They burst into a Los Angeles company carrying semi-automatic weapons and wearing vests that simply read “police.” Four men, including Juan Hernandez Cuevas, were handcuffed and taken away. Hernandez, 46, had no idea which law enforcement agency had just arrested him — or why — until he arrived at a downtown L.A. processing facility and saw the word “immigration” written on a wall, the Los Angeles Times reports. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrived with a warrant for the owner of the shop, who had an outstanding deportation order based on multiple DUI convictions. They didn’t identify themselves or ask questions about the men’s immigration status as they arrested every employee.
The Trump administration calls immigrants who are not the original targets but are swept up during enforcement actions “collateral arrests.” While some do have criminal records, some have none. Immigrant rights advocates say the practice is a return to the George W. Bush presidency, a period when large-scale workplace raids were common. Lawyers and advocates say the “arrest everyone first, ask questions later” approach — which some see as a response to the “sanctuary city” movement — violates immigrants’ constitutional rights and constitutes racial profiling. Unlike in criminal court, immigrants facing deportation are not appointed public defenders. Nationwide, 57 percent of immigrants facing deportation don’t have an attorney. Ingrid Eagly, an immigration law professor at UCLA, said people subjected to unconstitutional arrests are unlikely to know how to challenge their deportation and many times agree to their expedited removal. “The worry is that worksite raids have already increased in frequency and will continue to do so; that collateral arrests will continue to increase … and that in their haste to carry out this policy of renewed worksite raids, ICE officers will disregard the law,” said Hernandez’s attorney, Eva Bitran.