Monday, February 2, 2009

Problems with ICE Interrogration, Detention, and Removal Procedures: Links to Hearing and Follow up ICE Responses

On February 13, 2008 Zoe Lofgren (CA-D) chaired a very important hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. The hearing brought forward several U.S. citizens and public interest attorneys, including Kara Hartzler, Rachel Rosenbloom, and James Brosnahan, who testified about ICE violations of the rights of US citizens, as well as resident aliens.

In addition, Gary Mead testified rather pathetically on behalf of the Department of Homeland Securities.

The link to these hearings, which includes streaming video, changed over the last year and became hard to find, so for my own records if not those of others, I thought I'd repost the link that presently works here.

During the hearing, the members asked several questions that Mead said he would answer in writing. In August, 2008 the Subcommittee received those responses, which are included in the final Subcommittee Report, Serial No. 110–80, beginning on p. 130. These responses are quite enlightening for their statements that in the interior ICE bears the burden of proving someone is not a US citizen before detaining that individual; ICE does not qualify this by citing foreign birth.

Also noteworthy is the preference of seeming stupid instead of culpable, in responding to specific allegations of abuses by stating that ICE would be responsive to specific allegations of abuses and then not responding.

During the hearing, a US citizen, Mike Graves, who worked at the Swift plant, testified: "We were there for about 8 hours with no means of getting outside contact, no food or water till the whole process was over and done with." (A longer excerpt appears below.)

During the hearing Mead would not state what constituted a "brief" period of detention and ICE was asked to comment on this in writing.
"Subcommittee Question: Does detaining one of our witnesses, Mr. Mike Graves, and hundreds of his co-workers in the Swift plant in Marshalltown, Iowa for eight hours constitute a 'brief' period?

Response: ICE is unaware of any instances where United States citizens or lawful permanent residents were detained for eight hours during the worksite enforcement operation conducted at te Swift and Company plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. ICE takes such allegations seriously and if the committee has information regarding any such instances, we ask that the information be provided to facilitate an investigation."
Of course ICE agent Gary Mead sat within several feet of Mike Graves, who gave specific testimony about this precise set of events, and this, and the other witness testimonies, also were available in writing during the period in which ICE was responding to the Subcommittee questions.

Here's what Mead heard Graves tell the Subcommittee on February 13, 2008:
[The ICE agents] asked me questions about my identification and asked me about my parents. And I said they lived in Mississippi. He asked me do I know my route to Mississippi. And I said, well yeah, but I don’t know the exact route in detail.

So he kind of looked at me and told me to sit down. So he took my identification to another agent that was down from the aisle where I was sitting and told me to sit down. And he looked at my identification and the other agent did, too. They looked at it, said something to each other, and started laughing.

So they took my identification with them, and I was still sitting there waiting for them to come back. When they did come back, he told me to go to the cafeteria where everybody was still sitting there waiting. The cafeteria holds about 50 people, but they crammed about 150 people in the cafeteria. So they blocked off all the food supply, all the water in the cafeteria. They unhandcuffed me at the entrance
of the cafeteria and told me to go in there and wait——We was in there for about, at least, 3 or 4 hours in the cafeteria with no food, no water, no means of telephone to call our lawyers or—they did not give us a chance to get our union rep there to talk to us about the situation either.

So we was there with no food, no water, nothing. When they came, they got us by tens of people and then they took us to go to another area to process. After that, we were processed. We went to another area outside the plant and walked about
400 yards to another building where 400 people were in there where they still cut off all our food supplies, no water, no phones, no nothing.

We were there for about 8 hours with no means of getting outside contact, no food or water till the whole process was over and done with.

This report includes extensive media and non profit organization documentation of ICE law-breaking.

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