Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ICE Crimes and Coverup in Baltimore, MD

CASA de Maryland, an immigrant rights group, on January 28, 2009, released video footage taken by 7-11 cameras showing ICE agents literally rounding up patrons in and outside the store based solely on their appearance as Latino. The link to the video, taken in Baltimore in 2007, is here and you might want to start around 2:45, which is where the events in question are most visible and, at 3:10, you see the ICE agents marching three customers out of the store and sitting them on the curb alongside several others similarly detained.

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.


Anonymous said...

fantastic coverage.

Anonymous said...

This is a huge problem. Thanks so much for covering it.

Anonymous said...

I am not fan of ICE or Immigration but your coverage is so biased and shows a lack of integrity in accusations thrown out. Let law enforcement clean up the streets, and at least question people who have no legal right to be here. These people have procedural protections even in immigration court. Is the next complaint going to be ICE agents carry guns, or wear intimidating gear???

Deport illegals, protect residents and lawful immigrants from discrimination, and racism. Your theory::: open the borders so Al Qaeda can join us all at a nice Thanksgiving Dinner??

Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

This is an important story from DN:

ICE Officials Accused of Covering Up Immigrant Deaths in Detention

The Obama administration has promised to overhaul immigration detention. But a scathing report in the New York Times last weekend reveals that federal officials used their role as overseers to prevent media from reporting deaths and abuses inside the nation’s immigration prisons. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, now admits 107 immigrants died in ICE custody since October 2003, but for years the deaths went uncounted in the public record.

Anonymous said...

So, basically you are defending the ILLEGAL Immigrants and hoping they get to make out even more, at the cost of American taxpayers?

These men were almost all deported !

Seems the cops were right about them, perhaps they had evidence already and this just happens to be where a bunch of them were able to be nabbed at the same time.

Stop trying to pass your anti American bias BS off as legitimate facts. Thee men were criminals and should have been promptly escorted back to the border they illegally crossed to begin with

#End read more