Immigration and Customs Enforcement stood by Monday’s arrest of a Kansas City man, which was captured on video and sent immigration advocates scrambling to figure out if it was legal.
Florencio Millan, 32, was in his car with his girlfriend and their two children when an ICE agent approached them. His girlfriend Cheyenne Hoyt began recording the interaction and posted the video to Facebook.
As seen in the video, the couple repeatedly asked to see a warrant, but it was never presented. Kansas City police officers also responded to the scene.
After Millan refused to exit the vehicle, an ICE agent smashed the driver’s side window and Millan was arrested.
Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for ICE, the federal agency that enforces immigration law under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said Millan refused to follow lawful commands issued by ICE and local police.
“ICE officers were left with no other choice than make the arrest by physically removing him from the vehicle,” he said in a statement.
Neudauer said Millan “was an immigration fugitive” with prior misdemeanors. The ICE spokesman did not provide details of the alleged misdemeanor cases.
In 2011, Millan complied with a voluntary departure order. Five days after returning to Mexico, immigration officials encountered him after he illegally re-entered the U.S. under an assumed name, Neudauer said.
Millan was issued an expedited removal order and deported.
Hoyt said Monday that her boyfriend is a hardworking chef.
“He’s a family, working man,” she said.
Hoyt said she doesn’t know why Millan was targeted.
Local advocates said the legality of arresting someone without showing a warrant in Millan’s circumstances was unclear.
“It’s a little murky since he was in his car,” said Jessica Piedra, an immigration attorney with the Kansas City Metro Immigration Alliance.
Agents must have a warrant when arresting someone in a house, Piedra said, but there is a lesser standard outside a home.
She said it was alarming that the Kansas City Police Department provided backup to ICE.
“It’s going to have a very chilling effect on folks wanting to deal with the police department,” Piedra said.
Christina Jasso of the Guadalupe Centers, a Latino community organization, said the police department should be focused on the serious crime issues facing the city instead of expending resources on immigration enforcement “when they’re not mandated by federal law to do that.”
The police department has said it will back up a law enforcement officer from other local, county, state or federal agencies when called for assistance.
Jasso said she wishes Millan’s arrest had been handled differently.
“It makes me a little crazy when we’re arresting dads that are taking their kids to the hospital and we have shattered glass flying through a car with a 6-month old in there,” Jasso said.
She attributed increased fear and division to President Donald Trump.
“It’s been a nightmare for two years,” she said. “I think the fear’s just going to escalate.”
ICE said on social media Tuesday that recent interior enforcement had resulted in 934 arrests.
Local activists from the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, or MORE2, and Advocates for Immigrant Rights & Reconciliation planned a news conference about Millan’s arrest at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut Street in Kansas City.