Federal immigration agents have swept up hundreds of people in raids up and down California in recent weeks.
Now, the case of one Los Angeles man -- a car mechanic arrested under suspicious circumstances last September -- is challenging how workplace raids are conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Sept. 25 raid was caught on a security cam video that went viral. ICE agents walked onto the auto repair lot with semi-automatic weapons drawn and started handcuffing workers.
One of them was mechanic Juan Hernandez, who spent weeks in detention. The ACLU of Southern California said Hernandez was arrested solely because of his appearance. The agents had no warrant, no probable cause and didn’t even identify themselves or ask questions, according to the civil rights group, which filed a motion with a private attorney.
Last week, immigration officials agreed to drop deportation proceedings against Hernandez, an action that was approved by a Los Angeles immigration court.
"The color of a person’s skin or their last name doesn’t provide reasonable suspicion or probable cause to arrest somebody," said ACLU attorney Eva Bitran.
Bitran said the officials agreed to take Hernandez out of deportation proceedings because they knew they shouldn’t have arrested him in the first place -- and that the actions caught on the security camera were unconstitutional.
"We want to make sure that government officials know that people are paying attention to the way in which they’re carrying out these stepped-up operations that they've been undertaking under this administration," she said.
The ACLU says it is not discussing Hernandez’s immigration status. The owner of the auto shop was deported the day of the raid. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman with ICE said the agency is not commenting on the case.