Sunday, October 26, 2008

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement--- A Good Start in the San Francisco Bay Area

Guest Entry by CaliGirl9!

On October 23, federal prosecutors unsealed a document charging 29 individuals, each with alleged connections to the MS-13 street gang, with 52 counts, including charges for attempted murder, murder, drugs and firearms trafficking, robbery, assault, witness tampering, and car theft. Twenty-two face federal racketeering charges, which are punishable by life in federal prison without parole. The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello, who unfortunately had to share the press conference with two of SF’s “finest,” Police Chief Heather Fong and DA Kamala Harris, aka the DA whose motto is “I won’t use the death penalty ever.”

Perhaps in a bid to make her look all rough and tough and into law enforcement, Harris took the occasion to announce state murder and robbery charges against four members of MS-13 in the July 31 stabling death of 14-year-old Ivan Miranda during a robbery over an iPod. Cesar Alvarado, 18, Walter Chinchilla-Linard, 22 and two juveniles, ages 16 and 17. Guillermo Herrara, age 20, was arrested and charged in yet another slaying, that of 30-year-old Armando Estrada on July 11.

The individuals under indictment include senior leaders of the 20th Street clique branch of MS-13. This deadly branch of the gang is responsible for five slayings in SF’s Excelsior district this year. Federal investigative authorities set up an export warehouse in Richmond (an East Bay city) where undercover agents bought guns and vehicles said to be stolen by gang members and their associates.

A total of 31 individuals are under indictment (federal or state); two were already in custody and three remain at large.

Russoniello said that prosecutors would seek "maximum possible penalties so we don't have to play cat and mouse in the future.”

One of the individuals under indictment is Edwin Ramos, the brute who wiped out 2/3 of the Bologna family this summer because the Bologna’s car momentarily impeded Ramos’ ability to complete a turn onto a street. Awaiting charges is Eric Lopez, who is in custody on federal weapons charges after he was arrested placing a gun out of a vehicle driven by Ramos. That weapon was used in the March 29 slaying of Ernad Joldic and Phillip Ng. As you may recall, Ramos was released because DA Harris said there was no evidence Ramos knew Lopez had the gun in his possession.

This sweep, finally undertaken after a three-year investigation known as “Operation Devil Horns” in reference to the gang’s sign, also reached to Guam, where one suspect, John Briez, was about to board a plane headed to the Philippines. In his possession was more than $10,000.

Naturally SF’s very vocal immigrants’ rights community was outraged, outraged I tell you! SF’s Board of Stupes member Tom Ammiano’s office claimed that federal agents brutally attacked a woman during one raid, “causing her to lose consciousness and require hospitalization.” An ICE agent quickly disputed and countered the accusations, saying the woman fainted, and was treated by medical personnel and released.

(This was all avoidable. If the fainting woman hadn’t been hanging out with gangstas, she would not have been in a location to be raided by federal agents and cause her to faint dead away in the shock that she was in the company of gangstas!)

(By the way SF readers, I understand there is another candidate you can vote for to rid yourselves of Ammiano. Might I suggest that San Franciscans vote all incumbents OUT of office and start with a clean slate? Your formerly beautiful city is a laughingstock pigsty, bordering on Third World and flat-out dangerous to visit. Personally I avoid it as much as possible. Also, if you have time to check out the links to some of the stories I used to help me write this editorial, please read the comments. For such a liberal city, San Franciscans have had enough!)

I have no problem with ICE getting on its horse and doing the right thing with this well-investigated raid. But there is another side to the illegal immigration story, that of those people who have two crimes against them—coming over the border illegally AND using someone else’s social security number—but no history of violent crime or crime against another person or property. I know that a crime is a crime, but honestly I’d rather ICE spend time rounding up the thugs—I am sure there are plenty all over the U.S., and not only thugs of Hispanic background—and perhaps help the people in the executive and legislative branches of government come up with a viable solution to the problem of illegal entry into the U.S.

Even though I have been a “victim” of someone using my social security number nearly 20 years ago, all I had to do is tell the authorities that I could not have possibly had a job in a field in the southern Central Valley in the same period of time I was working as a nurse elsewhere in coastal Northern California. That “unreported” income was immediately taken off of the ledger as unreported income.

We all agree that securing the border needs to be Priority One. With the economy the way it is, it’s going to be easy to put that one aside. But think of the huge public works project designing and building a nice fence, moat or unclimbable cliff along with some nice comfy guardhouses and holding jails between the U.S. and Mexico will be how many people will be employed!

Raids like that in Postville, Iowa, earlier this year are parts of ICE’s mission. Last week, the first of the 388 workers taken who were taken into custody at the Agriprocessors meat plant raid were deported. There is no doubt the injustices that these workers suffer is real, nor does that mean employers who allow such horrible treatment of humans beings come away scott-free, but that does not change the fact that a crime has been committed by those people being in the U.S. illegally. I would much prefer these workers be given some sort of identification to let them stay in the U.S. as long as they stay out of trouble and immediately begin a path to a viable green card. (Notice I did not say move them to the head of the line toward citizenship—a totally different issue. Let’s do a better job of identifying who is here illegally and then keep the cream of the crop, those who have jobs, those who do not get arrested for gang activity or running down soccer moms while drunk. If you screw up, you are gone. Period. And the nice big fence we’ve built in the meantime will keep you where you belong.)

When my mother’s family came from Europe in the 1950s, they were cautioned to keep themselves out of trouble lest they be deported. And they did. That simply needs to be enforced. Why is that immigrants of European extraction take this seriously yet those from Latina America (or even Southeast Asia to a point) really don’t seem to take this admonition seriously at all? (Vietnamese coffee houses that operate on a cash-only basis, I’m looking at you. Pay your damn taxes!)

Look, there is no way in this day and age that a round-up of everyone here illegally, and then a mass deportation, is going to happen. And even if El Salvador or some Southeast Asian country today declared war on the U.S., or Mexico attacked Tucson, Arizona with M-80s, citizens simply would not allow a mass round-up of possible “sympathizers” as was done in WWII with the Japanese and the Germans. I think we can all agree that is wrong. (In this election year, remember the political party in charge when those round-ups were ordered and people were housed in internment camps, and the legislative branch and American citizens let it happen. How much we’ve forgotten and forgiven in over 60 years!)

This week, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner and former candidate for president of Guatemala Rigoberta Menchú was in California, touring community colleges and universities and autographing copies of her book, I Rigoberta.* One of the things she said late in her speech was directed at those illegally in the U.S.—the “no person is illegal, we all live on this planet together” statement, but then went on to say,

“I know that many immigrants are living in great fear each day because any day they can be deported ... If you get deported, go with a smile. You should bring everything you learned here, all the opportunities, and bring them to the service of your people.”

Isn’t that a novel idea?

*Okay before you all think I’ve gone soft, I do know about the controversy surrounding the truthfulness of Ms. Menchú’s autobiography. However, even if parts of her story weren’t necessarily lived by HER, the atrocities that landowners inflicted on Mayans and other native Central Americans during Guatemala’s civil war were very real. What I don’t understand is how Hispanic audiences can cheer Menchú’s message while the people dishing out the bad things to those native peoples are … other Hispanics. Where is the outrage?

MS-13 gang suspects arrested in Bay Area raids

Racketeering, murder charges filed against 29

Alleged gang members indicted after NorCal sweep

Candidates need to speak out on immigration

Guatemalan Mayan political leader speaks in Pittsburg


CaliGirl9 said...

An update on the Pottsville raid by ICE I referred to in my editorial:

In the caption of a photo accompanying the article, 125 Somali Muslims with refugee immigration status have moved to Pottsville and taken the jobs previously occupied by the illegals. So much for no one will take those jobs. Thank you to those men who relocated to take honest work! And thank you ICE for finally getting to do what you are supposed to be doing! I hope that policy does not change over the next four years (but I doubt it).

Here's the text:

Former manager of largest U.S. kosher plant arrested

The former manager of the largest U.S. kosher meatpacking plant was arrested Thursday on federal conspiracy charges of harboring illegal immigrants and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, federal officials said.

Sholom Rubashkin, 49, a powerful member of the Hasidic Jewish community and former head of the kosher plant Agriprocessors, was taken into custody Thursday morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

"This investigation is not closed and is continuing," said Bob Teig, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Rubashkin was arrested in Postville, Iowa, , a town of about 2,400 in the northeast corner of the state that is home to the kosher plant.

He faces three counts: conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for profit; aiding and abetting document fraud; and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.

If convicted, the first two counts carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The third count carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years, Teig said.

ICE spokesman Tim Counts said he could not comment about specifics. "Things are still unfolding," he said.

Calls to Agriprocessors seeking reaction have not been returned.

ICE agents raided the Agriprocessors plant May 12 and arrested more than 300 illegal aliens, most of whom pleaded guilty to identity theft charges in trials that lasted less than two days. Rubashkin was the plant manager at the time of the raid.

"None of the undocumented alien workers were in possession of documents allowing them to work or reside in the United States legally," the affidavit against Rubashkin says. "During the execution of the warrants, agents discovered and seized dozens of fraudulent permanent resident alien cards from offices within the human resources department at Agriprocessors."

Thursday's arrest came a day after a human resources manager pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants and aggravated identity theft charges. Laura Louise Althouse, 38, faces a mandatory sentence of two years in prison and a potential maximum of 12 years in prison, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

"Althouse conspired with others to harbor undocumented aliens at her place of employment in Postville. The information states the harboring offense was committed for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain," the district attorney's office said in a written statement.

Rubashkin and his father, plant owner Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, face other serious allegations from the state of Iowa. The state has filed more than 9,000 misdemeanor charges against the owners and managers at Agriprocessors, accusing them of child labor law violations.

The criminal complaint, filed by the office of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, says the violations involved 32 youths under the age of 18, including seven under the age of 16.