The ACLU of Southern California, along with a coalition of civil rights groups, is supporting a call from California Assembly speaker Fabian Nu�ez and 22 other California lawmakers to stop immigration workplace raids in the state until an investigation determines whether federal agencies are following the law.

"As ICE continues with its record number of worksite raids throughout Southern California, a pattern of serious problems has emerged with regard to its interrogation, detention and deportation practices," Nu�ez said today in a letter to Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff.

Last February, during a raid in Van Nuys by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the toner manufacturer MicroSolutions Enterprise, more than 130 people were arrested, intimidated into talking to the officers, and barred from consulting with attorneys or relatives before being questioned.

As a result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU/SC, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the National Lawyers Guild, workers were subsequently granted access to attorneys. The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) and other groups also contacted friends and family members and provided other support.

However, ICE continued to violate the workers' rights by requiring that those released wear monitor ankle bracelets and be subject to a 7 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfew, even though no individual evidence of flight risk had been presented.

In his letter, Nu�ez calls Chertoff's defense of immigration agents

"blithe" and their actions unacceptable. The ACLU/SC and our coalition partners agree.

'These actions by ICE violate even the agency's new 'humanitarian' guidelines regarding the conduct of workplace immigration raids, not to mention the workers' statutory and constitutional right to consult with counsel,' said Nora Preciado, attorney for the ACLU/SC. 'In a nation built by immigrants where the law is sacred, there should be no room for such impunity.'

In addition, the raids have done little to address some of the real problems generated by illegal immigration, among them the intentional hiring and abuse of undocumented workers by employers.

'The absence of genuine immigration reform does not mean 'open sesame' for enforcement and blatant disregard of people's basic human and Constitutional rights,' said Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA. 'The people of this nation deserve better.'

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