"It's a devastating situation," said Gloria Contreras Edin, the director of Centro Legal, a Twin Cities-based immigrant-rights group. "At this point, some families have fled the area ... some restaurants have closed and people are afraid to go outside their homes."
Edin said Friday that she visited Jennie-O and claimed the size of the work shifts had been reduced by 75 percent since federal agents began their arrests because scared workers were staying away.Maybe they're fleeing because they have something to hide???? If someone runs from the authorities, in my eyes it means they've done something they shouldn't have. Silly me, what do I know.
Edin said Friday that she believed about 50 immigrants have been arrested; a day earlier, a Willmar activist estimated that about 100 people had been detained. Edin also claimed agents were going into homes without warrants and randomly stopping Hispanics around town.
Tim Counts, a spokesman for the Immigration, Customs and Enforcement Agency, said most of the people who have been arrested are illegal immigrants with criminal records. He said agents have also arrested others who were found to be in the country illegally, such as those who had been deported but then returned.
Counts declined to say how many people have been arrested but said the number was "significantly fewer than 100." He also said rumors of agents stopping Hispanics at the Wal-Mart in Willmar were "absolutely false," and he sharply criticized the activists' characterization of the arrests, especially charges that agents have gone into homes without warrants.
"Some people who claim to have the best interests of the immigrant community at heart are the same people who spread false rumors to create confusion and fear," he said.
Gotta love those activists and those sympathizers. They seem to be what's making the world go round these days.