Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in New York City are engaging in an arrest strategy called Operation Matador. The operation is an attempt by law enforcement to arrest suspected gang members, according to ICE. The operation focuses more on people associated with MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha. However, reports from CBS and AlterNet have cast doubt on its integrity. Officers are now being accused of using the operation to detain undocumented immigrants rather than targeting gang members. ICE has arrested nearly 350 people in the New York area in connection with Operation Matador .
Recently, a group of almost 32 undocumented teenagers were detained as part of the operation. Officials suspected the teens were members of MS-13, as reported by The New York Times. The teens, who are not identified because of their age, were held in centers across the country until a judge decided that immigration officials did not have enough evidence to detain them, according to NPR. Officers arrested one teen because they believed him to be associated with gang members.
“Arrests were based on nothing more than a third-hand report from an unidentified local police officer that a child was wearing a certain article of clothing or was seen with certain people,” William Freeman, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told NPR.
CBS This Morning followed ICE officers in New York as they made an arrest of a 20-year-old man. According to the report, ICE agents had photos of the young man flashing gang signs but it is not illegal to be a member of a gang. Yet, the officers told CBS that they would use the gang affiliation against the man in immigration court to deny him a chance at bail.
“The purpose of classifying him as a gang member or a gang associate is because once he goes in front of an immigration judge, we don’t want him to get bail, because the whole point of this operation is to get these known gang members off the street,” Jason Molina, the assistant special agent at the arrest, told CBS This Morning.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made an appearance at Bronx Pride 2019 on Sunday, where she gave an air horn-accompanied address that she called “The most BX pride speech I ever gave.”
As the Puerto Rican congressional freshman, who hails from the borough, shouted LGBTQ policy points she has advocated for in her five months in elected office, spectators blasted “bwa-bwa-bwa-bwaaah” air horns, a familiar sound to the community that birthed hip-hop.
“They really cued up the horns for our policy points. There’s no place like home,” she later tweeted alongside a couple laughing-crying emojis.
During her short talk, AOC touched on what Pride, a time to commeorate the trans women of color-led Stone Wall riots that birthed the gay rights movement and led to the LGBTQ battles and wins of today, means.
“Pride is about honoring the community workers, the people who work in the clinics, the community organizers, the people who work with LGBTQ youth, the people who are fighting to make sure that it’s not just about marriage equality, but quality of life for all people in the community,” she said.
The congresswoman also highlighted some of the biggest issues impacting queer communities at the moment.
“What does the LGBTQ fight mean in a post-marriage-equality world? Here’s what it means: It’s making PrEP free for all people,” she said, as an air horn blasted.
In Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has led the fight for affordable PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which could decrease the spreading of HIV during sexual intercourse, criticizing the CEO of Gilead, the pharmaceutical company behind the PrEP drug Truvada, in May during a congressional hearing over the high cost of the drug.
“It means tackling the homelessness crisis among our LGBTQ youth,” she continued, with the sound of another “bwa-bwa-bwa-bwaaah” following.
“It means decarcerating our society so that no trans woman and no person ever dies again in custody,” she said, alluding to the death of transgender Afro-Latina Layleen Polanco earlier this month in New York’s Rikers Island, as another round of air horns exploded.
“It means no one is denied a job because of their gender identity, no matter what it is,” she said to a final blast.
Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only elected official at Bronx Pride. State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Senator Chuck Schumer were also in attendance, supporting and taking photos with those who participated in the parade.
Since taking office, the young congresswoman has made issues confronting the LGBTQ community a top priortity.
News broke over the weekend that President Trump would be delaying planned immigration raids throughout the country. He tweeted that the deportation operations would be postponed by two weeks to see if Congress can make changes to asylum laws and work out legislative groundwork with Democrats.
As news of the roundups became public knowledge on Friday, faith and immigration groups prepared and informed communities of their rights and procedures in case of an interaction with ICE officials. But the sudden abrupt reversal did little to relieve or reassure immigrants and their supporters.
Migrant communities across the country are becoming familiar with this feeling.
President Trump’s reversal came as immigrant advocates prepared undocumented immigrants for a highly publicized operation. ICE officials were expected to target more than 2,000 families with pending deportations orders. But even with a delay, fears are mounting for many who don’t know what to expect next for themselves and their families.
Marjorie Murillo, a community liaison specialist for Miami Dade Public Schools, says that President Trump’s delayed immigration raids do nothing but toy with immigrant communities livelihoods.
“We don’t trust him in any way,” Murillo told NBC News. “I’ve been calling and sending messages everywhere that they are postponed, but where I live, parents and everyone, they are never safe.”
This isn’t the first time President Trump has used immigration fear tactics to push for legislation.
Back in 2017, President Trump attempted to terminate the Obama-era program that protected so-called Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. It was a failed attempt to pressure Congress in passing an immigration bill that included new restrictions on legal immigration. Earlier this year, a 35-day government shutdown ended without Democrats agreeing to the president’s terms, funding for a border wall.
There has been pushback from politicians and immigration advocates that are calling the raids unjust.
According to CNN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Trump Friday night and asked him to call off the raids. It was the next day that the President would announce the delay. Pelosi approved of President Trump’s announced delay and said it would give Congress enough time to work on immigration reform.
“Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together,” Pelosi tweeted.
Some are calling the move a tactic to help benefit Trump’s effort to secure funding for immigration enforcement. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are currently in the midst of negotiating legislation to allocate funds to different agencies, that includes ICE. The agency is dealing with record large-scale migration of Central American families and unaccompanied children to the U.S.-Mexico border, currently at a 13-year high.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been one of the strongest advocates against ICE deportations. The organization says President Trump’s immigration policies have installed fears in communities across the country.
“Our communities shouldn’t have to live in fear that parents won’t come home from work, or kids won’t return from school, or a knock at the door could rip a family apart,” the ACLU said in a tweet. “This isn’t Donald Trump’s America, it’s ours. We can resist his deportation agenda — together.”
Many on social media are using their platform to share tips and advice in case an individual finds themselves interacting with ICE.
Within hours that news broke that immigration raids would be happening, people took to social media to share helpful tips. From informing people to stay in their homes and to not answer their doors, by the time President Trump announced the delay on Saturday, people were ready.
Images across social media showed ICE checkpoints and areas of interest where deportation officials might show up. But even as more time is given to prepare for the worst-case scenarios, many aren’t taking any risks.
“He’s making an announcement as if these deportations are not already happening,” Murillo said. “He’s saying if Democrats don’t do what I want them to do, deportations will start in two weeks. Deportations have been happening since he went into office. It’s coming, maybe it will turn a little bit, stay on guard. We can’t ever let our guard down.”