On Friday President Trump confirmed reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to conduct nationwide sweeps to arrest thousands of undocumented immigrant families who the government says have missed a court appearance or have been issued court-ordered removals from the country.
“It starts on Sunday, and they’re going to take people out, and they’re going to bring them back to their countries, or they’re going to take criminals out — put them in prison or put them in prison in the countries they came from,” Trump said outside of the White House.
The operations, which would be along the same lines as the one cancelled last month, are expected to take place in at least 10 cities across the U.S. and last for days. According to reports, ICE is prepared to target more than 2,000 recently arrived migrant families — most of whom do not have criminal histories.
The raids will be conducted over multiple days. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock reported they will go on through July 18, and they will include “collateral deportations,” meaning undocumented migrants who happen to be on the scene but are not the intended target, could also be subject to detention.
“As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke said Thursday statement in a statement. “However, all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and — if found removable by final order — removal from the United States.”
The ACLU has sued in federal court in New York, in an attempt to block the raids, arguing that many of the migrants didn’t get proper notice of hearings and were then ordered removed for failing to show up for court. But, it is unclear if the lawsuit will have any impact on ICE’s intended actions over the weekend.
As the raid looms, local leaders and immigrant rights activists are trying to assuage the rising fear among immigrant communities. Here are a few actions planned in each city to cope with the imminent detentions.
A series of rallies have been organized as part of a national action to protest the expected deportation blitz as well as the detainment of children in migrant centers. The protests started as early as Friday and are expected go through the weekend.
The “Rise Up” rally, held Friday afternoon outside of the ICE headquarters in San Francisco, calls for the closure of child detention centers and for separated migrant families to be reunited. A similar protest is scheduled to take place in Palo Alto, in front of Palantir Technologies headquarters — the data mining company earned a $41 million contract from the Trump administration to build and maintain an intelligence system called Investigative Case Management.
Lights for Liberty has coordinated national actions “for kids at migrant detention centers” that will include protests in every state, from Friday through the weekend. Multiple events have been organized in the Bay Area, including demonstrations in San Francisco, Berkely, Oakland.
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles — CHIRLA — is telling undocumented immigrants living in the sprawling metropolis to remain calm and “go on living their lives without fear.”
“We’ve been ready for many, many months informing the community about their rights,” Communications Director Jorge-Mario Cabrera told NPR.
The immigrant rights group has set up a robust cadre of attorneys prepared to provide legal assistance via a hotline number to anyone without a lawyer who is caught up in the sweeps. Three hundred attorneys make up the L.A Raids Rapid Response Network and can be reached via a hotline phone number, according to Cabrera.
Individual attorneys will be assigned and deployed to meet people either at their homes — as a sweep is in progress — or wherever they are being held. Some will also be posted at the Los Angeles detention center in downtown to offer their services to people as they are brought in, Cabrera said.
“If we are not able to help them for X or Y reason, then we will provide referrals to community attorneys that we can trust,” he added.
CHIRLA’s website also offers information about where to call to locate someone who has been detained by ICE. “We also have sample letters that [people] can use to write to ensure their children are taken care of by a loved one and we have step-by-step instructions on how to set up a family plan,” Cabrera said.
Ahead of the raids, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock explained that the 10 cities bracing for widespread sweeps were selected because they “correspond with the immigration court dockets that have been set up to process families on an expedited basis.”
He added that he believes the operation will include rounding up children.
“We have on pretty good authority that ICE is actually making calls to cities that they are targeting and reach out to the Human Service Departments and asking for assistance in the event that they are rounding up children,” Hancock said.
According to the mayor, the local government is marshalling its resources to spread the word that “police officers will not be involved in the raid.” Hancock added that immigrants who are arrested for other crimes by local officers will not be held “past their time in our jail cell without an official warrant.”
Hancock also noted the city has a legal defense fund “that is designed to assist immigrants with their legal costs as they work to combat our push back on deportation and hopefully, stay with their family.”