Wednesday, August 10, 2011

No Surprise: ICE in Detroit Clears Itself of Racial Profiling

From the Michigan Messenger:

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation into allegations of racial profiling and abuse by federal agents in the Detroit area has cleared officials of any wrongdoing and prompted bitter disappointment among immigrant rights advocates.

In April ICE Director John Morton met with community groups in Detroit and promised to investigate reports that officers triggered panic and disrupted learning by following parents as they dropped off and picked up their kids at Hope of Detroit Academy and Neinas Elementary School in predominately Latino Southwest Detroit.

According to the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform Michigan, the incidents at the schools are part of a pattern of Detroit area ICE agent behavior that has included warrantless searches, a mother strip searched in front of her son, detainees, including a pregnant woman, denied needed medicines in jail, an immigrant shoved through a wall by agents, and harassment of American citizens.

The ICE Office of Professional Responsibility report on the investigation into these incidents, however, found that officers did not engage in any abuse or professional misconduct.

The report — provided to Michigan Messenger last week — also claims that the enforcement action near Hope of Detroit Academy, did not violate an agency policy against enforcement at sensitive locations because it took place blocks away from the school.

ICE spokesman Brian P. Hale put a positive spin on the investigation.

The incidents at the schools, he said in a statement, “have provided the agency an additional opportunity to reiterate its policies governing [Enforcement and Removal Operations] involving sensitive locations in a manner that addresses community concerns and is appropriate under the law.”

“We believe that the ICE report was a complete whitewash that shows that the Dept. of Homeland Security and ICE in particular is unable to police itself,” said Alliance for Immigrants Rights Director Ryan Bates. “The folks who looked into this had a clear conflict of interest.”

Bates said that ICE failed to interview witnesses and victims, took officers at their word when they said they had followed policy, and never addressed the issue of whether officers had warrants for searches they conducted.

Bates, who was called to the scene at Hope of Detroit Academy by panicked parents back in March, said that he finds it insulting that ICE claims no enforcement action happened there.

“I had to ask ICE agents to leave their positions around the school,” he said.

“We were very disappointed,” said Lawrence Garcia, president of the Michigan Hispanic Bar Association. “The promise that we got was that we would have a personal return visit from [ICE Director] John Morton within 60 days and instead we got a self-serving report in 75 days with an inadequate explanation of the events that gave rise to so many complaints.” Read more....

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