ICE Arrests Spark Fear In Ga.’s Immigrant Communities | WABE 90.1 FM

ICE Arrests Spark Fear In Ga.’s Immigrant Communities

Feb 14, 2017

Recent arrests of unauthorized immigrants have sparked fear in some immigrant communities after federal officials arrested hundreds of people last week in several states, including Georgia.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said it arrested 87 people in Georgia, as well as 84 people in North Carolina and 19 in South Carolina.

Victoria, who spoke with WABE’s "Closer Look" Monday, said her husband Fredy was arrested by immigration officials last Wednesday as he was crossing the street.

Her daughter, Evelyn, has since missed several days of school to be with her mother. Victoria said she’s afraid she might be next.

“She said 'Right now we’re just trying to move because she’s scared they’re going to go back and they’re going to get her,'” said Evelyn, translating for her mother who spoke in Spanish.

Officials have said the arrests of unauthorized immigrants are routine and targeted, but advocates say they fear it's the beginning of more deportations.

“What we're hearing from the community is different. And my concerns are the latitude that is being taken by ICE in terms of who is being targeted and how people are being taken in,” said local immigrant rights activist Bee Nguyen to WABE’s "Closer Look."

President Donald Trump's executive order last month expanded the priorities of those the Department of Homeland Security should target for deportation.

Federal immigration officials said 127 of the 190 arrested across Georgia, North and South Carolina had prior criminal convictions. The agency described the arrests as part of “routine, daily targeted operations” by the agency’s fugitive operations teams. Across the country, the Department of Homeland Security said more than 680 arrests were made.

In fiscal year 2016, ICE officers arrested and deported about 1250 people a week on average, but only about 250 of those arrests were from arrests made in the community by fugitive operations teams, according to data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Most individuals were not arrested in the community, but arrested first by another law enforcement agency before being placed in ICE custody, the report said.

Trump in a tweet called the actions a crackdown and merely the keeping of his campaign promise.

"ICE conducts these kind of targeted enforcement operations regularly and has for many years. The focus of these enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations teams on a daily basis, " Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement Monday.

"President Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation 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," he said.

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