My belief in ethics isn't limited to violent criminals, however. Police, including immigration agents, are communicating what type of people they represent whether they mean to or not. Many times the ugliness comes from ignorance or disregard.
Rape victims see this when they take the risk of reporting and are either treated respectfully or are treated as if they are the real criminal who must be interrogated aggressively to protect men who are simply doing what comes naturally.
What you do when you believe there will be no consequences speaks volumes. Evidence of treating others as if they are less than fully human has consequences even if they are not as direct as the rapist getting arrested.
The way those accused of breaking the law are treated demonstrates whether the government the agent or officer represents is an ethical and humane one. Laws can be well enforced without mistreating those arrested or causing unneeded trauma as a fallout from how the law is enforced.
This New Bedford, Massachusetts immigration raid doesn't reflect well on our country or on those involved in the raid. The drama of a huge raid may appease some people, but if the huge raid is mostly for PR instead of necessity or if it goes after those with the least power, it can leave plenty of people -- including those who break no laws -- with the belief that our law enforcement is cruel and untrustworthy.
Mix that with better treatment for those who deliberately break the law to make a larger profit and you can't be blamed for getting the feeling that we as a country punish the vulnerable and the exploited while doing little to stop the exploiters.
Here is the press conference regarding the recent New Bedford immigration raid which includes a statement from the mayor:
Here is the video which shows the impact this raid has had on children and a first-hand report on how those caught in the raid were treated -- including restraining people for hours without adaquate water:
The problem here isn't that agents were trying to enforce the law, it is the ethics in how the goal is being accomplished. The means to an end have a ripple effect. We can't afford to ignore that fact.