Couple claim ICE agents broke into their home during raid

Thursday, June 7, 2007

An incident report has been filed with the Barry County Sheriff's Department following the May 22 immigration raid at George's in Butterfield.

Henry B. Parson filed the report with the sheriff's department after neighbors claimed that agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) broke into Parson's home in Butterfield. Parson and his girlfriend, Rose Escarrega, moved to Butterfield in October of 2006. Parson works for Younglove Construction, the company constructing George's new feed mill.

Neither Parson or Escarrega are employed by George's and both are United States citizens. Both believe the break-in at their home was a violation of their rights.

Escarrega is the one who discovered the couple's mobile home had been broken into. She said she left her home at 11:30 a.m. on the morning of the immigration raid and returned at 12:30 p.m. to find the front door unlocked.

"I didn't know anything was going on. I just left the house and then came back," said Escarrega. "I was going to go into the house and noticed the door was unlocked. At first, I was hesitant to go in. When I did, I found the bedroom light on, our mail ransacked and the drapes and the closet door open in the middle bedroom.

"Luckily, nothing was taken," added Escarrega.

When she came back out of the house, two neighbor boys came up to her and told her immigration had come and gone into Parson and Escarrega's home through the window.

"They said they came to their house first and then went to my house," said Escarrega. "They can't do that. They didn't have proper cause."

Upon hearing about the break-in, Escarrega said she began crying, and in recounting the story, she again got choked up.

"I am not an immigrant. I'm a fourth generation American from California," said Escarrega. "My boyfriend is a U.S. veteran. Why did this happen to us?"

In the days following the break-in, Escarrega said she continued to battle her emotions but was able to make several phone calls to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to talk to someone who was in charge of the May 22 search at George's.

"I did eventually talk to a man who was one of the transporters but I kept getting the run around," said Escarrega. "Right now we're just treading water."

Escarrega and Parson plan to make copies of the sheriff's department report, witness statements and their own testimonies and send them to anyone who might be able to help.

When asked what she hopes to accomplish, Escarrega said she believes what happened to her and her boyfriend was wrong and she wants someone to make it right.

"I just don't want this to happen to someone else," said Escarrega. "It was unsettling for me. It was a violation of my rights. What if I was home? What would have happened? I don't even want to think about that."

The Cassville Democrat contacted Tim Counts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and asked him to comment on Escarrega's allegations.

Counts said ICE does not break into homes or enter through a window. Immigration officers only enter a home, according to Counts, if they have a criminal search warrant and the homeowner or occupant is present.

Counts said he would ivestigate the incident and call back. As of Tuesday, Counts had not provided any additional information or formal response on the issue.

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