Rumors of ICE raids circulate in Dearborn after restaurant visited by Homeland Security agents | Michigan Radio
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Rumors of ICE raids circulate in Dearborn after restaurant visited by Homeland Security agents

Jul 15, 2019

 

Exterior shot of Hamido restaurant in Dearborn.
Credit Ammar Alhaidar

“ICE RAIDS STARTED IN DEARBORN,” the social media and Whatsapp messages warned on Monday afternoon. Dearborn residents sent the messages to each other after agents from Homeland Security Investigations visited Hamido, a well-known Middle-Eastern Dearborn restaurant.

Screenshot of the WhatsApp message circulating on July 15, 2019. An ICE spokesman said it was part of a routine effort "not related to other operational activity."
Credit Malak Silmi/WhatsApp Messenger

The manager, Kassem Rizk, says he wasn’t sure at the time if the agents were from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but he says two officers came in, and one officer asked for employment verification forms.

“He said that he was sweeping the area. He said this was his tenth stop,” Rizk says.

Rizk says that nothing like this has happened before in the restaurant.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman with ICE in Detroit, says Homeland Security Investigations agents issued an I-9 audit notice to Hamido:

Special agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) served an I-9 audit notice today at a Dearborn business.  A notice of inspection (NOI) informs business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether they are complying with existing law. No arrests were made as a result of today’s effort.

HSI routinely conducts worksite investigations in order to uphold federal law. HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy continues to address both employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers and the workers themselves. These routine efforts are ongoing and not related to other operational activity.

HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law. HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices.

HSI’s worksite enforcement investigations often involve additional criminal activity, such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, document fraud, worker exploitation and/or substandard wage and working conditions.

Rizk, the restaurant manager, says the two officers asked for a list of the employees' I-9 forms.

“He told me ‘just sign this paper and I’ll deal with it’, and I told him, 'I’m not signing anything without a lawyer,'” Rizk says.

He says that the officer said they would return in a couple of days to pick up the forms.

Rizk says the restaurant doesn't employ anyone illegally.

The messages went viral across social media platforms, sparking fear and concern in many Dearborn residents. 

A post shared on a Dearborn community Instagram page with more than 55,000 followers. An ICE spokesman said the visit to Hamido was part of a "routine effort" that was "not related to other operational activity."
Credit Screenshot from Instagram

Dawud Walid, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan Chapter (CAIR-MI), says it only received calls about the Homeland Security visit to Hamido on Monday. He says CAIR hasn't heard of any other ICE activity in Dearborn this week.

“We’re concerned because the Trump administration has publicly announced that they’re stepping up ICE raids all throughout the United States of America,” Walid says. “We have strong reason to believe that Dearborn, Michigan, given its high immigrant population, would be a target of ICE.”