National News

ICE Raids Muted, But Draw Criticism From Church

The badge of an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer is seen in Santa Ana, Calif., May 11, 2017. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Lucy Nicholson)

Religious leaders and immigration advocates spoke out against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), after the Trump administration, sticking to his campaign promises, promised that ICE would begin roundups of undocumented immigrants this past weekend in major cities nationwide, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

According to multiple news reports, wide-scale ICE raids — which Trump said would happen on July 14  –failed to materialize. The Trump administration has argued that tougher enforcement of immigration laws is necessary. 

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, urged priests in the archdiocese to be vigilant and not allow any immigration officials into churches without official identification or a search warrant.  

“Threats of broad enforcement actions by ICE are meant to terrorize communities,” Cardinal Cupich wrote in a letter.

#AbolishICE and “Close the Camps” demonstrations and marches took place locally in nationwide, including one in Jackson Heights. “Sanctuary churches” have been planning ways to protect undocumented immigrants in case ICE attempts any surprise enforcement action. 

In New York, ICE agents reportedly attempted raids in immigrant-heavy Harlem and Sunset Park on July 13, according to the Wall Street Journal, but the raids were shut down. 

“The [ICE] agents were rejected by people at the residences because they didn’t have warrants,” a source familiar with the matter told the newspaper. 

New York officials said that there was no indication of whether the agents had returned, and there was no indication whether those raids were part of Trump’s promised round-up. 

“As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” an ICE New York spokeswoman told the WSJ. 

According to the official, ICE agents were never given an order to execute on a nationwide scale. 

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), said the raids were aligned with the agency’s priority focusing on removing criminals from the U.S.

“We’ve got compassionate, loyal ICE agents who are just doing their job,” Cuccinelli told CNN. “It shows you how far we’ve fallen in that it’s become news that they would actually go deport people who have removal orders.”  

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that there were three situations involving ICE operations on July 13, but that no arrests were made. 

“The Trump administration uses fear as a weapon. We’re making sure our immigrant communities are getting accurate information and have the resources to defend their rights,” de Blasio tweeted.