One of the questions left unanswered in this week's feature story "The ICE Storm," about the massive immigration raid that took place earlier this year in Ellensburg, is whether Immigration and Customs agents apprehended all the suspects they were after during their initial investigation. But while at least 30 people were detained on January 20, several accounts from townspeople indicate that the feds have returned recently, taking at least one woman into custody after a late-night visit to her home.
According to the Eastern Washington U.S. Attorney's office, 16 people from Ellensburg--all indicted in January by a grand jury--now face criminal charges in federal court. Fifteen are charged with visa fraud and government identification fraud, and four face an additional charge of false claim to U.S. citizenship.
Both [Ellensburg police spokesman Dan] Hansberry and [Kittitas County Undersheriff Clay] Myers also suspect that the arrests made on January 20 are not the end of ICE's work in Ellensburg. "Serving search warrants and making a few arrests doesn't close it," Hansberry says. "I don't know what the next step is [or] how they'll continue, but it wasn't, I believe, intended to be the final step."
Meanwhile, in an e-mail sent earlier this week, Lowell Murphree, spokesman for the Ellensburg Coalition for Humanity, a citizens' group formed in the days following the January 20 raid, writes:
Last Thursday at the Steering Committee meeting, stories were shared by several members indicating a continuing pattern of enforcement actions in which ICE officers are coming to individual residences looking for specific women whose names are on a list in their possession. In at least one case, a woman was detained. In another case, officers entered the house, looked at family photos, and said that they had the wrong house. It is unknown how many such incidents have occurred.
A Hispanic women who lives in one of the trailer parks targeted during the ICE operation says ICE paid a visit to her sister-in-law on March 6. "They came and got somebody at her house," says the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of reprisal from law enforcement. "They took this woman. I don't know why they took her, if they had an order for her or what. They came during the night, after 8 p.m."
The woman says she's also heard from friends and relatives that ICE came in the night on a separate occasion earlier this month and detained at least three other people, but she was unable to provide the names of the missing or locations of the alleged incidents.
ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers would not confirm whether federal agents have in fact returned to Ellensburg to detain people in connection with the agency's ongoing fraud investigation. "If there have been more criminal arrests, it would be a matter of public record," Dankers says. "Administrative arrests [for immigration violations] are not public. We often confirm the number [of people detained] but we don't provide the names. Those are not public record."
Click here to read "The ICE Storm" in its entirety: The War on Mexicans Strikes Ellensburg: One of the largest immigration raids in state history rocks Rodeo City.
One of the largest immigration raids in state history rocks Rodeo City.