Anyone who has read the Diary of Anne Frank knows that the idea of hiding from agents of the state who claim the authority to enter any private property they wish in an effort to find an ‘illegal’ individual and put them in a camp is a horrifying thought. Luckily, in the United States, there have been constitutional checks and balances that serve to prevent this most disgraceful history from repeating itself. However, these checks and balances have been withering away for years, and now, that horrifying thought is increasingly becoming a reality in the ostensible land of the free.
Just like the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands warrantlessly barged into private property like the place Anne Frank was hiding in, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, is increasingly doing the same thing in America. As the video below shows, the constitution does little to stop armed agents of the state from violating the rights of innocent people.
When ICE agents, dressed in plainclothes, barged into an Oregon home—with no warrant—they weren’t looking for some criminal MS13 gang member who was out raping children. No, they were there to arrest Carlos Bolanos, a hard-working painter.
As the video begins, ICE agents have already entered the home and Bolanos’ co-worker has pulled out his phone to record their illegal entry.
“I have reason to believe you are not in the country legally,” the agent tells Bolanos when he asks why they want his ID.
The agents, without any warrant, and having already violated the constitution, continued to stay in the home in spite of being told to leave by the co-worker recording the cellphone video, George Cardenas
During the conversation, one of the agents tells Cardenas, “We asked to speak with him (Bolanos), and you showed us in.”
But Cardenas responds, saying he opened the door but “never told you to come in.”
One agent attempts to justify their illegal entry by claiming that the place in which Cardenas and Bolanos are working is a place of business. However, Cardenas tells the agents that they are on private property and the homeowners live in the furnished basement below. He even points out their car.
“If you guys don’t have a warrant, you’re kind of breaking the law,” Mr. Cardenas said. “Well, you are breaking the law, basically, at this point.”
When Cardenas asks the belligerent agents for their names, they repeatedly refuse to tell him.
“We don’t need to introduce ourselves by our names,” the agent says.
“You guys are breaking the law right now,” Cardenas says as the agent starts laughing. “Yeah, laugh about it, it’s fucking hilarious, right?”
After a few more exchanges, the agents then move in to arrest Bolanos. As they disarm him of his paintbrush and cellphone, the encounter almost turns violent. And, just like that, Bolanos was arrested. However, according to Cardenas, apparently, the belligerent ICE agents had the wrong guy and he was released shortly after the unconstitutional act was recorded.
News of the encounter spread, and United States Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Democrats who had previously voiced concerns about how ICE is operating in their state, said the arrest “appears to be an illegal entry of a private home,” according to a joint letter sent on Friday to a regional director at the agency, as reported by the NY Times.
“The agency is reviewing this incident,” Ms. Pitts O’Keefe said.
According to the Times, in their letter to Elizabeth Godfrey, a deputy field office director for ICE, Mr. Wyden and Mr. Merkley wrote that people “do not lose their constitutional protection from warrantless search and seizure simply because ICE believes they may be immigrants.”
Mat Dos Santos, the legal director for the A.C.L.U. of Oregon, said that the arrest of Mr. Bolanos is “flagrantly unconstitutional.”
“I hope that they review this incident and realize just how bad it is and how plainly illegal this arrest was and reprimand and retrain officers on how to conduct an arrest legally,” he added.
“I don’t have a lot of hope for that,” he said. “It’s an agency that operates largely in secret and with little public oversight.”
Below is a glimpse of what happens when Americans forget the past and allow the constitution to be trampled so that hard-working individuals can be harassed and detained to check if they are here legally.