Unreported ICE raid in Cheyenne, Wyoming
Update on February 20, 2012: Ms. Medina reports that friends of Erica Delgado, the woman believed to have committed homicide-murder of herself and her 11-year old child, said Ms. Delgado called them after the raid and informed them that sheriff deputies participated in the raid. However, authorities still disclaim knowledge of any motive for the suicide. Wyoming ACLU has agreed to become involved in the case. Three individuals are detained in federal custody for federal charges of misuse of social security numbers and the U.S. attorney is reluctant to negotiate a plea. Ms. Medina writes: “We have asked community members to contact the US attorney and tell him to dismiss the charges of Irma M, Irma A, and Luis S, who were arrested for working at the Little America Hotel. That contact info is US attorney Christopher Crofts, Tel: 307-772-2124.”
An local attorney in Wyoming, Kimberly Baker Medina, has brought attention to an ICE raid that occurred in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It is believed that the raid occurred after a worker in Little America Hotel tipped Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) about undocumented workers in the hotel. Instead of conducting a workplace raid, on January 24, 2012, ICE went to the homes of the workers. They woke families at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, frightened the children inside the homes, arrested three people and threatened to return for two others. Reportedly, one woman was forced to change her clothing in front of ICE officials because they did not allow her to close her bathroom door. Another woman who was threatened was Erica Delgado, who soon after burned herself and her 11-year-old daughter to death in a suspected homicide-murder. This is the e-mail sent by Ms. Medina:
On January 24 ICE agents conducted a workplace enforcement action against workers at the Little America hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They did not do a raid at the workplace but went to the homes of the workers early that morning.
ICE contacted five people that morning. They were fully armed, in their swat gear and in groups of about five agents, reportedly accompanied in some homes by local law enforcement They went to the homes of several others and did not make contact, but did threaten the people in those homes who they encountered. They were threatening, bullying and abusive. At one home an eight year old boy was alone and was about to walk out the door and cross the street to his school when they violently banged on the doors and windows until he opened, then stormed in and searched the entire house demanding to see his mother. At another home they arrested a man in front of his children, took his wife’s cell phone and then took the visas and I-94’s of everyone in the house, including family visiting from Mexico, and told the wife she had three weeks to get out of Cheyenne. She moved to Texas. In another home a woman was made to change out of her pajamas in front of agents who would not let her close the door to the bathroom. At every point of contact they were threatening, rude and used excessive force.
They contacted a woman named Erica Delgado that day. She was a single mother and victim of past domestic abuse from Chihuahua. They did not arrest her that day as she was home alone with her 11 year old daughter. They did threaten to come get her later, and may have made other threats. Erica was terrified of ICE, terrified losing her child, terrified of Chihuahua, and terrified of being sent to the country where her abuser lives (as he was reportedly removed after she reported the abuse). On February 3 she burned her trailer home with herself and her daughter inside, committing suicide and killing her 11 year old child.
Fourteen people lost their jobs at the hotel. Three are in federal custody with charges of misuse of a SS#.
Not only did the raid go unreported, the media attention surrounding the death of Erica Delgado has no mention of the ICE raid only a week prior, and no reference to Ms. Delgado’s immigration status. Billings Gazette reports that according to Captain Rich Hillegas of the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office, “investigators have no insight into any motive for Delgado’s actions.” Ms. Delgado’s phone was reported to contain text messages with “suicidal overtones,” but Hillegas “didn’t have information about what Delgado’s text messages said or to whom they were sent.”
Notably, Laramie County, where the raid occurred, is the only activated county in Wyoming for the Secure Communities program, a partnership between ICE and local law enforcement to cooperate in the removal of aliens who are arrested by local officers. I would expect the latest news to mushroom and leave open questions about a potential cover-up and foul play. Local authorities will have some explaining to do about their role in this raid, if any.
ICE, on the other hand, should explain how these latest actions comport with their recent lip service to “prosecutorial discretion,” the recent policy to defer removals of non-criminal aliens who are undocumented.
The attorney on this matter, Kimberly Baker Medina, practices in Fort Collins, CO, can be contacted at 970-388-3332. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne started a relief fund for the victims of this raid. To contribute, contact Rev. Dana Lightsey at 307-638-4554.