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The ACLU Takes on ICE for Detaining Spanish-Speaking Amway Conventioneers

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On April 2, Arquimides Bautista joined a group of about 40 people from the Denver area on a bus trip to Omaha, Nebraska, for an Amway convention. When they stopped at a McDonald’s, an immigration officer overheard many of the passengers speaking Spanish. Based on their conversations and “the dress of the individuals”—which apparently indicated they were potential human smugglers—the officer, with 19 years of experience in immigration, claimed he had a basis for intervening, writes Westword.

Bautista and others showed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials valid Colorado identification, but they were nevertheless arrested and taken to a Department of Homeland Security facility, where they were searched, confined to cells, interrogated, fingerprinted, and photographed before being released. That episode has led to a formal complaint against ICE by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, notes The Associated Press.

In recent years, immigration officials have stepped up their efforts to deport people in the country illegally, but they sometimes cast a net so wide that legal U.S. residents and citizens are snapped up in the confusion, as ProPublica reports in an analysis of data collected by a Syracuse University clearinghouse for government records. The sloppiness is evident in courts, where over the past five years some 250,000 deportation cases have been dismissed: “While the judges’ exact reasons remain unclear, records from the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review indicate that many times, immigration officials had either tried to deport the wrong people or requested dismissal because they didn’t have enough evidence to justify deportation.”

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