The ICE raids were announced with a presidential Tweet, and have sparked fears, anger and protests.
This weekend, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is expected to target least 2,000 immigrants who have been previously ordered deported, reportedly in a series of raids across the country.
Nine American cities are reportedly being targeted for the raids, including New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles.
Despite the vast scale of what authorities apparently are planning, however, the crackdown mirrors kind of enforcement actions that has been often seen in New Jersey and elsewhere that are regularly conducted by authorities, often netting hundreds of arrests.
Back in May, for example, ICE enforcement teams picked up 13 immigration violators across New Jersey, arresting those who have been issued a final order of removal in the past five years, failed to depart the United States, or had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.
Whats different this time is not only the vast numbers being contemplated, but the advance word of what is coming.
Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
News of the raids has also stoked fears in the immigrant community that the arrests could go well beyond those with deportation orders. ICE agents in raids frequently encounter others here illegally when they go after targeted individuals facing deportation, and will arrest them as well.
Many elected officials nationwide have been sharply critical, among them New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who publicly pushed back on Friday, saying that the state is proactively reaching out to immigrant communities to let them know of available assistance.
Lets be clear: The Trump Administrations fear-mongering is un-American and dangerous. These raids do not make us safer; they will only make the work of local law enforcement more challenging and increase fears in our hardworking immigrant communities, said the governor in a statement. Any family who needs legal representation should know there are many pro bono legal services available to them.
He said the state will be doing everything it can to highlight these resources and to make sure the states immigrant communities know their rights and feel at home.
WHAT DO WE KNOW?
Nine cities are expected to be targeted in raids starting this weekend. The cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.
Raids in New Orleans were put on hold due to the approach of a major tropical storm along the Gulf Coast.
It is unclear where they might be detained, but the administration has said it will seek quick deportation.
WHO IS BEING TARGETED?
Supposedly, the enforcement effort ordered by President Donald Trump is going over those who are already facing deportation. Trump tweeted in June that it would be the start of an effort to deport millions of people who are in the country illegally.
That's a near-impossibility, say some, given the limited resources of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It's also slightly unusual to target families as opposed to immigrants with criminal histories but not unprecedented.
ICE officials said this week that they sent about 2,000 letters in February to people in family units who had already received final orders to leave the country.
But there could also be so-called collateral arrests. ICE agents can detain people they discover to be in the U.S. illegally while searching for targets on their list. People who answer agents questions about someone else sometimes end up arrested themselves. In one case in Houston last year, a young father of five was arrested in the parking lot of his apartment building after ICE agents asked him about people who lived nearby, then demanded his identification and eventually detained him.
Such collateral arrests can comprise a large portion of the arrests in any operation. In a December 2017 operation in northern Kentucky, just five of the 22 arrests were people who were originally targeted, according to agency documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
WHAT CAN ICE DO?
The agency is in charge of arresting and deporting immigrants who lack legal status.
One common method of finding people who are known to be in the country illegally is for local jails to hold those who have been arrested on crimes past their release date. That allows ICE to look into their status. These are known as "detainers," but they have become increasingly unpopular. Some local governments complain that detainers put their officials at legal risk and that local authorities should not be doing the work of federal authorities.
ICE also arrests people the old-fashioned way, by tracking them down and showing up at their homes or workplaces. But limited staff and resources constrain their ability to make multiple large-scale arrests at a time.
HOW DOES A SWEEP HAPPEN?
Authorities typically have a list of people they are targeting and administrative warrants giving them permission to detain those people for violating immigration law. They visit a targeted person's addresses, usually a home or workplace. They may interview relatives, neighbors, co-workers or managers.
During its sweep through New Jersey in May, among those arrested were citizens of El Salvador, Ecuador, Jamaica and Mexico who had prior criminal convictions or were facing pending charges. All four had been ordered removed by a federal immigration judge.
The vast majority of the individuals targeted in this effort have criminal offenses in addition to their immigration violations, making them among the highest priority for enforcement, said John Tsoukaris, who heads Enforcement and Removal Operations for ICEs Newark Field Office, following those arrests.
Some of those detained also faced federal criminal prosecution for illegal re-entry after they had been removed from the country. Others were to be processed administratively for possible deportation from the United States.
HOW ARE IMMIGRANT ADVOCATES RESPONDING?
Activists have been bracing for an increase of activity and have offered more training for immigrants to know their rights in case authorities show up.
In New Jersey, attorney Nicole Miller, legal services director for the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, said her group had been working with other legal services providers, pro bono attorneys volunteering their time, and immigrant rights groups to plan responses to the possible raidsincluding strategies to provide legal representation if New Jersey immigrants are swept up in the anticipated raids.
Miller said American Friends Service Committee is also working with the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and other immigrant rights groups to plan community responses to the raids and to provide critical information to immigrant communities about their rights.
American Friends Service Committee has conducted Know Your Rights presentations at several local churches since the president first tweeted about the raids, we did a Know Your Right segment on Univision last week and we have a staff person doing a FaceTime Live Know Your Rights session today for the NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice, she said.
DO THOSE BEING TARGETED HAVE ANY RIGHTS?
Those at home do not have to open the door to any immigration agent or to the police unless they have a valid arrest or search warrant, according to the American Friends Service Committee.
Anyone stopped in their car has the right to remain silent, and can refuse consent to search your car. If someone is detained, they have the right to remain silent and the right to make a phone call, among other rightsinformation that is available on the AFSC website: https://www.afsc.org/resource/know-your-rights-immigrant-english-and-spanish.
If an immigration agent requests someones immigration papers, they must show them if you have them with you, said the American Civil Liberties Union. Those detained by ICE have the right to contact their consulate or can ask to have an officer inform their consulate of their detention.
In anticipation of the raids, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday on behalf of several non-profit immigrant advocacy groups asking the courts to protect those arrested in the raids.
The ACLU said those arrested have the right to a hearing to challenge a deportation order, unless you waive your right to a hearing, or agree to something called a Stipulated Removal Order, or take voluntary departure. They also have the right to an attorney, but the government does not have to provide one. Many advocacy groups provide lists of where to find free or low-cost legal assistance.
WHERE DO MOST UNAUTHORIZED IMMIGRANTS LIVE?
In 2017, an estimated 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the United States, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007.
According to the Pew Research Center, six states account for 57 percent of unauthorized immigrants living in this country: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois.
Pew said from 2007 to 2017, individual states experienced different trends. The unauthorized immigrant population decreased in a dozen states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Oregon. In five states, the unauthorized immigrant population rose over the same period: Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Currently, about 450,000 unauthorized immigrants live in New Jersey, according to Pew.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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