Cities across the country have reported an uptick in federal immigration raids. On Wednesday Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested undocumented immigrants in Las Cruces.
Sarah Silva of the immigrant rights group NM Café has been leading protests against the ICE operations in Doña Ana County. She spoke with KUNM about the immigration raids there.
SILVA: We had confirmation of at least two people who were detained through door knocks in neighborhoods, but we had six reports Wednesday between 6 a.m. and about 2 p.m. of ICE and/or CBP in Doña Ana County.
KUNM: The Obama Administration deported a lot of people as well—what’s different here, have you seen any raids like this before?
SILVA: Right, President Obama has deported more people than the last three presidents in their tenure. But we have not, in Southern New Mexico, seen raids and door knocks and ICE coming into communities to this extent since 2007.
KUNM: The people that the federal government went after under the Obama Administration had some kind of criminal background. What about the people who were picked up this week?
SILVA: The people that we believe were being targeted were workers with families who were deemed as low priority under the Obama Administration. Their only felony was re-entry.
KUNM: What impact has this had on the immigrant community there, and the community at large?
SILVA: There’s widespread panic and fear right now in Doña Ana County. I’m getting text messages and Facebook messages consistently since yesterday, sending us pictures saying “CBP is here, can I send my child to school? I need to find out where my family members are right now.” So people are staying in constant communication with their own family, but also in their neighborhoods.
We’ve seen increased fear but also increased vigilance, people knowing what their rights are and not opening doors. And people want to know that they’re not alone.
KUNM: Is your organization or others there making any kind of preparations in case these immigration raids continue?
SILVA: We’re asking people to create rapid response teams. We have citizens and non-citizens alike organizing teams of people throughout our county and throughout Luna County and Otero County right now, that will receive a text message or a phone call when a raid is happening near their community so that they can go observe, record and witness. Since these raids began in New Jersey and Arizona last week and this week here in New Mexico, we’re finding that ICE is not returning anybody’s calls, not even senators. So we cannot locate people that they pick up.
KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation. Find out more at publichealthnm.org.