Ten Swift & Co plant workers filed a lawsuit Tuesday against federal agents claiming they were victims of racial abuses. The workers were detained at the company’s Worthington, Minn. plant during an immigration raid last year.
Centro Legal filed the federal lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of ten Latinos who were working at the plant during the raid. More than 200 illegal immigrants were arrested at Worthington, one of six Swift plants Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided Dec. 12 in a nationwide sting that netted nearly 1,300 undocumented workers.
The complaint claims that ICE agents "insulted, abused, and humiliated the plaintiffs on account of their race," failed to read them their rights and forced female Hispanic workers to disrobe in front of them, while sparing white workers. ICE spokesman Timothy Counts called the lawsuit "baseless" and "false."
"Last December's worksite enforcement operation at the Worthington Swift plant was conducted lawfully and in full accordance with ICE policies and procedures," Counts said. "Each person encountered was treated with respect and has been given full access to due process under the law."
The lawsuit notes that the plaintiffs were "all ethnic Latinos holding United States citizenship or lawful immigration status with valid work authorization" and were "arrested, detained, and interrogated by [ICE agents] in violation of their constitutional and statutory rights." None was "guilty of any crime or other offense" at the time of the raid, but threatened with incarceration and deportation, it says.
"Apparently the lawsuit is charging their rights were violated simply because they were questioned along with every other employee in each of the six plants," he said. "That's simply not true. Searchwarrants gave us the authority to question everyone, which we did."