Surprise Immigration Raids Cause Panic and Fear

By Reuben S. Seguritan

February 15, 2017

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have conducted immigration raids in New York and 10 other States. In a memo dated February 11, 2017, ICE stated that 40 foreign nationals were arrested in 5 boroughs of New York City and the surrounding areas. ICE added that 95% of those arrested had criminal convictions. According to ICE, the raids were part of routine and daily targeted enforcement operations to arrest criminal alien nationals.

ICE justified the raids by stating that the arrested individuals were public safety threats, convicted criminals, members of dangerous gangs, those who have been deported but illegally re-entered the United States, and those who have otherwise violated the United States immigration laws. During the raids, if ICE would encounter other suspects who may be in the United States illegally, ICE may arrest them as well.

In total, 680 people have been arrested in the immigration raids in the United States. Of those arrested, 75 percent were convicted and charged criminal aliens who will be prosecuted. Those not criminally charged will be processed for removal for violation of immigration laws. Alien nationals who have outstanding orders of deportation or who returned illegally after being deported are subject to immediate removal from the United States. The remaining foreign nationals will be awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge.

On February 12, 2017, President Trump said on twitter, “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”

In response to the immigration raids, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said, “New Yorkers should rest assured that city officials, including the N.Y.P.D., will never ask about your immigration status, and the N.Y.P.D. will never become immigration enforcement agents.” However, this statement has done little to reassure the people living in New York of their safety.

On social media, a lot of people have shared information on what they should do if an ICE agent arrives at their door and their rights if they are arrested. The posts state: “If ICE agents show up at your door, stay calm and do not open the door. If ICE agents don’t have a warrant signed by a judge, do not let them in your house and ask them to leave any information at your door. The ICE administrative warrant does not allow the agents to enter your home without your consent. If ICE agents force their way into your house, do not resist and remain quiet. If you have a green card, resist any demand to give up your green card to the ICE officer. If you are arrested, do not sign any document, unless your lawyer is with you. You have the right to demand a hearing with a judge. If you are arrested, you have the right to speak to an attorney and be represented by an attorney.”

As a direct reaction to the raids, protests were held in New York City on Friday night. Protests were also held in Los Angeles last Thursday and Friday.

Although the immigration raids were characterized as routine by the government, there are laws and safeguards to ensure that people’s rights are not violated. The greatest tool now for people is information and knowing that they always have a right to an attorney.