The video makes two points very clear: 1) ICE initiated contact with the individuals; 2) there is absolutely no "probable cause" or grounds for "reasonable suspicion" other than the illegal motive of racial profiling.
Even more troubling than the initial violation of these people's civil rights is the subsequent cover-up of the ICE agents' illegal activities. According to the CASA attorney Justin Cox, an ICE internal report quoted ICE agents stating that they were approached by the individuals they detained. Cox explains that the agents told the ICE investigator that they "happened to stumble on these people who volunteered that they were in the country with no immigration status." Many of those detained of course were citizens or legally in the country.
The CASA attorney also noted that the investigators who conducted a review of the raid did not interview a single one of the individuals ICE detained. Hardly a sign of an unbiased investigation into civil rights violations.
In response to the release of the video, Washington-based ICE representative Kelly Nantel told an NPR reporter:
"Those who were targeted were the individuals who were congregating and who had approached the vehicle. Obviously, I know there were allegations of racial profiling, those allegations are two years old, more than two years old now. They were thoroughly investigated at the time. That investigation found those allegations to be unsubstantiated."The video footage renders this statement demonstrably false, as you can see individuals being taken from the store, not near a truck, and also herded AFTER a white pickup truck leaves.
In an interview with a Baltimore Sun reporter, another ICE spokesman, Richard Rocha, says:
"In this case our officers used their training and experience to respond to a developing situation as it unfolded. They were approached by individuals asking if they needed workers. Those workers were questioned and ultimately it was determined they were in the country illegally."Again, it is obvious that the only situation that developed occurred because of ICE agents acting illegally.
Best wishes to CASA de Maryland in its wrongful arrest lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claim Act. I hope they win every penny of the $500,000 damages they're claiming on behalf of their three clients.
Still, defending civil rights and punishing government coverups shouldn't be left to private individuals and non-profit groups. It's time for the Department of Justice to step up on behalf of not only wrongfully detained US citizens and residents but also the U.S. taxpayer. It's one thing to have the US government, not the agents themselves, pay out millions of dollars in lawsuits, as has happened. If a few ICE agents were imprisoned for their crimes, including lying to a federal officer, which is what appears to have occurred when the agents told ICE investigators about what transpired, perhaps then ICE would pay a bit more attention to the laws and the U.S. Constitution.