Activists in Shelbyville, Tennessee, are crying foul over raids executed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency following a recent hearing regarding local policing tactics.
The September 12 hearing was organized by immigrant rights groups that presented a report authored by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, titled “The Forgotten Constitution: Racial Profiling and Immigration Enforcement in Bedford County, Tennessee.” The report alleged that police officers in the Shelbyville area have been systematically targeting suspected illegal immigrants for traffic violations in order to arrest them. Under state law, the citizenship status of all arrested individuals is determined so that federal authorities can undertake deportation proceedings against those who are in the country illegally.
Five days after the report was publicly released, ICE agents raided a number of Shelbyville homes and businesses. Two of the event organizers were among those raided, and TIRRC Organizing Director Megan Macareg said the raids were meant to intimidate local activists, The Associated Press reported.
Temple Black, an ICE spokesman, released a statement denying these allegations, saying the raids resulted in the arrest of three convicted criminals who were at large.
Shelbyville was the subject of a 2008 documentary film, “Welcome to Shelbyville,” which examined how the town has responded to an influx of Latino and Somali immigrants.