Mistaken detentions are drawing increased attention as immigration officials mount workplace roundups and jailhouse sweeps in search of undocumented immigrants, reports the Los Angeles Times. Immigration raids of work sites often result in at least a short-term detention of lawful residents and even citizens, as agents seal targeted businesses and grill workers about their status.
The Obama administration is expected to rein in the controversial workplace raids — shifting enforcement emphasis to target employers rather than workers. Immigrant advocates have long pushed for such a change; others say easing workplace enforcement will encourage illegal immigration. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement downplays the problem of detaining legal residents. “ICE does not detain United States citizens,” said spokesman Richard Rocha. “ICE only processes an individual for removal when all available facts indicate that the person is an alien.” The surge in ICE workplace actions during the Bush administration spawned fierce complaints from employees caught up in dragnets at factories, slaughterhouses, and poultry farms.