Panel hears about alleged misconduct in ICE raids

Panel hears about alleged misconduct in ICE raids

By ERRIN HAINES Associated Press Writer ATLANTA (AP) — It’s been two years since 17-year-old Justeen Mancha says her south Georgia home was raided by federal agents seeking illegal immigrants. But she was still noticeably shaken on Thursday as she described the raid for a panel of union and immigrant-rights advocates investigating claims of misconduct by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Mancha, who said she and her family members are U.S. citizens, said the raid left her feeling hurt, humiliated and afraid. “I was so scared,” she told the panel. “I had no idea what was going on.” She believes her family was targeted in August 2006 because her mother once worked at the Crider Poultry Plant in Stillmore, where dozens of illegal workers were detained. Others testified about an April raid on a Pilgrim’s Pride chicken plant in Chattanooga and another two weeks ago at a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. It was the largest raid of its kind in U.S. history, resulting in almost 400 arrests. The public hearing was hosted by the National Commission on ICE Misconduct and Violations of Fourth Amendment Rights, which is founded by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The union represents 1.3 million workers across the country, including many in meatpacking plants that have been targeted for raids seeking illegal immigrants. The union has long pushed for protection of immigrant workers and federal reforms to include a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, spoke at the beginning of the two-hour hearing featuring activists, lawyers and alleged victims. Other public hearings have been held in Boston “In the civil rights movement, we had to stand up against legalized injustice and racial discrimination,” Lewis said. Then, Lewis said, citizens looked to government to intervene on their behalf, but today citizens live in fear of their government. “They are afraid that federal agents might storm their jobs, round them up, require them to prove their citizenship, and hold them in bondage without a warrant for their arrest or guarantee of a trial,” he said. “This is not right. It is not fair. It is not just.” After the raid at Mancha’s house, the teenager said she worried agents might show up at her school. She has friends who were illegal and feared for their safety. “I carry that fear with me every day, wondering when they’ll come back,” Mancha said. “Just because I have brown hair and brown eyes, they think that I’m illegal, but I’m not.” Asked about the allegations from the hearing, ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said he was not immediately able to comment on the specific cases. “ICE conducts all of its enforcement operations professionally and treats the individuals we encounter with the utmost respect,” he said. “If any individual feels that they have been mistreated by an ICE officer or agent, we encourage them to provide any information they can to our ICE Office of Professional Responsibility for further review.” On the Net: National Commission on ICE Misconduct and Violations of 4th Amendment Rights: http://www.icemisconduct.org U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: http://www.ice.gov/ Published in The Messenger 5.30.08

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