The head of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Union spoke out against the "increasingly militarized" raids that immigration authorities are conducting in the name of combating illegal immigration:
OMAHA, Neb. -- The president of the Food and Commercial Workers union on Thursday called for congressional hearings into tactics used by federal officials during immigration raids last year at six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants.
Union officials heard complaints from Swift workers in plants raided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in December.
"No water, no food for hours standing up there together. Worse than the animals that are sacrificed there every day," said Delphina Arias, 44, who works at the Cactus, Texas, Swift plant. "It was depressing as a U.S. citizen and as a human being."
Joseph Hansen, president of the union, said workers' rights are under attack and the union will defend them.
"At gunpoint, more than 12,000 workers were herded together and systematically stripped of their rights," Hansen said. "Workers were denied access to telephones, to bathrooms and legal counsel."
ICE officials investigating identity theft arrested more than 1,200 workers at the Swift plants.
ICE spokesman Tim Counts said the union's allegations were baseless. [AP]
Note that ICE didn't get a criminal warrant from a judge to search the premises. You have to show probable cause for that.
The police can't just detain 1200 people at gunpoint first, and ask questions later.
However, ICE obtained a civil search warrant--even though they were investigating crimes (identity theft and illegal immigration). They did so knowing they were rounding up US citizens and lawful aliens in the process.
The UFCW is planning a suit against ICE on Fourth Amendment grounds.
Even diehard opponents of illegal immigration should side with the UFCW against ICE's paramilitary tactics.
Let's ignore the ethics of using the threat of deadly force apprehend non-violent workers suspected of being out of status.
The there's still the issue of ICE detaining first and asking questions later. If they don't have to supply evidence upfront, they can do this to anyone. Americans should be able to go to work without fear that the feds are going to break the door down and round them up because they suspect there might be some illegal immigrants on staff.
Manufactured hysteria over illegal immigration is taking its place beside terrorism and the drug war as excuses to erode civil liberties for everyone. Securing the border shouldn't come at the expense of our right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures.