Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ICE Cooperation With Walmart and Other Service Providers in Houston

There's no official link to this, as it's not an article, but I'd like to post a series of messages between a pastor and an organization in Houston. This was part of an e-mail that was submitted through the Detention Watch Network. I highly recommend signing up for their newsletter, which can be done by visiting their website.

-Rocío



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Hi all,

Please find below transcript of a conversation with a pastor in Houston TX regarding the cooperation of Wall Mart and other service providers with ICE "raids". The pastor has some very grave concerns that we would like to bring to attention and indeed ask if there is anyone on here with similar experiences/knowledge of just what is happening in Houston. Any light anyone can share would be gratefully recieved. Simply said we are trying to ascertain the rights of the individual in these cases and highlight potential violations of those rights. Any thoughts? Please contact me at (e-mail withheld).
Thanks




Pastor:

I know that mid-March a rumor was going around that Wal-Mart was cooperating with ICE and allowing them to conduct raids inside their stores.

The Sheriff that our staff spoke with said that each retail store (not just Wal-Mart) signs an agreement with the local law enforcement and allows them to enter the store to ask customers and employees for id. He said that they had conducted a raid on in local restaurants, stores, etc and the the local Wal Mart had already signed an agreement with them.

I am calling our contacts within the sheriff's department to find out if we can verify this or not. We've already had confirmation from Sheriff's in Humble that a raid was conducted at a Wal Mart there with permission from the store.

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Name Withheld):
Thanks. I’ve been in conversation with one of our staff attorneys and checking our materials. We also found a news release on the Walmart website saying it’s all rumors.

Hoping that’s true but knowing no matter what anything can happen anywhere…here’s what we understand right now. In the non-immigration context, for people interacting with police officers, the officer would need to have "reasonable suspicion" in order to stop a person and ask for the ID. The person can walk away unless he is under arrest. However, the INA says that an *immigration* officer has the right to "interrogate any alien or person believed to be an alien as to his right to be or to remain in the United States," and to arrest the alien if the officer has reason to believe he is not lawfully in the US. This is INA 287(a) and regs in 8 CFR Part 287. The Houston police officers are probably under a 287(g) agreement with DHS (we assume) so have the authority to do a search under 287©. It would also be worthwhile to check into any particular laws in the 5th Circuit. In most states, for example, you don’t have to give an officer your name, but in California you do.

If this agreement is true, it seems like discrimination based on national origin- a civil rights issue. We’re also checking with colleagues in Detention Watch Network to see what the buzz is there. If we hear anything else we’ll let you know.

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Pastor:

I am finding out that raids are indeed happening in grocery stores, WalMarts, restaurants, etc with a signed agreement by the management. The customers are being taken in by ICE if they can't produce proper documentation.

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