by Emmanuel Carrillo
I’ve often been teased by friends and family about the level of trust I have for government officials and workers. It wasn’t undo trust, or so I had thought. Throughout the year a series of incidents led me first to doubt whether the trust I had in people in positions of authority was correctly placed.
Earlier this month my father was awoken just past 7 by a loud banging at our front door; the visitors identified themselves as ICE. According to their website’s mission statement Immigration and Customs Enforcement works to “promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration.” The agents informed my father that they were looking for a relative of ours whom they said lived with us. My father informed them that we had not seen the relative in years at which point the ICE officials told my father that they wanted to search our home. My father gave the men permission to conduct their search and was able to convince them to let him wake me up so that I would not be frightened by strange men searching my room. I was told to slowly get out of the bed and make my way to the living room. Our hallway was lined with big men dressed in black with bullet proof vests visible as they were illuminated by their flashlights as they trained them on me as I walked. My movements were very controlled and exaggerated so that they could tell what I was doing—I had no interest in having the agents misinterpret my body movements and aim their guns at me. Once in the living room I was instructed to be seated next to my father and several men went to search about our home, startling my mother out of bed in the process when strange men entered my parents’ bedroom and started shining flashlights in her face and around the room.
As they searched our rooms an agent repeatedly asked me the same questions regarding my name and age. I later realized that the agent was attempting to confuse me and get me to respond with different answers. In the last few weeks I have wondered why the agent had done this; my identity could have easily been confirmed had they asked to see my ID card. I was never asked to present my ID to them; this leads me to assume that I they knew that I wasn’t the person they were looking for. What other purpose could the agents have had in attempting to get me to answer incorrectly? In recent days I have pondered that question and have yet to come up with an answer that makes sense.
The agents left a few minutes after they had arrived having achieved nothing but waste valuable taxpayer money on what must have been faulty information. ICE did not find our relative whom was not living with us and we had not seen in years, as my father had already informed the agents. When the agents had left my father expressed his confusion about the fact that he had been shown no warrant. Until that point I had assumed that my father had been shown one. My father meekly admitted to me and my mother that he had felt that he had little choice: he had been intimidated by the large men gathered outside our door and had quickly consented for fear of arrest or that the agents would assume that the person they were looking for was indeed living with us. As I would later learn through a basic online search the ICE agents hadn’t needed a warrant to search our home. The agents told my father they wanted to search our home, my father consented and that was all that they needed to do so. Neither would they require a warrant to arrest someone.
My father is a naturalized American citizen, my mother is a Permanent Resident (meaning that she is authorized to permanently live and work in the United States), and I was born in the United States and am therefore a citizen as well. On the day our home was searched by ICE all three of us felt as if our own government thought we were of little importance. Throughout the ordeal we felt nervous, slightly frightened, angry, and deeply embarrassed. Our privacy was violated and in the end all that ICE achieved from their search was waste time and taxpayer money to find out they were acting on what must have been faulty information. Our government is not using the money and authority we give them properly. The very government whose officials my father, my siblings, and I help elect; the very government that gets our tax money used that money to make us feel like we were less than American.