Homeland Theater

Brutal ICE raids continue —despite Obama's new policy

An immigrant family on Aug. 1 accused federal immigration officials of brutalizing a 46-year-old woman during a drug raid on a their home in Norco, Calif., where they had moved less than three weeks before. Carmen Bonilla told reporters in Spanish at a press conference at the headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles that roughly 40 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stormed the house on July 19, pointing guns at her and threatening to shoot. They said "shut up or we'll shoot," said Bonilla, before the agents shoved her to the floor and began kicking her. Bonilla said she and her daugter-in-law were held face-down on the floor with guns to their heads as agents searched the house, apparently for drugs. She said she later went to a hospital for treatment of scratches and bruises. "This family suffered an unjust attack by the authorities and had nothing to do with the drugs they were looking for," said immigration lawyer Jessica Domínguez, who represented the family at the press conference. Since the raid, the Bonillas say deportation proceedings have been brought against all undocumented family members. (LA Weekly's Informer blog, AP, EFE, NBC LA, Aug. 1)

California prison hunger strike grows to thousands

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) reports that as of July 8, at least 6,600 prisoners in at least 11 of the state’s 33 prisons have joined the hunger strike initiated by some 400 inmates at the Pelican Bay facility on July 1. With large numbers of inmates striking at Corcoran, Folsom, Tehachapi, Centinela, Calpatria and San Quentin state prisons, advocates and lawyers working to support the strike claim the number is much higher, and are pressing the CDCR to enter into negotiations with prisoners at Pelican Bay and immediately implement their demands. The demands outlined by hunger strike leaders in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay Prison include an end to long-term confinement and collective punishment, and an end to the practice of "debriefing," or requiring prisoners to divulge information about themselves and other prisoner in order to be released back into general population.

Georgia to appeal immigration law ruling

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens filed a notice of appeal in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on July 5, stating that he plans to appeal the recent injunction of the state's controversial immigration bill. Judge Thomas Thrash issued a preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs—the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and other rights groups—last week. Thrash granted the injunction request for sections 7 and 8 of HB 87, saying that the plaintiffs would face irreparable harm should the law take effect and that the public interest weighed in favor of issuing the injunction. The bill, which was scheduled to take effect on July 1, allows law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in criminal investigations. The law also imposes fines and prison sentences of up to one year for anyone who knowingly transports illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime, and requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of potential employees, providing that workers convicted of using fake identification to gain employment could face up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Georgia's appeal will be filed within the week in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

US Border Patrol shoots Mexican migrant at San Ysidro

The US Border Patrol shot dead a Mexican national who was among three men allegedly attempting to cross the frontier at San Ysidro, Calif. June 21. The dead man, identified as Jose Alfredo Yañez Reyes, 40, was shot after throwing stones at the agents from the southern side of the border, in Tijuana. One of the border agents reportedly sustained injuries but has since been released from hospital. The Border Patrol said the agent fired in self-defense. But the Mexican government condemned the killing, calling it a “disproportionate use of force” and has demanded a thorough investigation. President Felipe Calderón Tweeted that he had protested about the incident to Hillary Clinton at a Guatemala summit they are both attending. The death comes almost exactly a year after a 15-year-old Mexican boy was shot on the border at El Paso, Tex., after allegedly throwing stones at Border Patrol agents. (UPI, InSight Crime, June 23)

Mexico, Central American countries join challenge to Georgia immigration law

The governments of Mexico and several other countries, along with the Anti-Defamation League filed amicus briefs on June 16 in support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) class action lawsuit against Georgia's new immigration law. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru all filed briefs in support of the ACLU. In its brief, Mexico said the law will irreparably harm diplomatic interests between the US and Mexico. The suit is scheduled for its first hearing next week, where Judge Thomas Thrash is expected to rule on the ACLU's request for an injunction and Georgia's motion for dismissal.

Activists protest FBI raids in FARC-PFLP case

We noted last year the FBI raids on activists in the midwest over their alleged ties to the PFLP and the FARC. We've also noted the hardline proclivities of federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, whose harsh "anti-terrorist" measures have bottlenecked free speech before. Now, this story from the Washington Post of June 13 connects the dots. We are not privy to the details, but it certainly doesn't sound good...

Bin Laden, Geronimo and historical memory: the case for accuracy

In what is surely a great moment in bad timing, the killing of Osama bin Laden—and the news that the Navy SEALS had code-named him "Geronimo"—came just days before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee had scheduled a hearing entitled "Stolen Identities: The Impact of Racist Stereotypes on Indigenous People." As Indian Country Today reported, this provided an opportunity for Harlyn Geronimo—great-grandson of the famous Apache warrior—to register his protest to the nation. Rightly calling the use of his forebear's name a "subversion of history" and "unpardonable slander of Native America and its most famous leader in history," he went on to make demands since taken up by other Native American voices:

Georgia governor signs "Arizona style" anti-immigration bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law on May 13 an "Arizona style" anti-illegal immigration bill, HB 87, that allows law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in criminal investigations. The law also imposes fines and prison sentences of up to one year for anyone who knowingly transports illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime, and requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of potential employees, providing that workers convicted of using fake identification to gain employment could face up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. A CNN report described the measure as "one of the toughest anti-illegal immigration measures enacted by an individual state." In addition to demonstrations outside the capitol, the legislation has drawn threats of both lawsuits and boycotts, as have similar recent measures in other states.

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