Poor Illegal Immigrants, Still in "the Shadows"

Nina Bernstein sobs: "It was part of a raid that has complicated, but not defeated, this city's novel plan to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows."

Nina Bernstein, whose reportingis generallyhighly sympathetic toward illegal immigrants,filed from the "sanctuary city" and liberal college town of New Haven, Conn. on Monday. "Promise of ID Cards Is Followed by Peril of Arrest for Illegal Immigrants" took another sympathetic look at illegal immigrants arrested by federal officials in New Haven.

"It was part of a raid that has complicated, but not defeated, this city's novel plan to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows." (But a couple of them managed to get their pictures in the Times anyway).

Reporter Jennifer Medina used those very same words in her June 8 story about New Haven's illegals.

Bernstein: "Those taken from Alan's household were among the 32 immigrants arrested in the New Haven area by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and scattered to jails in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine, in an operation that began June 6 and ended June 11.

"The operation started two days after the city's Board of Aldermen approved the plan to offer municipal identification cards to all residents, including an estimated 15,000 illegal immigrants settled in this city of 125,000.

"But as the city prepares to issue the first municipal cards tomorrow, 28 of the 32 are home on bond - a rare outcome that underscores how the arrests galvanized community protest, bail money and legal help."


"In some cases, they said, agents who found no one home at an address specified in a deportation order simply knocked on other doors until one opened, pushed their way in, and arrested residents rousted from bed when they acknowledged that they lacked legal status. Of the 32 arrested, most of whom are Mexican, only five had outstanding deportation orders, and only one or two had criminal records."

Sounds like a fairly successful raid, but of course Bernstein spun it as a tragedy.

"Many immigrants do not know that they have a right to remain silent, or to deny agents entry to their homes without a search warrant, said Michael Wishnie, a Yale law professor directing the legal challenge. Immigration statutes give government wide latitude to question people, he said, but the law requires agents to have a valid reason for suspicion, not one based on an illegal motive like racial or ethnic profiling."

Bernstein piled on the melodrama from the alleged victims (who were breaking the law by being in the country illegally).

"In interviews last week with seven of those arrested, the fear remained palpable.

"Alan Flores's father, Apolinar Flores Romero, a pizza maker, said that in the first days after his release, he was afraid to leave the house.

"Florente Baranda, another man, said he is haunted by his detention: 'They had us with chains on our feet in Hartford, 23 or 24 people in this tiny room.' Mr. Baranda, 32, has lived in New Haven since 1998, packaging bread at a bakery from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $11 an hour. He and his wife have two children and, like many of those arrested, attend St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, which played a major role in raising bail."