The A.C.L.U. claims that the federal government has refused to respond to public records requests for two years.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska has filed a federal lawsuit seeking additional information about the alleged mistreatment of arrested workers after a 2018 immigration raid in O’Neill, Nebraska.
According to the Star-Herald, the lawsuit was filed Monday in United States District Court. It names as defendants the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the department’s Office of Inspector General.
The A.C.L.U. is asking the court to order the release of documents and other information the Office of Inspector General collected while investigating reports that detained migrant workers had been mistreated by federal immigration officials.
Jen Sea, an A.C.L.U. attorney, said that department officials have failed to meet their responsibilities under public records laws.
“[Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents conducted this raid, tearing a community apart while using public dollars, and the public has a right to understand what the investigation into that raid looked like and whether any agents faced consequences for any substantiated concerns,” she said.
“Federal law outlines clear requirements on responding to public records requests, and it’s troubling we have to turn to the judicial system to compel officials to follow the law,” Seu said.
As LegalReader.com has reported before, the raid occurred on August 8, 2018, with I.C.E. agents descending on several worksites in and around O’Neill.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 118 workers at different locations, including a meat processing plant, a potato factory, and a tomato greenhouse.
Another 17 people were arrested for allegedly exploiting migrant workers.
The A.C.L.U. and other civil rights organizations have since claimed that government agents mistreated detained workers, depriving them of food and water, and forcing them to withstand high temperatures without relief.
Several workers also repeated that they were not provided translators when interacting with immigration enforcement officials, effectively impeding their ability to exercise their constitutional rights.
A spokesperson for I.C.E. has since called the claims “blatantly false,” saying that the agency was “well prepared” to provide migrants with commercial cooling units, water, and on-site medical services.
“Every step possible was taken to ensure that these individuals were provided with food, water, restroom breaks and that they were processed as quickly as possible in order for our agents to focus on the criminal investigation that they are conducting into money laundering, wire fraud and the exploitation of these individuals,” I.C.E. spokesperson Shawn Neudauer said in a statement.
Nevertheless, the A.C.L.U. says that it has been waiting more than two years for the Office of Inspector General to respond to its public records request.