ICE agents apparently loves a good breakfast, and it doesn't matter who’s making it.
United States Immigrations Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officers detained three members of the kitchen staff at a restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor, Mich., on Wednesday morning--but only after sitting down to eat some waffles.
Sava Lelcaj-Farah, the owner of Sava’s restaurant, told MLive that the incident was “really sad,” and “scares the whole community.”
"It's a very sad day here at Sava's," added Lelcaj. "These things really shake people up. We have a lot of people who have family roots here."
According to Sava’s representative Bree Stillwell, who spoke with Eater.com, five ICE agents entered the dining establishment at about 11:30 a.m. to eat breakfast. When they were done, they “went into the kitchen to apprehend one of our employees who wasn’t on at the time,” as they suspected he did not have the proper documentation.
When the ICE agents realized the employee wasn’t on duty, Stillwell says they turned their attention to other cooks in the kitchen, and started demanding their documentation instead.
Other workers who spoke with FOX 2 Detroit say that some of the ICE agents positioned themselves at the front and back exits of Sava’s to stand guard.
ICE eventually detained three of Sava’s workers who did not have documentation, and brought them to the agency’s Detroit office. The Detroit Metro Times initially reported that all three were released in the afternoon after they provided proper paperwork, but a representative for ICE confirmed on Wednesday evening that all three men were in the country illegally, and that they remained in ICE custody as of 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Michigan Daily, on the other hand, reports that two of the detainees had been released, with only one spending the night in custody.
However, none of the accounts dispute that another worker, Carlos Rivera-Ochoa, was handcuffed and detained in a government vehicle parked outside the restaurant, despite having his permanent resident card handy. Rivera’s wife Nicki Sanchez, speaking with MLive, said her husband was “terrified” by the ordeal.
"They just slapped some handcuffs on him," said Nicki Sanchez, Rivera’s wife. "Not only is that offensive, he was embarrassed in front of the whole restaurant. Why didn't they ask him before they detained him?"
Rivera was reportedly back at work minutes later, and the restaurant managed to finish the shift with a smaller crew.
But Lelcaj, the owner of Sava’s, says it’s hard to forget the events of Wednesday morning.
"It's really sad," she told MLive. "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."
According to multiple reports, Lelcaj also claimed she vets and screens Sava’s prospective employees through a third-party service.