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Sen. Robert Menendez decries ICE 'witch hunt' of Latinos

June 11, 2008 |  1:44 pm

In a blistering attack, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) took to the Senate floor to excoriate Homeland Security for aggressive immigration raids that have rocked the U.S. in the last year.

In his speech, Menendez blasted the agency for violating basic constitutional rights and for the way its agents "harass U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent." Menendez highlighted Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in which officers have shackled, handcuffed and even deported U.S. citizens "targeted because of their race, targeted because of their color. Denied every fundamental right guaranteed by the United States Constitution."

He cited a 19-year-old Texan dragged by ICE agents from her home in her pajamas and a mentally impaired Southern Californian named Pedro Guzman who was deported to Mexico and repeatedly turned away when he tried to cross the border to come home. "Together we need to face a blunt reality: Our legitimate desire to get control over our borders has too often turned into a witch hunt against Hispanic Americans and other people of color," Menendez said.

The senator used the speech to introduce the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act, which he is co-sponsoring with a group of senior senators. The bill would require better detention conditions, boost the rights of asylum seekers and require the reporting and investigation of all deaths that occur in immigrant detention facilities, among other measures.

-- Nicole Gaouette in Washington