Approximately forty New York immigrants have been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in raids this week. Those arrested were from New York City and surrounding areas. Many appear to have been caught in Staten Island. At least one arrestee was from Suffolk County.
ICE raids have taken place in a dozen states around the country over the last week, rounding up six hundred immigrants. Although ICE said these raids were “routine” and that they were planned long before President Trump took office, Trump himself tweeted this morning, “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise.”
ICE claims that there were no “sweeps” or “checkpoints” established as part of the raids. “Sweeps” involve ICE agents going into neighborhoods and asking people randomly for their immigration papers. “Checkpoints” are set up on streets to check the documentation of those in cars or on foot. ICE also says that most of those arrested had criminal convictions, but no proof of that has been forthcoming so far.
In its press release, ICE denounced community groups for spreading rumors of checkpoints and sweeps and thereby “creating mass panic.” I would note that it is ICE, not community groups that are creating mass panic. Contrary to ICE’s claims, these raids were not routine. They were carried out in a coordinated manner across a number of states and ICE publicized them extensively in the media, not something they typically do. It is obvious that the raids were planned to publicize the new president’s policies on immigration.
I am very careful in reporting on raids to be accurate about the details. With a third of a century of experience as an immigration lawyer, I know that a false rumor of a raid can be almost as damaging as a raid itself. People lose days of work when they stay home because they hear about raids taking place. They keep their kids home from school, they don’t shop or go to church. Everyone should be careful of repeating unconfirmed rumors of ICE raids. That being said, the discrepency between the ICE press release and the president’s tweet make me question whether either source can be trusted.
Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, denounced the raids this morning, saying, “We are horrified and angered by the ICE raids and activity in the greater New York area that has led to the arrest and detainment of 40 people.” He said ICE should be ashamed for “putting New York’s immigrant communities – four million strong – in a state of panic.”