Willmar raid nets lawsuit

More than twenty residents of Willmar and forty John and Jane Does are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed yesterday against Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the four-day raid there that netted 49 arrests. According to the AP, the lawsuit called the raid, which was carried out between April 10 and April 13, an act "of terror and intimidation."

The suit claims that ICE agents unfairly and illegally targeted Latinos and that agents entered homes without warrants. It also alleges that those arrested were not told of their rights and had no access to attorneys. ICE Spokesman Tim Counts said in a statement that "All ICE enforcement actions conducted in Willmar last week were fully within the law. These are widely accepted law enforcement procedures that have been affirmed repeatedly by the courts."

In a press release before the lawsuit was filed, ICE maintained that "Operation Cross Check," as it dubbed the mission, was a "localized, targeted enforcement initiative."

"ICE will continue to fulfill our Congressional mandate to apprehend and deport those who entered our country illegally, especially those who have committed criminal acts," Scott Baniecke, an ICE field office director was quoted as saying in that release. "Our job is to help protect the public from those who commit crimes, and to protect the integrity of the nation's legal immigration system."

Of the 49 who were arrested, ICE says that 18 had criminal records, six were in violation of an immigration judge’s order to leave the country, and the remaining 25 were just plain old here illegally.

Judging by the press release, here are the arrests ICE was most proud of:

* Williams Ruben Ramos-Castillo, 21, a citizen of Honduras, was arrested by ICE officers April 10. He was convicted March 27 of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct; the victim was 15 years old. Ramos-Castillo also has convictions for aggravated forgery, tampering with a vehicle, driving while impaired, and providing a false name to a police officer. A fingerprint check revealed that the U.S. Border Patrol had removed him to Mexico in 2005 under a different identity.

* Fabiola Cisneros-Carreno, 31, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested at a residence April 10. Cisneros-Carreno was convicted of public assistance theft in Kandiyohi County District Court in December. She was ordered to repay more than $22,000.

* Maria Morales-Torrez, 41, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested at a residence April 10. Morales Torrez was convicted of wrongfully obtaining more than $10,600 in public assistance in Kandiyohi County District Court.

* Odelin Camacho-Bernal, 39, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested in Litchfield, Minn., on April 13. Camacho-Bernal was convicted of domestic abuse in December 2006. He was also convicted of disorderly conduct in September 2006 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail; he later served an additional 60 days for a related probation violation.

* Jorge David Bazaldua-Moreno, 22, a citizen of Mexico, pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular injury in September of 2005. He was also convicted of property damage and sentenced to a year in jail in July 2003.