Immigration raids across US spark protests | 2019-07-15

Immigration raids across US spark protests

♦ Raids expected to target 2,000 migrants in nearly a dozen cities
♦ Vigils held from Los Angeles to Berlin

15 July, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Immigration raids conducted by the Trump administration are expected in major US cities on Sunday, a prospect that has sparked vigils, protests, condemnation and fear.

The raids are expected to target roughly 2,000 migrants in the US illegally but the prospect has rippled terror through broad swaths of migrant communities. Vigils were held from Los Angeles to as far afield as Berlin on Friday, as a broad coalition of progressive groups condemned the raids.

“This administration’s deliberate terrorizing of immigrant families and communities grows worse every day,” Mary Bauer, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, told the Guardian.

“The continued mistreatment of children held in detention facilities, the attacks on our asylum system, and the assaults on immigrant communities through threatened raids show that this administration’s priority is terrorizing communities and not solving our nation’s immigration problems.”

Undocumented migrants described to the Guardian plans to buy groceries, in anticipation of locking themselves indoors. Businesses which rely on migrant labor reported employees staying home from work.

The planned law enforcement actions come on the heels of congressional testimony about “horrifying” conditions inside migrant detention facilities at the southern border, which have been described as overcrowded, filthy and under-resourced.

Twenty-four immigrants have died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) custody during the Trump administration.

As recently as Friday evening, reporters with Vice-President Mike Pence visited a border station in McAllen, Texas, and described overcrowded conditions in which men were held in cages in “sweltering” heat where the “stench was horrendous”.

Pence described the conditions as “tough stuff”.

Because Ice detention facilities are operating with limited capacity, immigration officials had publicly floated the idea of using hotels to hold those seized following the raids.

That prompted one chain, Marriott, to say it would not allow its buildings to be used as detention centers for the federal government. Ice officials responded that they would be forced to separate families if they lack capacity.

Early on Saturday, in Tacoma near Seattle, police said a man armed with a rifle was shot dead after he threw incendiary devices at a migrant detention center run privately for the federal Department of Homeland Security.

The shooting took place about six hours after a peaceful rally in front of the detention center on Friday night, a police spokesman said. A rally planned for Saturday was moved.

The Tacoma Northwest Detention Center holds migrants pending deportation and has also held migrant parents separated from children under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy.

In Chicago on Saturday, around 5,000 protesters marched against Trump’s immigration policies, belting chants critical of the president and Ice. Police said the protest was peaceful and there were no arrests. Chicago is a target city.

Demonstrations were held in other cities including Phoenix, which is not expected to be among the cities raided. On Friday night, dozens of protesters blocked a downtown street and disrupted light rail traffic. Police arrested 16.