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Restaurant Refuses ICE Agents Entry (Photos)

| by Michael Doherty

The owners of a Michigan restaurant reportedly told two immigration agents to leave.

Alan Zakalik, owner of Ann Arbor's Cafe Zola, said that two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents came to the restaurant on Aug. 9, looking for a person whose name they did not reveal, according to Michigan Live.

Zakalik was not at the restaurant when the ICE agents arrived, but his wife, Hediye Batu, is reported to have told the agents they could not look for the person in the restaurant's kitchen.

"I was not around when they came in but they did speak to my wife, and she refused them entry," said Zakalik, adding the agents had wanted to look through the kitchen.

"It was not busy when they came, it was kind of toward the end of the lunch hour so the restaurant was slow, more quiet," said Zakalik. He added that after Batu told them they could not come into the kitchen, the agents left.

"They looked pretty equipped. These few people who did notice, they didn't like the intimidation factor when people come in with guns," said the owner.

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said the agents' arrival at Cafe Zola was nothing out of the ordinary.

"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," said Walls in a statement, adding that no arrests were made.

In May, another Ann Arbor restaurant was the site of an incident with ICE when a group of agents ate at Sava's before detaining three members of the kitchen staff, Fox News Food & Drink reports.

A representative for the restaurant, Bree Stilwell, said that five agents had breakfast at the restaurant that morning. When they were done, they "went into the kitchen to apprehend one of our employees who wasn't on at the time."

When that employee wasn't present, the agents told other workers in the kitchen to show them their documentation.

Worker Carlos Rivera-Ochoa, who had his permanent resident card with him, was reported to have been handcuffed and placed in a government vehicle. His wife, Nicki Sanchez, said the incident left her husband "terrified."

"They just slapped some handcuffs on him," said Sanchez. "Not only is that offensive, he was embarrassed in front of the whole restaurant. Why didn't they ask him before they detained him?"

"It's a very sad day here at Sava's," said owner Sava Lelcaj-Farah. "These things really shake people up. We have a lot of people who have family roots here."

"It scares the whole community," she added. "Today's a great indication [that] even if you have your documentation, and you're at the wrong place at the wrong time, you can still be at risk."

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