The raids that DHS announced days before Christmas seem to have started in the Atlanta area on January 2nd. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents barged into homes, even when asked for warrants at the door, removing mothers and children as young as 4 years old.
By mid-day the phone at the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) was ringing regularly as families and neighbors reported ICE activity and sought support for loved ones taken away.
Adelina Nicholls, executive director of GLAHR who is now handling 5 cases (that appear to be already transferred to a South Texas facility) explains, “When Trump is taking credit for your immigration policy, you know you’re doing it wrong. They took away children so young they would’ve needed car seats in their vehicles for them. The fear this causes isn’t contained to ICE. It spreads to fear of the police, of local government, especially as ICE tries to get its reach back into local institutions. The only way we can be safe is if we organize to keep ICE out and know our rights.”
Marisa Franco, director of the national #Not1More Campaign which has been distributing know-your-rights materials ahead of the raids, adds “DHS is spending more resources hunting 9 year olds than it does to respond to the blatant violations in its own agency. These raids are part of a pattern of abuse and intimidation woven into the fabric of the immigration enforcement agency. A year and a half after the President said he wished to make his immigration policy more humane, his agents are rounding up mothers and children with the intent of sending them to likely violence and possible death. If there is some political calculation behind this as there usually is, it is disgusting.”
In anticipation of raids like those seen in the Atlanta area yesterday, groups across the country have been going door-to-door and holding workshops to distribute Spanish language know your rights information. Where families do not have access to a local organization, the Salvadoran Consulate has set up a hotline for the raids that victims can call at: 202.553.1545