Worthington workers sue over tactics in immigration raid
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WORTHINGTON WORKERS SUE OVER TACTICS IN IMMIGRATION RAID
The lawsuit claims ICE agents hurled insults at
the Hispanic workers, ordered female Hispanic workers to disrobe and
insulted, abused, and humiliated" the plaintiffs during the Dec. 12
raid at the
Swift & Co. plant.
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Tuesday, September 4, 2007 (AP)
Minn. Meatpackers Sue Over Federal Raid
By GREGG AAMOT, Associated Press Writer
(09-04) 15:48 PDT MINNEAPOLIS (AP) --
A lawsuit filed Tuesday claims that federal immigration agents who
raided a meatpacking plant detained Hispanic workers, hurled racial
epithets at them and forced the women among them to take off their
clothes, while white workers were spared the harsh treatment.
The federal lawsuit was filed by Centro Legal, an immigrant rights
group, on behalf of 10 workers at Swift & Co.'s Worthington plant who
are in the U.S. legally. More than 200 illegal immigrants in
Worthington were arrested Dec. 12 as part of a six-state raid of Swift
plants that netted more than 1,200 undocumented workers.
The plaintiffs, all of whom were working at the Worthington plant when
it was raided, claim they were detained and searched or interrogated
without being advised of their constitutional rights, the lawsuit
claims. None was charged with a crime, said Gloria Contreras-Edin,
Centro Legal's executive director.
Federal agents "insulted, abused, and humiliated the plaintiffs on
account of their race" and ordered female Hispanic workers to disrobe
in front of federal agents, the lawsuit claims. White workers,
meanwhile, were allowed to move about the plant freely during the raid
and weren't subject to unlawful conduct on the part of agents,
according to the lawsuit.
"This is about upholding the basic constitutional rights and freedoms
of Americans whether they are black, white or Latino,"
The lawsuit claims civil rights violations, abuse, discrimination,
unlawful search and unlawful detainment. It seeks unspecified damages
and a court ruling barring ICE from conducting similar raids.
Tim Counts, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
said Tuesday that government lawyers hadn't reviewed the lawsuit. But
he said agents did nothing wrong during the raid.
"The worksite enforcement operation at the Worthington plant was done
lawfully and in full accordance with ICE policies and procedures,"
Counts said. "Each person encountered was treated with respect and has
been given full access to due process under the laws."
Worthington is a city of about 15,000 residents near the Iowa border.
Centro Legal has also sued on behalf of Hispanic residents in Willmar
who claim agents broke into their homes and illegally detained them
during a sweep in April. Many Hispanic immigrants in that west-central
Minnesota community work at a poultry processor owned by Austin-based
Hormel Foods Corp.
ICE has also claimed its agent acted properly in that raid, which led
to the arrests of about 50 people.
Copyright 2007 AP