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The Aspens trailer park in Avon was the scene of a federal ICE raid last week in which seven people were arrested.
The Aspens trailer park in Avon was the scene of a federal ICE raid last week in which seven people were arrested.
By David O. Williams 
Raids by ICE agents have some Vail Valley residents on edge
Timing, intent of fugitive operations teams questioned
By David O. Williams

May 1, 2008 — Intensified illegal immigration enforcement in the Vail Valley, including a raid of an Avon trailer park last week by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fugitive operations team, has touched off a vitriolic debate in the local paper and sparked renewed community concern about the social and economic impacts of such raids.

"The recent raids that are taking place in our community are having a greater impact than we realize on the social fabric of the community," Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi told "Quite often young children who are American citizens are being violently separated from their parents and from their community. Rather than trying to take an approach of changing the laws, this drastic approach of raids is having a very traumatic effect on families and neighbors."

Seven arrests were made at the Aspens trailer park in Avon on April 23, following four more arrests earlier in the month in Avon. A simultaneous operation in Edwards on April 23 targeted several more illegal immigrants who were allegedly in defiance of federal deportation orders, but no arrests were made.

Of the seven arrests made in Avon April 23, six of the people were in violation of federal deportation orders, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said, and a seventh man was found to be in the country illegally during the course of the raid.

Rusnok said only one of the seven people arrested in Avon last week had a criminal record - for harassment and stalking -- but added the fugitive operations teams does put a higher priority on people with criminal backgrounds beyond failing to complying with deportation orders.

Rusnok could not confirm whether, as alleged in letters and emails to the Vail Daily, any of those arrested were the parents or sole caregivers of young children.

"I can't tell you that," Rusnok said. "I can only tell you that children were left with adult relatives whenever arrests were made where there were children in the house."

Menconi, however, did clarify that anyone arrested for serious criminal offenses, regardless of their immigration status, should be separated from their children, who should then be placed with child protective services.

In a resort area heavily dependent on immigrant labor, some employers are worried about both the social impacts of the ongoing raids on working families and the impacts to the local economy, which experienced serious labor shortages during the past ski season.

"It makes me very unhappy because I work with a lot of the Hispanic population and many of them are happy, honest, wonderful people, and I'm very disappointed that we are going about this in such a horrible way," said Jodi Link, owner of Activity Sitters, a local babysitting service. "It's just a very sad situation, and I also know that the Hispanic population are amazingly hard workers in the Vail Valley, and we wouldn't survive here without them."

One letter writer to the Vail Daily suggested the raids were carefully timed: "What diabolical timing that this should happen so soon after the ski season ends, when the number of workers needed is at its lowest," wrote Christen Allen Ibarra.

But other comments, mostly anonymous, applauded the actions of the ICE agents: "Sorry, Mr. Ibarra, but most citizens around here support deportations."

Another argued "parents should think about their children before they decide to lead a life of crime."

ICE's Rusnok said the nationwide increase in the number of fugitive operations teams from eight in 2003 to the current level of 75, including the addition of 52 teams in the last year, is paying off. Last year at this time, Rusnok said, there were 600,000 alien fugitives in the United States, and for the first time ever, that number has decreased to the current level of 580,000.

Two teams based in Denver and responsible for Colorado and Wyoming made 438 arrests in fiscal 2007 (Oct. 1, 2006, through Sept. 30, 2007). So far in fiscal 2008 (Oct. 1, 2007, through Feb. 15), they've made 150 arrests in the two states.

And according to the Justice Department, in January there were 4,739 federal prosecutions nationwide that were classified as immigration matters, up more than 20 percent from the previous month and the highest number of such prosecutions in the past seven years.

Rusnok said the fugitive operations teams target alien fugitives with serious criminal backgrounds, and that the ICE is merely fulfilling its legal mandate from Congress to uphold federal immigration laws. As for parents who may be sole caregivers of young children but also happen to have criminal backgrounds and are in the country illegally, Rusnok said child protective services or other local social services agencies are called in.

"We're extremely sensitive to the fact that there are children impacted by the unfortunate decisions of the parent or caregivers," Rusnok said. "When we do determine that there may be sole caregiver issues, we take steps to make sure children are not left home alone."

Debbie Marquez, an Edwards restaurateur and one of the first Latinos elected to the Democratic National Committee, isn't surprised by the anti-immigration backlash in the local and statewide media.

"We don't have any leadership in our state on the immigration issue except on the 'anti-' side," Marquez said. "What do you expect from the citizens with how they respond except hate when that's what our Legislature has moved forward."

Marquez said Colorado's anti-illegal-immigration law of 2006, which requires thousands of state residents to prove they're here legally to get certain government benefits, coupled with stepped-up ICE raids, is creating an environment of intolerance and fear.



Comment on article  6 Comments on "Raids by ICE agents have some Vail Valley residents on edge"


Lee — May 3, 2008

This isn't an anti-immigration action - this is an anti-ILLEGAL immigration action. All those who enable those who have chosen to break our rule of law should face harsh prison time. No sympathy here for the children of parents who have chosen to ignore our laws to enhance their lot in life. Go back to your respective countries and repair what's wrong there.


Vincent — May 3, 2008

This article is supportive of illegal alien residency in the United States. True, enough you will find people from every nation who are good people and hardworking.
I think this article is very unfortunate.
While it does laud Hispanics in particular, it falls far short of a view helpful to the citizen and well being of the United States.
Illegal Immigration is a crime. People who sneak in here are criminals. There is no need to revise or set aside U.S. Immigration law title 8 to accommodate immigration violaters. Instead they should be deported at there own expense.
No person is above the law, including illegal aliens and their supporters. The Pew Hispanic center reveals that
55% of Hispanics living and working in the United States are here illegally.
DHS ICE teams through out the nation are working hard to round up illegal residents and prosecute them for deportment.
For our society to survive, we must vigorously enforce illegal entry to the country.
Strange how that concept seems obscure to a lot of people. Have you even thought for a second why we have immigration law in the first place? It is tpo protect the livelihood and benefits to American Citizens!
Consider how many Americans have given their lives to defend the integrety and principles of our nation. Do you think we U.S. war veterans will ever permit our nation to be invaded? We didn't at war, and we will use our vote to discourage any changes in our immigration law now. If somebody wants to come here, become a citizen first. Citizenship is not something that can be stolen!I think it is tragic the havoc wreeked on the children of illegal aliens. The anchor babies will suffer. Their parents alone are responsible.
Undocumented people will never attain the rights of U.S. citizens. I advise them to leave now, or face deportment and justice under U.S. Law when they are discovered.
I praise the difficult work of the ICE teams and law enforcement police groups.
We are making a difference in deporting violators. Too bad it is so expensive, but protecting the integrity of the natiion always has been


Stephen — May 3, 2008

The illegal alien parents are to blame for putting their children in these circumstances. The American people are tired of paying for cheap illegal labor for businesses that refuse to hire Americans at decent wages. The free ride is over. Vote out ALL politicians that pander to pro amnesty groups. Be legal or be gone!


Bernie — May 3, 2008

The illegal aliens and their supporters have got to come to terms with the fact that being illegal makes you a criminal, not a legal immigrant. These protestors would rather call us racists rather than accept the truth; i.e., that they are breaking our laws and do not belong here. They protest too much and are too stupid to realize that all their protesting and shifting the blame only outrages American citizens. We want them to go back where they belong and we want the unscrupulous employers to be severely punished for hiring them. Then, maybe, we can restore law and order back to our country. Also, please take your anchor babies back with you because we don't want to have to take care of your responsibilities. Enough is enough!!


Jill — May 8, 2008

It's easy to preach how illegal immigrants should go through the proper channels to gain legal citizenship. However, I highly doubt people who suggest this have investigated how much of a bungle the entire process is.
Furthermore, many of the immigrants have been here for upwards of 15 years--they were most likely LEGAL at one time, but due to many reasons, lost their legal standing. Like it or not, they are enmeshed in our community--their kids are in our schools and they are working here--and working hard I have to say.

I guarantee most of these people would be happy to pay taxes to be here--the system is not working here where we actually NEED this labor. If you think I am wrong, you are seriously misguided.

This article states that the number of illegals has gone down about 20,000 due to these fugitive op teams--I am curious what the cost breaks down to per illegal caught.


Vincent — May 8, 2008

Jill says it is "preaching" to insist that immigrants go through proper channels and come here legally. She says she does not think we citizens are aware of "What a bungle" it is for people to go through that process!
Jill are you brain dead? It is difficult on purpose. Immigration Law is designed to protect the U.S. Citizen, not accord ease to illegal immmigrants who would prefer to just ignor the law and steal residency and a job!
The system works fine, Thank you, and fortunately DHS ICE teams are more active and growing. It is dumb for any person to believe just because they have gotten away with a crime for 15 years or more, they won't be discovered and deported.
Ilegal aliens have corrupted every social program we Americans have ever instituted by being here illegally Their presence flies in the face of many who have died in battles to defend the United States.
The United States is only for citizens. Become one and you are welcome. Violate us, and despite our compassion, you WILL BE DEPORTED!
As to the expense caused by illegal aliens, it is manifold and enormous. The price of freedom is always high, and will remain so.
U.S. citizens will pay the price, as they always have.
We may yet find a way to be reimbursed for monies expended to collect violaters from the governments of the countries of origin.



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