Monday, December 20, 2010

Saint Paul Police Detaining Undocumented Drivers For ICE And 50 Chipotle Latino Workers Fired Weeks Before X-mas In Twin Cities

Photo: MIRAC

Saint Paul Police and ICE engaging in alleged undocumented immigrant detentions by Cesar Chavez St.

By H. Nelson Goodson
December 20, 2010

Saint Paul, Minnesota - Last Thursday, Saint Paul Police stopped a vehicle on the exit of Highway 52 and Cesar Chavez St. with two men inside. Both men were briefly detained by police in Ramsey County for being undocumented and immediately turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). An ICE van came to the scene of the police stop to pick up the two undocumented men. One of the detainees told acquaintances that ICE had a full van of undocumented immigrants when he was picked up at Cesar Chavez St.
The two detainees later signed a voluntary deportation document, waiving their right to challenge their deportation. ICE had told them that they could be facing up to a year in custody while their cases get resolved.
Both men were never cited by police for a traffic violation or taken to the Ramsey County Jail for processing. They were taken to an ICE processing center by ICE agents. 
Numerous reports have surfaced throughout the Twin Cities alleging that police officers and both the Hennepin County and Ramsey County Deputy Sheriff's are engaging in racial profiling by stopping Latino drivers and detaining any suspected undocumented driver on the road or street for ICE. Police don't get to cite or charge the undocumented drivers for any traffic violations, thus eliminating any record of police stopping Hispanic drivers.
Earlier in the year, police chiefs from both Minneapolis and Saint Paul had opposed a similar Arizona SB 1070 law that would allow police to ask for legal status documents from suspected undocumented immigrants stopped for a traffic or domestic violation. The police chief's agreed, that passing a similar Arizona law would create distrust in the Latino communities and Hispanics won't cooperated with police investigating a crime or report crimes for fear of being deported.
The recent stop and detention to two undocumented men by police and than turning them over to ICE on the field contradicts the Saint Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith's belief that it is counter productive for the department.
ICE has deployed agents in the Twin Cities to work in coordination with local law enforcement agencies to ramp up undocumented immigrant detentions whether at work sites or on the roads for faster removal from the state and country.
Several weeks ago, the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) in their Wordpress blog site reported that eight Chipotle restaurants throughout the Twin Cities had fired at least 50 Latino workers suspected of being undocumented. Most of the workers fired were long term employees. MIRAC posted, "These mass firings seem to be part of an immigration-related audit, where Latino workers are singled out and fired if they can’t immediately verify their immigration status."
MIRAC alleged that 14 workers had been fired from the Chipotle Grand Avenue branch in St. Paul; 6 at the Seven Corners branch; 7 at the Skyway branch; 11 in Richfield; 7 in Golden Valley; 2 in Stillwater; and 1 in Hudson, according to a City Pages' news report. MIRAC says that more workers terminated could be added, once they can confirm them.
ICE launched a statewide operation, which initiated an I-9 audit on 8 Twin Cities Chipotle restaurants. ICE would not elaborate on the Chipotle  I-9 audit. The Denver-base Chipotle Corporate only admitted to complying with an ICE document request.
Brad Sigal of MIRAC wrote in a press release, “We denounce Chipotle for acting like immigration agents and attacking their own long-term dedicated workers. This mass firing of Latino workers right before Christmas is unconscionable. We demand that Chipotle immediately stop this cruel wave of firings."
Some Chipotle employees are questioning the timing of the firings because those fired won't get their promised Christmas bonuses and those who would have worked three years were about to get full vacation pay. New replacements being trained won't be able to qualify for a Christmas bonus or vacation pay, according to MIRAC.
MIRAC is a grassroots immigrant rights organization that works toward legalization for undocumented immigrants and full equality for all regardless of immigration status.

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