Thursday, February 23, 2017

Idaho Falls business owner deported; local attorney says deportations could increase (KIFI-ID)

Idaho Falls business owner deported; local attorney says deportations could increase
By: Chris Oswalt
Posted: Feb 22, 2017 06:12 PM MST
Updated: Feb 22, 2017 11:07 PM MST

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - A Mexican national living in Idaho Falls illegally has been deported after showing up at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Idaho Falls.

According to the girlfriend of Tomas Copado, Tabitha Martinez, Copado went to the Idaho Falls Immigration office on E. 17th Street Tuesday to file paperwork when he was detained and is set to be deported back to Mexico.

"The last 24 hours have been one of the roughest moments of my life,” Martinez said choking back tears. “The kids took it really hard. We have just been crying. I have been so stressed that I have been puking."

Copado is the owner of Vasquez Auto on Elva Avenue in Idaho Falls. Martinez told KIFI/KIDK that Copado went to the ICE office to change his address, something Martinez said Copado has done every year for the past several years.

"I never thought it would happen to me,” said Martinez. “Everything was fine, and then Trump becomes president and changes all the immigration laws. I never heard of anything happening in Idaho Falls yet."

Copado did not have legal authorization to work in the United States and had been deported twice before. Idaho Falls defense attorney Randy Neal said policy changes under President Donald Trump are not to blame for Copado's deportation.

“Just because Trump was inaugurated in January,” said Neal. “I don't think that this case would have been handled differently had the facts developed the way they did in this particular case a year ago."

Neal said Copado's wife, who is also an illegal immigrant, was set to be deported as well but her case was hung up in the legal system. Neal said because the two have minor children, neither were set to be deported until the case was through the legal system. Copado's wife’s case was deferred, resulting in Copado being deported, according to Neal. Copado and his wife are currently in the process of getting a divorce. Copado is now dating Martinez. They have been together for six months and are planning to get married.

Neal said under new standards set forth by the Trump administration, cases like the Copados' will increase over time.

"There are going to be more people affected,” said Neal. “Two or three times as many affected than we have right now. However, those numbers overall, statistically, are going to be fairly small."

Neal said 98 percent of illegal immigrants in the United States will not be affected by policy changes under the Trump administration. Neal believes those who will be impacted the most are those who find themselves in trouble with the law.

"The majority of immigrates are going to find very little change in east Idaho unless they are bringing attention to themselves," said Neal.

According to Neal, there are three ICE officers responsible for counties in east Idaho. He said enforcement will be hard.

This week, the Trump administration unveiled new immigration policies to ramp up border security and expand authorities to deport undocumented immigrants. The new rules, formally released by the Department of Homeland Security, raise several questions about how immigration policy might change.

"There are no official guidelines or policy changes that are already in effect,” said Neal. “They are certainly being discussed. I think many ICE officers are seeing the potential for enforcing the law more than they were doing under Obama."

According to ABC News, the goal of the new Trump guidelines “is to make it easier to deport more immigrants,” the news agency wrote. “Under the new policy, law enforcement may pursue a wide category of undocumented immigrants, including anyone 'with a chargeable criminal offense.'"

"I think you're going to see potentially two or three times more deportationsbusin as we had under the Obama administration,” said Neal. “If we get back to the rules we saw under the Bush administration or the first part of the Obama administration, we are definitely going to see an increase."

Agents at the Idaho Falls Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office would not discuss the Copado case but referred us to a spokeswoman out of Seattle.

In a written statement she said, “Our deportation officers conduct targeted enforcement operations every day in locations around the country as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect the nation, uphold public safety and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls. These operations involve existing, established Fugitive Operations Teams. ICE does not conduct sweeps, checkpoints or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”

Attorney Neal said the likelihood of Copado being allowed back into the United States is slim to none.

“He will likely be barred,” said Neal. “He has been deported twice.”

The family of Copado said he was taken to a jail in Burley and is expected to arrive back in Mexico Wednesday or Thursday.

DACA recipient from Los Angeles arrested, attorney says (KPCC-CA)

DACA recipient from Los Angeles arrested, attorney says 
Leslie Berestein Rojas
February 22, 09:29 PM

A young immigrant from Los Angeles who has been living and working here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been arrested and is being detained, according to his attorney.

DACA provides temporary protection from deportation and a work permit to roughly 750,000 young immigrants brought into the country as children who are in the U.S. illegally. Authorized by President Obama, DACA has come under review by President Trump's administration but is still in effect.

Los Angeles attorney Joseph Porta told KPCC on Wednesday that the young man, who Porta would not name, is 22 years old and was detained in the early hours of Feb. 12.

“He got pulled over. I’m not entirely sure why, and he was detained. I'm not entirely sure who detained him or arrested him yet. But long story short, after a very short period, he was immediately turned over to ICE,” Porta said.

Porta said his client has renewed his DACA status twice.

A local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson said she was not immediately aware of the case.

Porta said he is trying to learn more details about the arrest, but that it’s been difficult because his client has been transferred out of the state. The young man is presently being detained in Georgia and faces deportation, he said.

The attorney said the young man has a clean record and may have a speeding ticket, and that as he understands it, no criminal charges have been filed against him.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), an immigrant rights group, plans a press conference Thursday in Los Angeles regarding the case. The group said it wants to know why immigration officials detained the DACA recipient.

Earlier this month, a DACA recipient was detained in the state of Washington.

This week, the Trump administration released memos detailing an aggressive immigration enforcement plan, but said that the DACA program would not be affected.

Immigration Enforcement Efforts Reported In Ypsilanti (WEMU-MI)

Immigration Enforcement Efforts Reported In Ypsilanti

Residents and city officials are on alert in Ypsilanti. Today, Ypsilanti's expanded human rights ordinance takes effect. Among other things, it offers more protections to undocumented immigrants. Meantime, several residents have reached out to city officials, and WEMU, reporting sightings of federal immigration enforcement officials working in the area.

UPDATE: The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued the following statement to WEMU: "ICE Enforcement and Removal (ERO) officers conducted targeted enforcement actions in the area of Ypsilanti on Wed. morning, Feb. 23. During the course of action, ERO officers encountered multiple persons who were illegally in the United States. Four individuals were taken into custody and are currently being detained."

A number of residents in Ypsilanti say they have seen the black government vehicles conducting traffic stops and working in area neighborhoods. They, reportedly are wearing the tell-tale "ICE " jackets. "ICE" is an acronym used by the U. S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Ypsilanti Mayor Amanda Edmonds says federal agencies dealing with immigration issues do not reach out to local law enforcement officials when working in a given community. She says she has no official information that undocumented immigrants are being targeted in her city, but that there are enough eyewitness reports to be of concern.

WEMU reached out to ICE and inquired as to whether enforcement actions were underway in Washtenaw County. The short response came in the form of an e-mail from Khaalid H. Walls.

"ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations during which additional resources and personnel are dedicated to apprehending deportable foreign nationals. All enforcement activities are conducted with the same level of professionalism and respect that ICE officers exhibit every day. The focus of these targeted enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis. ICE’s enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately. ICE will not speculate on future operational activities."

Monday, February 20, 2017

ICE arrests man who escaped Illinois prison in 2003 (AP c/o New Jersey Herald)

ICE arrests man who escaped Illinois prison in 2003
The Associated Press
Posted: Feb. 19, 2017 8:00 am
Updated: Feb. 19, 2017 12:38 pm

CHICAGO (AP) — A man who escaped from an Illinois prison in 2003 has been arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Atlanta.

An ICE spokesman says Jorge Soberanis-Rumaldo was taken into custody Friday as part of an enforcement operation targeting criminal illegal immigrants. Authorities say Soberanis-Rumaldo is a Mexican national who was in the U.S. illegally.

Soberanis-Rumaldo was sentenced to eight years in Stateville Correctional Center on a felony charge of cocaine possession in March 2003. Authorities say he escaped while on work release in June 2003.

The 58-year-old was arrested at his Atlanta home.

He was booked into the DeKalb County jail near Atlanta and is awaiting extradition to Illinois. Authorities say they'll seek to have him removed from the U.S. after any criminal charges he faces are resolved.

Park City immigrants fearful after ICE operation (Salt Lake Tribune)

Park City immigrants fearful after ICE operation
By CHRISTOPHER SMART | The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Feb 18 2017 04:21PM • Last Updated Feb 18 2017 10:09 pm

Some residents of Utah's premier resort town are on edge after federal officials detained four immigrants Friday.

About 24 percent of Park City's residents are Latino and that immigrant population powers its service-based economy.

The Park City Police Department did not respond to inquiries Saturday by The Salt Lake Tribune.

But in a statement, Chief Wade Carpenter said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) informed him that four people were detained between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., according to the Park Record newspaper.

The four people were sought on felony counts involving re-entering the country or other unspecified offenses, according to the report.

The operation came one week after ICE officials detained 680 immigrants in five cities across the country, who, most likely, will be deported.

Neither city officials nor members of Park City's immigrant community have much information regarding Friday's detentions.

But Park City resident Ernest Oriente said accounts shared on social media and in conversations indicate the operation appeared to go on much longer and suggested there could be more than four detainees. The dearth of information is leaving people wondering, he said.

"The official account makes it sound like they just came and took four people between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.," Oriente said. "But that's not the real story. It's far from what happened. The community is frightened."

Rebeca Gonzalez, program director for Bright Futures Program at Park City High School that serves minority students, said young people are asking whether they should go to school and whether their parents could be taken away.

"It's causing a lot of fear in students," she said. "They ask, 'Why is this happening. What can we do?'"

President Donald Trump has said he will deport 3 million undocumented immigrants — but only the "bad ones."

ICE is not conducting sweeps that target undocumented residents indiscriminately, said ICE spokeswoman Rose Richeson.

"Our deportation officers conduct targeted enforcement operations every day in locations around the country as part of the agency's ongoing efforts to protect the nation, uphold public safety and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls," she said. "These operations involve existing, established Fugitive Operations Teams."

Such official statements from ICE have done little to assuage fears, said Beth Armstrong, executive director of The People's Health Clinic in Park City, which provides care to the uninsured. People began calling the clinic Friday in a state of panic, she said.

In January, community leaders and local law enforcement officials met with immigrants at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Armstrong said, to explain to them that they didn't have to live in fear.

"Now that is exactly what has happened," she said. "They deserve, at least, to be told what to expect."

The clinic is not a sanctuary, Armstrong said, but will point immigrants to resources that can assist them.

Dreamer Says ICE Threatened to Deport Him (Daily Beast)

Dreamer Says ICE Threatened to Deport Him
An immigrant with no criminal record protected by an Obama order said the feds wanted to put him on a flight to Honduras. He’s free for now. 
Sarah Betancourt
02.17.17 5:00 PM ET

A 19-year-old Honduran immigrant detained this week said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told him he would be deported despite receiving legal protection from an Obama-era program.

Josue Romero of San Antonio, Texas, was arrested by police while exiting a park where he had been skateboarding Tuesday night. He was held on a charge for marijuana possession before being transferred to ICE custody. Though he’s since been released, his case leaves open the question about how long protection for “Dreamers” will stand under the Trump administration.

Last week, immigration authorities in Seattle detained a 23-year-old DACA recipient asleep in his father’s home. Daniel Ramirez Medina has no criminal record, and has had his work visa renewed twice, but ICE officials have publicly alleged that Ramirez is a gang member, as evidenced by a tattoo. Ramirez’s attorneys deny this and are challenging his detention in federal court.

Romero called his family from jail early Wednesday morning to tell them he had been arrested. He was charged with a misdemeanor of marijuana possession.

“I went with his aunt to pay the $800 bond, and they said he’d come out in two hours, but he hasn’t been released,” Romero’s father told a Univision affiliate.

Instead of getting out of jail, Romero was handed over to ICE.

Adelina Pruneda, a public affairs officer for ICE, told The Daily Beast in an emailed statement before the release: “On Feb. 16, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed a detainer with Bexar County Jail on Josue Romero-Velasquez, from Honduras. He was later transferred to ICE custody. Romero-Velasquez was issued a final order of removal by an immigration judge Dec. 3, 2004.”

Further requests for comment were declined.

Romero told The Daily Beast that ICE told him he would be deported.

“They told me within the next week I would be flying to Honduras,” he said. “I was hoping until that point I would be able to fight my case, and thought I’d have a good chance. Even when I asked about DACA, they told me there was nothing I could do, that there were no second chances with Trump.” ICE declined to comment on these allegations other than to state Romero had been released.

In some circumstances, DACA status can be revoked for drug charges involving trafficking or distribution. Romero was charged with possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, a misdemeanor in Texas punishable by 180 days in jail or a maximum fine of $2,000. According to Romero’s attorneys, he does not have a previous criminal record.

Romero was put in a van with other detainees for transportation to an ICE detention facility in Pearsall, Texas.

“At that point I had lost hope,” he said. “I didn’t think there was anything to do but wait. It was incredibly depressing.”

Then he was released mid-way through the trip.

“I was the only one taken off that van. They took off my shackles and handcuffs and told me I was being released.” According to advocates, this is the first time a DACA recipient has been detained by ICE in Texas during the Trump administration.

“This is the first case that has come to my desk,” said Jonathan Ryan, the executive director of the Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). He continued, “There’s no legal precedent set by this case, but it’s clear ICE and the administration are attempting to send messages through these enforcement actions, and we do not intend to let their messages to stand unanswered.” Ryan and RAICES will provide legal counsel to Romero, and initiated an advocacy campaign to get him released.

Romero moved to the United States at age 4 and is protected under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The young people, often referred to as “Dreamers,” are immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. DACA applicants must fulfill several requirements. The applicant must have been under 31 as of June 15, 2012, come to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, lived continuously in the U.S., studied in high school, not been convicted of a felony or had certain misdemeanors, consult an attorney, and be able to pay the $465.00 fee, among other requirements. The process takes several months. If they gain DACA, students in 18 states are allowed to apply for in-state tuition rates, and are granted work permits. Over 750,000 young men and women have acquired DACA protection so far.

President Donald Trump has said that he will deport 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records, and has considered revoking DACA. The immigrant community is on edge after Trump signed an executive order which broadens who ICE can target for deportation.

Immigration authorities released a public statement on Monday from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, touting more than 680 arrests of undocumented immigrants during a week-long operation. They provided footage of some of the arrests in a link.

Romero is a second-year student at Southwest School of Art, and an employee at a woodshop for SAY Si, a San Antonio after-school program.

Romero’s voice shook with relief as he recounted his reunion with family, and his surprise over the community support, “I enjoyed the comfort of being able to sleep in my own bed. It feels good to home.”

Report: ICE arrested five immigrants in Albuquerque (The New Mexican)

Report: ICE arrested five immigrants in Albuquerque
Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2017 11:15 pm | Updated: 11:41 pm, Sat Feb 18, 2017.

By Uriel J. Garcia
The New Mexican

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week arrested five immigrants in Albuquerque, including a pregnant woman, a day after it conducted a raid in Las Cruces that prompted outrage from advocates across the state, according to the Mexican Consulate for New Mexico.

Efrén Leyva Acevedo, the Mexican consul general in Albuquerque, told KASA-TV, the Spanish-language Telemundo affiliate, that on Thursday, five unidentified people were arrested by ICE.

“Here five people were arrested, three people at a tire shop, and among them, a pregnant woman,” Acevedo said. “And a fifth person they were looking for.”

While ICE has said these recent operations in New Mexico and other parts of the U.S. are routine and are targeting undocumented immigrants who were previously ordered deported or who have a criminal record, the actions have heightened fears among immigrant communities across the country. President Donald Trump, who has made immigration enforcement a high priority in his administration, has taken credit for such operations.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a New Mexico Democrat who also is the Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairwoman, said last week at a Washington, D.C., news conference that because of Trump’s immigration policies, “all immigrant communities are at risk.” Her comments came Thursday after a meeting with ICE officials.

There have been no reported ICE raids in Santa Fe, but federal court records show that ICE officials took at least two men into custody last month who had pending court cases.

A complaint filed in federal District Court in Albuquerque for Carlos Roberto Navarrete, 31, who Santa Fe police had arrested in late December on suspicion of burglarizing a downtown bike shop, says ICE officials took him into custody at the Santa Fe County jail Dec. 28. The complaint also says Navarrete had been ordered deported previously and was taken back to Mexico in August 2014.

In another case, ICE filed a complaint against Jairo Tena-Tena, 30, who Santa Fe police had arrested on suspicion of shoplifting at a local Wal-Mart, leaving his children unattended at home and possession of a controlled substance.

He told police he didn’t have money to buy medicine for his children, so a man paid him to steal some items from the store, the police report says.

Police later found Tena-Tena’s children — ages 10, 8 and 1 — at home watching a movie while their mother was at work, the report says.

The ICE complaint, filed in federal court in Albuquerque, says Tena-Tena had been deported to Mexico in 2009 and 2012. In those previous cases, court documents show, he was arrested on suspicion of DWI and giving alcohol to a minor.

Immigration raids on Liberty Avenue raising fears (Stabroek News)

Immigration raids on Liberty Avenue raising fears 
February 20, 2017

 Guyanese and Trinidadians have reported that Federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) Agents of Homeland Security raided restaurants, stores and other job sites on Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill (dubbed Little Guyana) a few days ago picking up undocumented immigrants. Names of restaurants, vegetable and fruit stores, and other work places were provided (but are not being mentioned to protect their identity).

It is not clear how many out of status immigrants were picked up and how many were Guyanese or Trinis or South Asians. But news of the raids swept through the tight Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Trinis communities of the greater Richmond Hill area and Jamaica and Queens Village where tens of thousands of Guyanese and Trinis are settled.

Tens of thousands of Afro-Jamaicans and Afro-Guyanese are also settled in the neighbouring St. Albans area of Queens where conversations can be heard of immigration raids. Queens is home to tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America, including hundreds of Guyanese. These immigrants contribute billions of dollars in productivity; they engage in low level and low paying jobs (like picking fruits and vegetables and stacking shelves of groceries and factory work) that “regular or native” Americans refuse.

The illegals live among their ethnic communities to blend in and avoid attention. Because of their physical appearance and thought to be non-Americans, minority communities are targeted for ICE raids.

As one community leader noted, Indo-Caribbeans and South Asians are easily distinguishable and often mistaken for Middle Eastern Arabs or Hispanics and their communities are targeted for ICE raids.

ICE agents have been raiding immigrant communities all across the US since Donald Trump was sworn in as President a month ago. The new President issued an executive order for the arrest and deportation of illegal (undocumented) immigrants. Since his swearing in, thousands of illegals have been arrested.

Already the Caribbean immigrant community is on edge in the wake of Trump’s travel ban. The raids, travel ban, detention, and denial of boarding of aircraft bound for the US have left Guyanese and other immigrant communities worried and confused about Trump’s immigration policy.

Elected officials and community leaders say the raids have created tremendous amount of fear among immigrants regardless of status. Officials note that immigrants who committed minor offences including evading transportation fares run the risk of being arrested and their record made available to ICE.

However, the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, said the city will not turn over illegal immigrants to ICE and that anyone arrested or in public schools will not be asked about their status. Community leaders from Richmond Hill were interviewed on NY TV One about recent raids. These were condemned by all community leaders and politicians.

An ICE spokesman said the agency is after criminal immigrants wanted for deportation out of “public safety threats”. But hundreds have been picked up with no criminal record and not on a deportation list. Their only “crime” is an immigration violation for overstaying their visa or entering the country illegally.

This has not allayed fears as to whom the president is targeting. Everyone who is out of status is picked up during a raid. They have to show cause to a court why they should not be deported in a due process hearing.

In Richmond Hill there are no known wanted criminal immigrants. So the raid in Richmond Hill fuels fear even among “immigrant citizens” (including those born in the US), green card holders, and those with student visas of being picked up. Almost everyone is panicking said a community advocate. These dragnet immigration raid undermine public safety and create psychological instability among all immigrants.

Pro-immigrant advocacy groups are advising immigrants how to respond to raids at their work places and homes. ICE agents are not supposed to raid work sites or homes without arrest warrants. Raids on public schools and churches are prohibited by federal courts. Some churches have offered sanctuary to illegal immigrants. Community advocates say Gurudwaras and temples are considering offering sanctuary to illegals, but they lack adequate space for living quarters.

Yours faithfully, Vishnu Bisram

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Residents wake to sounds of ICE searching for suspects; dozens arrested across county (KFOX-NM)

Residents wake to sounds of ICE searching for suspects; dozens arrested across county
by Meghan Lopez
Thursday, February 16th 2017

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KFOX14) — Residents of a mobile home park in Las Cruces say they were woken up early Wednesday morning with ICE agents pounding on their doors.

Residents of Alameda Acres mobile home park say the agents said they were looking for someone but went door to door asking people to see their papers.

“I heard they were looking for undocumented people because my neighbors are saying that not only was ICE there, but Border Patrol was there,” said Lizzett Solis.

According to Solis, ICE agents even forced their way into her neighbor’s home.

“She's pregnant and they went in there into her house. They didn't even show her a clear picture, they showed her a piece of paper saying that they're looking for somebody,” she said.

Solis said when the agents didn’t find anyone, they moved on to the next house.

“We are all panicking, we were all scared,” Solis said. “Is this going to be happening all the time now? I mean why us?”

According to Dona Ana County jail records, three people were picked up from that mobile home park. Mary Valdez lives next door to the men and says she was getting ready for work when he was detained by ICE agents.

“I've been crying all day to tell you the truth because it's very hard to see this happening especially to nice people like them, especially to little kids. It breaks my heart,” Valdez said. Valdez says she her grandkids are friends with Rene Villanueva-Hernadez’s two young children.

“He's always playing with them football, basketball he's always or they're always going for walks I always see them going for walks. He's a good dad. I've never had any complaints,” Valdez said.

According to jail records, Hernadez was booked into the Dona Ana County jail around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday without a bond.

“It happened so early in the morning so he wasn't even prepared. The kids were not prepared. And heaven knows what happened in there,” Valdez said.

Valdez said she found out about Hernadez’s arrest from his son while he was waiting at the stop for his school bus that day.

“So my daughter asked him and he said, ‘Yeah they took my dad.’”

Valdez describes Hernadez as a good neighbor who was always willing to lend a helping hand.

“He comes and does my yard for free. I borrow things from him, he borrows things from me,” she said.

She says she is worried for the children, who she believes are now staying with their grandmother.

“I can't imagine what they're going through, this fear,” she said. “Those kids are suffering right now.” According to the jail records for Hernandez, there is no bond and there was no warrant issued.

ICE has still not officially confirmed that any immigration enforcement operations have happened this week in Las Cruces.

In a statement, ICE spokesperson Leticia Zamarripa said, “ICE will not confirm an operation prior to its completion, nor will ICE speculate on future operational activities.”

This is what KFOX14 found digging through the Dona Ana County Jail records from the past week:

Total number of people arrested on immigration violations: 27

People arrested on smuggling charges: 1

Number of immigrants from Mexico: 22

Number of immigrants from unknown countries: 5

DUSM named as the arresting agency: 18

Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office named as the arresting agency: 1

ICE named as the arresting agency: 3

Border Patrol named as the arresting agency: 5

Number of people arrested at the Dona Ana County Federal Courthouse: 20

Number of people arrested at other locations: 7

Border Patrol arrests 9 on Grand Island (WGRZ-NY)

Border Patrol arrests 9 on Grand Island
 WGRZ 11:14 PM. EST February 15, 2017

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. -- Nine people have been taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Grand Island.

CBP tells 2 On Your Side that one of those immigrants was a convicted sex offender from Mexico, who had already been deported once.

Multiple witnesses confirmed Border Patrol agents were on scene at a Rite Aid on Grand Island Boulevard on Wednesday, but the Border Patrol would not confirm the extent of that activity or how it relates to the nine arrests.

Lisarenee Guagliano was inside the Rite Aid store in Grand Island when Border Patrol agents appeared to take one man into custody. In a phone interview with 2 On Your Side, Guagliano said the man rushed into the bathroom after appearing to spot the Border Patrol agents outside the store window.

"Next thing I knew, there were five Border Patrol (agents) in there, and they walk toward the men's room-- because everyone pointed out that's where he was," Guagliano said. "There wasn't a struggle or anything. They just kind of walked him out after that."

The Border Patrol could not confirm where the other people were taken into custody by federal agents.

The nine arrests made in Grand Island come just two days after Border Patrol agents took 23 people into custody at a convenience store in Hamburg. It's unclear if the situation in Hamburg has any direct connection to the situation in Grand Island.

Matthew Kolken, an attorney who specializes in immigration law, said it'd be unwise to jump to the conclusion that the Trump administration played a role in the Border Patrol's activity this week in Western New York.

"I believe that what we're seeing now may have been in the planning stages for months," Kolken said, "and now, we're just seeing them executed."

The Trump administration, however, is likely to take a more hard-line approach.

"This is the biggest change in policy from President Obama to President Trump-- they are no longer favorably exercising prosecutorial discretion on behalf of individuals who are not a priority for deportation," Kolken said. "Pretty much anyone in this country now in violation of U.S. immigration law, is subject to being taken into custody."

The one individual with a previous deportation and criminal conviction could be subject to criminal prosecution, but the other people apprehended by Border Patrol this week will likely face immigration court in Western New York. They will have an opportunity for due process in those proceedings, and in the end, some could even become eligible for green cards.

But the Border Patrol's spokesperson said the agency is continuing to process the people arrested in Grand Island on Wednesday.

"Depending on the facts and circumstances, that'll determine whether or not they'll be required to remain in custody during the duration of their immigration court battles," Kolken said.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

ICE Agents Arrest Men Leaving Alexandria Church Shelter (

ICE Agents Arrest Men Leaving Alexandria Church Shelter
By Julie Carey
Published at 6:17 PM EST on Feb 15, 2017 | Updated at 7:50 PM EST on Feb 15, 2017

Some are questioning the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are handling arrests in Fairfax County after at least two men were arrested near a church shelter.

Oscar Ramirez said he had just left the hypothermia shelter at Rising Hope Mission Church on Russell Road in Alexandria, Virginia, when about a dozen ICE agents surround him and other Latino men.

"'Stop right there. Stop right there. Stop right there. Stay by the wall, where we can see your hands,'" the agents said, according to Ramirez.

The group of men had left the shelter about 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and crossed the street when the ICE agents ordered them to stand against a brick wall.

Ramirez said the agents questioned all of them and scanned their fingers to find out if they had criminal backgrounds. Agents quickly cleared Ramirez, who has a green card, he said.

But he and other witnesses told News4 that about six Latino men were arrested and taken away in two vans that pulled up to the area where they had been stopped.

"This is the first time I see something like that," Ramirez said.

"It surprised me. I mean, I think it surprised a lot of people who seen it actually happen," said Marvin Roach, a guest at the church shelter.

"They were clearly targeting the church because they knew that they stayed here in the hypothermia shelter. So they were waiting for them to cross the street and then jump on them," said Rising Hope Mission Church Rev. Keary Kincannon.

An ICE spokeswoman said the agency's "sensitive location" policy was followed. The policy requires agents to avoid arresting people at places of worship, schools and medical facilities. The spokeswoman emphasized the arrests took place across the street from the church and not on church property.

ICE detains alleged domestic violence victim (El Paso Times)

ICE detains alleged domestic violence victim 
Marty Schladen, USA Today Network Austin Bureau
Published 3:49 p.m. MT Feb. 15, 2017

AUSTIN — Federal immigration agents went to the El Paso County Courthouse last week and arrested an undocumented woman who had just received a protective order alleging that she was a victim of domestic violence.

The agents apparently detained the woman Feb. 9 after receiving a tip, possibly from her alleged abuser, whom they already had in custody, El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said.

The detention has alarmed Bernal and other county officials who fear that the arrest will scare undocumented victims of domestic abuse into staying with their abusers for fear of being deported and separated from their children or other family members.

However, a criminal complaint on file with the U.S. District Court in El Paso indicates that a person of the same name as the alleged victim might have a history of deportation and domestic violence.

Bernal was not aware of the complaint, filed by U.S. immigration officials, when she spoke about the arrest earlier in the day. She said, however, that her office cooperates with federal authorities when serious crimes are alleged.

But she and other officials said protective-order courts are not the place for immigrant detentions.

“Our clients come to us at the lowest point in their lives,” said Bernal, whose office represents domestic abuse victims when they seek court orders against their abusers. “Many of them are so frightened of coming to us because of possible immigration concerns.”

Bernal said her office is taking steps to relieve those fears in the wake of last week’s arrest.

The alleged abuser, Mario Alberto De Avila, is jailed on a charge of forgery of a financial document, the criminal complaint states.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment Wednesday to questions about the incident.

The criminal complaint states that on Feb. 2, Homeland Security Investigations Border Enforcement Security Taskforce agents received information that Irvin Gonzalez, who also is known as Ervin Gonzalez, was in the U.S. despite having been previously deported. The information received stated that Gonzalez was staying at the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence.

The complaint, filed Feb. 9, indicates that Gonzalez, whom Bernal identified as transgender, had been deported six times since 2010 — apparently after arrests for crimes including possession of stolen mail, false imprisonment and assault.

Its narrative differs, however, from what Bernal unearthed in her investigation in a key respect. The complaint says Gonzalez was arrested on the street, while investigators looking into the detention for Bernal said it happened inside the courthouse.

"There were six ICE agents on the 10th floor," Bernal said.

The arrest comes at a time of heightened concerns that under the administration of President Donald Trump, ICE is expanding who it tries to deport and how it goes about deporting them.

The woman is being held in the El Paso County Jail under a federal ICE detainer, Bernal said.

Her arrest comes to light along with news that ICE conducted an immigration raid in Las Cruces on Wednesday, rounded up 51 people in Austin since last week and conducted sweeps in numerous other states.

Bernal, whose office is conducting an investigation into the incident, said the ICE agents said they went to court after receiving a tip. Gonzalez's live-in boyfriend had earlier been detained by ICE, Bernal said.

“We suspect it’s the (alleged) abuser” who tipped off ICE about the woman, Bernal said.

El Paso County officials say they don't want ICE to get into the habit of going to the courthouse and acting on such tips.

It’s common for abusers to seek to control undocumented partners by threatening to refer them to immigration authorities, said 65th District Judge Yahara Lisa Gutierrez, who oversees the court that issued Gonzalez's protective order.

Whatever her own history, the woman made three police reports late last year, alleging that she had been punched, kicked and chased with a knife, Bernal said.

Judge Gutierrez said ICE agents should avoid effectively assisting domestic abusers by acting on their tips against their partners.

“There’s no place for that — especially in family court,” she said.

Bernal said she’s doing all she can to reassure victims of abuse — especially if they're undocumented.

“We will do everything in our power to get them the protection they need,” she said, explaining that her office does not inquire about abuse victims' citizenship.

Bernal’s staff is also researching immigration law and is trying to communicate to ICE to make sure further arrests don't take place in or near family court.

“We are hopeful that this is an isolated incident and that this never happens again,” she said.

El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar said she is worried that word about the woman's arrest is already spreading in the immigrant community — which is large in a border city such as El Paso.

The county judge said she is considering asking Bernal’s office to work with civil rights groups to put together a pamphlet explaining people’s rights when they’re approached by federal agents. She said similar pamphlets were distributed in the 1990s after agents started asking students’ immigration status near Bowie High School, which lies within shouting distance of the Mexican border.

It's possible that not only undocumented victims of abuse will be scared into the shadows, said Stephanie Karr, executive director of El Paso's Center Against Sexual and Family Violence. Victims are beaten down physically and emotionally and reluctant to come forward without the fear of arrest, she said.

"It's certainly an underreported crime," Karr said. "If there's a fear they or their families will get deported, they won't come forward."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ICE arrest of Apalachicola man fuels fears (Tallahassee Democrat)

ICE arrest of Apalachicola man fuels fears 
Jeff Burlew
Published 6:47 p.m. ET Feb. 14, 2017

Deportation fears are spreading in North Florida following a crackdown by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the arrest of a well-known Apalachicola man who fled his homeland years ago.

Last week, ICE officers arrested more than 680 people across the country in a series of operations that targeted specific people, including convicted criminal aliens and gang members, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a news release.

ICE officials said the operations did not include arrests in Florida. However, ICE officers on Friday arrested Jose Francisco “Pancho” Grijalva Monroy, 50, of Apalachicola, on immigration charges, the agency confirmed. ICE officials would not say why he was arrested or discuss details of his case.

Monroy, who fled his native El Salvador more than 20 years ago, lived for years in the small coastal town and was a well-regarded manager at the local Piggly Wiggly. He is being detained in the Wakulla County Jail, according to ICE’s online detainee locator.

Neil Rambana of Tallahassee, who practices immigration law with his wife Elizabeth Ricci, couldn’t confirm or deny whether Monroy was his client. However, Rambana was able to discuss an unnamed client who was recently arrested by ICE.

Rambana said the man had a temporary protective status allowing him to remain in the country while he went through an application process. He said the man has family, including children who are U.S. citizens.

“It’s frightening that he’s going to be separated from his family who he has helped to raise and establish in the community by purchasing a home and paying taxes,” he said. “And now all of that is about to disappear. It’s incredibly difficult for him and his family.”

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Jan. 25 directing agencies to prioritize the removal of aliens who have been charged or convicted with crimes or who pose a risk to public safety or national security. The order also prioritizes the removal of aliens who engaged in “willful misrepresentation” before a governmental agency.

Trump touted the ICE operations in a Feb. 12 tweet: "The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!"

The executive action, along with last week’s ICE operation, has non U.S. citizens on edge. Ricci said some have called her office saying they aren’t taking their kids to school or they’re afraid to visit loved ones in detention facilities for fear they’ll be picked up. One permanent resident from Mexico expressed fears he wouldn’t be able to come and go despite having a green card.

“So there is rampant fear right now, especially because we saw in our own backyard in Apalachicola that there was a sweep,” she said. “People are just scared. And without that citizenship, they’re not going to feel comfortable. And unfortunately, even with citizenship, I think people, especially those with thick accents or who ‘look foreign’ are still going to be fearful.”

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said his office had no involvement with Monroy’s arrest and didn’t learn about it until afterward from a local resident. He called ICE’s decision not to contact him “unprofessional” and said he planned to call Sen. Bill Nelson to discuss it.

“We’re all law enforcement and we should all work together,” Smith said. “And if they would have let me know about it, even after the fact, it would have helped me deal with the community concerns about it. He worked at the Piggly Wiggly and was well thought of by people.”

Tammy Spicer, a spokeswoman for ICE, said she could not discuss details of Monroy’s case. But she said it was unrelated to the agency’s enforcement actions across the country last week.

“Really in all of Florida, there has not been any increased activity in enforcement operations,” she said. “This particular individual’s arrest was not tied to a larger enforcement action.”

John F. Kelly, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said in a news release that the agency has been conducting targeted enforcement actions for many years. He said the operations are consistent with “routine, targeted arrests” carried out by ICE on a daily basis.

“President Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation,” he said, “and directed our department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered the country illegally.”

Local Attorney: ICE Raids are creating Fear (WZZM-MI)

Local Attorney: ICE Raids are creating Fear
February 14, 2017

HOLLAND, MICH. - One person was arrested Tuesday on federal identity fraud charges amid a Department of Homeland Security investigation in the Holland area, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official.

That person will have an initial hearing in federal court this week, ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said.

However, an immigration advocate in the Holland area says "raids" were carried out Tuesday, Feb. 14. As many as four people were taken into custody, according to Roberto Jara, the executive director of Latin Americans United for Progress.

Walls countered the conflicting report, saying there were "no ICE raids today."

There have been many people coming into Jara's office, "worried" about what is going on in the community.

"This is not the America that I grew up in, there were problems in America when I grew up but I didn't think I'd live in a time when people are terrified," says Jara.

Ottawa County Sheriff's Department Mark Bennett confirmed the department was notified of immigration raids that were slated to take place in the county today but could not elaborate further.

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants were rounded up within the past week in about six states, whereas a U.S. congressman and advocacy groups called the actions targeted raids, according to the USA Today. Government immigration officials rather say the operation is a routine enforcement "surge."

Immigrants, their advocates wary of recent ICE actions in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Immigrants, their advocates wary of recent ICE actions in Pittsburgh
February 14, 2017 11:30 AM
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Some of the four undocumented immigrants from Mexico arrested in Pittsburgh this month appear to have been swept up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in search of other people — an approach that people who deal with the issue believe has changed under the Trump administration.

An ICE official said Tuesday that there’s been no uptick in enforcement actions, sweeps or raids in the Pittsburgh area. But immigration attorneys noted that the agency appears to be enforcing an existing part of the law that some ICE officers had previously disregarded at their discretion.

Based on conversations with a local ICE official, Kristen Schneck, an immigration attorney with Schneck & Harley Immigration Law Group in Dormont, said it’s her understanding that “if they encounter anyone incidentally without documentation, they have to do their duty and enforce the laws and pick them up,” even if that person wasn't the initial target.

“In the past, a lot of times they wouldn't incidentally arrest and bring those people in, and now they are,” said Ms. Schneck, who is representing at least one of the men taken into custody recently.

The ICE official would not comment on Ms. Schneck’s contention.

Raids that could lead to deportation appear to be touching off tensions between the agency and lawmakers. A meeting that had been scheduled between the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the ICE chief in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday was canceled, according to media reports, and at least 650 immigrants have been arrested recently across the country, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Monday.

The four men arrested in Beechview on Feb. 1 and in Mount Oliver Feb. 8 were charged with being present in the United States without authorization. Sister Janice Vanderneck, executive director of Casa San Jose, a Brookline-based advocacy group for Hispanics, said in each case, officers were looking for other people, neither of whom was at either location.

In one case, ICE officers detained three men as they were leaving to go to work, she said. And last week, agents detained a man, also as he was leaving for work. Three Casa San Jose representatives took turns counseling that man’s family by phone with the officers still outside. One of the Casa San Jose workers drove to the house and waited in her vehicle, giving the family updates.

A woman living at that home, who agreed to an interview Tuesday on the condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety, said through a Casa San Jose translator that her brother-in-law’s employer called that day when he didn’t show up for work. When she looked outside, his car was still there, and about 7:40 a.m., she noticed SUVs in front of and behind her house. She lives at the home with her husband, brother-in-law and the couple’s two children, who attend Pittsburgh Public Schools and are U.S. citizens.

“I’m very afraid to leave, to go outside,” said the woman, who also is an undocumented immigrant but has been in the country 11 years, her husband 15. “We don’t have that sense of security anymore.”

Last fall, ICE officers went to one of these same homes looking for someone and, coming up empty-handed, ran the fingerprints of another person, said Ashley Lively, associate attorney in charge of deportation at JBM Legal, a Downtown law firm. Although that other person was undocumented, “nothing happened because he doesn’t have a [criminal] record,” she said.

But at least one of the four men arrested this month had no previous criminal record and was arrested anyway, Ms. Lively said. One had a 15-year-old DUI conviction in another state from when he was a teenager. Scooping them up in the pursuit of someone else is “a different approach than what I’ve seen historically in Pittsburgh.”

Sister Janice said two of the men were released here on bail, and the other two were taken to the Cambria County Jail. When the number of those detained in ICE custody is “high,” ICE uses that jail as a overflow facility if no bed space available is in York, the multi-state regional detention center, Ms. Schneck said. In York, detainees can go before a judge to seek bond, if eligible, or await deportation.

Moira Kaleida, the Pittsburgh Public Schools board member from District 6, said five Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5 students in all whose relatives were swept up by the recent arrests.

Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said the district has asked principals to monitor the attendance of their English-language learners. She said principals also received resources, developed by the American Federation of Teachers, related to ICE raids and what school officials can do. The information also was shared with counselors and social workers, she said.

Molly Born: or 412-263-1944. Staff writer Chris Potter contributed.

Activists protest immigration arrest in Philly (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Activists protest immigration arrest in Philly
by Robert Moran, Staff Writer
@RobertMoran215 |
February 14, 2017 — 8:15 PM EST

Dozens of activists protested outside the Philadelphia offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for what they said was the arrest of a Latino man in a home raid Tuesday.

The New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia received a call on its hot line around 4:40 p.m. of ICE agents at a home attempting to make an arrest, said Peter Pedemonti, the group's executive director.

"We could hear the pounding at the door" over the phone, Pedemonti said. "Before we could get the address the line went dead."

New Sanctuary, an interfaith immigrant-rights group, issued an alert for activists to assemble at the ICE office at 16th and Callowhill Streets in Center City.

Pedemonti said he and several other group members saw a federal law-enforcement van pull up on Callowhill and an unidentified Latino man in handcuffs was taken into the building. Pedemonti did not know the man's identity or why he was in custody.

We wont stay quiet, we will fight for our brothers and sisters, we take risks because we know a better world is possible! #sanctuaryforall 
— New Sanctuary Mvt (@NSMPhilly) February 14, 2017
About 60 to 70 people held a prayer vigil and sang songs outside the ICE office before peacefully dispersing, Pedemonti said.

A spokesman for the Philadelphia ICE office did not have immediate information on the man in custody.

More than 600 people have been arrested across the nation by ICE this week in what critics say are raids to implement the campaign promise of President Trump to mass depart undocumented immigrants.

John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said Monday that ICE was conducting "routine, targeted arrests" against "convicted criminal aliens and gang members" as well as other immigration-law violators.

48 arrested in Chicago area in last week's immigration raids (Chicago Tribune)

48 arrested in Chicago area in last week's immigration raids
By Marwa Eltagouri
Chicago Tribune
February 14 2017 12:21

Federal authorities arrested 48 unauthorized immigrants across the Chicago area last week in a series of immigration enforcement raids, officials said.

Of those arrested, 45 were convicted criminals and 20 were previously deported, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said.

Chicago's enforcement office made 235 arrests across six states — Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Kansas and Missouri — during an operation that began Feb. 4 and concluded Friday, spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said.

While ICE officials said the raids were routine, the timing of the operation less than one month into President Donald Trump's administration has intensified fear and anxiety in immigrant communities, even among families with legal status. In neighborhoods where immigrants are still shaken by Trump's immigration order last month banning travel into the U.S. from seven largely Muslim countries, news of the raids and rumored inquiries by federal agents have led to a climate of helplessness.

In Chicago, 15 people were arrested, including an Iraqi citizen with a previous conviction of criminal sexual abuse of a victim unable to consent. A Mexican citizen with previous convictions of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, attempted criminal sexual abuse and solicitation for sex was also arrested in the Chicago area, officials said.

Others arrested included six people in Bensenville, five in Aurora, four in Cicero, two in Addison, and one each in Arlington Heights, Bolingbrook, Carpentersville, Elgin, Markham, Melrose Park, Mundelein, Plainfield, Rolling Meadows, Roselle, Skokie, Waukegan, Wheaton, Wheeling, Wood Dale and Hammond, Ind., an ICE official said.

Thirty-three of those immigrants are from Mexico, and seven are from Guatemala. One immigrant each is from Canada, Chad, China, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, Iraq, the Philippines and Poland, an ICE official said.

Those arrested had been convicted on charges such as prostitution, DUI, cocaine possession, burglary, criminal sexual assault, assault, and aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, an ICE official said.

On Jan. 25, Trump issued an executive order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country without legal status. Trump's order expanded the list of deportation priorities to include any noncitizen who is charged with a criminal offense of any kind or who is suspected of committing criminal acts, fraud or willful dishonesty while interacting with immigration officials, is the subject of a pending order of removal or has previously been deported and re-entered the country.

The order gave much broader leeway to ICE officers in deciding whether someone posed a "risk to public safety" and therefore could be detained.

Under the Obama administration, the government focused on targeting immigrants living in the country illegally who posed a threat to national security or public safety, as well as recent border crosses. Still, despite the narrower focus, more than 2 million people were deported during Obama's eight years in office.

During an operation that occurred over a five-week period last year under the Obama administration, 331 unauthorized immigrants were arrested in the Midwest, including 107 in Illinois. The majority of people were arrested in Chicago, Cicero and Waukegan, according to an ICE news report from June 2016.

Methodist Sunday school teacher detained in immigration raids (Think Progress)

Methodist Sunday school teacher detained in immigration raids
By Jack Jenkins and Esther Yu His Lee
February 14, 2017

A Methodist Sunday school teacher in Kansas has reportedly been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is now believed to be set for deportation, sparking concern among local faith leaders unsettled by the surge of immigration raids under President Donald Trump.

According to an account published by the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) communications office, Humberto Barralaga reportedly heard a knock at his door on Tuesday morning, February 7. He allowed two immigration officials — who were allegedly not wearing anything that identified themselves as ICE agents — into his home to give them refuge from the cold.

But according to his pastor, as soon as Barralaga opened the door, the men reportedly called other officers into the house and detained him. Officials for the Great Plains Conference—the regional UMC governing body—told ThinkProgress that Barralaga is an active member of House United Methodist Church in Dodge City, Kansas, where he is also a Sunday school teacher and the men’s evangelism leader. GPC officials said he had been waiting for his son, a U.S. citizen, to turn 21 so Barralaga could petition to adjust his immigration status. His wife, they said, is also a legal resident.

They added they were not aware of where Barralaga is being detained or what, if anything, he is being charged with.

“We cannot find anything that can lead us to indicate that he has had any criminal activity,” said Todd Seifert, the communications director for the conference. Seifert said that Barralaga’s role as a Sunday school teacher was a “well-connected” ministry position for the tiny church, where he oversaw men’s ministry.

When ThinkProgress reached out ICE for confirmation, however, officials were initially slow to reply, and calls to local ICE detention centers were hastily redirected to answering machines without a response. It was only after several hours that ICE finally stated they were holding a man by the name of Pablo Barralaga-Escobar, 51, who was arrested in Dodge City. They added that Barralaga-Escobar has “since been placed into removal proceedings due to his three DUI convictions and a which separate misdemeanor conviction”—in other words, scheduled for deportation. A mugshot of a man named “Pablo Barralaga-Escoba” resembling the UMC’s image of Humberto is dated the same day as Humberto’s arrest.

It’s possible that ICE was unable to find Barralaga in their locator system because of a name discrepancy. But immigrant advocates say opaque or even deceptive tactics by ICE are routine, and there are concerns it will only get worse under Trump.

“On multiple occasions, ICE has refused to speak to us despite having an ICE privacy waiver from the person in detention or ICE has just remained unresponsive to us,” said Christina M. Fialho, Executive Director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement. “Now with the change in the Administration, we are concerned this will happen with more frequency, as more of our community members are disappeared into the detention and deportation system.”

The shift is being felt in other ways as well. Even if Barralaga has as criminal record, for instance, he may not have been detained under Barack Obama’s administration — which issued directives asking ICE agents to exercise leniency towards immigrants with U.S. citizen children. According to pastor Juan Carlos, a UMC minister in the conference who is helping spearhead efforts to aid immigrants in the region, the bond for Barralaga’s release is set at $7,000.

Carlos noted that developing coalitions to help handle such situations is rapidly becoming a primary concern for churchgoers in the area, which has historically been a haven for immigrant and refugee communities. Developing structures to respond to cases like Barralaga’s is now “one of the priorities in our conference,” he said.

Although Barralaga has longstanding ties to the United States and deep connections in his community, deportations of people like him may become increasingly common under the Trump administration. ICE officials said he is one of more than 680 immigrants swept up in immigration raids this past week, with direct assistance from local police in places such as Dodge City. According to the Kansas City Star, Barralaga was one of 32 people arrested in Wichita, Dodge City, Garden City, and surrounding area alone.

Jeania Ree V. Moore, Director of Civil and Human Rights at the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, noted that aggressive deportation policies were also used during the Obama administration. She said that UMC leaders affirmed and updated the denomination’s progressive resolution on immigration in 2016 in response, and that the UMC’s pro-immigrant stance is rooted in their Christian faith.

“Jesus’ own life begins as a refugee to Africa as a part of state-sponsored killing,” she said. “We recognize that the situation is casted as political… but we also know that it’s also moral and ethical, and, for us, deeply a matter of faith.”

Churches and other faith groups are rapidly becoming an increasingly vocal opponent of deportations and restrictive immigration polices. The UMC is also one of several Christian, Jewish, and Muslim institutions that have lent their support for the “New Sanctuary Movement.” Participating churches, synagogues, and mosques offer up their sanctuaries to immigrants at risk of deportation, making use of an internal ICE policy that dissuades agents from raiding churches, schools, or hospitals. However, DHS has not issued clear guidance on whether these memos have continued since Trump took office.

“The UMC has stood behind sanctuary as an option and a recourse, and continues to do so explicitly,” Moore said.

The strategy successfully pressured ICE to drop or delay the deportation orders for several immigrants during Barack Obama’s administration, but it remains unclear whether the policy will remain in place under Trump.

Nevertheless, Trump’s election — fueled in part by a spate of anti-immigrant rhetoric and violence — has inspired a bevy of new worship communities to sign on as potential sanctuaries for immigrants.

In Apparent Case of Mistaken Identity, Father Caught in ICE Sting (El Paso Herald-Post)

In Apparent Case of Mistaken Identity, Father Caught in ICE Sting
The Texas Tribune
February 14, 2017

Undocumented immigrant Miguel Angel Torres was on his way to deliver Valentine’s Day chocolates to his daughter last week near Austin. Now, in what his family calls a case of mistaken identity, Torres is in an immigration lock-up near San Antonio.

With Donald Trump in the White House and rumors of widespread law enforcement raids percolating throughout her heavily immigrant community in North Austin, Irma Perez said she decided to help pay off her brother’s unpaid tickets to help him avoid any trouble.

It would lead to her own family’s undoing.

On Friday, Perez got a call from a neighbor with disastrous news: Her husband — not her brother — got picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after dropping off their three daughters at school in Pflugerville.

What began as an apparent case of mistaken identity soon mushroomed into a full-blown family crisis. Their dreams of opening a food truck in North Austin were dashed, and the family abandoned their home because it was now on ICE’s radar. On Monday, their girls, all U.S. citizens, were on their way to an immigrant detention facility in Pearsall, 150 miles from Austin, to see their father.

Miguel Angel Torres, who has lived in Austin for 14 years as an undocumented immigrant, worked as a cook at an Austin restaurant. Perez, his wife, is also undocumented, and so is her brother, Jose Manuel Perez.

Torres was one of an undetermined number of people detained in Texas in the past few days as part of national ICE operations that sent panic through immigrant communities. In a written statement released to reporters Monday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that ICE, in “targeted” operations last week, detained more than 680 individuals nationwide, 75 percent of whom had criminal records, including homicide and sexual abuse.

“These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as those who have violated our immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges,” Kelly said in the statement.

Torres’ family wasn’t expecting him to get caught up in the mix.

“[My husband] is a person who’s never done anything wrong and who complies with the law,” Perez said in her native Spanish. “We don’t know why they detained him. He was driving his own car, not my brother’s. He has nothing to do with my brother.”

On Friday morning, she said ICE officers wearing civilian clothes and driving an unmarked van detained Torres. She said he was on his way to deliver a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates to their youngest daughter when he was stopped by agents who asked if he was Jose Manuel Perez — her brother.

When he said he wasn’t, Irma Perez said, they forced him out of his car anyway and said, “Well, we’re detaining you.”

She says four days before her husband was detained, she provided her own address instead of her brother’s when submitting payment for her brother’s tickets in Manor, a town in Travis County just northeast of Austin.

Lawyers working on her case believe ICE officers waited outside the family’s home thinking Torres was Irma Perez’s brother, who she said had been previously deported.

The Tribune reached out to ICE about the Torres case, and the agency said it was still working on that request as of late Monday afternoon.

The ICE field office in San Antonio, which includes Austin, said Monday the agency detained 51 foreign nationals, 23 with criminal convictions, in the Austin area last week. The Mexican Consulate in Austin reported 44 Mexican citizens were picked up on Thursday and Friday in the Texas capital — a number that included a few whom Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez said happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Mark Kinzler, an immigration lawyer who has helped Irma Perez, told The Texas Tribune that “all kind of things look wrong” in the case against her husband.

“They were looking, apparently, for someone else, and he wasn’t that person but then they took him anyway,” Kinzler said.

ICE has criticized immigrant advocates for spreading “false” and “irresponsible” reports of widespread raids in immigrant communities. But Kinzler said the Torres detention fits a pattern of increased enforcement that goes beyond immigrants with criminal records.

“Even though ICE’s PR campaign is that they’re picking up criminals and picking up people with prior deports, and I’m sure some of them are, it already seems like a lot of them are not those people,” Kinzler said. “People who work every day and try to take care of their families are getting swept up [too].”

After the call from the neighbor alerting her to her husband’s detention, Perez said she immediately began looking for him. She and her parents spent hours trying to track him down before she finally got a call from a toll-free number. It was her husband telling her to go pick up the car he left behind.

Ever since, Irma Perez said she has remained close to a phone, waiting for more news from her husband.

“I’m in shock because we always saw this in the news and it only happened to other people,” she said. “It had never happened in my family, and it feels awful because it changes your life.”

Kinzler said they can expect at least two weeks of legal procedures to get Torres out of detention. However, the timing depends on how full the court is.

“Because of the time he’s been here, because he has a clean history and U.S. citizen kids, I will be able to get him out on a bond,” Kinzler said.

Perez said her family will have to start rounding up money to free her husband and pay for attorney’s fees as he fights removal from the country.

Immigration lawyers advised Perez and her family to leave their home since ICE has their address on record. On Friday night, she moved her children and parents, who live with her, into her sister’s house.

Friday was the day Torres was going to open his own food truck, Sabor del Rancho, a dream his family said he’d nourished for years. Now, the trailer sits empty on North Lamar.

The family went to church Sunday and sang in the choir as they regularly do — without Torres, who was supposed to do his first solo performance at church. After mass, Irma and her daughters returned to her sister’s home. Sitting next to a candlelit altar with a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, they tearfully retold how quickly their lives had been turned upside down.

Torres’ 12-year-old daughter Melani — who is part of a college readiness program and hopes to become a computer engineer one day — said her father would always drop her off and pick her up from school, so she was surprised when her mother picked her up on Friday.

“I saw her with teary eyes, and she said, ‘You have no idea what happened,'” Melani said, speaking in both Spanish and English during the interview. “I thought she was kidding because my dad would never be caught by ICE, but then our neighbor confirmed the news, and my sisters and I started crying.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Reuters: immigration agents arrest 'Dreamer' in Seattle (The Hill)

Reuters: immigration agents arrest 'Dreamer' in Seattle

An immigrant from Mexico who has obtained a work permit since being brought into the country illegally as a child was arrested by authorities in Seattle, Reuters reported Tuesday. The arrest could mark the first immigration detention of its sort in President Trump's administration.

According to the report, the arrest of a 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina was conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers who originally showed up at Ramirez's residence to arrest the man's father.

Ramirez was a beneficiary of former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was designed to protect illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation and make them eligible to work legally.

DACA was established in 2012 and applies to approximately 750,000 immigrants, often called "Dreamers," Reuters noted.

President Trump has pledged to strengthen the U.S. immigration policy and significantly reduce illegal immigration within the country.

According to the report, Ramirez filed a legal challenge to his detention on Monday, arguing that the action was illegal due to his legitimate work permit. He also does not have a criminal record.

Ethan Dettmer, an attorney representing Ramirez, said that he hopes "this detention was a mistake."

Hundreds of immigrants have been detained and arrested during the last week, as the administration seeks to ramp up its deportation efforts.

ICE arrest witnessed by students in Charlotte causes alarm across NC (Triad City Beat)

ICE arrest witnessed by students in Charlotte causes alarm across NC

By Jordan Green - February 10, 2017

President Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration enforcement have caused mounting anxiety among undocumented people, educators and advocates across North Carolina, but a spokesperson for ICE says it’s business as usual.

Incidents that have caused alarm include a confirmed arrest witnessed by elementary students and school personnel on the west side of Charlotte on Thursday morning. The incident prompted an email from the principal to her staff.

“As many of you have heard or seen this morning, Immigration is arresting illegal immigrants in this area this morning,” Principal Cara Heath wrote to staff at Berryhill School in an email provided to Triad City Beat by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. “I know this is upsetting for the kids as well as all of you. Both staff and students watched as some immigrants were taken in on their routes to school this morning.

“Some of you may require counseling help today,” Heath continued, adding that a psychologist would be on site to assist.

Bryan D. Cox, the Southern region communications director for Immigrations Customs Enforcement, said he is aware of only one arrest in the vicinity of Berryhill School. He said the arrest took place 2.3 miles away from the school, on Wallace Neel Road, which runs along the perimeter of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Cox said the arrest was carried out by ICE’s fugitive operation team, and the individual taken into custody was a convicted felon with a felony forgery conviction, along with five driving while intoxicated convictions.

News of the arrest set off alarm among parents of students at Berryhill School, and Heath assured parents in an email on Thursday afternoon that, contrary to rumors, no immigration officers had set foot on the school campus.

“Teaching and learning was conducted as planned in every classroom today,” Heath told parents in the email. “We realize that reports of immigration activity is a very sensitive matter for our students and school families. Please know that we have counselors on site to provide any social emotional support needed at this time.”

Cox said ICE has not conducted enforcement actions at any schools in North Carolina, citing a 2011 memo from then Director John Morton directing agents to avoid making arrests at so-called “sensitive locations,” including schools, churches, hospitals, funerals and weddings, and public demonstrations. Cox emphasized that the order is still in force.

As a gauge of enforcement activity in the past week, Cox said ICE has made about 200 arrests in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, mostly involving individuals convicted of crimes, including murder, robbery, battery and domestic violence-related offenses.

“There’s been a lot of rumor this week alleging something new or expanded,” Cox said. “The fugitive operation team was focused on identifying and arresting individuals who pose the greatest threat to public safety. ICE only conducts targeted immigration enforcement. When they leave for the day they have a list of individuals that we’re looking for. We’re looking for specific individuals. It’s lead-driven enforcement and targeted enforcement. We do not conduct any random enforcement. The claims that have been floating around that have suggested this is something new — this is ongoing enforcement activity.”

Notwithstanding his insistence that ICE is prioritizing undocumented individuals who hold criminal convictions, Cox acknowledged that President Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order flattens distinctions by treating those with criminal convictions the same as individuals who “have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits” or are even suspected of having committed a crime. He said he couldn’t “speculate” on how the executive order might be implemented in the field, and otherwise referred questions about it to the media office at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that ICE launched a series of raids across the country on Thursday and Friday, marking what the newspaper called “the first largescale episode of immigration enforcement inside the United States” since the Jan. 25 executive order. The report said “immigration activists” had documented ICE raids in a dozen locations across the country, including Charlotte and Burlington in North Carolina, along with an ICE checkpoint somewhere in North Carolina.

Triad City Beat could not confirm the reports.

Viridiana Martinez, an organizer in Raleigh with Alerta Migratoria NC who advocates for undocumented people, said she had only heard about an immigration checkpoint in Apex, a town in Wake County, but emphasized that her group was never able to confirm the reports.

Cox said he had not read the Post article and said he didn’t know anything about the alleged incidents in North Carolina.

“If we were in fact there I can tell you categorically it was not a checkpoint or a raid,” he said. “We do not conduct any type of vehicle checkpoint, raid or indiscriminate sweep.”

The irony of the heightened concern about immigration enforcement under the Trump administration, Martinez said, is that undocumented people who had committed no offense other than being in the country illegally were already being deported in contravention to an Obama-era policy stating that only those with criminal records would be targeted. As an example, Martinez said her organization advocated on behalf of an Appalachian State University student who was arrested by ICE in 2016 without having committed any criminal offense other than being in the country illegally.

A series of arrests across the state in the early months of 2016 caused particular anxiety.

“The reality is that all of this stuff was happening already,” Martinez said. “I can’t tell you how afraid people were when the raids were leaked to the Washington Post in December 2015…. It was a bunch of teens picked up on their way to school that the Obama administration categorized as national security threats just so they could send this message to Latin America that we’re not going to welcome them.”

Trump’s election and the indiscriminate enforcement codified in the executive order at least brings the agency’s activity’s out into the open, she said.

“In a way I’m like, ‘Yay, I’m so glad we have this asshole who’s not trying to hide who he is, so people understand we have to fight these injustices,’” Martinez said. “He’s ugly and he doesn’t make any effort to hide it.”

If anything, Martinez said, the level of fear among immigrant families she’s encountered as an activist and legal assistant, was higher one year ago than it is today.

“We hadn’t seen that kind of thing before — I’ve heard of all kinds of stories of what they did last year to pick up these kids whose only crime was fleeing these countries [in Central America] that are overwhelmed by criminal cartels and gangs,” she said. “We’re picking them up and intercepting the cars they’re riding in and literally kidnapping them and asking for ransom.”

Andrew Willis Garcés, an organizer who works with undocumented young people in Guilford County, indicated that it remains to be seen whether ICE enforcement activities in North Carolina are playing out in a different way than they did in the past. Citing a recent report about an undocumented woman who was arrested on Wednesday after checking into an ICE office in Phoenix, Garcés said in an email: “It’s not clear yet if some of the other targeted actions [in North Carolina] in the past week or so (they were looking for specific people with convictions) were also somehow indiscriminate, more like the raids of 10 years ago, or not. But clearly in at least a few instances, supervising ICE agents are using a much broader definition of who is a ‘priority’ for deportation. Which is exactly what the orders directed ICE to do.”

Garcés credited local officials like Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan for publicly affirming a welcoming stance towards immigrants, but said many undocumented people are understandably worried that local governments will have little ability to intervene if the federal government undertakes a massive crackdown.

“I think as a community that we have to decide what risks we are willing to take in order to protect communities who are targeted, whether those communities are African-American or immigrant,” Garcés said. “What are we willing to do to create safety? How do we respond to laws that are designed only to harass, intimidate and even separate our neighbors from their families?”

Martinez said the horrified reaction of teachers across the state to deportations carried out against high school students under the Obama administration has created a foundation for resistance in the Trump era.

“Kids were being picked up on the way to school,” she said. “This is how the teachers got involved. Their kids are telling them they’re terrified.”

Martinez applauded a group of parents who addressed the Guilford County School Board with the support of their children’s teachers on Thursday evening.

“These moms are talking to local leaders, saying, ‘Please make the school safe for my kid,’” Martinez said. “That is what needs to be happening. I think there’s the win. With all the chaos, there’s all these people saying, ‘I can no longer sit idly by.’”

Monday, February 13, 2017

UPDATE: Illegal aliens who fled Saturday traffic stop now also in custody (Banner Graphic)

UPDATE: Illegal aliens who fled Saturday traffic stop now also in custody
Saturday, February 11, 2017

CLOVERDALE -- Eight illegal aliens are now in custody following a Saturday-morning traffic stop by an Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement trooper.

Six individuals were taken into custody at the time of the stop, while two others fled the scene and remained at large until they were arrested by Indiana State Police Sunday afternoon.

Indiana State Police reported that at 10 a.m. they received a tip that the two males could possibly be found at a local restaurant on Main Street in Cloverdale.

Troopers went to the establishment, located the males and took them into custody without incident.

At 8:56 a.m. Saturday, the trooper stopped a blue Toyota Sequoia with Texas registration for an unsafe lane movement violation near the 43-mile marker on eastbound Interstate 70, two miles east of Cloverdale.

During subsequent conversation with the driver, the trooper noticed indicators of possible criminal activity, Indiana State Police at Putnamville reported.

Further investigation revealed the eight passengers were illegal aliens with no identification, including a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy -- both reportedly without parents.

All the individuals involved are believed to be from the countries of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

The driver was believed to be en route from Houston, Texas, to Baltimore, Md., authorities said.

Six of the illegals were detained without incident, but two fled south from the I-70 traffic stop scene on foot into a field near the County Road 475 East overpass.

The investigation was conducted by the federal agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the first six individuals detained are in federal custody in Indianapolis.

ISP made no arrests on the initial incident, but the two men captured Sunday were arrested and booked in the Putnam County Jail. They will remain until agents from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency pick them up on Tuesday.

No criminal charges will be filed.

Assisting were the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and the Cloverdale Police Department.

Local immigration attorney says Monett on edge, feels fears mostly unwarranted (KY3-MO)

Local immigration attorney says Monett on edge, feels fears mostly unwarranted
By Sara Forhetz | Posted: Mon 6:22 PM, Feb 13, 2017 | Updated: Mon 6:26 PM, Feb 13, 2017

MONETT, Mo. Initial numbers show about 600 undocumented immigrants were picked up over the weekend-- to be deported. Now, many more are on edge across the U.S., and in Monett.

The Barry County town had two illegals arrested two weeks ago, both were working in the kitchen at the Ziggie's restaurant in Monett.

Fear is rising in the small town-- thinking who may be next.

"This is Alejandra and he is 16 years old... he is in school and he plays baseball, he loves baseball," explained Alejandra's mom, Anabell Groomer.

For Anabell, born and raised in Honduras, Monett, Missouri, USA-- is now home sweet home.

"I feel like I am from here now because I went back to my country and it was different... so I feel like I am from America!" she said. "I went to Kansas City and I did my test and then I got 6 questions of out 10 correct, and I got my citizenship and I become like you-- a citizen."

Anabell's helper-- is her husband, who's an immigration attorney in Monett.

"I love the Hispanic community. I went into law school to be an immigration attorney and it's very personal to me... absolutely," said attorney Darwin Groomer.

He's had potential clients pouring in over the last few days-- with fear. Groomer says he believes much of it, is unwarranted.

"ICE doesn't have the money, they don't have the resources to do door to door arrests... as long as ICE does not begin to go door to door and arbitrarily start profiling people... I mean, that's the fear.. but then the fear will eventually subside," Darwin said.

Groomer says if your record is clean-- you're likely fine. He and his wife are pushing people to go through the process legally... especially their loved ones.

"I have bunch of friends who are residents for a long time like my brother-- I've been asking him everyday... becoming a citizen... but he's afraid," Anabell said. "He's afraid... his English, he's still learning English."

Darwin says the time is too much to wait for some people.

"She's applied for her brother's permanent residence. He's going to have to wait 10 years to enter... and we're going about everything the right way... the process is too difficult, and if they could just make it more streamlined and more efficient," Darwin said.

"My brother, he worked for a company over there and he only make like 120-dollars a month-- and he worked from Monday through Saturday sometimes," Anabell said. "These same people can come to America do the same thing and make 500 bucks a week instead of 120 a month-- so it's just greater opportunity."

ICE agents picked up two kitchen workers for deportation at the Ziggies restaurant in Monett two weeks ago.

We know at least one had a criminal history-- and had a prior order to leave.

ICE says they are targeting illegal immigrants with a serious criminal record.

Suspected illegal aliens arrested in Hamburg (WKBW-NY)

Suspected illegal aliens arrested in Hamburg
WKBW Staff 9:57 PM, Feb 13, 2017

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) - U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 23 suspected illegal aliens at a convenience store in Hamburg on Monday.

The incident happened at the 7-Eleven located on Southwestern Boulevard near Sowles Road.

A spokesperson for the federal agency says the bust was not related to the store, but was the result of an encounter during patrol.

The suspects have been taken to a holding facility where they will be processed.

The incident is currently under investigation by U.S. Border Patrol.

84 people in North Carolina face deportation after ICE raids (

84 people in North Carolina face deportation after ICE raids
POSTED 6:46 PM, FEBRUARY 13, 2017, UPDATED AT 06:47PM, FEBRUARY 13, 2017

North Carolina is one of seven states where undocumented immigrants have been taken into custody in the past week. Of those, 84 people in North Carolina now face deportation.

President Donald Trump tweeted this weekend saying this is part of fulfilling his campaign promises, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seem to tell a different story.

In a statement Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said these arrests are routine and daily operations. He said in a series of "targeted enforcement operations," immigration officials targeted people who posed public safety threats, including criminals, gang members and people who re-entered the United States illegally after they were already removed.

In Washington, D.C., chanting protesters filled the streets outside the White House this weekend. They opposed ICE raids across the country.

Hundreds of undocumented people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Texas face deportation.

Here in the Piedmont, Chapman Law Firm says it's getting numerous calls from both legal and undocumented immigrants.

“They are really concerned about their safety and the safety of their family members. They’re terrified," Gerry Chapman said.

About 190 of those arrests happened in Georgia and the Carolinas. Most of them, 127 out of those 190, had "prior criminal convictions," according to ICE.

ICE did not release many specifics on who they arrested, but we were given one profile of a man arrested in Charlotte. He's a Mexican national who'd been previously convicted on three counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. He was deported once before and returned illegally again.

Some of the undocumented immigrants in custody will face criminal charges in the United States. Others will be moved through the legal process of being deported from the country.

In the same statement, ICE officials said while these raids are targeted, "reports of ICE checkpoints and sweeps are false, dangerous and irresponsible."

Trump commented on the arrests in a joint news conference with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday.

"I said in the beginning, we are going to get the bad ones," Trump said.

Trump bragged about the operation, which ICE has said is routine and was not tied to Trump's recent executive order dealing with interior security.

"We have really done a great job," he said. "We're actually taking people that are criminals, very, very hardened criminals in some cases, with a tremendous track record of abuse and problems, and we're getting them out."

Trump's executive order does give ICE officials the power to use their own discretion when making an arrest. They can decide whether that person poses a risk to public safety or national security, event if they have not been convicted of a criminal offense.

Right now, about 11 million undocumented people are believed to live in the U.S. During former President Barack Obama's terms, at least 2.5 million people were deported from the U.S. That number went up from about 2 million people deported during former President George W. Bush's terms.

Immigration enforcement surge across Midwest leads to 26 arrests in KC area (Kansas City Star)

Immigration enforcement surge across Midwest leads to 26 arrests in KC area
FEBRUARY 13, 2017 7:16 PM

A weeklong, multistate operation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency led to the arrests of 26 people in the Kansas City area and dozens more elsewhere in Kansas and Missouri, according to authorities.

The operation last week included six Midwestern states and unfolded over several days as similar actions netted hundreds more arrests in major metro areas across the country. On Sunday, rumors of immigration sweeps at Kansas City churches proved unfounded but pointed to widespread anxiety in the community.

Federal officials insist they have not made fundamental changes in enforcement actions and that the recent actions are part of regularly scheduled operations.

The arrests in the Kansas City area targeted people who had illegally entered the country and had been convicted of crimes, according to ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer. Some of those arrested had been convicted of charges that included drug and weapons possession, drunken driving and child abuse. Some had been convicted of illegal entry or minor traffic violations. Two did not appear to have faced a criminal charge but were present in the country without documents, Neudauer said.

Several of the arrests took place in surrounding cities, including Independence, Lawrence and Excelsior Springs. Most of those arrested had come from Mexico. Others came from Guatemala, Honduras and Ecuador. One man came from France.

The agency arrested another 32 people in Wichita, Dodge City, Garden City and surrounding areas, and 13 in the St. Louis area. The entire operation, across Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky, ended with 235 arrests.

In the wake of the arrests, and renewed fears of the widespread immigration crackdown promised by President Donald Trump, Kansas City Public Library officials have planned a letter-writing event to offer support to immigrants.

The Kansas-Missouri Dream Alliance, along with lawyers, faith leaders and other community organizations, mobilized Sunday to respond to the rumored sweeps at area churches.

ICE officials pushed back against those rumors Sunday, saying the agency does not set up checkpoints or conduct indiscriminate raids on immigrants.

Neudauer said the enforcement action last week was a regular practice that the agency has conducted for years and that it targeted specific individuals considered to be fugitive criminals.

Immigration enforcement teams make such arrests every day, Neudauer said. Actions like the one last week occur when all of the agency’s teams in a given region go out at once with lists of individuals to arrest.

Some of those arrested last week may be quickly deported if they have already been convicted of illegal re-entry, Neudauer said. Others may be held in custody or released on bond while their cases work through the courts.

Meanwhile, Trump on Sunday morning said that with the nationwide crackdown, he is keeping his campaign promise.

“The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise,” he tweeted. “Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”