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Sunday, June 20, 2004

NBCSandiego.com - News - Lawmakers Question Immigration Raids

NBCSandiego.com - News - Lawmakers Question Immigration Raids
Lawmakers Question Immigration Raids
Assemblyman Suggests Possibility Of Racial Profiling

POSTED: 8:35 pm PDT June 18, 2004

MAYWOOD, Calif. -- On Friday, two Southern California lawmakers suggested that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is targeting Latinos during immigration raids, such as those carried out recently in the Inland Empire and San Diego.

"The Border Patrol has expressed its intention to only capture individuals who are selling counterfeit immigration documents," said Assemblyman Marco A. Firebaugh, D-South Gate. "Yet, some of these raids have taken place outside of neighborhood supermarkets, bus stops, apartments and hospitals. We must investigate the true motive of these incidents and ensure that people's civil rights are not being violated."

According to the Thursday edition of The Pasadena Star-News, patrol officials from the Temecula station's Mobile Patrol Group arrested at least 400 people in recent Inland Empire and San Diego area sweeps. The MPG is a 12-member, intelligence-based unit.

Officials said that documented residents have no reason to be afraid and that those who are undocumented have the right to see an immigration judge or be deported voluntarily.

Teacher Sal Valdez of Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy offered an example of the fear in his community at a Friday rally opposing the raids.

"Yesterday, a mother came to the office," he said. "Her son was supposed to go on a field trip, and she was worried about sending him on that field trip because she was fearful that the INS was going to stop those kids somewhere and take them away."

Firebaugh said that racial profiling may be at the heart of the raids.

"How is it that it is only Latinos that are getting arrested here?" he asked. "We're not the only immigrants in the state."

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