On Sunday, June 22, federal officers raided homes in Jackson Heights and Shakopee, arresting between 12-20 people. The raids occurred nine days after a rally held by residents and organizers from the area in response to planned Highway 41 expansion.
“They came here. They looking for some people, and they took them,” said Mauro Avango, a resident of Jackson Heights. “They took Felix.”
Felix Diaz, who was a speaker at the June 13 demonstration, was arrested with his wife.
“I only know he will be deported,” said another Jackson Heights resident, through an interpreter. “I think he’s in a deportation center. I know because he’s my neighbor.”
Krystal Klein, of All Parks Alliance for Change, wrote in a press release:
“The couple answered their door at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday. According to the accounts of family members who were present during the raid, the couple was handcuffed and escorted to a van in their pajamas. ICE officials did not allow them to get dressed or even put on shoes. Their seven year old daughter, a US Citizen, was sleeping in the next room.”
Klein received the information about the arrests from Diaz’s family members, who were afraid to be quoted directly.
Klein said that six people from Jackson Heights, and six people from Shakopee were arrested, but she said it’s possible that as many as twenty could have been taken. Klein, a community organizer, has been talking with people in the Jackson Heights community. “The public trust has been broken between the community and MnDOT,” Klein said. “The community perceives that this is a retaliation for the protest.”
Dennis Roof, of the East Chaska Citizens Organization, also was involved in the June 13 rally. Roof says that although he is very concerned about the citizens of Jackson Heights, he’s “not supportive of people who are here illegally.” Still, Roof says, “If MnDOT or Scott County made the call to [immigration officials], I think that was the lowest thing they could do.” Roof said he “wouldn’t be surprised if [local officials] had reached into the bag and pulled this out and used as a way for causing problems.”
Gail Montenegro, the public relations representative from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said she didn’t know anything about the raids, and that the U.S. Marshal might have conducted the searches. Justin Cline, from the U.S. Marshal’s office, indicated that there was a nationwide sweep called “Operation Falcon” at the end of June. Cline noted that there were a number of men named Felix Diaz arrested in last week’s national sweep, but he could not confirm whether any of them came from Shakopee.
Krystal Klein has no doubt that the raids were performed by ICE: “I went to some of the hearings, and glanced at the papers that had ‘ICE’ written on the top of them,” she said.
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.