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Lawsuit alleges ICE agents illegally detained, assaulted Grand Rapids residents


The ACLU and the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center have filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Luis Valdez and his mother Telma Valdez. Telma was born in Guatemala but is a legal, permanent U.S. resident. Her son Luis is a U.S. citizen.

The lawsuit alleges ICE agents illegally detained the two in February of last year when Valdez and his mother pulled up to a relative’s home in Grand Rapids for a visit. He says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers approached them with their guns drawn.

It’s alleged the agents illegally detained and interrogated the two; even after they produced proof they are legal U.S. residents.  

The suit alleges the agents assaulted Luis’ mother, once during the detainment and when the agent released them. She reportedly suffered minor injuries that required medical care.

“It’s pretty hard to watch that. It’s difficult not being able to do anything. I told them that I was a US citizen but it didn’t seem to have very much effect on them. They didn’t seem to care at all,” Luis Valdez said.

Eventually, the two were released from custody without being charged. The ACLU says the incident was a result of illegal racial profiling.

"It is clear that if this mother and son were not Latino, they would not have been handcuffed, assaulted and detained. Not only is this type of racial profiling illegal, but it is counterproductive and erodes community trust," said ACLU of Michigan staff attorney Miriam Aukerman.

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls says the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation. But added, "We maintain a zero-tolerance policy on abuse and take all related allegations very seriously. ICE is committed to ensuring all individuals encountered are treated safely, securely and humanely."

You can find the full legal complaint here

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Enterprise Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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