Another Illegal Immigrant Sob Story

Immigration-beat regular Nina Bernstein, who almost always sides with illegal immigrants in herreporting, did her best to heighten the ominous tone of a federal raid on gangs that also caught some illegal immigrants in "Immigrant Workers Caught in a Net Cast for Gangs."

"It was still dark the morning of Sept. 27 when armed federal immigration agents, guided by local police officers, swept into this village on the East End of Long Island. Within hours, as the team rousted sleeping families, 11 men were added to a running government tally of arrests made in Operation Community Shield, a two-year-old national program singling out violent gang members for deportation.

"'Violent foreign-born gang members and their associates have more than worn out their welcome,' Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said at an October news conference announcing the arrests of 1,313 people in the operation over the summer and fall nationwide. 'And to them I have one message: Good riddance.'

"But, to the dismay of many of Greenport's 2,500 residents, the raid here did not match her words.

"Only one of the 11 men taken away that morning was suspected of a gang affiliation, according to the Southold Town police, who patrol Greenport and played the crucial role of identifying targets for the operation.

"The 10 others, while accused of immigration violations, were not gang associates and had no criminal records.

"Instead, they were known as good workers and family men. When they suddenly vanished into the far-flung immigration detention system, six of their employers hired lawyers to try to find and free them. Some went further, like Dan and Tina Finne, who agreed to take care of the 3-year-old American-born daughter of a Guatemalan carpenter who was swept up in the raid, if her mother was detained, too.

"'This is un-American,' said Ms. Finne, 41, a Greenport native, echoing other citizens who condemned the home raids in public meetings and letters to The Suffolk Times, a weekly newspaper. 'We need to do something about immigration, but not this.'


"One of the things that clearly unsettled residents of Greenport was that the immigrants were arrested in their homes, without warrants, an immigration enforcement tactic that has been used more and more since 2005."