Blog Archive

Friday, June 24, 2011

Classy: ICE raids Daddy's Day celebration

Posted by J. Adrian Stanley
The Colorado Springs Independent
Jun 22, 2011

While you have to keep in mind that the following release is from the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, an advocacy group for immigrants, it's still a jaw-dropper.

Nothing says American decency like arresting dads on Father's Day while they wait for their kids outside the bouncy castle. Or being so rude and crude to a pregnant lady that she has to be hospitalized for the stress.

Way to go, ICE. You make us proud.

ICE Raids the Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs, Two Fathers Detained While Waiting for Kids at the Bouncy Castle.

Father’s Day Festival Raid by Local Law Enforcement and ICE Chills Relations with Latino/a and Immigrant Communities; Hurts Business and Safety.

Glenwood Springs, CO — The Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs is usually remembered as a treasured summer family event. This year, some children will also remember it as the day their family was ripped apart by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

As the Alvarez family was waiting for their children to come out of the Bouncy Castle, they were approached by a couple of Garfield County Sheriffs deputies who led the men away behind the carnival rides. While there, 2 plainclothes ICE agents approached, checked, and detained both men. Brothers Cesar and Julio Alvarez were then taken to an ICE van in the back of the fair, while their 4 children waited with their aunt and mother.

Lorenza Alvarez, Julio’s 7-months pregnant, US born wife, came looking for her husband and her brother-in-law and was treated poorly by agents as she explained that Cesar was the only caretaker of twin 11-year-old girls. Following an extended conversation, Cesar was released but Julio was taken away for processing at an ICE detention center in Glenwood Springs. The stress was almost too much for the pregnant Mrs. Alvarez, and she had to be taken to Valley View Hospital for emergency care.

Teaming up with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department, undercover ICE agents conducted this dragnet operation at a family fair on Father’s Day, in violation of their own operating regulations — which call on them to “refrain from conducting enforcement actions or investigative activities at or near sensitive community locations, such as schools, places of worship... and venues generally where children and their families may be present.”

“This operation has revealed the Glenwood Springs ICE office to be a rogue agency operating outside of clear ICE directives to not conduct operations in “sensitive locations.” said Brendan Greene, Rocky Mountain Coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition,“ The fact that ICE and local police went after dads at the carnival on Father’s Day has been spreading throughout the immigrant community. This has the potential to negatively impact the success of Strawberry Days for years to come; not to mention erode what little trust remains between the immigrant community and the Garfield Co. Sheriff’s office.”

Adds Greene, “The local ICE office and the Garfield Co. Sheriff, by irresponsibly targeting the city’s flagship summer event, has hurt not only the City of Glenwood Springs, but also any other town in the Valley that is hoping to have a successful festival this summer. They should be ashamed of themselves for hurting the Valley’s businesses in this way.”

Local Spanish language DJ, Axel Contreras, heard about ICE’s presence at the carnival and went to investigate. “I have lived in the Valley and attended Strawberry Days for 20 years…in all of my years here, even when there were terrible storms, I have never seen Strawberry Days as empty as it was on Sunday after word had spread in the community that ICE was conducting an operation.”

This type of enforcement operation is often extremely disruptive to small towns like Glenwood Springs, where the Latino/a community has grown to become a major supporter of the Festival over the last decade.
CIRC has been receiving complaints from the immigrant community about how the Garfield County Sheriffs Departments has been closely collaborating with, and in the case of last weekend’s raids at the carnival, taking the lead in ICE enforcement operations.

“I can’t think of a better way to ruin community policing than having local law enforcement troll for undocumented workers at community events like Strawberry Days.” said attorney Ted Hess, who is representing one of the detained men, “ This unholy alliance of ICE and local cops destroys trust between the community and the police.”