Latino citizens say ICE agents harassed them in Georgia raids

NATION DIGEST

November 02, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

ATLANTA -- A civil rights group sued the federal government yesterday on behalf of five Latino U.S. citizens who say they were detained and harassed by agents carrying out raids targeting illegal immigrants in south Georgia.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used "Gestapo-like" tactics as they fanned out across three Georgia counties in September, breaking into homes and stopping people in their cars because they "looked Mexican."

The class action suit seeks compensatory damages for the plaintiffs, as well as a court order preventing ICE from conducting similar raids across the country.

Marc Raimondi, an ICE spokesman, said the raids were conducted legally. He said the agency had spent a month investigating the area and had compiled a targeted list of illegal immigrants who had worked at a poultry plant using fraudulent documents.

"Race or ethnicity played no role," he said.

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