JANUARY 30, 2009
Latino advocates are accusing federal agents of racial profiling for arresting two dozen illegal immigrant day laborers outside a Maryland convenience store and subsequently deporting most of them.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents made the arrests during an operation targeting previously deported illegal aliens who remained in the U.S. against a judge’s orders. The sting took place a couple of years ago but immigrant advocates released video footage this week that they say proves Latinos were unfairly targeted.
The operation took place outside a popular southeast Baltimore convenience store where day laborers—mostly illegal immigrants—congregate daily to solicit work. Taken by store surveillance cameras, the video shows ICE agents rounding up 24 men who turned out to be in the country illegally.
Advocates say the agents ignore black and white store patrons but focus on Latino men, thus their evidence of racial profiling. Further strengthening their discrimination argument, the video also shows federal agents detaining a number of Latinos at a bus stop across the street from the convenience store.
Touting the video at a press conference near the scene this week, the head of a local pro immigration group, claimed “we’re fighting back,” and “showing everyone exactly what our community has been telling us about the abuses, about the racial profiling.”
A Maryland immigrant advocacy group filed wrongful arrest suits on behalf of three of the men, one of them voluntarily returned to his native El Salvador and two are free on bond while they fight deportation orders. They are each seeking half a million dollars from the U.S. government even though they live here illegally.
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