After recent reports that Latinos were being unfairly harassed and arrested for alleged immigration law violations, Detroit City Councilmember Kay Everett decided to investigate. She invited representatives from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Border Patrol and Detroit Police Department to a City Council meeting last week. Each was asked about reports that three Latinos had been apprehended while leaving an English class at Holy Redeemer church Sept. 23. All three denied the incident happened.
"Based on the information provided and the research we did, we could find nothing to support that we were involved in this incident," said Michigan INS District Director Carol Jenifer. She said that there are only 270 INS employees in Michigan and that the INS does not have the resources to stake out churches.
The U.S. Border Patrol and Detroit Police Department representatives also denied singling out any ethnic group in searching for illegal immigrants.
"We probably will never know who was out there because no agency will own up to it," said Everett.
Jane Garcia, the interim director of Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development, who also attended the meeting, said she received about 20 complaints in the last month about Latinos being harassed. She suggested that agencies build better relations with the community, which they agreed to do.
Jenifer said that the INS was already trying to do this by holding information sessions with community groups and employers. Those interested in meeting with the INS can call 313-568-6042. To lodge complaints with the INS call 1-800-869-4499.