EG posted the link to this article, I read it, and thought it would be a great topic of discussion. Here are some excerpts, but I really urge everyone to read the entire article.
Whether their brief detention was a mere inconvenience or a flagrant violation of their constitutional rights is the subject of a growing debate that seems likely to be resolved in federal court. Immigration officials, charged with enforcing the law against the estimated 12 million undocumented foreigners in the USA, are mounting more raids at slaughterhouses, restaurants and factories.
Increasingly, U.S. citizens and legal residents who work alongside illegal immigrants are being detained and interrogated, too. And some, such as Dhopade, are filing claims or lawsuits against the government.
Dhopade says he was a victim of racial profiling by ICE. An ICE agent questioned him about his immigration status and his ability to speak English “because of my skin color,” he says. “None of the white folks in the office … that I know of were asked for proof of citizenship. To be asked for proof of citizenship, in this country, it’s an insult. This is the United States of America. This country does not require that.”
“You cannot in this country engage in group detentions of large numbers of people because you think a smaller number within the larger group has done something wrong,” Schey says. At the Van Nuys plant, ICE “created a powerful atmosphere of fear and intimidation. People felt like they had been taken hostage.”
Barbara Coe, chairwoman of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, says raids “are providing the incentive for at least some of these illegal aliens to get out of here before they are deported. I don’t think there are enough raids. There should be more.” She says she’s sorry legal residents are sometimes questioned during raids but believes ICE needs time to determine who is here legally.
So does Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. “It’s not the end of the world,” he says of citizens who are detained. “These people were briefly inconvenienced. Too bad.”
Denise Shippy, nine months pregnant the day of the MSE raid, says it was more than an inconvenience.
She had planned to take off that afternoon for parent-teacher conferences and a doctor’s appointment. But Shippy, 30, needed to train a receptionist to fill in for her while she was on maternity leave, so she took her two children to the office with her. The raid occurred as she settled Cassidy, 7, and Ricky, 9, into the mailroom for lunch.
As she left the mailroom, Shippy found the lobby filled with ICE agents, and she, the children and co-workers were herded in there. When Shippy tried to respond to an e-mail, she says, one ICE agent said, “Stop typing.”
“My rights were violated,” Shippy says. “I am a citizen of this United States. I was born here. I’m not who they’re looking for. I wasn’t allowed to leave. … I couldn’t go anywhere and couldn’t do anything. Neither could my children.”
Although she was upset, she tried to calm her kids, she says. She needed to use the restroom, but held off because she didn’t want an agent to accompany her.
“I didn’t want to scare the heck out of my kids,” she says. “I was trying to be cool and calm for my children. My heart was racing.”
As long as ICE has a warrant to enter a workplace, Myers says, agents can conduct what she calls a “survey” to determine the legal status of “anyone within the premises.”
She cites a 1984 Supreme Court ruling that said factory surveys during immigration raids don’t amount to an unconstitutional detention or seizure of those being questioned, even U.S. citizens.
In its ruling, however, the Supreme Court emphasized that the employees in the factory were not prevented from moving around, continuing to work or leaving. The current raids are different from those the Supreme Court approved, Schey says.
ICE can question workers as long as the interaction is voluntary, “but what they’re doing (now) is not that,” he says, because workers think they have no choice except to answer questions — which may incriminate those here illegally.
ICE’s raids foster discrimination, says Domingo Garcia, attorney for the League of United Latin American Citizens. “There’s a lot of racial profiling. … If you look like a Hispanic, you’re detained or arrested.”
He says he plans to file a class-action, civil rights lawsuit on behalf of legal workers detained in raids, including Jesus Garcia, 27, a green-card holder from Mount Pleasant, Texas. Domingo Garcia says he will ask the court to prohibit ICE from conducting raids until it changes its policies to prevent racial profiling.
ICE agents went to Jesus Garcia’s home on April 16 in conjunction with a raid on a nearby Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing plant, where he worked marinating chicken meat. Garcia, from Mexico, has been a legal permanent resident for a year and a half. When about 10 ICE agents and local sheriff’s deputies knocked on his door, they told him he was using the wrong Social Security number, says his wife, Olivia Garcia, a U.S. citizen.
Though Garcia showed the agents his green card, they handcuffed him and jailed him. He was released a day and a half later after agents told him he wasn’t the person they wanted, he says. He had spent the night in jail. “He said it was pretty bad,” Olivia says. “People were crying and screaming.”
Jesus Garcia, who has since left Pilgrim’s Pride for another job, says the mishap cost him three days of work. “I worked hard to get my residency,” he says. “And to take me to jail just over a mistake?”