Immigration officials in Texas arrested 26 undocumented immigrants on Sunday who were showing up to a job site to perform their court-ordered community service hours.
The individuals arrested were set to perform tasks like picking up trash along highways, according to KXAS-TV, the local NBC News affiliate.
Immigrants rights advocates say this move could kill any trust immigrant communities have with local law enforcement officials.
“The people that were picked up were literally paying their debt back to society,” Amy Fischer, policy director with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, which has an offices throughout Texas, told Fusion.
Fischer said she had never heard of immigration officials raiding a site where people show up to serve their court-mandated community service hours.
“These are specific types of tactics that spread fear in communities, particularly because this was done with collaboration with a local law enforcement agency,” said Fischer.
Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn told KXAS-TV those arrested were convicted of high-level misdemeanors or low-level felonies and were “released from jail by mistake.” The offenses include drunk driving and assault, KXAS reported.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Carl Rusnock confirmed that an ICE operation detained 26 individuals but declined to provide any additional details.
"ICE routinely conducts immigration enforcement operations locally and nationwide which help improve overall public safety by removing criminal aliens from our communities," Rusnock said.