Secrets and Lies In ICE Case

While delayed slightly by weather and the holidays, litigation continues over the habeas corpus petition filed by the United Food and Commercial Worker’s Union in response to the Greeley Swift plant raid.  The Court’s order has been modified to allow voluntary deportations and releases on bond of persons detained in the raid.

The government claims that all deportations and removals from the state took place before the court issued its order, and presents in its response, for the first time, an account of what happened during the raid contrary to those described by the Union and newspaper accounts of the raid at Swift meat processing plants a week ago.  Now, federal judge Kane will have to sort out contary legal and factual claims of the parties.As previously explained at Colorado Confidential , the gist of the Union’s complaint on behalf of the detained plant workers was that  the nature of the detentions following the raid is unlawful because the people picked up have been denied due process, denied access to counsel and their place of detention has not been disclosed.

The facts asserted by the Union and the government are hard to reconcile.  For example, the Union’s brief states that after the employees were brought to the cafeteria:

ICE denied numerous requests to go to the bathroom, to make telephone calls, or to get something to eat.

Paul Maldonado, the ICE agent in charge of the raid, in contrast, stated under penalty of perjury that:

Public telephones were available for those aliens who wanted to contact family members or friends who couuld bring evidence of lawful status or simply to make calls. . . . There were no locked doors in the survey area, and no one was prevented from leaving the area.  Based upon my personal knowledge and information available to me, no Swift employee sought to leave the survey area during the interview process.

According to the Union brief:

[S]everal employees told Ms. Lopez [the union steward] they were mistreated by ICE agents.

But according to Maldonado:

ICE agents did not . . . act in anything but a calm and courteous manner so as to facilitate the safest environment possible.

According to the Union brief:

ICE provided no information to Petitioner’s employer, their families, UFCW or any other non-ICE individual or entity about to where ICE was taking Petitioners.

This allegation, the government doesn’t deny (indeed it admits denying Union officials any access to the employees until they were able to make a visit to some of them with counsular officials from the Mexican and Guatamalan governments), yet it insists that the suit must be dismissed because it didn’t name the individual with immediate custody over the people detained.

In short, the facts don’t match.  You can speculate on who is being honest and who isn’t.  Judge Kane will decide what to do next some time after December 29, 2006 when another round of briefing in the case is completed.

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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