ANN ARBOR — Following the recent actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at an Ann Arbor restaurant, state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) is calling for an end to unjust profiling and the harm that is done through the removal of community members.
Sava Lelcaj, owner of the State Street restaurant Sava’s, reported that at least three of her kitchen staff were taken into custody by ICE agents. Lelcaj told MLive that the agents had eaten breakfast and then revealed that they were investigating an employee; after being told the person in question was not on duty, they began questioning kitchen workers. Three people were arrested and taken to ICE’s Detroit office after they were unable to produce the appropriate documents.
Lelcaj asserts that her employees are well-vetted and documented. Moreover, the employees could not have been expected to have documents on them during their work shift. The arrest was wholly unwarranted and unjust, especially considering these workers were not the ones initially being sought. One individual who was able to provide documentation was handcuffed and detained for a time before being released.
“This is a very concerning situation,” said Rep. Rabhi. “It is unacceptable for ICE to remove a person from their place of employment without just cause. ICE has other means by which to check someone’s immigration status and afford them their right to due process without disrupting the activities of a local business. It seems ICE was intent on bringing in anyone whom might fit the profile of an undocumented person.
“Not only did these agents harass and arrest these unsuspecting people mid-shift, they had the gall to eat at the restaurant beforehand,” said Rep. Rabhi, further noting his concern that the agents disregarded basic decency.
Rep. Rabhi asserts that behavior like this is a dangerous reflection of the extremely vast and deeply concerning implications of the Trump Administration’s January 2017 executive orders, which broadened the priorities for enforcement of ICE agents. Proposed federal legislation could expand ICE’s ability to investigate, arrest, and deport.
“Actions like this breed suspicion and prejudice,” said Rep. Rabhi. “We have a duty to protect the civil rights and human dignity of everyone in our community.”