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Panel hears about alleged misconduct in immigration raids

ATLANTA - It's been two years since 17-year-old Justeen Mancha says her south Georgia home was raided by federal agents seeking illegal immigrants.

But she was still noticeably shaken on Thursday as she described the raid for a panel of union and immigrant-rights advocates investigating claims of misconduct by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

Mancha, who said she and her family members are U.S. citizens, said the raid left her feeling hurt, humiliated and afraid.

'I was so scared,' she told the panel. 'I had no idea what was going on.'

She believes her family was targeted in the August 2006 because her mother once worked at the Crider Poultry Plant in Stillmore, where dozens of illegal workers were detained.

Others testified about an April raid on a Pilgrim's Pride chicken plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., and another two weeks ago at a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. It was the largest raid of its kind in U.S. history, resulting in almost 400 arrests.

The public hearing was hosted by the National Commission on ICE Misconduct and Violations of Fourth Amendment Rights, which is founded by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

The union represents 1.3 million workers across the country, including many in meatpacking plants that have been targeted for raids seeking illegal immigrants. The union has long pushed for protection of immigrant workers and federal reforms to include a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, spoke at the beginning of the two-hour hearing featuring activists, lawyers and alleged victims. Other public hearings have been held in Boston.