Seven Latino workers who were detained when ICE raided a Tennessee meatpacking plant last year have filed a lawsuit, claiming agents used racial slurs and excessive force.
According to the lawsuit, authorities illegally targeted Latino workers when they rushed into the meatpacking plant in April 2018.
“They forcefully seized and arrested approximately 100 Latino workers. In the process, the officers berated the workers with racial slurs, punched one worker in the face, and shoved firearms in the faces of many others,” the lawsuit alleges. “Meanwhile, the officers did not detain the plant’s white workers or subject them to the same intrusive and aggressive treatment and prolonged detention that the Latino workers experienced.”
When attorneys for the plaintiffs announced the lawsuit on Thursday, they didn’t talk about the immigration status of the workers at the time of the raid.
“We don’t believe the immigration status of any of our plaintiffs has relevance to the claims that we have pled here, and that’s not something that we’re discussing,” Melissa Keaney, an attorney on the plaintiffs’ legal team, said.
Immigrant advocates said the raid also had a negative impact on the workers’ neighbors and others in the community. Over 500 children had to miss school the next day.
“They detained those workers solely on the basis of their race, using intrusive, militaristic and even violent measures. This is law enforcement overreach, plain and simple,” Meredith Stewart, another attorney for the workers, said.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox didn’t comment about the lawsuit because of the agency’s rules of not commenting on pending litigation.
“In general,” he said, “ICE activities are conducted in full compliance with federal law and agency policy.”