Tying up loose ends on the immigration
raids— Who’s accountable?
are three things, as I see it, behind these immigration raids,”
Travis Thompson, staff attorney for Centro Legal, Inc. in St. Paul
said earlier this week: “To force the conversation on immigration
debate, to satisfy a ‘messianic’ zeal among immigration
law enforcement officials to rid the country of what they see as
an undesirable element and just to drive up law enforcement budgets.”
“This push is certainly coming from the heads of Homeland
Security, and certainly goes as high up as their field operation
directors,” said Thompson.
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Michael
Chertoff made his course clear when he took office in 2005.
“Today I am announcing this goal for DHS:
eliminate completely the ‘catch and release’ enforcement
problem. Return every single illegal entrant—no exceptions,”
Chertoff said in his first address to the Senate.
“What we’re seeing now is that the
infrastructure and budget have finally grown to the point that the
administration can carry out this strategy, which has torn apart
families and disrupted the lives of thousands,” said Scott
Chamberlain, communications coordinator, Resource Center of the
“Let’s be clear: This means expelling
roughly 12 million people,” said an op-ed piece in the Boston
Globe at the end of March this year. Written by Carol Rose, executive
director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts
and Communications Director Christopher Ott, the article addressed
a “a frighteningly ambitious plan” by the DHS called
“Endgame” that aspired to “track down and deport
all the immigrants to the United States who are living and working
here without proper documentation, by the year 2012.”
“When you get this aggressive you see
a lot of mistakes occurring,” said Thompson. Thompson was
referring to the large number of legal residents that his office
has seen being caught up—detained and questioned, sometimes
at length—during the execution of recent raids on illegals.
“Most of our clients have some sort of
reliable, legal document proving their right to be here,”
said Thompson. “Sixty percent of the complainants in the Willmar
raid action were U.S. citizens,” he said.
“Each of these actions concerned an entirely
different set of laws dealing with specific investigations,”
said Tim Counts, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE), the investigative arm of the DHS.
ICE agents knocked on doors during a recent
raid in Austin, Minn., and were given permission to enter residences
thought to be housing targeted offenders, Counts said. Of the eight
arrests make in Austin, five were for previous drunk driving charges,
two were for previous immigration violations and one was for identity
theft in Iowa
“It’s purely, simply outrageous,”
said Thompson. “When you get involved in racial profiling
or home invasion and you get called out on it in court, you use
this ‘compliance’ excuse,” he said.
“We target specific individuals,”
said Counts. “We don’t roam around randomly making raids.
We do prioritize for people that have been involved in criminal
activity,” he said.
Counts said the ICE does not keep track of the
number of individuals who are detained for questioning who are able
to prove legal residence.
When asked about public safety priority of arresting people for
drunk driving offenses, Counts countered, “Except that these
were people who were in the country illegally.”
“My office has deported 200,000 people.
Of those, about half had committed some sort of criminal offense,”
“I read all these reports after we’ve
gone in and made arrests that ‘only Latinos were questioned
and everyone else just went on their way.’ That’s just
not so,” said Counts. When we conduct an operation, everyone
on the scene gets questioned,” he said.
“All the evidence that we’ve collected
after their raids pretty single-handedly shows there is no criteria
for detaining or questioning people except for race,” said
Thompson. “The evidence of their [ICE’s] behaviors completely
contradicts what they’ve said about not targeting Latinos
on the scene.”
“Our arrests rely on widely accepted law
enforcement standards,” Counts said. “We use ‘articulable,
reasonable suspicion based on the totality of circumstances’
in order to detain suspects,” he said.
“That’s incorrect,” said Thompson,
“Counts left out a key ingredient—the standard is ‘articulable,
reasonable individualized suspicion,’” he said.
According to a review of case law, the “articulable, reasonable
suspicion” standard used for police searches and seizures
only trumps an individual’s rights under the Fourth Amendment
when there is reason to believe a suspect poses potential harm to
the arresting officer or to the public. Flight from a police officer
generally does not constitute “reasonable suspicion,”
and when police do find reason to detain someone under reasonable
suspicion, they can only be detained for a short period of time.
John Torres, Director of the Office of Detention
and Removal Operations for ICE, testified before the U.S. House
Committee on Homeland Security this year in March that, “the
average daily population [of detainees] has risen from approximately
18,000 in July 2006 to approximately 28,000 today.”
“The 2008 Budget includes $2.2 billion
in detention and removal resources to continue this success,”
is what you get when you google “U.S. government current budget,
immigration and customs enforcement.”
Yesterday, Minnesota’s Senator Norm Coleman
voted against moving the much-debated national immigration reform
bill forward, according to his website.
Coleman cited “still too many problems with this bill and
not enough time to correct them.” His amendment to the bill
that would have abolished the practice of cities using “separation”
ordinances to keep their police out of federal immigration law enforcement,
had failed by one vote earlier in the session, according to Coleman’s
communications director, Tom Steward.
“It’s ironic that Coleman wants this [nullification
of separation ordinances] as he used to be mayor of St. Paul,”
said Minneapolis Assistant Police Chief Sharon Lubinski.
St. Paul passed a separation ordinance in 2004
almost identical to the one passed a year earlier in Minneapolis.
Police chiefs in both Minneapolis and St. Paul had said that the
use of their officers as agents of federal immigration policy would
both aggravate the difficulty in getting immigrants to report crime
and to work with the police and would add a large burden to already
“We [the police] need to have the trust of the immigrants,”
Lubinski said. “We want them to be able to approach us,”
“During one of these raids, immigrants
all clear the streets because they’re afraid and then we’re
left to deal with the aftermath,” Lubinski said.
According to Minneapolis’ separation ordinance,
police may not join forces with immigration agents except “in
the investigation of criminal activity involving individuals present
in the United States who may also be in violation of federal civil
immigration laws” or when “responding to a properly
In order for Minneapolis police to aid federal agents in arresting
anyone involved in immigration violations, the department would
have to be formally notified and then a decision would have to be
made by “someone up the chain of command,” according
“Because of the sensitive nature of the
immigration debate in the country,” Lubinski said.