Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Emails point to retaliation, prof says

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
— Correspondence between federal agencies tends to lend support to the theory that an immigration raid this summer was in retaliation to New Haven’s municipal ID card, according to a Yale professor.
Michael Wishnie Monday s, one of several attorneys defending the card and more than 30 immigrants picked up by federal Immigration and Enforcement officials in June,aid a June 5 e-mail from regional Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to ICE Director Julie Myers "casts doubts on the statements that the raid had nothing to do with the ID program."
The June 5 e-mail to Myers informs her that on June 4 the city’s Board of Aldermen had voted 25-1 in favor of the first-in-the-nation ID cards, which are available to all residents, regardless of immigration status.
The e-mail further warns Myers that because of the vote, ICE should expect considerable news coverage of the June 6 raid in New Haven. More than 30 immigrants were arrested during that raid, the majority of whom are out of jail and litigating against the manner in which the raid was conducted.
Wishnie said there is "no direct smoking gun" revealing ICE’s intentions, but taken together, the correspondence "tends to support the suggestion that I have made that it is retaliatory."
ICE spokeswoman Paula Greiner from the Boston office has said the e-mail was routine in that officials always pass on information that might affect a raid. She could not be reached for further comment Monday, but Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff in the summer also denied the raids were retaliatory.
Wishnie, who is part of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization clinic at Yale, felt the mid-April date of ICE’s pre-operation plan for the New Haven raid was more significant than the June 5 e-mail.
ICE has said from the start that the raid was not connected to the ID cards since the planning took place in April and the cards did not get final local approval until June.
Wishnie said there was press on the ID card throughout the spring, including a laudatory op-ed piece in the Connecticut section of the New York Times April 15.
"At the end of that business week (on April 20), ICE in Hartford has submitted a plan to do an operation in New Haven, which goes up the chain of command. To me it is that part that most suggests this was direct retaliation," Wishnie said.
An original date to conduct the date in May was cancelled and moved to June.
A state Freedom of Information hearing on a request for the names and other documentation supporting the ID cards by Chris Powell of the Manchester Journal-Inquirer has been set for Feb. 20, but Wishnie and the city are expected to seek an extension until March or April.
Mary E. O’Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or moleary@nhregister.com.

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