Editorials

ICE agents broke more than glass pulling KC man from car. They broke the rules

ICE makes arrest in Kansas City

A woman recorded local and federal officers arresting her boyfriend on July 22, 2019, in Kansas City. The arrest, for an alleged immigration violation, sparked concern by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and local immigration advocates.
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A woman recorded local and federal officers arresting her boyfriend on July 22, 2019, in Kansas City. The arrest, for an alleged immigration violation, sparked concern by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and local immigration advocates.

The tactics of President Donald Trump’s ICE manage to be both unacceptably harsh and yet so ineffective you’d think the cruelty itself must be the whole whip-up-the-base point.

Still, its supporters invariably insist that they have no problem with those immigrants who follow the rules and wait in line.

There are a few problems with this: There is no line. The government keeps changing the rules for undocumented immigrants. (It’s done so 13 times and counting in the last two years, says Kansas City immigration attorney Michael Sharma-Crawford, including twice in just the last week.)

If the point is to bring any kind of order, they’re doing it wrong. But if it’s instead to create chaos and fear, they’re definitely succeeding at that. And when ICE agents break the rules, is that OK?

Agents do appear to have broken the rules, along with Florencio Millan’s car window, in order to arrest him in Kansas City on Monday.

They smashed in his driver’s side window and sprayed at least one of his two children with glass as their mother, Cheyenne Hoyt, broadcast the entire 32-minute incident live on Facebook. The couple had been taking their 7-month-old daughter, who is disabled, to the doctor when ICE agents boxed them in and told Millan to get out of the car.

“We want to talk to you,” an agent told him, adding that he was having a hard time hearing him with the window rolled up.

One of the Kansas City police officers who showed up to help ICE told Millan, “I don’t know about immigration; I’m a city cop. I tase bad guys. They’re not here to get you because you’re a bad guy, alright? But this is going to happen.”

Without, as he says, knowing about immigration, and with so many violent criminals to apprehend, what were Kansas City police even doing there? The next time they need cooperation in the Hispanic community, how do they think that’s going to go?

The ICE agents said they had a warrant, repeatedly refused to show it, then said they didn’t need a warrant. “It’s your responsibility to show proof that you’re here legally,” an agent told Millan. “You not answering tells me you’re not.”

After smashing in the window and pinning 32-year-old Millan face-down on the ground to handcuff him, Millan asked if he could say goodbye to his crying 11-year-old son, who was wailing, “I’m so scared! I want Daddy!”

No, an agent told him. “Right now, we’re being nice to you, but what you just put us through, you’re lucky I’m letting you talk to (Hoyt) right now.”

“There are procedures ICE has to follow,” said Sharma-Crawford, and “that’s not what they did in that video. They could have easily solved this” by showing that they had the authority and reason to take him in, “but they chose not to. That’s why it went to s--- quick.”

Millan, a Mexican national who according to Hoyt supports their family by working as a chef, is “an immigration fugitive” with unspecified prior misdemeanors, according to ICE. He allegedly complied with a voluntary departure order in 2011, was deported again a short time later and had since returned without permission.

Especially ahead of the major ICE roundups of recent arrivals with removal orders that Trump promised — so far, those have resulted in only 35 arrests — advocates have been telling clients that ICE agents aren’t allowed to enter their homes without a warrant.

The same holds true for a car, said Sharma-Crawford, who said Millan did everything he would have advised him to do. He also questioned whether agents even knew they had the right person before breaking his window, and why they asked to see Hoyt’s papers, since “being with the target, or being brown” isn’t enough.

The idea that agents of the federal government should have to follow procedures should not be a hard sell for conservatives, who used to be wary of government intrusion and excesses. But like so much else, that seems to have changed two years ago.

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