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Across America, immigration officials in the Trump Administration have been operating in a cruel and unaccountable manner. On April 5, 2018, Trump officials arrested 97 immigrants at a meat-processing plant in rural Tennessee. It was one of the largest workplace raids since President George W. Bush was in office. This week, the latest disturbing example comes from Rome, NY, where ICE raided a local dairy farm without a warrant and retaliated against the farmer for simply seeking the basic facts of what was happening on his property.
Rome, New York is home to Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY-22), an immigration hardliner, who has sought to make immigration a key part of her competitive race against likely Democratic challenger, Assembly Anthony Brindisi. Rep. Tenney also recently has been promoting her support for upstate New York dairy farmers, calling for an approach that would “reignite” the agricultural sector in the region. As a result, Rep. Tenney should answer if she supports the ICE raid on one of her constituents’ farms – an approach with similarities of what we are seeing across the country.
According to Matt Hildreth, Political Director of America’s Voice,
“The details of the Federal Government’s raid on John Collins’ farm are disturbing but tragically they aren’t unique. This is what Donald Trump’s mass deportation agenda looks like. Donald Trump’s supporters in Congress, like Rep. Claudia Tenney, care more about Trump’s ideology than reality and their anti-immigrant agenda is absolutely devastating for many small towns. Their policies are destroying our agricultural economy and separating families. Immigrant agricultural workers and their families are valuable members of our rural communities and the nation’s economy. They belong here.”
“John Collins was standing outside the milk house at his dairy farm this morning when he heard yelling coming from inside. He ran in, he says, and saw his worker, Marcial de Leon Aguilar, pinned up against the window by armed men. The men did not identify themselves and were screaming at Aguilar, Collins said.
“I run and say, ‘What the hell is going on in here?’” Collins said.
Then the men told Collins they were officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He asked them for a warrant or some paperwork to explain what they were doing. They had none, he said, so he ordered them to get off his property and leave Aguilar alone.
As this happened, Collins said, Aguilar’s children watched. They were waiting nearby for the school bus to come. Collins said the officers put Aguilar in handcuffs and took him across the rural road to their vehicles. At least seven officers had come onto the small farm, Collins said.
…Collins said he followed the officers cross the street and asked them why they were taking Aguilar, but he didn’t get a straight answer. He also continued to ask for paperwork, but was not offered any by the ICE officers.
Collins said Aguilar had proper documentation to work for him. And he’s been paying taxes since working for Collins … Collins said he isn’t sure why ICE officers came for Aguilar and he was upset that they came onto his property without any notification or permission and roughed up Aguilar in front of his four children. Just like police officers, ICE officers are required to provide a warrant before they go onto private property.
“ICE needs a warrant. If they go on someone’s property without one, they are violating the law,” said immigration law expert and Cornell law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr.
Collins said the officers gave him nothing when he continued to ask. Collins followed the ICE officers across as they took Aguilar, in handcuffs, to their three waiting vehicles. “I told them you can’t come in here without a warrant,” Collins said. “They can’t take someone and throw them up against the wall because of the color of their skin.”
Collins attempted to take photos and video with his phone. When he did that, he said, one of the ICE officers grabbed his phone and threw it into the road. Then they handcuffed him and threatened to arrest him for hindering a federal investigation, he said.
…“This was something you see on TV,” Collins said. “You don’t expect it to be here.”