvania, after being tipped off by a local
      delivery driver who saw the four videotaping near the Limerick
      nuclear plant. An investigation by Chester County detectives,
      Pennsylvania State Police agents from the town of Skippack in
      neighboring Montgomery County, and Federal Bureau of
      Investigation (FBI) agents subsequently determined that the four
      men were making a "tourist video" and were not involved in
      terrorist activities, according to Jerri Williams, an FBI
      spokesperson in Philadelphia. Williams said authorities found
      three of the men were in the US illegally; they are now held by
      the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in
      Philadelphia, she said. The fourth man was released following the
      investigation, said Williams. No criminal charges will be filed
      against the four. Their names were not released. [The Mercury
      (Pottstown, PA) 12/29/04]


      On Dec. 28, Egyptian immigrant Wagdy Mohamed Ghoneim, an imam at
      the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim, California,
      agreed to drop his fight against deportation and leave by Jan. 7
      for Qatar, where he holds a work visa, in exchange for his
      release from immigration detention. His family, including his
      wife and seven children, must also leave. The deal, which bars
      Ghoneim's return for 10 years, was approved by Immigration Judge
      D.D. Sitgraves at a bond hearing in immigration court in San
      Pedro. "I came to this country in peace," Ghoneim said during the
      hearing. "I did not come here to scare anybody." Since his
      arrest, Ghoneim has been held at the federal detention facility
      in San Pedro. Earlier in December, Ghoneim suffered chest pains
      and was taken to a hospital, where neither his personal physician
      nor family were allowed to visit him or talk to him by phone.

      Ghoneim came to the US from Egypt in 2001 on a visitor's visa,
      and remained after obtaining a special visa for religious
      workers. He was arrested at his home in Anaheim, California, on
      Nov. 4 and charged with overstaying his religious-worker visa.
      According to documents provided to Ghoneim's attorney by ICE, the
      visa was valid until June 20, 2004; Ghoneim applied for an
      extension last February but never received a reply, his attorneys
      say. ICE claims Ghoneim participated in fundraising activities
      which could have helped terrorist organizations. Ghoneim's
      attorney, Valerie Curtis-Diop, said that Richard Garcia,
      assistant director-in-charge of the Los Angeles office of the
      FBI, testified at an earlier hearing that the FBI did not have an
      interest in Ghoneim and did not request that he be detained. Bill
      Odencrantz, ICE director of field legal operations, said Ghoneim
      was charged with the immigration violation "because it was the
      easiest charge to prove."

      The bond hearing came a day after Ghoneim's family and some 20
      other supporters met with Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA), who chairs
      the Select Committee on Homeland Security, to deliver a petition
      signed by more than 1,000 people asking Cox to investigate the
      case. Cox told Ghoneim's family he would look into it. "I'm going
      to use this opportunity to learn, very thoroughly, how ICE is
      proceeding in cases like these," he said.

      On Dec. 28, outside the hearing, more than 100 supporters braved
      wet, windy weather to protest Ghoneim's detention. Hussam
      Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic
      Relations (CAIR) in Orange County, said Ghoneim's arrest fits a
      trend of discriminatory enforcement which includes "the selective
      application of laws on Muslims, especially on minor violations;
      the targeting of Muslim travelers at airports; the revoking of
      visas of Muslim visitors coming to the United States."

      Ayloush later said many in the Muslim community have mixed
      feelings about Ghoneim's decision to give up the fight. "The last
      thing the community wants to see is for him to have a heart
      attack and lose his life [in custody]," he said. "On the other
      hand, his packing up and leaving is unfortunately a dent in our
      civil rights struggle." At least two other Orange County Islamic
      leaders are in immigration detention: Abdel Jabbar Hamdan of
      Buena Park has been held without bond since July 27 [see INB
      12/18/04]; and Abdel Malik, an imam at the Islamic Center of
      Irvine, is also in custody. [Los Angeles Times 12/28/04,
      12/29/04, 12/30/04; KABC-TV 12/27/04; Islam Online 12/29/04]

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