6 ICE horror stories: Astonishing levels of taxpayer-funded cruelty against undocumented immigrants

The agency conspires to target vulnerable people with no criminal record

Published November 4, 2017 3:29PM (EDT)

ICE operation. (Getty/Bryan Cox)
ICE operation. (Getty/Bryan Cox)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.


U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents have been on a rampage since Donald Trump took office 10 months ago, employing their usual methods of trickery to target undocumented immigrants across the country. Though ICE has claimed that under the new administration, the agency would focus on “targeting illegal immigrants who are part of gangs,” instead it has arrested thousands without criminal records and ramped up workplace raids by four to five times the rate under Obama. ICE has also declared it will continue to stalk and arrest immigrants on their way out of courthouses.

Some recent highly publicized arrests are further evidence that the agency is not targeting the “bad hombres” it claimed were its focus. Here are six of the worst cases.

1. Betraying two brothers who helped take down a shooter.

In late October, ICE arrested two men who had been working with police for three years to investigate a shooting. Noe and Jose Lopez-Mulato were playing soccer in their Detroit neighborhood in 2014 when a man pulled out a gun and started firing. The brothers worked with police to identify the shooter and testified against him, which qualified them for special visas that would have allowed them to remain in the U.S. But that didn’t stop ICE agents from deporting them last month.

When agents showed up at the family’s home, “They just said, 'We have to take your dad,'" Noe Lopez-Mulato’s 10-year-old son told the Detroit Free Press.

2. Detaining a handicapped child.

Around the same time, ICE agents in Laredo, Texas apprehended an undocumented 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy as she was on the way to the hospital for emergency gallstone surgery. Five armed agents waited outside Rosa Maria Hernandez’s hospital door until the operation was complete and tried to prevent Hernandez’s immigration attorney from seeing her.

As Carlos Ballesteros of Newsweek explained, “Schools, churches, courthouses and hospitals — once ‘safe zones’ from immigrant detention — are now open to arrests.”

3. Repeatedly defying safe-zone rules.

Multiple recent arrests in Portland, Oregon suggest ICE is violating federal law by defying rules around safe zones. Since Trump’s inauguration, ICE agents in the city have detained a man as he was leaving a hospital for treatment, targeted a U.S. citizen outside a courthouse using racial profiling, and refused to show a warrant when entering a private home to arrest a man working on a construction project. The agency’s own rules make perfectly clear that all three cases were violations of safe-zone rules.

4. Tricking a man into turning himself in.

ICE’s dubious tactics extend beyond stalking to deception. In late October, agents lured an Oklahoma City man to the immigration office under false pretenses by assuring him they would extend his work permit. Instead, they promptly deported him. “They didn't even give us a chance to sort this out and fight the case,” Luis Plaza Moreno’s son told the AP. “I just don't know why they made it so quick." Moreno is a father of six.

5. Abandoning women and children before a hurricane.

ICE does sometimes release undocumented immigrants who are seeking visas to remain in the U.S. — though in another high-profile case, agents did not seem very concerned over where they would be released to. As Hurricane Harvey approached San Antonio in late August, ICE abandoned 50 women and children at a bus station after the last buses out of the city had been canceled due to the storm.

6. Asking Motel 6 clerks to rat out their guests.

If stalking safe zones and deceiving targets weren’t enough, ICE has taken to colluding with Motel 6 franchises to arrest undocumented guests in the supposed privacy of their hotel rooms. As one front desk clerk at a Motel 6 location said, “We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in. Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.” The motel tip-offs have resulted in at least 20 arrests this year so far.

By Liz Posner

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