The owners of Cafe Zola in Ann Arbor blocked two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from entering the restaurant’s kitchen to search for an unnamed individual on Wednesday afternoon, according to MLive.
Owner Alan Sakalik says the ICE agents entered the restaurant wearing uniforms with the word “POLICE” written on them and carrying guns around 2 p.m. and inquired about an person of interest but did not provide a name. Zakalik’s wife Hediye Batu who was at the restaurant at the time turned away the agents when they attempted to search the kitchen. The agents then left the restaurant.
A local representative for ICE, Khaalid Walls, issued a statement to MLive via email that the investigation did not result in any arrests.
Today's enforcement operations are a part of routine, daily targeted operations conducted by ICE in this region and around the country every day, targeting criminal aliens and other immigration violators.
The investigation at Cafe Zola recalls a similar incident at Ann Arbor eatery Sava’s in May during which ICE agents allegedly ate breakfast before raiding the kitchen and detaining several employees.
According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security last spring, immigration arrests between January 22 and April 29 had increased by 37.6 percent over the same period in 2016.
For workers who are concerned about immigration status, there are things that can be done to protect ones self. Eater has a guide on rights for undocumented workers in the restaurant industry.