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Detaining Citizens, Pointing Guns, and Separating Kids: ICE’s Actions in Ohio Immigration Raid Are Outrageous, Outlandish, and Un-American

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Yesterday, as TV cameras rolled, two hundred ICE and CBP agents–aided by “aerial surveillance”–descended upon Corso’s Flower & Garden Center in Sandusky, OH. All told, more than 100 men and women were arrested. Reporters from a local TV station were on the scene when the raids occurred, making it clear that the Trump Administration was looking for a publicized “shock and awe” show of force as they carried out this massive raid.

As more details and first-hand accounts emerge, it’s clear that ICE’s reliance military-style tactics – such as detaining citizens and coming in with guns blazing – were extremely aggressive and all part of a larger strategy to treat ordinary workers like dangerous criminals and purposefully sow fear. Meanwhile, spouses, children, and other loves ones are left devastated, searching for a way to pick up the pieces – or even to find each other in the disarray.

The local Norwalk Reflector published the first-hand impression of local resident and U.S. citizen Rodolfo Reyes, who was with his 19-year old citizen daughter at the garden center raided by ICE. The depiction of the scene and the details of ICE’s tactics make clear that the chaos and fear was intentional – and included the detention of U.S. citizens such as Reyes:

“A bunch of cops came running into the warehouses, pointing guns at people,” he said. “Everybody was scared. They tied everybody’s hands up with black zip ties. Even we (my daughter and I) were tied up even though we’re U.S. citizens.”

Reyes said when the police burst through the doors with weapons and police K-9s “everybody panicked because it scared them” and they began to run. He said the police kept shouting “this is a search warrant” but “wouldn’t say what the search warrant was for.”

“The police were real, real, real rough with the people,” he said. “They had an older man who was 50 or 60 years old; they put zip ties on him too. Then an old woman, she was running. She said ‘I see everybody running, so why wouldn’t I run. I didn’t know what was going on.’ Then they started to go through all of our things and they put us in groups of like five and started taking people out.”

…“I know they’re doing their job and some of them are not U.S. citizens, but we are human,” Reyes said. “We should be treated like human beings, not animals. I am a U.S. citizen. But it doesn’t matter where you are or who you are or where you are from. We are supposed to be treated like humans. We shouldn’t be treated like animals. Everybody was running, and they were throwing dogs on the people and pointing guns. That’s ridiculous. That’s too much.”

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deportation Defense Coordinator for America’s Voice Education Fund and the Director of America’s Voice Ohio:

The Trump Administration thrives off of terrorizing immigrants and breaking up families. The tactics and strategy on display from ICE are part of this larger agenda, but are outrageous and unacceptable. Members of Congress and the Ohio congressional delegation need to investigate the issues and stand up for for the American children who will are missing a parent today, because Trump’s political police force wanted ‘shock and awe’ headlines and to spread fear.

Other observers similarly condemned ICE’s tactics and larger motivations:

Veronica Dahlberg of HOLA Ohio: “There were many children left behind with baby-sitters, day care centers, and so forth, what’s going to happen to those children?” 

Attorney Josie Gonzalez: “Government is overreaching and trying to make a big splash, instill fear in the business community and immigrant communities and make the headlines. It’s a tremendous use of resources to accomplish that purpose.”

Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort’s Senior Vice President for Industry Advocacy: “We have gone to the Department of Homeland Security and told them that in the absence of a real solution to the immigration problem, enforcement activities do more harm than good. While these agencies are technically correct in enforcing the laws, is this really the best use of their power?””