The roundup begins: the targeting of the Hispanic community


It became clear at City Hall on March 5, at the Public Safety Committee meeting, that the term “human trafficking” is the new code term for rounding up Latinos and Hispanics for deportation. This will be the work of the Homeland Security agency ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), aided by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). This reverses a long-stated policy that the MPD would not be involved in the enforcement of immigration laws.

Opinion: The roundup begins: the targeting of the Hispanic community

Serious concerns about the future relationships between the City of Minneapolis and the Latino-Hispanic community were immediately evident when Deputy Chief Val Woorsster made the announcement that the joint operations on the streets of Minneapolis were about to begin. In doing so she confirmed what I have written about on a number of occasions that the purpose of this new relationship, or alliance, was predicated upon security preparation for the National Republican Convention, September 1-4, in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

As we wrote in columns previous to this one, the major carrot for a reversal in the role of the Minneapolis Police Dept in immigration arrest, detention, and deportation is that old standby: money, which, in this case, is a $50 million allocation to be split among the local jurisdictions involved in the security preparation for the Republican convention.

Despite my numerous warnings, the communities of color did not see this coming. Only Councilman Garry Schiff raised the necessary questions on Wednesday, March 5, that indicated that it would not be a unanimous decision by the City Council to allow the Minneapolis Police Department to work with ICE and other Homeland Security agencies in the roundup of Hispanics and Latinos.

As we have reported on several occasions, our research indicates that under special conditions and emergencies, the power is in place to authorize stopping, detaining, incarcerating and deporting individuals. All that is required to act without due process — whether by a Democrat or Republican administration — is a declaration of a state of emergency for reasons of national security.

Hopefully, civil libertarians will demand public hearings in both Minneapolis and St. Paul to determine the parameters for this undertaking. That there are serious issues to deal with is not questioned. Questioned is the easy way in which state and city sovereignty can be so blithely dismissed, especially when the U.S. Congress itself is split on this issue. This is not a “slam dunk” issue.

Mayors are elected leaders, not appointed administrators. Our Twin City mayors need to provide the voices of reassurance that the implementation of this new action will not be accompanied with the fear and apprehension that could shake the very constitutional foundation of our country, not to mention shake the expectation of constitutional protection within our cities.

Archived on our web site are four specific columns of 2006, in which we warned of these pending plans and actions: May 10, June 21, July 5, and Augist 16. You’ll also find a link to a corresponding June 9, 2006, article in The New York Times.

Not concerned? How about when you see federal law enforcement agents and Minneapolis police officers, in their new black-and-white squad cars, riding through your community, rounding up you or your neighbors for detention and possible deportation?
Stay tuned.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between-columns “web log” at