DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a Freedom of Information Act request today seeking records from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding the illegal detention of a U.S. citizen and his mother who is a legal permanent resident. The Grand Rapids residents, who are Latino, were handcuffed and assaulted by ICE agents even though they produced driver’s licenses to prove their identities.

“Fairness and equality are the most fundamental values we share as Americans. There's nothing fair or equal about arresting citizens because of the color of their skin,” said Miriam Aukerman, ACLU of Michigan staff attorney. “We are deeply concerned that this mother and son were victims of racial profiling. It’s imperative that we understand what led to this abuse of power and what policies are in place to protect Michigan residents.”

In February, Telma Valdez, who has lived in the United States for almost 22 years, and her son, Luis Valdez, a college student at Grand Rapids Community College who was born in the U.S., drove to the home of relatives to allow their 6-year-old cousin to play with Luis’s new puppy. As they pulled the car into the driveway, unidentified ICE agents ran toward them. An agent pointed a gun at Luis and ordered him to show ID. Both Luis and Telma produced their valid driver’s license and ICE agents demanded that they get out of the car.

Telma was handcuffed and escorted to the back of the car where an agent held a gun to her back and repeatedly banged her head into the trunk of the car yelling at her to admit she was “Irma.” Telma screamed out in pain and fear. Luis was handcuffed, and both Luis and Telma were escorted into an apartment.

Inside the apartment, Luis again tried to explain that he was a U.S. citizen and Telma told agents that she had her green card with her. Soon after retrieving the card, agents realized that they had arrested a U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident. Agents released the two, but not before one agent threatened Telma that she risked losing her legal status if she told her story to anyone.

“ICE agents take an oath to uphold the law, not violate people's rights,” said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “It’s not a crime to be Latino in this country. However, from Arizona to Michigan, the stories of racial profiling, intimidation and illegal detention are proof that what happened to Luis and Telma is not unique.”

Today’s FOIA request asks ICE to hand over all records relating to the coordination and execution of the February raid. In addition, the ACLU requested all supervision and training materials, as well as all policies and protocols related to racial profiling, and the procedures and standards for interrogating individuals or verifying their identity and immigration status.

Key News and Documents
Read our Freedom of Information Act Request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Know Your Rights When Encountering the Police, Immigration or the FBI