Weekend Immigration Raids have Local Communities on Edge and Advocates up in Arms

We're learning more about a wave of deportation arrests in the city. Homeland Security officials are providing details about some of the undocumented immigrants who have been arrested, saying most are criminals. But advocates are raising doubts whether most of those arrested pose any real threat as Queens Reporter Ruschell Boone reports.

As they go about their lives, many immigrants in the city are in a panic, following enforcement operations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Christian Bolanos, from Peru, is one of them.

"It's just a lot of terror and fear," Bolanos said. "Like everybody is just scared to go out and even like go to work and stuff. 

ICE said Monday that 680 undocumented immigrants have been arrested in five states this week — 41 of them in the city. The agency revealed that 38 of those 41 people had criminal convictions, including a gang member from El Salvador, and a Jamaican national and a Mexican convicted of sexually assaulting minors. But immigration advocates are skeptical of all the enforcement activity.

"You for example just shared 3 cases out of 41," said Natalia Aristizabal, lead organizer for Make the Road New York. "What were the cases for the rest of those families?"

Homeland Security insists the arrests are part of the routine, targeted enforcement normally conducted by ICE agents focusing on criminals. But the operation follows an executive order signed by President Trump that suggests nearly all undocumented immigrants can be prioritized for deportation. Monday Trump said he's just doing what he said he would.

"If people have not committed big offenses they are actually able to go back to their families after doing whatever time they have to do," Aristizabal said.

Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted he's: "troubled by lack of transparency and due process violations in ICE enforcement actions."

Ice says reports of sweeps and checkpoints are false, dangerous and irresponsible, and that they create panic and put communities and law enforcement in unnecessary danger.  Advocates say talk of a checkpoint on Roosevelt Avenue in Corona were completely untrue.

Many advocates are asking people to stop spreading false information because that is helping to cause panic here.

Christian Bolanos was happy to hear there were not any sweeps, but he is still uneasy about his future and the future of some of his family and friends.  

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