ICE Launches Scaled Back Immigration Raids in Midst of Protests

Thousands of people, including immigrants and their supporters, rally against President Trump’s immigration policies as they march from Daley Plaza to the Chicago field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Saturday in Chicago. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune via AP)

(CN) – For the second time this year, immigrant communities and advocacy groups braced for deportation raids that began Sunday across the nation as promised by President Donald Trump, who telegraphed the federal immigration activity via Twitter last month.

The raids were scaled back at the last minute due to media reports, according to the New York Times.

Immigration advocacy groups say activity from federal agents quietly began earlier in the week, but additional deportation raids are expected to continue for the next several days.

A reported 2,000 undocumented residents who received removal orders from federal courts are targeted in the raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. By Sunday afternoon, a handful of arrests by federal agents were reported from the 10 target cities.

Despite the lower arrest numbers, immigration attorneys think other undocumented residents may be picked up who do not fall into the targeted group.

“Even if the residents in the home are not specific targets the federal agents could have no consideration for those who are targets and those who could become collateral,” said Los Angeles-based immigration attorney Sabrina Damast.

Clients who do not have final removal orders and would not be targeted in the raids have called Damast, frightened about the prospect that they could be picked up at work and their children left alone. Most clients are in the middle of court procedures.

She advised her clients to learn their constitutional rights, not to open the door to federal agents without a warrant and contact a lawyer if someone is being detained.

Whatever happens in the next few weeks will be added to the fears that have been stoked by the federal government, Damast said.

“The primary intended harm is not the people who will be deported. It’s the fear that will be instilled into the communities. When fear and uncertainty exists, it only encourages non-lawyers to take advantage of people,” she said.

Advocacy group Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said 15 federal agents visited one family earlier in the week, but they refused to open the door and the agents left soon after.

Shannon Camacho, coalition coordinator with the advocacy group, said there are about 300 immigration attorneys on call, ready to contact undocumented people who are detained and brought to federal processing facilities in Southern California, though it’s unclear if advocacy groups will be allowed to have access in these facilities.

Two separate lawsuits against the federal government were filed in the last few days to ensure due process and right to counsel for detained immigrants would be allowed at federal detention facilities.

Law enforcement from several major U.S. cities said they would not participate in the proposed raids, including Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told National Public Radio that the 10 U.S. cities were selected based on immigration court dockets. Hancock said he believe the operation will include rounding up children.

Law enforcement officials in U.S cities, including Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago, have pledged not to take part in any of the raids. But in Miami-Dade County in Florida, police have agreed to detain suspected undocumented immigrants so they can be processed by federal agents.

Meanwhile, a social media campaign prompted major hotel chains Marriott and Choice Hotels to say they would decline any requests from the federal government to use hotel rooms to house detained immigrants caught up in raids.

Brandon Wu – a volunteer with the group Sanctuary DMV, which took part in the campaign – told Courthouse News that it’s “outrageous” hotel companies would even be considered as migrant detention facilities.

“They filled their detention centers and now they want to use hotels,” Wu said. “We want to take tools away from them that enable them to detain children and families.”

InterContinental Hotels Group, Drury, Wyndham, Motel 6, Red Roof and Best Western are the seven other hotel chains targeted by the campaign that have contracted with ICE as detention facilities.

An email to ICE seeking comment on the proposed raids was not immediately answered.

Undocumented Southern California resident Eduardo Carreon said the raids are just one of the many threats that people of color and working-class communities face in the country.

“I can’t say it doesn’t bring fear,” Carreon said regarding scheduled raids. “We don’t know who will be picked up. On the other hand, this is nothing new, we’ve been here before. We just have to be ready at all times.”

Carreon said a statement posted online Friday by a collective of undocumented people called Undocu-Left resonated with him.

The statement calls on social justice groups to recognize their struggles as interconnected symptoms of capitalism and racism.

“Undocu-Left is aware that the destruction of families-communities is not a new or unique problem to our community,” the statement said. “Hence it’s not hard to relate this problem to other families/communities of color and of low-income that were and continue being torn apart everyday due to the racist and capitalist policies.”

Carreon said he appreciated the intention of recognizing the full set of struggles undocumented people face.

“Yea we can get legalized, but some of us still have to struggle to pay for our rent. Or for queer people, they may get amnesty but could still get harassed,” Carreon said. “We should be against all families torn apart, whether it be police violence or through homelessness.”

In addition to holding law enforcement accountable to that pledge, immigrant rights activists are also demanding that Silicon Valley-based companies cease providing tech infrastructure for the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement program.

A protest Friday in Palo Alto, California outside the headquarters of data mining company Palantir drew hundreds of people who chanted and held signs calling on the company to end its collaboration with ICE.

Jacinta Gonzalez, an activist with the group Mijente, which organizes the #NoTechForICE campaign, told Courthouse News that Palantir was protested for its work providing ICE with technology to track and deport immigrants.

“People are beginning to understand the key role these companies play for ICE to develop lists of immigrants that they use to go after people in their communities,” Gonzalez said, adding that undocumented immigrants not on any ICE list are often swept up in raids, too. “Companies will use language of public safety or threat risks, but these are just members of our communities.”

A 2018 report by Mijente – called Who’s Behind ICE? – found that Palantir and Amazon Web Services provided the bulk of cloud data storage and data mining services ICE utilizes as part of its deportation program.

Palantir built software that allows the federal agency to mine and store data on immigrants from a variety of sources, including cellphone records, DMV records, social media accounts, utility bills and property data.

“These systems accumulate unprecedented amounts of personal and private information and enable the rapid expansion of information-sharing capabilities among city, state, and regional law enforcement agencies, as well as some foreign governments, for the purpose of finding, deporting, and detaining immigrants,” the report said.

An Amazon Web Services spokesperson called on Congress to bring legal clarity to the government’s use of AI.

“As we’ve said many times and continue to believe strongly, companies and government organizations need to use existing and new technology responsibly and lawfully,” the spokesperson said in an email. “There is clearly a need for more clarity from governments on what is acceptable use of AI and ramifications for its misuse, and we’ve provided a proposed legislative framework for this. We remain eager for the government to provide this additional clarity and legislation, and will continue to offer our ideas and specific suggestions.”


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