Border Patrol arrest at farmers market stuns bystanders
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In this photo taken on a smartphone by Anne Shaffer, Hung Han, 37, is led to a Border Patrol vehicle in front of the Port Angeles Farmers Market on Saturday afternoon.

Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Bystanders said they were shocked by the arrest of a vendor by the Border Patrol on Saturday.

Sequim resident and Korean national Hung Han was detained at about 2:30 p.m. while helping his parents pack up their Port Angeles Farmers Market produce stand at The Gateway transit center in downtown.

Jose Romero, a Border Patrol supervisory agent based in Port Angeles, said Han was transferred to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's detention center in Tacoma for processing.

Han's sister, Chong Han, said the 37-year-old man does not have a green card or other legal paperwork.

She said he has been in the United States for about six years and never attained legal resident status.

“I feel bad,” said Chong Han, who owns Okasan Japanese Restaurant in Port Angeles.

“I can't do anything about it.”

Chong Han declined to identify her parents.

Hung Han's parents both have immigration documents and were not detained, said Cynthia Warne, market manager.

Anne Shaffer, who was at the market and witnessed the arrest, said, “I was shocked to see productive members of society arrested.”

Warne said her impression was that the Border Patrol targeted the family because they are Korean.

“I'm very concerned about the tactics,” she said. “Those people speak virtually no English. They were terrified.”

Warne said this is the first time the agency had a visible presence at the twice-weekly farmers market and added that the two agents didn't appear to talk to anyone else.

“I feel like it was kind of predatory,” she said.

Warne said she plans to talk to the agency about the arrest.

Both Warne and Shaffer said the Border Patrol agents asked no one else for papers.

“It's so clearly a case of racial profiling,” Warne said.

“If you're an illegal Canadian, you're going to get away with it.”

Romero said he could not comment on the specifics of the arrest, including why the family was approached or whether the agents asked anyone else for documentation.

The Border Patrol's activities on the North Olympic Peninsula have been a lighting rod for criticism since the number of agents and reports of arrests began increasing.

Some Peninsula residents have expressed concerns to the point of picketing Border Patrol facilities.

They have demonstrated in front of the new $5.7 million headquarters under construction at 110 S. Penn St. near the Port Angeles city limit, which will be large enough to house up to 50 agents.

The present Border Patrol station for agents patrolling the Peninsula is located at 138 W. First St. in downtown Port Angeles, in space the agency has said is big enough to house only four agents.

The number of agents in Port Angeles was 26 in April 2009, up from four in 2006.

Christian Sanchez, a Port Angeles-based agent who publicly criticized the area for being overstaffed, told a government watchdog group recently that more than 40 agents operate on the Peninsula.

A meeting between congressional staff members and John Bates, chief of the Blaine Sector which includes the Peninsula — is in the works, according to George Behan, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks.

Dick represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The topic of the meeting will be on the agency's current and future activities on the North Olympic Peninsula and concerns over stepped-up Border Patrol activities and staffing.

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COMMENTING FOR THIS ARTICLE CONCLUDED SUNDAY EVENING BECAUSE OF INAPPROPRIATE/LIBEOUS/ABUSIVE ENTRIES.

Last modified: September 04. 2011 11:41PM
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