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U.S. officials recently told The Washington Post of the impending immigration raids. Photo: AP 
U.S. officials recently told The Washington Post of the impending immigration raids. Photo: AP 

ICE ‘Sanctuary Op’ set to raid cities weeks before 2020 election

The immigration enforcement agency is reportedly planning operations in sanctuary cities.

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is set to conduct an immigration enforcement blitz this month, targeting multiple sanctuary cities across the country.

They would start in California, The Washington Post reports, within the next week. Three U.S. officials with ICE told the Post they would target so-called “sanctuary cities” like San Francisco, Denver, and Philadelphia. 

The two officials spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity, but made it clear the efforts are part of the Trump administration’s law-and-order regime, based on law enforcement authority, and cracking-down on immigration. 

Targeting sanctuary cities, not only serves to publicize the deliverance of his campaign’s promise, but also attacks Democrat-led cities, like those listed above. 

The administration is justifying the move by blaming these cities for violence that intensified over the summer in the aftermath of the killings of multiple unarmed Black victims.

Through bringing ICE into the picture, there is order, per the Trump administration. 

Officials have warned these cities and jurisdictions, that ICE would in fact conduct more raids and arrests should they go forward with sanctuary policies.

The officials in these cities and jurisdictions say their “sanctuary” policies instill the community’s trust in immigrant neighborhoods, where officers need residents to report crime and be complacent with local authorities without fear of deportation. 

In Philadelphia, for instance, this means city employees, including police, are not allowed to inquire over documentation status of people they meet. Philadelphia also doesn't provide ICE officials or any immigration agents, for that matter, with information for deportations.

Even so, in light of the impending raids, the need for free legal defense and increased advocacy for immigrants is at an all-time high.

Recently, the Pennsylvania Immigrant Family Unity Project (PAIFUP) received a grant from the Vera Institute of Justice’s SAFE Initiative. Since its formation in 2017, Vera has helped thousands of immigrants across the country — 43% of which have been freed from detention and 35% have won their right to remain in the country.

But there aren’t enough resources like this, especially with ICE ramping up efforts just weeks before the General Election. 

Even in 2018, ICE’s Philadelphia office was making more “at-large” arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions than anywhere else in the nation.

And just weeks before the 2020 Census deadline, the fear tactics used by ICE through these raids only further add to the hesitation by undocumented immigrants, to complete it.

In light of the impending ICE raids in the city, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a vocal opponent of the Trump administration’s immigration tactics, released a statement that the city will, “continue welcoming, celebrating, and fighting for the rights of our undocumented immigrants and their families.”

Still, ICE is making unprecedented moves in line with Trump’s law-and-order-regime, launching billboards in Pennsylvania with the faces of immigrants who have been released by local law enforcement departments in sanctuary jurisdictions. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), along with the Justice Department, have been criticized for such efforts that outwardly support the president’s agenda just a month before a close race, especially as the effort is taking place in a swing state.

Critics have gone as far as to say the actions are clearly intended to escalate the political tensions before a presidential election.

“This effort speaks more broadly to the deteriorating relationship between ICE (and DHS) and cities, especially those in liberal areas,” wrote reporter Hamed Aleaziz on Twitter. 

ICE’s impending raids were even described by the two officials as “more of a political messaging campaign” than a major ICE operation, the Post reported, by targeting liberal “sanctuary cities” to aid a campaign through publicizing criminal arrests. 

Over the summer, ICE arrested over 2,000 immigrants, part of an operation that supposedly targeted people with criminal histories. 

But this is an issue of the solidifying partisanship of ICE and the DHS with a political agenda. Little good comes of an immigrant’s encounter with an ICE agent. Family separation, quality of life, and basic human rights are on the line. Be on alert. 
 

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