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Are ICE agents violating their own policies and immigrants' rights?

Created in 2003, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE is the federal government agency that is tasked with enforcing U.S. border control laws and engaging in immigration removal operations. As one would expect, the very mention of ICE can set off panic signals throughout immigrant communities and especially among those individuals who are undocumented.

Recently, ICE and the Obama Administration came under fire for a series of raids that occurred last month in which 121 "Central American women and children" were rounded up and deported. Now, several of the tactics that were employed by ICE in these raids are being called into question.

In 2011, ICE issued a memo banning ICE agents to engage in enforcement actions at locations that were identified as being sensitive in nature. The locations identified by ICE include schools, churches, medical offices and public demonstrations and actions banned from occurring at these locations include arrests, interviews, searches and removal operations.

Enforcement actions carried out by ICE agents on Jan. 3 against an undocumented immigrant named Reynold Garcia appear to violate the agency’s own policy. According to those familiar with the incident, Garcia was attending a church service when ICE agents "tricked him into exiting the building so that they could arrest and deport him."

An ICE agent posed as Garcia's cousin and another agent a police officer who convinced Garcia to come out of the church to assist in a car accident in which his cousin had allegedly been involved. However, once outside, ICE agents posing as police officers quickly apprehended and arrested Garcia who was immediately deported.

In addition to allegations that ICE agents are violating their own sensitive locations policy, concerns have also been raised about the types of deceptive tactics agents are employing to apprehend undocumented immigrants.

In response to these concerns, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reintegrated ICE's policy with regard to sensitive locations in a Feb. 2 memo. Critics remain skeptical, however, that ICE will cease engaging in these types of enforcement operations.

Individuals who are personally or who have family members who are facing deportation, would be wise to contact an attorney. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects an individual's rights to due process and an attorney can help ensure that one's rights are respected and preserved.

Source: VICE News, "US Immigration Sting on Church Breaks with Policy on 'Sensitive Locations'," Meredith Hoffman, Feb. 17, 2016

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