Brutal ICE raids continue —despite Obama’s new policy

An immigrant family on Aug. 1 accused federal immigration officials of brutalizing a 46-year-old woman during a drug raid on a their home in Norco, Calif., where they had moved less than three weeks before. Carmen Bonilla told reporters in Spanish at a press conference at the headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles that roughly 40 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stormed the house on July 19, pointing guns at her and threatening to shoot. They said “shut up or we’ll shoot,” said Bonilla, before the agents shoved her to the floor and began kicking her. Bonilla said she and her daugter-in-law were held face-down on the floor with guns to their heads as agents searched the house, apparently for drugs. She said she later went to a hospital for treatment of scratches and bruises. “This family suffered an unjust attack by the authorities and had nothing to do with the drugs they were looking for,” said immigration lawyer Jessica Domínguez, who represented the family at the press conference. Since the raid, the Bonillas say deportation proceedings have been brought against all undocumented family members. (LA Weekly’s Informer blog, AP, EFE, NBC LA, Aug. 1)

ICE is also under fire for a July raid in Alexandria, Va., in which several agents jumped out of a van in the mostly Latino neighborhood of Chirilagua, and snatched about a half-dozen men without warning. Elena Flores, the mother of one of the detained men, said her son was a painter with no criminal record. “My son was basically my support system for me and my daughter,”she said. “Now that the rent and the bills are coming, and are high, I don’t know what to do.” Her son and nephew are both in ICE custody and facing deportation proceedings. ICE spokesperson Cori Bassett said agents “administratively arrested” the men “as part of a law enforcement operation targeting known gang members and associates.” The campaign, dubbed Operation Community Shield, has detained more than 22,000 purported gang members nationwide since 2005. (WP, July 29)

Under the Obama administration‘s new policy, announced in 2009, ICE has halted the controversial workplace raids of the Bush administration, but is continuing “anti-gang” sweeps across the country.

See our last post on the politics of immigration.

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