Three ICE agents sat down for a leisurely breakfast, then went to the kitchen and arrested the people who made it.
Bree Stilwell, a representative from Sava’s Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Mighigan, said Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials detained at least three of her employees while she was not in the shop on Wednesday.
Stilwell reported that several ICE members came into the restaurant where they had breakfast. After they were done, they went into the kitchen and tried to apprehend one of the employees who was not working the morning shift at the time. She said the worker in question was suspected of not having proper documentation to work. However, when it became clear that the employee was not in, the ICE agents checked the documentation of all of the other kitchen staff. When they found three workers without the paperwork on them, the agents arrested them.
“One ICE agent was stationed at the back door, and one at the front,” Stilwell said. “They apprehended one of our employees taking the trash out to the back alley and immediately put him in handcuffs, misidentifying him as the employee they were looking for. The detained employee showed the agents his documentation and was released, but three others were arrested.”
Owner Sava Lelcaj said her company, Savco Hospitality, goes through a vetting process to make sure all employees have the proper documentation required to work in the United States. In fact, each of the employees at the restaurant was fully documented and “all of the information they provided was deemed accurate to the best of our abilities,” said Stilwell.
Even those taken into custody had documentation; they were just not on hand while they were working in the kitchen. The owner has sent the documentation to the Detroit ICE office where the workers were held and they were expected to be released late Wednesday.
The restaurant also became short of staff because many other workers, fearing for their safety, left the restaurant temporarily after the incident. However, they were able to keep it open.
"It's really sad," Lelcaj said. "It scares the whole community. Today's a great indication even if you have your documentation, and you're at the wrong place at the wrong time, you can still be at risk."
ICE raids can have a terrible impact on the restaurant industry and the lives of workers as undocumented immigrants make up roughly 10 percent of the hospital industry. Concerns over deportation issues have spurred several “A Day Without Immigrants” protests, where immigrants have gone on strike from work and closed their businesses voluntarily to show their contributions matter to the U.S. economy.
For immigrants who are being detained, Eater has a guide on what to do in that situation.