Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers ate breakfast at a Michigan restaurant, got up, and detained three employees on Wednesday morning.
Bree Stilwell of Sava’s Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan told The Daily Beast that employees said three to five ICE agents sat down for breakfast before apprehending three immigrant men working at the restaurant and taking them away. Stilwell said that the employees have proper documentation, but didn’t have it on their persons this morning. In a statement, ICE said two of the men "unlawfully entered the United States without inspection at an unknown date and location" and another "lawfully entered the country, but did not depart in accordance with the terms of his status."
“One ICE agent was stationed at the back door, and one at the front,” Stilwell said. “They apprehended one of our employees taking the trash out to the back alley and immediately put him in handcuffs, misidentifying him as the employee they were looking for. The detained employee showed the agents his documentation and was released, but three others were arrested.”
ICE informed Ann Arbor Police Chief Jim Baird of a “targeted enforcement detail” at the restaurant on Wednesday morning, within an hour of the agency’s presence at the restaurant, MLive reported. (The department said it was not asked to participate in the raid.)
“We work very hard to fully document and ensure the accuracy of our employees’ employment verification and information,” Stilwell said. “Beyond that, even with the full legality of these employees, the level of fear is so elevated. It’s exacerbating what’s already a pretty nervous community.”
Stilwell said patrons and other employees were unnerved after the raid.
“It was a distressing situation for everyone there, particularly given the high-anxiety environment and what we’re seeing as regular ICE raids,” Stilwell said.
In late December, ICE arrested 74 people in Michigan and Ohio, the majority of whom had past criminal convictions. Immigration advocates, however, have pointed out that ICE often arrests immigrants, including green card and visa holders, for years-old convictions. Half the immigrants arrested in ICE raids in the first weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency either had committed traffic convictions or had no criminal record, the Washington Post reported.
Stilwell said this could have been the case in the arrests that occurred at Sava’s. “I think i heard from one of our HR managers that this particular gentleman [that ICE agents were looking for] had some run-ins with the law a long time ago,” she said. “These are things we don’t necessarily keep track of, outdated criminal histories that don’t apply.”
“Ann Arbor is, as you probably know, very tight-knit, very multicultural and very proud of supporting a constant influx of immigrant talent and families that add value to our community,” she added. “To see this happen in our own restaurant where we work hard to provide a safe and loving culture and environment is very sad.”