Sunset Park

LISTEN: Here’s how Sunset Park is combating ICE

The neighborhood is mobilizing after immigration raids.

July 25, 2019 Scott Enman, Paul Frangipane, Lawrence Madsen
Protesters outside Sen. Chuck Schumer's home. Eagle photo by Kevin Limiti

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Daily life in many immigrant neighborhoods has been disrupted by these disconcerting visits. Particularly in Sunset Park, one of New York City’s most diverse neighborhoods, where ICE has attempted at least four raids since July 13.

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who represents the neighborhood, knows that community better than most. Following the initial raids, Menchaca said the neighborhood lacked its normal vibrant energy.

“Immediately after the ICE raids, we saw people stay indoors,” he said, adding. “People weren’t in the parks that morning, and people weren’t shopping in the streets, and Sunset Park has a rich weekend culture of shopping.

In response to the raids, the area’s local community groups sprang into action, spreading legal information and patrolling the streets in search of ICE agents.

One of those organizations was Sunset Park Latino Democrats, which formed the patrol group ICE Watch. The guardians have been periodically canvassing the streets from 6-8 a.m. 

“[ICE] would just go to a building and ring all the bells and knock on all the doors very hard,” said the watch’s Claudia Galicia. “One place they were there for 20 minutes, another they were there for 45 minutes. And so we came up with this idea for a neighborhood watch.”

In addition to Galicia, Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz of Bay Ridge’s Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and the New Sanctuary Coalition, has been coming to the aid of the immigrant community. 

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“My church, under my leadership, has become a beacon in this darkness, has become a safe space,” Ruiz said. “ICE has come to our next-door neighbor, Sunset Park four times so we’ve been organizing with them, we’ve been linking arms in solidarity.”

  • Interview with Kelly Mena at 1:09
  • Interview with Carlos Menchaca at 6:30
  • Interview with Claudia Galicia at 9:22
  • Interview with Catherine Gonzalez at 10:45
  • Interview with Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz at 14:17

Brooklyn This Week also spoke with immigration attorney Catherine Gonzalez from Brooklyn Defender Services, who gave a guide of rights undocumented immigrants should know at this time.

Our host Lawrence Madsen is a native New Yorker. He graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History, and volunteers with the disaster relief group Team Rubicon.

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