[Update: Erick Huerta, who says he was one of the first to Tweet about the feds at Union Station on Friday morning, says he saw three men from the Department of Homeland Security — one in full Transportation Security Officer uniform, another in “dress pants and a polo shirt with a 'Homeland Security' emblem on his chest” and a third with “Taser/gun on his thigh, and a bulletproof vest that read 'Police.'”
According to Huerta, “they weren't actively searching anyone. Just walking around
and making their presence known.” ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley told us Friday that “ICE had no involvement in any enforcement or other activities at Union Station.” Even if it wasn't ICE, though, Huerta, and many more Tweeters, maintain that there were indeed ID checks at the station later in the day.]
Originally posted July 1 at 12:45 p.m.
[Update, 2:30 p.m.: The Twitterverse is still a complete mess of warnings that ICE is raiding Union Station for illegals, all seemingly based on one call received by KPFK radio. The U.S. Marshals Service says it wasn't them. Amtrak police say they were only on their usual “24/7” patrol.]
[Update, 1:30 p.m.: Jorge Mario Cabrera, of CHIRLA, says he has confirmed with witnesses that the checkpoint was actually not run by ICE, but a different law-enforcement agency — wearing black, with dogs in tow — checking IDs and/or tickets after the LAX scare yesterday. Headline has been modified to include new information; it previously read, “ICE Raids L.A. Union Station for Illegals.” Cabrera says it's great that KPFK radio “now has an open line that folks can call and report this type of thing” — but it will need some honing. Indeed: Today was a lesson in how fast these things can blow up. Cabrera says this “could have been a trial, or an actual operation — a sweep or something.” We're still trying to figure out which agency was at the station.]
Ah, the modern age of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) evasion!
At about 10 a.m., civilians and immigrant-rights orgs began Tweeting reports of an ICE raid, or checkpoint, at Union Station in downtown L.A. By noontime, “Union Station” was trending.
“At Union Station, we're dealing with people of low means, who don't have money for a car,” says immigration attorney Robert Perkins, who joined the Twitter stream to inform Angelenos of their rights. “And there are a lot of shops … at which illegal immigrants might be working.”
ICE did not respond to immediate requests for comment. Updates to come as they're available.
Many Tweeters indicated they got confirmation of the “raid” from KPFK radio, though no further announcements have been broadcast since we started listening at about 12:15 p.m.
Perkins' legal assistant says he has gotten multiple confirmations, from people either at the station or passing by, that ICE is conducting an immigration checkpoint.
The attorney himself says it's not technically illegal for ICE agents to request IDs from passerby, but if the ID is, say, from Mexico, they might consider that “reasonable suspicion” to believe the person is undocumented, and might then ask for their papers.
One Twitter user says:
Though immigrants have the right to ask for a trial before deportation — during which they could be granted citizenship due to longtime residency, kids in the U.S., lack of criminal history, etc. — many are either unaware of those rights or are scared to cause a disturbance.
“The area there is a neighborhood with a lot of Latinos,” says Perkins. So his biggest question is: “How are they conducting this? If I walked in, as white and Jewish as can be, would they ask for my ID?”
If you were at Union Station today or know anything about the “raid,” please contact us.