IR # 96-30
Friday, July 26, 1996

Rick Rice
Troy Swauger
(415) 972-8835

Aubry Pushes For Probe into U.S. Justice Department,
Slave Camp Connection

SAN FRANCISCO --- Department of Industrial Relations Director Lloyd W. Aubry Jr., today released the text of a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno requesting information on her investigation of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

July 19, 1996

Dear Madame Attorney General:

I write once again to direct your attention towards the failure of two agencies under your supervision to adequately perform internal investigations which you ordered conducted almost one year ago. These investigations concern documentation indicating that for several years both the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the U.S. Attorney's Office were aware of the criminal activities occurring within the now infamous razor-wired walls of an El Monte apartment complex, but failed to pursue any reasonable enforcement action until the California Labor Commissioner gained entry to the El Monte sweatshop on August 2, 1995.

In response to Governor Wilson's request that internal investigations within your Department be conducted, you expressed in your August 29, 1995 letter to the Governor that "...I have asked U.S. Attorney Nora Manella and Commissioner Doris Meissner, Immigration and Naturalization Service, for a thorough review of the federal law enforcement actions taken in this case since 1992." We have to date received nothing further from you to indicate whether you have actually followed up on your promise to the people of California.

We have, however, received confusing, if not conflicting, pieces of correspondence from lower level personnel representing the two agencies under scrutiny. In response to my September 15, 1995 letter to you, a letter dated October 26, 1995 signed by William S. Slattery, Executive Associate Commissioner of Field Operations, Immigration and Naturalization Service, explained that:

"The Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the defendants has requested that an administrative review not be conducted at this time because of the possible complication that may be caused in the pursuit of the case. The U.S. Attorney's office will therefore inform us when an administrative review can proceed. This matter will then be reviewed and the Attorney General will be provided with the findings..."

We have to date received no further correspondence or explanation from the INS on this matter. However the response itself does bring a question to mind: Is it your policy to allow an Assistant U.S. Attorney to delay your directive that "a thorough review" be conducted of the INS? Also, given the age of this request and absent any word from you, even though the prosecution phase of this case was completed some months ago, three additional questions go unanswered:

(1) has an investigation ever been conducted as you indicated it would?

(2) have you in fact been informed of the findings of such an investigation? and

(3) why has the progress or results of this promised investigation not been made public?

With regard to your promised inquiry of the U.S. Attorney's office, I am in receipt of a letter dated June 28, 1996 signed by Steven E. Zipperstein, Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney of the Central District of California, responding to my letter to you of May 20, 1996. My letter to you had again requested information on the investigations of both agencies, however, Mr. Zipperstein's response only focused on the involvement of the U.S. Attorney's office. It states in part that:

"within days of the arrest of the defendants in the Thai slavery case, this office conducted a review of its involvement in the 1992 and 1995 investigations. That review revealed that in 1992, representatives of the office acted correctly in declining to seek a search warrant on information presented then that did not meet the probable cause standard."

This response sheds no light on the findings of the investigation you directed to be conducted other than to provide the opinion of the very agency that was to have been investigated.

It is difficult to believe that in your role as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States you would be satisfied with the silence of U.S. Attorney Nora Manella or INS Commissioner Doris Meissner on this issue. Californians certainly are not satisfied with this silence.

I look forward to your reply.


Lloyd W. Aubry, Jr.