ICE’s Military-Style Raid Leaves Immigrant Communities Terrorized

At 7 a.m. on June 5, a man walked into Corso’s Garden Center in Sandusky, Ohio. He carried with him a stack of donut boxes and announced a spur of the moment company meeting. Employees of the garden center were gathering when, suddenly, the man began shouting orders. Heavily armed agents in military fatigues stormed in with canine units. Outside, 100 armed agents formed a perimeter, and overhead, helicopters circled to ensure that no one could escape.

The horrible truth had become apparent. This man, who had just offered them free donuts, was not a company representative. He was an ICE agent, and the workers were trapped. People were crying and panicking. One woman fainted.

ICE agents moved through the crowd, zip-tying the farm workers’ hands behind their backs without bothering to distinguish between U.S. citizens and those without documentation. Ultimately, 114 employees were loaded onto buses and taken to a Border Patrol station in Port Clinton. From there, the men and women were separated, with most sent to detention centers in Youngstown, Ohio, and Battle Creek, Michigan, respectively.

I was told the details of this horrible day by people who had witnessed it themselves. I am the executive director of HOLA Ohio, a grassroots Latino organization that has been advocating for immigrants’ rights for over two decades. As soon as news broke of the raid, my colleagues and I got in the car and drove several hours to the trailer park in Norwalk, Ohio, where many of Corso’s employees live. By the time we arrived, it was essentially a ghost town. Rumors had spread that the trailer park was ICE’s next stop and most residents had fled, many leaving behind their cars and all of their possessions.

It was there that we encountered a traumatized 17-year-old girl who had just been released by ICE. She was a U.S. citizen and worked at Corso’s as a summer job. She, too, had had her hands zip-tied behind her back. Other minors who had been swept up in the raid, including other U.S. citizens, were detained for 12 hours before being released.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the raid is the number of children who have had their lives thrown into turmoil as a result. The day of the raid, at a nearby church where many community members sought shelter, adults scrambled to make sure that the frightened children whose parents had been arrested would have someone to take care of them. Today, over 200 children are still without one or both of their parents.

The day after the raid, ICE announced that it was releasing a number of detainees for “humanitarian reasons,” including those with health issues and those who are the primary caregivers of minor children. Yet, many people who match these criteria remain in ICE custody. One individual still in ICE custody lost his eye while working at Corso’s and needs to take medicated eye drops. Another man in custody is on medication to prevent seizures. There are people still in custody who have diabetes and arthritis. Family members are telling us that these individuals currently do not have access to their medications. It is not clear whether the parents of young children will be released.

The chaos and fear that ensued last week has not abated. Lawyers were finally able to initiate contact with the 56 men in detention, but they have still not been able to contact the women, who are being detained in Michigan. The majority of families have still not been able to speak on the phone or have any contact with their loved ones who are in custody. Deportations could begin as soon as today, though no one knows for sure. This lack of information is only creating more terror in the community.

Though large-scale immigration raids have happened before, the size and brutality of this particular raid, along with the use of military tactics, have shocked even the most seasoned immigrants’ rights activists. Regardless of citizenship status, for workers — including teenagers, mothers, fathers, and those with medical issues — to be treated like enemy insurgents is beyond disturbing. It is terrible, barbaric, and inhumane.

Please urge Senators Brown and Portman to confront ICE and prevent the pending deportations of our immigrant neighbors, family members, and friends.

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Anonymous

They are foreigners who sneaked in and somehow gained enough political power to force the USA to ignore our laws for their benefit. They also held our budget hostage to try to force us to capitulate to their demands against the will of US Citizens and talk openly about undermining our laws and elected officials. I seriously no reason you be polite to people who are trying yo colonize us.

Anonymous

you just described everything that the white man did to the Indians when they came over, but only they murdered way more people.

Anonymous

My friends and I have formed a group. We call ICE to anywhere and everywhere we suspect immigrants might be. My female friends will call cops on any undocumented immigrant we see and tell the cops they tried to rape them. The war has just began

Anonymous

Be so proud of yourselves. Vomit.

Anonymous

You are disgusting. And what is wrong with this country right now. Shame on you.

Anonymous

If we were being bombed, captured and separated from our children, are you saying you don't love them enough to try and get them to a safer place if there were one to get them to? Put yourself in their place and tell me you wouldn't.

BusterChops

Get these illlegal aliens out now. I hope they are terrorized by ICE constantly, these scumbags don't respect our country,. Look at what they have done to the countries they have come from. It's in their genetics , steal all you can , pillage and make ruin out of anything that is good and normal, use up resources, no self-respect thus no respect for this country.

Anonymous

Well said.

Anonymous

So are you saying that white people are not doing anything? They came over without asylum, killed majority of the Indians, made laws to suit themselves and somehow brainwashed themselves that they are superior. They're more closer to being qualified as scumbags than any other cultures.

Anonymous

I am sure that if an American sneaked into Mexico and worked there illegally the Mexican government would treat him far more harshly than ICE is treating these ILLEGALS.

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