Through The Static

May 24, 2008

270 Illegal Immigrants Sent to Prison in Federal Push

Filed under: Culture,Grassholes,Immigration,Race,Rights — disciplepete @ 1:37 pm

Article from the NYT…this is a sign of an increasingly punitive atmsphere for undocumented immigrants; it’s been unusual in the past for those arrested for being illegal to face criminal charges; it’s been usually a civil matter, followed by deportation. But in this case, a large number of undocumented workers were brought to trial on criminal charges in a span of just a few days, prompting concern that “justice” was delivered pretty hastily and carelessly.

WATERLOO, Iowa – In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 270 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents.

The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush administration’s crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

The convicted immigrants were among 389 workers detained at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in nearby Postville in a raid that federal officials called the largest criminal enforcement operation ever carried out by immigration authorities at a workplace…

The unusually swift proceedings, in which 297 immigrants pleaded guilty and were sentenced in four days, were criticized by criminal defense lawyers, who warned of violations of due process. Twenty-seven immigrants received probation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association protested that the workers had been denied meetings with immigration lawyers and that their claims under immigration law had been swept aside in unusual and speedy plea agreements.

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