By broadcasting for weeks that massive raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in 10 cities across the nation were imminent, the Trump administration already has fulfilled one of its objectives: to spread fear and terror in immigrant communities.
Administration officials acknowledged that widespread ICE raids would be launched on Sunday targeting about 2,000 undocumented family members who entered the U.S. in recent years, The New York Times reported. The raids would target Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. New Orleans originally had been on the list, but officials said ICE would suspend operations there due to Tropical Storm Barry.
Officials said they also would detain and seek to deport other undocumented migrants who weren’t on Sunday’s deportation list, but who could be caught up in the raids.
By midday on Sunday, only scattered reports of ICE detentions were reported in some cities. Many of the expected predawn raids on Sunday morning didn’t appear to happen. But that’s not to say they won’t eventually, as the detention and deportation operations are expected to continue throughout the week. Meanwhile, the waiting and uncertainty has caused nerve-racking anxiety in immigrant households.
Univision reported one raid that occurred Friday morning in the central Florida farming community of Immokalee. If reports are accurate, it could be a sign of what’s to come in other areas across the country, even outside the urban areas on ICE’s publicized list. In that operation, immigration agents reportedly targeted a Home Depot parking lot where day laborers gather to seek work. Several people were detained and told they would be deported, Univision reported. “We’re distraught,” one community member said.
The Wall Street Journal reported that immigration authorities attempted raids on Saturday in two neighborhoods in New York City, but were unsuccessful because the targets were informed and knew their legal rights.
“In New York City, ICE agents went to residences in the Harlem section of Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, the person said. The agents were rejected by people at the residences because they didn’t have warrants, but plan to return to Sunset Park tomorrow, according to the person,” the Journal reported.
In Chicago, warnings spread on social media late Saturday night and early Sunday morning that ICE agents were knocking on doors under the cover of darkness, but those stories appeared to be unconfirmed. Local immigrant advocacy groups told the Chicago Tribune that they hadn’t received reports of raids as of Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they won’t happen.
Chicago, a fiercely pro-immigrant city, joined several other cities over the weekend in protesting the actions of immigration authorities in the U.S., including the Trump administration’s raids and the treatment of migrants in Customs and Border Protection and ICE detention facilities. Many officials in several cities have said they will not cooperate with ICE.
At a rally in Chicago attended by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, speakers called for ICE’s abolishment.
In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed said, “If you want to come after them, you’re going to have to come through us,” referring to undocumented migrants on ICE’s deportation list.
Melissa Taveras, of the Miami-based Florida Immigrant Coalition, told the Los Angeles Times that officials may have purposely misled the public about the raids across 10 cities in order to distract from other operations.
Per the Times:
“The overall environment is very much like a hurricane: When is it going to come, is it going to hit us, is it going to move north?” she said. “We have people in Homestead, Little Havana, Little Haiti - where we know there are concentrations of immigrants - distributing ‘know your rights’ pamphlets. That seems to be effective because we’re already hearing reports of people not opening their doors.”
Again, if the point is to terrorize people, mission accomplished.
On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, host Jake Tapper asked U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting director Ken Cuccinelli—who compared undocumented migrants to rat infestations—if the raids had started.
“I can’t speak to operational specifics and won’t,” Cuccinelli responded.
He added that “ICE is protecting America, Americans, by removing those criminals from this country, while you’ve got sanctuary cities and states who are protecting these criminals by not cooperating with ICE.”
Given all of this, the best advice for the moment is to remain vigilant. A threat still exists. And as always, know your rights, be prepared, and communicate with allies.