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ICE Agents’ Union Denies Any Wrongdoing In Detroit School Raid

by Van Le on 05/05/2011 at 9:08am

detroit hope academyThe morning of March 31 started out like most others, with parents driving their children to school and Ali Abdel, the principal of Hope of Detroit Academy, watching over the morning safety patrol.

Chaos, however, was lurking behind the scenes, in the form of Detroit ICE agents who had tailed several parents from their homes to the school.  Violating an internal policy that refrains from enforcement actions near “sensitive community locations” such as schools, places of worship, and funerals, agents swooped in and arrested some immigrant parents on the street, while trapping others inside the school with their young children.

The case was so egregious that John Morton, the highest official at ICE, came to Detroit last month to meet with community leaders about whether the agency had overstepped its bounds.  And when Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) passed through town as part of his “Change Takes Courage” tour, he spent time discussing the event and listening to testimony about it.

Yet now, a new story from NPR quotes the National ICE Council—the union that represents immigration agents—as saying that the school raid didn’t happen at all.  From National ICE Council Chris Crane:   

“[ICE] made a statement before they even asked one single officer about anything that took place that day,” he says.

Crane also says agents kept their distance from the school, and never even got out of their vehicles. He accuses critics of fear-mongering, saying, “it’s the statements of some of these political leaders that are really creating the fear in the communities, the fear across the nation now that ICE agents are these terrible people doing terrible things to immigrants, when that’s just not the case.”

Fear-mongering, oh really?  Is that how Crane wants to dismiss the testimony of all the parents who had to hide inside Hope Academy, who were too terrified in the days and weeks afterward to send their kids back to school?  As the school’s principal told NPR:

“Kids weren’t focused on their work, parents were not bringing their kids to school out of fear. And this is no place where children feel like that. They should feel like they’re safe, and parents should feel that their kids are safe here at school.”

Is that how he wants to dismiss the hundreds of stories about ICE wrongdoings that were brought up at Gutierrez’s Detroit rally?  The Hope of Detroit incident was hardly isolated—other victims have spoken up about being strip-searched in front of their children and shoved through walls.  One US citizen was shackled after ICE agents refused to accept his identification, while a six-month pregnant woman was refused medical care.

ICE—and John Morton—have been correct in looking into the Hope of Detroit incident and the other abuses.  With such a history of concentrated, heavy-handed treatment of immigrants, ICE’s record in Detroit is just too much to dismiss out of hand.

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