Houston immigrants go underground ahead of ICE raids expected this weekend

Sunday, July 14, 2019
Houston faith leaders react to ICE raids
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Houston faith leaders react to weekend ICE raids

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the ICE raids to bring in undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds only two days away, Carlos Suarez had an observation.

"The streets in our communities are empty," he said. "The flea markets that our immigrants and people frequent are empty."

RELATED: ICE raids 'last thing' Houston needs, HPD chief says

Suarez is an organizer with the El Pueblo Workers Organization.

That is the fear that the pending raids have sparked. The White House stated the action is to detain dangerous criminals, and "put them in prison here or ship them back to their countries where they can be put in prison," according to President Trump.

RELATED: What to do if ICE agents show up at your door

The fear is that while agents are searching for specific targets, immigrants with neither criminal background nor visas could also be detained. To some, it's known as collateral deportation.

Friday, in a news conference with leaders of different faiths and organizations, an appeal was made to immigrants to know their rights.

RELATED: Postponed ICE raids set to start Sunday, report says

"You have the right to not open the door," said Houston CAIR Executive Director Lubabah Abdullah. "You have the right to an attorney, and you have to be given a search warrant signed by a judge."

Immigration has become a hot button issue since a surge of refugees from violence and poverty in Central America surged to the U.S. and packed federal immigration detention centers.

RELATED: How immigration authorities make arrests, conduct raids

Still, the flow of people continues, with no records of those who slip across the border.

RELATED: HPD chief says there's great fear among Houston's immigrant community ahead of ICE raids

The raids are set for Sunday. Houston is expected to be one of the cities in which they will be conducted.

An ICE official released the following statement:

Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to enforcement operations. As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. In fact, 90 percent of aliens arrested by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations component in FY2018 had either a criminal conviction(s), pending criminal charge(s), were an ICE fugitive, or illegally reentered the country after previously being removed. However, all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and - if found removable by final order - removal from the United States.

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