Two U.S. citizens and one legal permanent resident were among those arrested last month in Mount Pleasant, Texas, during a federal immigration crackdown targeting identity fraud at poultry giant Pilgrim’s Pride. One 19-year-old citizen was taken from her home while still in her pajamas, and an 18-year-old citizen was shackled at his ankles, handcuffed at his wrists and tied at his waist, said the arrested workers and a relative. All three speak mostly Spanish. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contends that such arrests are rare and that when it does happen, citizens are immediately released.
But across the U.S., reports of arrests and detentions of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are increasing. Lawyers and immigrant-defense groups said such incidents will continue to rise as the federal government deepens its crackdown against illegal immigrants – one of the broadest such actions in 50 years. Raids have intensified in the last two years – a get-tough approach in the absence of comprehensive immigration legislation. Two federal lawsuits representing 122 workers have been filed challenging mass detentions of U.S. citizens, during immigration raids. All were either citizens or people in the U.S. with legal status.