Fearing a raid, some hadn’t left their house in days. They skipped work and school. The rumors ran rampant that officials were targeting places like Staten Island Mall, Southern State Parkway, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
But it turned out those were just rumors, at least in New York City. An actual raid happened in Texas, Georgia and North Carolina targeting 121 Central American immigrants who had arrived in the country in the last 18 months and had lost their cases to stay or had not appeared in court.
So in an effort to learn about their rights, immigrants gathered at El Centro del Inmigrante, an immigrant rights group that’s teaching them what to do in case of a raid or a collateral arrest.
“Do not open the door. Remain silent and do not speak. Or say that you want to speak to a lawyer,” said Thomas Angelillo, a lawyer with El Centro. “Ask to see an arrest warrant.”
In case of a raid in a public space, “don’t run, that’s the most important thing,” an attendee at the meeting added.
All useful information because although the raids did not happen in New York, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said that the agency IS conducting business as usual: “We have fugitive teams in New York tasked with final orders of removal.”
That news could not be worse for many. “We are afraid to go out,” Maria, a 22-year-old from Ecuador said. “The fear has affected my heart.”
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