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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Protest quickly staged after raid leads to 7 being detained; Casa de Maryland says Hondurans are in custody

By Liz F. Kay and Andrea F. Siegel
The Baltimore Sun
February 5, 2010

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials detained seven people from Honduras after a raid Thursday in Anne Arundel County, prompting a demonstration outside the Baltimore Federal Building.

ICE spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs confirmed that an enforcement action took place and that seven Hondurans were in custody.

She said that because the investigation is continuing, she could provide only limited information. Fobbs did not disclose the name of the business where the Hondurans were working or the location of the business.

Protesters gathered outside the Federal Building in Baltimore late Thursday afternoon. About 15 people held signs and shouted slogans, including, "Reform not raids" and "Stop separating families."

Leaders of Casa de Maryland, advocates for immigrants' rights, said they were told that seven males, one of them a juvenile, were taken into custody at a Hanover restaurant.

Elizabeth Alex, Casa's lead organizer for the Baltimore region, said there haven't been many workplace raids under the Obama administration. Advocates had hoped that raids would stop until comprehensive immigration reform can be achieved.

"We're unhappy we're seeing a return to Bush-era policy," Alex said.

"We would hope immigration enforcement would be reserved for people who are criminals," she said later.

The protesters hoped that the detainees would be released on their own recognizance or be permitted to meet with legal counsel within 24 hours.

Alex said that people who have been detained after raids might be given contact information for lawyers but might not necessarily reach them before they are sent to detention centers in York, Pa., or on the Eastern Shore.

"Due process is part of the foundation of this country," said Gustavo Andrade, senior organizing director of Casa de Maryland.

Lawyers for Casa waited 90 minutes in the ICE offices before they were told that they would not be allowed to meet with the detainees, Alex said.,0,3834674.story