Fear of ICE raids prompts warnings, advice to undocumented residents

July 3 (UPI) — The Trump administration’s threat of immigration raids after the Fourth of July has prompted a surge of fear in minority communities across the country.

In response, non-profit groups have begun to warn undocumented residents to beware of law enforcement officers and to be aware of their rights if detained.

“We really want them to know not to open the door at home, or windows,” said Nancy Batista, Florida director for Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit organization that helps people apply for citizenship and the right to vote.

“The moment you open the door slightly they will push it open, and they will then seek out other people in the house. We’ve seen this happen,” Batista said.

The group planned a meeting with about 20 other nonprofit groups in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, part of the Trust Orlando Coalition, to plan a community response to raids.

Batista and others also warned that Florida’s new law against texting while driving is a new tool for law enforcement. Their advice is to make sure you don’t leave home without proper identification.

“Even if you are a citizen, and you are pulled over and can’t prove it, the deportation process can be started at that time,” she said. “We are advising people not sign any paperwork, as we’ve seen people mistakenly sign papers to waive their rights. You have the right to remain silent and to get an attorney.”

Trump’s warning

President Donald Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, “After July 4, a lot of people are going to be brought back out.”

He had announced the raids on Twitter weeks earlier, saying that “millions” of illegal immigrants would be apprehended and deported. But he delayed the raids while Congress was in recess for the holiday.

Edwin Olguin Martinez, 24, of Orlando, began filling out an application to become a citizen this week out of fear of the raids and the ongoing crackdown on illegal immigration. He is a legal resident with a green card who moved with his family to Florida from Mexico when he was 6 years old.

“I have friends who are afraid to go to big events or to go out much on weekends,” he said. “My family is legal, but I know friends whose families are of mixed status. Just knowing that families could be split up, with some deported, that does worry me.”

During a gathering in Orlando, Olguin Martinez said he’s mystified by animosity toward undocumented residents. He said he knows many who are hard workers who pay taxes.

“Throughout my years I’ve heard about raids, but this president seems to be making it very personal, calling people from Mexico rapists and drug dealers. For some reason, he has something against us as people,” he said.

Across the country, the threat of ICE raids has put the immigrant community in Denver on alert, said Jamie Torres, of the city’s Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships.

‘A sense of panic’

Even though ICE enforcement actions are “a reality” in the Denver area, she said, the president’s threat “sends the [immigrant] community into a frenzy because they are so unsure of what to do and where to be,” she said. “It pushes the community into a sense of panic.”

The agency released information in 10 languages for immigrants to know their rights if ICE agents come to the door.

Denver police have announced that the agency does not coordinate with ICE on deportation roundups.

“The Denver Police Department does not assist ICE with immigration enforcement actions,” an email from the department said. “If they request assistance due to an emergency, we will respond just like we do when anyone asks for help.”

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement: “We want to reiterate that Denver stands with our immigrant and refugee families, that we do not support family separation or the roundup of immigrant families to spread fear in our community.

“Denver will always stand with families fleeing violence and do whatever we can to prevent the inhumane practice of family separation. We are an inclusive, compassionate and welcoming city and the threats of this White House, which are only a distraction from its failures, will never weaken our resolve,” he said.

In Aurora, Colo., home to the state’s largest immigrant community, Police Chief Nick Metz said in a statement, “Aurora Police Officers DO NOT have the authority to detain a person based on their immigration status.

“They also DO NOT have the authority to investigate or enforce federal immigration laws. They do not and will not ask a person about their immigration status. It is not our practice to report to other agencies who we speak with or what their immigration status is for being in this country or in our city.

“We base our policy on public safety. It is our goal to ensure that all individuals within Aurora feel safe when it comes to reporting emergencies and criminal activity.”

Denver ICE spokeswoman Alethea Smock said in a statement that the agency did not release information about planned actions ahead of time to help ensure the safety of its agents.

“ICE does not conduct raids. ICE performs daily, targeted immigration enforcement operations, which maintain the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and also help improve public safety by removing criminal aliens from local communities,” she said.

“Many of these reports [of planned raids] are baseless rumors,” she said in an email. In an interview, Smock said the agency gave priority to “arresting criminals,” but she would neither confirm nor deny that ICE was looking for immigrants in the Denver area who had no criminal conviction but had missed a court date.

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