Politics
7:20 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Detroit immigrant community denounces ICE investigation

Immigrant advocates in Detroit have denounced an Immigration and Customs Enforcement internal investigation.

They say the agency “whitewashed” an investigation into whether agents improperly targeted a school in southwest Detroit.

Speaking through a translator, Brisa Maldonado recounted how she and her husband were pulled over, and her husband detained, after dropping their children off at Hope of Detroit Academy on March 31st.

The incident happened during what parents and school officials say was an ICE stakeout at the predominantly Latino school. But an internal ICE investigation now says “there was no enforcement activity at Hope of Detroit.”

State Representative Rashida Tlaib is skeptical.

“We were given an apology by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They told us, ‘We’re sorry that this happened. But then [they] turn around and say ‘Well nothing really happened, there was no wrongdoing.’”

While ICE’s own investigation found that “ICE officers did not engage in any abuse or professional misconduct,” the agency did draft a new policy limiting enforcement actions in “sensitive areas” like schools and churches. But immigrant advocates decry what they call a flawed and self-serving investigation, and say Detroit’s ICE office is out-of-control.

Lawrence Garcia chairs the Hispanic-Latino Commission of Michigan. He says Detroit ICE agents have illegally detained people, used excessive force, and harassed U.S. citizens based solely on race.

Garcia says the agency’s power needs to be curtailed.

“So it’s not just about wanting a free pass for everyone who’s here. But it’s about having ICE be accountable for doing its job in a way that’s consistent with its internal policies, and general principles of America.”

Immigrant advocates say they’re prepared to fight what they insist is the “unresolved problem of ICE abuse and increasing racial profiling.” A number of groups are organizing what they call the “March Without Fear” later this month in southwest Detroit.