Brooklyn Boro

Immigrant communities in Brooklyn brace for possible ICE raids

July 12, 2019 Kelly Mena
Protesters outside Sen. Chuck Schumer's home. Eagle photo by Kevin Limiti

Support networks for Brooklyn’s immigrant communities are bracing for a possible raid on undocumented city residents this weekend by ramping up their informational and outreach efforts.

Earlier this week, immigration officials and President Donald Trump hinted at upcoming raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with several media outlets reporting that the roundup is set for Sunday, according to NPR.

The effort is part of a larger push by the administration to crack down on at least 2,000 immigrants for deportation across 10 major cities. The main targets are recently arrived migrant families who have already had an order of deportation issued against them.

Organizations like Make The Road NY are beginning to send out manuals with information on the rights of undocumented immigrants, hoping to spread information to as many individuals as possible ahead of the expected roundup.

“[I]n the face of these attacks, our community is asserting its fundamental rights — we are proactively sharing resources with our families and friends and we are prepared to defend ourselves,” said Natalia Aristizabal, co-director of organizing at Make The Road NY, in a statement.

Chart via the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs
Chart via the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

One Brooklyn-based organization, Pakistani American Youth Society, which caters to Middle Eastern communities, plans to get out the news by going out directly and meeting with local residents.

“You know one of the first things we are going to do is start handing out material in different languages and making sure people know the ‘do-and-don’ts,’” Khaseif Hussain, founder of PAYS, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The organization also plans to hand out reading material at local subway stations, to visit local shops to educate merchants and customers about their rights and to reach out to college students so they can educate undocumented family members.

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Other organizations have been gearing up for an order like this for weeks, following Trump’s initial announcement on social media back on June 17, in which he stated that the immigration agency was to begin rounding up “millions” of undocumented immigrants, according to Vox.

“Over the last week, we’ve been doing ‘Know Your Rights’ forums in Brooklyn,” Nayim Islam, an immigrant rights organizer at Desis Rising Up and Moving, told the Eagle. “We know these things happen, and we can’t always just be reacting to the raids but preparing in advance. Part of the issue is when these things happen it creates panic and confusion because of a lack of preparation and that is a tactic the administration wants to use against us. It’s important that we stay organized, prepared and connected to other communities.”

Brooklyn Defender Services has been advising potential targeted communities of their legal rights in the case of a raid.

“Crucially, if ICE is at your door: do not open the door; ask to see a warrant signed by a judge; and if they do not have a judicial warrant, tell them ‘I do not consent to your entry. Please leave.’ ICE officers cannot legally forcibly enter your home without a judicial warrant — they may have a warrant of removal but this does not allow them to enter without your consent,” BDS wrote in a statement earlier today.

New York City is one of many sanctuary cities across the country that protects undocumented immigrants by not prosecuting them for living in the country illegally. This expands to the NYPD, which does not conduct federal immigration enforcement.

Nearly 1 million immigrants live in Brooklyn, with a little over 13 percent being undocumented immigrants, according to the city’s immigration agency. The borough is also home immigrant populations of Chinese, Haitian and Caribbean residents.

Sanctuary cities have often thwarted Trump’s anti-immigration policy initiatives since he took office in 2016. Trump has a history of announcing efforts and funding changes specifically targeting sanctuary cities in a bid to get top federal democrats to concede to changing immigration laws and border policy.

“In the face of heartless raids that would tear families apart, we remain steadfast in our commitment to defend immigrant communities,” said Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the city’s immigration agency, in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, who represents a large Caribbean population across Flatbush and East Flatbush, denounced the measure as a scare tactic meant to dehumanize immigrant communities.

“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 Clarke in a statement. “Trump’s immigration policies are inhumane and reflect the darkest parts of our history — this must come to an end.”

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