The owner of an upstate New York farm says that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers stormed his property to arrest his employee on Tuesday morning, and then assaulted him when he demanded to see a warrant.
John Collins told the Syracuse Post-Standard that he was standing outside his farmhouse in Rome, NY, when he heard yelling inside and came upon a group of at least seven armed men who had his employee, Marcial de Leon Aguilar, pinned up against the window.
When the men finally identified themselves as ICE officers, Collins demanded to see a warrant to arrest Aguilar. When they weren’t able to produce one, Collins ordered them to leave his farm. They put Aguilar in handcuffs anyway as his children, who live on the farm along with his wife, stood watching.
Collins followed as the officers led Aguilar across the road to their waiting vehicles.
When he continued pressing the officers to show a warrant and took out his phone to document the arrest, Collins said they attacked him:
Collins attempted to take photos and video with his phone. When he did that, he said, one of the ICE officers grabbed his phone and threw it into the road. Then they handcuffed him and threatened to arrest him for hindering a federal investigation, he said.
But then the officers uncuffed him and left with Aguilar in the backseat of a dark Dodge Caravan.
“This was something you see on TV,” Collins said. “You don’t expect it to be here.”
The farm owner told the Post-Standard that Aguilar and his wife Virginia Morales are Guatemalan, and that while Aguilar has documentation to work and has been paying taxes, Morales was caught crossing the border with their four children and is now seeking asylum. Aguilar has accompanied his wife, who is pregnant, to regularly scheduled meetings with ICE as recently as last week, he added.
Clearly, none of that mattered much.
“Who’s going to help support me and my children if my husband’s not here?” Morales told local station WKTV. “We came here for a better future for our children. There’s nothing really back in Guatemala for us.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted that an investigation was needed.
An ICE spokesman told the paper that he was looking into the case. Splinter has also reached out to the agency to inquire about the arrest and will update this post if and when they respond.