ACLU claims ICE agents mistreated workers scooped up in Nebraska raid

ACLU claims ICE agents mistreated workers scooped up in Nebraska raid

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents Wednesday of mistreating immigrants including pregnant women during a recent raid of suspected undocumented workers in Nebraska.

ACLU's policy and legal counsel Rose Godinez wrote in a statement on the organization's website that the ACLU received multiple reports of alleged abuse and mistreatment during the raid and its aftermath, including pregnant women being denied access to water in high temperatures.

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"While making these arrests, ICE detained dozens of other workers, many of whom could be potential victims of the alleged acts of mistreatment and wage theft," Godinez said.

"Upon release, many reported ICE agents’ lack of preparedness, negligence, and, in some cases, abuse of those detained in the raid," she added. "Many, including at least two pregnant women, reported not having access to water during the two-hour drive [to a detainment facility.]"

The ACLU also alleges that the immigrants, some of whom say they are in the country legally, added that ICE agents at the detention facility where the migrants were taken included improperly trained agents who made basic mistakes.

"For example, several individuals were given a hearing to appear in immigration court at 12:00 a.m. (midnight)," the ACLU's statement read.

"Those who were later released reported that they assumed some ICE agents were new agents because they kept making mistakes on their removal paperwork, including misspelling names and assigning incorrect hearing dates."

ICE issued a statement to The Hill late Friday afternoon, calling the ACLU's allegations "blatantly false" and "irresponsible."

"The allegations made by the ACLU of Nebraska, and other NGOs, are blatantly false," an ICE spokesman said in an email to The Hill. "The ACLU’s irresponsible claims leave out many salient facts, including that 66 of those arrested were released shortly afterwards, that public testimony has already confirmed many of those arrested were grateful that ICE took action to stop their exploitation, and that ICE was well-prepared, well in advance, for this operation; to include providing commercial cooling units and a large tent for anticipated warm weather, on-site medical services; and ample food and water, during both transport and processing."

The spokesman said ICE has "zero tolerance" for "inappropriate and inhumane treatment" of anyone the agency encounters under any circumstance.

"Every step possible was taken to ensure that these individuals were provided with food, water, restroom breaks and that they were processed as quickly as possible in order for our agents to focus on the criminal investigation that they are conducting into money laundering, wire fraud and the exploitation of these individuals,” the spokesman continued.

The Trump administration has faced criticism over its "zero tolerance" immigration policy for months, which mandates that any immigrant suspected of crossing the border illegally be prosecuted for illegal entry.

The policy led to the separation and detention of thousands of children away from their families while the adults faced prosecution. President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE ended the separation practice by executive order in June.

The administration has since battled controversy over reunifying those families after it missed a court-ordered deadline to return separated children to their parents.

-- Updated Aug. 17, 6:15 p.m.