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INS Must Reveal Location of Transferred Aliens

Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service was instructed by a Los Angeles federal judge Tuesday to promptly inform attorneys or relatives of the location of any illegal aliens transferred from an El Centro detention camp after a hunger strike last week.

U.S. District Judge David V. Kenyon took the informal action after criticizing both the immigration service and supporters of the weeklong strike, which ended Monday when an El Centro minister posted a $28,750 bond to release the final seven participants in the strike.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Central American Refugee Center and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles had asked Kenyon to issue a temporary restraining order commanding the immigration service to provide lawyers and family members with information on relocation of the camp’s inmates, but Kenyon said there was no need for formal action.

Conditions Protested

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Assistant U.S. Atty. Lawrence Chamblee said the immigration service had identified 56 of the 180 inmates of the camp who participated in the hunger strike, which was called to protest what the aliens described as overcrowding, poor sanitation and deprivation of due process by camp officials. Chamblee said the facility has about 380 residents.

The two sides disputed the number of aliens who were transferred to other locations during the strike. Chamblee said only two participants in the strike were relocated, while attorney Sandra Pettit of the Legal Aid Foundation put the number at 23.

Kenyon said he could not understand why the immigration service would have a problem informing relatives of the new location of any inmates who had been moved, adding, “It sounds like a horse and buggy operation.” He also criticized supporters of the strike for allegedly encouraging violence.

“If it’s true that there were people outside the camp shouting ‘Shed your blood for the cause,’ it would be a tragic thing,” Kenyon said. “Shed your own blood. I don’t buy saying that to those poor people on the other side of the fence.”

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