Local elected officials and community organizations are rallying around New York’s immigrant communities as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are planning to arrest thousands of undocumented immigrants for deportation starting Sunday. The raids are expected to take place over multiple days in New York City and at least nine other major cities, reports NY 1.
ICE agents will be targeting more than 2,000 immigrants who either missed their court dates or ignored deportation orders, officials said. This may also include “collateral” deportations, meaning agents may detain immigrants who happened to be present, even though they were not the initial targets.
In February, many of these immigrant families were given notice to report to an ICE office and leave the United States, reports the NY Times. President Donald Trump first announced the raids three weeks ago via Twitter, but postponed them due to resistance from homeland security officials who raised concerns that many of the targeted families might have left the addresses known to ICE.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called the raids a “shameful assault on families across the country.”
“There are multiple reports that the Trump administration will launch its previously announced blitz of ICE raids across the country this Sunday, including here in New York,” said Cuomo. “This will no doubt lead to further separations of children from their parents and ‘collateral arrests’ by ICE, where individuals with no orders of deportation will be detained.”
Brooklyn is home to nearly 950,000 foreign-born residents—nearly 40 percent of the borough’s population. It is estimated that close to 190,000 immigrants in Brooklyn are undocumented. Among U.S. counties, Brooklyn ranks ninth in total undocumented residents. Over a quarter of the borough’s undocumented immigrants live with a child who was born in the United States, highlighting the potential impact deportations may have on separating parents from their children.
Local organizations like the Brooklyn Community Foundation are raising funds to support immigrant-serving nonprofits. The nonprofit established its own Immigrant Rights Fund within days after the 2016 presidential election, in response to the divisive, xenophobic rhetoric from the Trump administration, and the mounting fear within Brooklyn’s immigrant communities, said BCF President Cecilia Clarke.
“Brooklyn is ‘Ground Zero’ when it comes to these raids,” said Clarke. “What people are reading in the headlines about the raids is deeply affecting our Brooklyn community, which includes close to 200,000 undocumented immigrants. We started the fund to defend the freedoms of our neighbors. All funds go directly to Brooklyn-based, immigrant-serving organizations who are the trusted messengers of the communities terrorized by these threats and attacks.”
To learn more about the BCF’s Immigrant Rights Fund and to support, go here.
Meanwhile, New York lawmakers and immigrants rights’ advocates are strongly condemning the Trump administration’s plans and are sharing information on how immigrants and their loved ones can protect themselves.
“These ICE raids are nothing more than a bigoted strategy that terrorizes more than 2,000 immigrants and will cause the separation of even more families,” said Congresswoman Ivette D. Clarke, who represents the Ninth Congressional District including Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Brownsville. “Trump’s immigration policies are inhumane and reflect the darkest parts of our history. I vow to remain a leader in Congress who is working to protect our beloved immigrant community while resisting Donald Trump, and I encourage immigrants within my district to contact my office to understand their rights.”
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez of the Seventh Congressional District, which includes Bushwick and East New York, emphasized NYC’s sanctuary city status and that the NYPD does not cooperate with ICE agents. She is currently working on a bill to prohibit immigration officers from wearing any clothing bearing the word “police.” By displaying the word “police” on their uniforms, immigration officers blur the line between law enforcement and immigration officials, and critics contend that conflating the two means immigrants are less likely to cooperate with local law enforcement when there are serious crimes.
“Our immigrant neighbors need to know that NYPD is not working with ICE and that they can report crimes and law-breaking to local police,” said Velázquez. “When there’s confusion between immigration enforcement and law enforcement, all of us are made less safe.”
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs stressed that all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, need to know that they have rights and protections under the law.
“If you are worried about what the president’s actions could mean for you and your loved ones—particularly if you have ever been in deportation proceedings, have received an order from immigration court or have concerns about your immigration status—call the ActionNYC hotline at 1-800-354-0365 to receive free and safe immigration legal help,” said Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
The Office of Immigrant Affairs has also published fact sheets in several languages to prepare New Yorkers for possible encounters with immigration enforcement, as well as a list of city-funded services that offer legal representation and emergency planning, such as parental designations and standby guardianship planning, which is available through ActionNYC by calling the hotline at 1-800-354-0365.