February 25, 2008


WASHINGTON —A new, national commission convened today to examine the policies and practices of enforcement actions by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).
The Commission will investigate claims of unconstitutional workplace enforcement actions, including massive round ups and detention of workers, as well as economic disruption stemming from the country’s failed immigration enforcement policies.
“Our broken immigration system does not provide ICE license to break the law and violate the Constitution during enforcement actions,” said Joseph T. Hansen, founding Chairman of the National Commission and United Food & Commercial Workers International Union President.
On December 12, 2006, thousands of innocent workers were detained at meatpacking plants in six states in workplace raids carried out by federal ICE agents. The UFCW represents workers at five of the plants, including Worthington, Minn.; Greeley, Colo.; Cactus, Tex.; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Grand Island, Neb.
In a series of regional hearings, the commission will hear from legal, law enforcement, and immigration experts, among others, to examine the ramifications of ICE enforcement actions. The Commission will look into claims that ICE has engaged in violations of the 4th Amendment. And after thorough investigation, it will produce a public report that highlights its findings and makes recommendations to ensure that workers do not check their constitutional rights at the door when they report to work.
Civilian-driven investigations have played an important role in U.S. history. When African-Americans were arrested, beaten, and killed during the civil rights movement, the tragedies fueled the McCone Commission in 1965 and the National Advisory Commission in 1968. When Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians was established to investigate these unacceptable civil rights violations. Citizen review panels are often created to help renew a commitment to rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, especially when those rights are violated by local police brutality.
In the coming weeks, the Commission will release its schedule of hearings planned through June 2008.