Here’s a story which didn’t seem to grab too much national attention, but it’s worth a closer look. Back on September 25th, ICE agents entered a garage in South Los Angeles, ordered everyone to put their hands up and promptly arrested several individuals, including Juan Hernandez, a mechanic working at the shop. Following an investigation, Hernandez was taken to the immigration processing center Downtown and subsequently transferred to the immigration detention facility in Adelanto, California. On October 31st he was released on bail awaiting a hearing before a judge and probable deportation.
The ACLU has stepped into the case, claiming that ICE didn’t follow the proper procedures and knew nothing about Hernandez other than his place of occupation and “the fact that he looked Latino” when they took him in. (CBS Los Angeles)
A prominent civil rights group has taken legal action against federal immigration authorities, in the case of what they say was an unlawful, warrantless arrest at an auto repair shop in South Los Angeles that ultimately led to a deportation order. The Southern California office of the American Civil Liberties Union, working with the Law Offices of Stacey Tolchin, announced Thursday they had filed a motion to stop the deportation of auto mechanic Juan Hernandez, whom they say was unlawfully arrested by officers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement…
Security video from inside and outside the shop shows, as the ACLU motion claims, officers with vests labeled “police” ordering Hernandez, three other mechanics, a customer and a vendor who had just dropped off parts “to freeze and put their hands up.”
“Without informing any of the men who they were or why they were arresting them, the agents proceeded to handcuff all of the employees,” the motion reads. “The only thing the officers knew about Mr. Hernandez when they decided to detain him was his place of business and his Latino appearance.”
Fortunately, there is a video of the arrest available for your review. The arrest takes place in the first two minutes so you don’t have to sit through the entire half hour of security footage.
The ACLU is complaining about, well… pretty much everything. They’re saying that the ICE agents came crashing in without a warrant, that they were wearing “vests” which just said “POLICE” on them and they didn’t even know who Hernandez was when they arrived. Just that he, “looked Latino.” And on that basis, presumably, they feel he should be let go.
As you’ll see in the video, they came in with rifles and wearing full body armor, so clearly, they expected or at least had reason to expect trouble. As to the complaints about how they were identified, I’ve seen picture after picture after picture of ICE agents during raids and their body armor always says “Police” on it. It generally also says, “ICE” somewhere, but that’s not really the point. Perhaps they were short of armor at that time and were sharing with the cops. Maybe somebody ordered the wrong gear. Who knows? But they were clearly identified as law enforcement… which they are.
As to questions of a warrant or “knowing who” Hernandez was, even the ACLU was forced to concede that ICE doesn’t need a warrant to enter a public space on a raid. As you see in the video, the door on that garage was wide open and people were coming and going. The place was open to the public for business.
Should the agents have informed everyone they were immigration agents while putting the handcuffs on them? I suppose that would be nice, but they were obviously labeled as being law enforcement. None of this changes the fact of Mr. Hernandez’s immigration status. Since the article never mentions it and in the months since the arrest there’s no record of the ACLU or anyone else even trying to claim this was a mistake, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he’s an illegal alien. And he was caught, even if it was by accident.
If ICE want’s to square things up with the ACLU I can offer a compromise. They should deliver a letter with a brief apology to Juan Hernandez and explain it in person. “We’re really sorry about the misunderstanding as to who we worked for, sir. We’re with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Hope that’s all cleared up now.”
“Now get on the bus. You’re going home to your own country.”