May 24, 2019 | 60° F

Locals shouldn’t be treading thin ICE

Wrongful seizure of German Nieto-Cruz sparks anger in Hub City


Envision officers knocking on the door of your home. As far as you know, you’ve done nothing wrong, so you turn the knob so as to comply with authority and you’re asked about a “Rodriguez” that they seem to be after. There’s no one in your household with that name, but nonetheless the officers aggressively enter your home without a warrant and the situation quickly devolves from there — before you know it, you are captured and detained for deportation.

This bizarre scenario convulsed rage throughout the City of New Brunswick, as it more or less exemplified through the experience of 21-year-old German Nieto-Cruz and his family. According to The Daily Targum about 60 people gathered to the intersection of George Street and Livingston Avenue on Jan. 30 to protest the actions of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers who have raided homes in New Brunswick, particularly targeting Hispanic households. ICE has been conducting raids throughout the U.S. and it arrived in our backyard, targeting New Brunswick’s populous Mexican community. Nieto-Cruz’s case incited protests by community residents, immigration and humanitarian groups to demonstrate their frustrations with the presence of ICE officers in their city.

ICE has violated the rights of Nieto-Cruz and his family. According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, ICE utilizes tactics of intimidation, coercion, threats and sometimes force. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center further explains that ICE’s actions have transgressed the fundamental rights of people residing in the U.S., since the Constitution explicitly states it protects all people, including immigrants, from unreasonable searches and seizures with the Fourth Amendment and self-incrimination with the Fifth Amendment. Nieto-Cruz was not a U.S. citizen, but he wasn’t illegal either. The foundation of his legality to stay in the U.S. is based on his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status that was valid at the time of the raid. And regardless of Nieto-Cruz’s legality, the manner of which ICE entered the home without warrant is definitely illegal conduct and the situation is aggravated by how Nieto-Cruz and his family weren’t properly informed of their rights.

It can be gleaned from the case of Nieto-Cruz that ICE raids have a sense of arbitrariness, rounding up whoever they can get, and it makes ICE’s haphazard actions all the more insidious. They came into his home asking for a gang member named “Rodriguez,” but “Nieto-Cruz” sounds nothing close — aside from the commonality that the names are of a Spanish origin. This explicit demonstration of discrimination and deceit is shamelessly deployed by ICE officers in almost all their raids. His family asserts that he has no criminal record, but he is now being detained in ICE’s Newark office.

Current knowledge about ICE’s inception and their tactics are limited, but based on the information given, their actions are jarring and unjust. Illegal immigrants may violate the law by the sole reason that they inhabit the country without government sanction, but the actions taken against persons who have the potential to be illegal are abominable.

Rallies should continue to be held, especially with the activism of University students, on behalf of people like Nieto-Cruz, who have been detained by ICE and face possible deportation without being given appropriate legal recourse. Nieto-Cruz is 21 years old, and that’s a typical age for a college student. While he wasn’t a Rutgers student, the University has a good portion of undocumented students indicated by a fair for undocumented students on Rutgers—Newark last week. This issue is not as remote to the University as you might think.

Nieto-Cruz arrived in the U.S. when he was 3 years old, but he could be sent back to his native country of Mexico, which is now a country completely estranged to him. The United States is his home, and he should be able to stay here in peace.


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 148th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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