MALDEF Questions Timing and Consequences of Federal Raids Today in Arizona

Raids will augment fear and panic already felt in light of new anti-immigrant legislation

April 15, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz issued the following statement regarding the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation in Arizona.

“Reports of a significant and highly-publicized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation this morning in Arizona are troubling not because of the operation's aim, but because of its timing. While breaking up a human-smuggling ring is important and consistent with enforcement priorities, the inevitable collateral effects of undertaking any significant ICE operation – particularly one that attracts substantial media and public attention, much of it specifically sought by ICE – at this time in Arizona raises serious concerns. Such an operation – with the attendant fear and potential panic it could engender among peaceful immigrants residing in Arizona – in a state that is on the verge of enacting the most draconian anti-immigrant legislation in national memory, which itself triggers fear and concern in the community, seems abjectly cruel and cavalier. Furthermore, such an operation, which may involve local law enforcement cooperation, in a county whose scofflaw sheriff is under active federal Department of Justice investigation, could seriously undermine efforts toward ensuring greater respect for the civil rights of all Arizonans. Finally, undertaking such an operation in the middle of a national Census in a state whose census response rate is already below the national average is inconsistent with our national, constitutional imperative of completing a full count of United States residents. The timing of this ICE operation, no matter how appropriate its aims, raises concerns worthy of careful investigation by national policymakers and the public. MALDEF looks forward to a swift and thorough inquiry.”

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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund