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Immigration Is Snaring U.S. Citizens In Its Raids

Sara Ramirez and others protest at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Fairfax this week. Agents have been arresting U.S. citizens and legal residents, as well as illegal immigrants.
Sara Ramirez and others protest at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Fairfax this week. Agents have been arresting U.S. citizens and legal residents, as well as illegal immigrants. (By Alfredo Duarte Pereira -- El Tiempo Latino)

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Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the immigration subcommittee before which Mancha testified, said aggressive enforcement and arrests will not work without changes in the law to allow illegal immigrants to work legally and get on a path to citizenship.

"At this record rate of arrests, it would still take 2,943 years to deport the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants," said Lofgren. During a recent raid at a kosher meatpacking plant in Pottsville, Iowa, she noted, ICE put those it had detained in a cattle barn. "That's where the majesty of the judicial system and the deportation process was dispensed, there in the cattle barn," Lofgren said.

Lofgren also cited the case of Pedro Guzman, a U.S. citizen who was turned over to ICE by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and removed to Tijuana.

In testimony about the case in February, attorney Rachel E. Rosenbloom of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College, said Guzman, 29, had a significant cognitive disability and could not read or write, but the police agencies accepted his signature on a document consenting to be transferred.

"The . . . removal of Mr. Guzman is not an isolated incident," Rosenbloom said.

Mancha said she feared that she might be deported until she convinced the agents in her home that she was a citizen. "They asked me if my mom was a Mexican and if she had her papers or a green card. I answered all their questions, telling them my mama didn't need a green card, that she was born in Florida."

At the same hearing in February, Mike Graves, a U.S. citizen who has worked at a Swift meatpacking plant in Marshalltown, Iowa, for 21 years, testified that he was swept up in a 2006 raid "that felt like an attack."

Meatpackers at Swift plants in Cactus, Tex., joined a class-action lawsuit filed last year by the United Food and Commercial Workers against the DHS and ICE that seeks to prevent agents from conducting mass raids. Several plaintiffs said they were subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures.


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