What Is Happening in Detroit?

By: Daniel Nardini

 Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryMany Latinos living in the Detroit area have reported Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel randomly stopping, questioning and even harassing them. There was the case of two men who were fishing when they were questioned by ICE personnel. Then there were cases of Latinos going to English language classes who were questioned. Then there were cases of ICE agents questioning people just going to work, dropping off their kids to school, and going shopping.

And in the cases reported all of those questioned were Latinos. But we must remember one important thing. Most of those questioned are born and raised in the United States. Some are third and even fourth generation Latino. According to reports by many Latinos who were stopped and questioned randomly, they were asked questions from where they were “born in Mexico” to producing their passports and even birth certificates. To put it mildly many civic and local Latino leaders have complained about the growing list of random searches—forbidden by the U.S. Constitution—against people simply because they are Latino or “look Latino.”

Eventually the ICE conducted an internal investigation of the growing number of incidents, and concluded that they found “no evidence of harassment” or that the the arguments were “unsubstantiated.” The internal report never called any witnesses, nor did it consult with any local Latino leaders of what was happening in their communities. To add insult to injury, the report stated that agents “acted in a professional manner.” To put it mildly local Latino residents and many Latino organizations have reacted with anger and have vowed to video any and all incidents where such ICE conduct takes place.

So this is what it has come down to. People are understandably upset and bitter that their complaints have not been at least looked into. With so many people complaining of the same thing, one would hope that at least the ICE should probably have appointed an independent investigation of what was going on. But now local Latinos will provide the proof needed to show what is happening if and when it happens. In other words it has become necessary for people to watch the immigration watchers to make sure they do not violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which does prohibit random searches.

Whatever is taking place in that area, one would hope that ICE would do more outreach to try and calm the local Latino communities at a time when they have reason to believe that they are being singled out simply because they are Latino. Because when you think about it, feeling threatened can turn into action. Latinos are taking the first step by videoing any actions that ICE might do. Another step will be mass protests and pickets. And then there is the ballot box. The Latino vote should not be under-estimated. ICE must remember that votes can change who is in office and in turn that can change immigration policies on the ground. And with many U.S.-born Latinos in Michigan and elsewhere in the country the Latino vote can move mountains.

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