Crisis 'in Our Own Backyards': Democrats, Immigrant Groups Remind Migrants of Their Rights ahead of Planned ICE Raids
With U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly slated to launch deportation raids on Sunday, immigrants rights groups and prominent Democrats — including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — warned and advised undocumented migrants of their rights in case federal agents knock on their doors.
The raids, originally slated for late June before they were postponed at the last minute by President Donald Trump, will target at least 2,000 undocumented immigrants that had previously received deportation orders, across 10 cities nationwide and span multiple days starting Sunday, according to The New York Times. That number is a far cry from the "million" deportations the Trump administration has repeatedly claimed — as recently as last weekend.
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokeswoman Zainab Chaudry told Newsweek on Thursday that "the way ICE is terrorizing our communities is unconscionable, unethical and unacceptable and the concentration camps that are being built along the border are chilling."
"The crisis it not only at the border—it's in our own backyard," Chaundry said, adding that a lot of people are talking about the raids and "the level of stress and anxiety that these communities are living under is reprehensible."
After the report Thursday of the raids, CAIR, which works to empower American Muslims, reissued an immigrant community advisory on Twitter that it had first put out in June in anticipation of the raids. The advisory includes a "Your Rights with Law Enforcement" booklet stating that migrants have the legal right to have a lawyer represent them, and do not have to let officials into their homes if they do not present a warrant.
"We want make sure that people feel empowered that they don't have to live in fear that they can stand up fort themselves and they know what their rights are, so if they're detained they know how to respond," Chaudry said.
Chaudry admitted that the booklet wouldn't prevent people from being taken into ICE custody if they are apprehended, but that it "at least gives them information on what they have to share, what they don't have to share, how they should behave."
Similarly, the Immigrant Defense Project, which fights for immigrants to be treated fairly and justly, on Thursday quote tweeted its post from June sharing six infographics on knowing your rights.
"RT to help ensure that non-citizens are equipped not only with their rights but also knowledge of what to do when ICE violates those rights!" the project tweeted.
A senior staff attorney with the project, Genia Blaser, told Newsweek on Thursday that the organization sees the planned raids as "a larger effort by ICE to destabilize communities." The infographics are based on six years of tracking how ICE makes arrests.
"We know one of the tactics is by tricking people at their homes," Blaser said. "A lot of times, ICE will pretend to be police and come up with fake investigations or say they're looking for a fake crime suspect and they're just trying to get into the home."
On Thursday morning, Ocasio-Cortez, tweeted news of the raids and said, "Check your neighbors & know your rights. Remember: no one can enter your home without a *judicial warrant.*"
In another tweet, Ocasio-Cortez shared a post about rights by the National Immigration Law Center and wrote, "No matter who you are or what your status is, this is the United States of America - where ALL people have rights. Know yours. Prepare."
Pelosi in her weekly press conference on Thursday gave the same message, advising targets of the "heartless raids" not to open the door unless the officials have a warrant signed by a judge.
"Families belong together," Pelosi said. "Every person in America has rights."
Chaudry said she did not know if it is possible to be truly prepared for a raid, but that people have become more vigilant after seeing a harrowing image in late June of a Salvadoran man and his 2-year-old daughter lying face down on the Rio Grande banks, lifeless, after trying to cross the border.
"I think that shift has happened to a large degree since June," she said, "And the last few weeks, there's been more awareness."