Groups pre­pare for de­por­ta­tion roundups

Pos­si­ble fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion raids could tar­get peo­ple in 10 ma­jor cities this week­end

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Carina Julig

Peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally are brac­ing for pos­si­ble fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion roundups this week­end that could tar­get peo­ple in 10 ma­jor U.S. cities, in­clud­ing Den­ver, and ac­tivist groups said they are bet­ter pre­pared after Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened to or­der the raids last month.

The news led Den­ver Mayor Michael Han­cock and other Demo­cratic elected of­fi­cials to is­sue state­ments in sup­port of the state’s im­mi­grants. Den­ver Pub­lic Schools sent no­tices to stu­dents and par­ents say­ing its schools were safe places.

The threat of raids makes ev­ery­one in Den­ver less safe, Han­cock said. When im­mi­grants fear that they or their loved ones could be de­ported if they tes­tify in court or go to the po­lice, they pull back from the com­mu­nity.

“That is not OK for any of us,” Han­cock said.

Trump on June 18 first said ICE would

tar­get peo­ple with fi­nal de­por­ta­tion or­ders, in­clud­ing fam­i­lies whose im­mi­gra­tion cases were fast-tracked by judges.

In­for­ma­tion leaked that the raids would oc­cur in the early morn­ing June 23, but Trump then an­nounced the op­er­a­tion would be de­layed as a com­pro­mise with Democrats, who have op­posed the roundups.

The New York Times re­ported Wed­nes­day night that the roundups would be­gin Sun­day in ma­jor Amer­i­can cities in­clud­ing Den­ver, Mi­ami, At­lanta, Bal­ti­more and Los An­ge­les. Im­mi­gra­tion and Customs En­force­ment agents will fo­cus on peo­ple who have fi­nal de­por­ta­tion or­ders, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

Den­ver’s elected of­fi­cials fre­quently have been at odds with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion over the pres­i­dent’s views to­ward im­mi­grants.

Han­cock vowed that re­gard­less of the fed­eral govern­ment’s ac­tions, Den­ver will sup­port peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally. The city has a full-time im­mi­grant and refugee of­fice and has been work­ing with com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions on a cam­paign to make sure peo­ple know their rights, the mayor said.

The city also con­trib­utes money to the Den­ver Im­mi­grant Le­gal De­fense Fund, which pro­vides le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion to those threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings.

The raid is po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated, Han­cock said.

“Ev­ery time there’s an is­sue for him, most re­cently the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Trump does some­thing to dis­tract from it,” the mayor said. “Trump is us­ing im­mi­grants as po­lit­i­cal pawns.”

Each time the pres­i­dent threat­ens to round up peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally, many law en­force­ment agen­cies is­sue state­ments say­ing they will not par­tic­i­pate in fed­eral en­force­ment ac­tions. On Thurs­day, Han­cock again made the point that the Den­ver Po­lice Depart­ment does not en­gage with ICE and will not be as­sist­ing with Sun­day’s raids.

Still, im­mi­grant fam­i­lies are on edge.

Com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer Gina Mil­lan of the Colorado Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Latina Op­por­tu­nity and Re­pro­duc­tive Rights said some peo­ple are too afraid to take their chil­dren to school or to the doc­tor be­cause they are wor­ried they will be re­ported to ICE.

“A cou­ple of days ago, there was a ru­mor that ICE was near a con­struc­tion site and the work­ers fled the scene,” Mil­lan said.

Alethea Smock, an ICE spokes­woman in Den­ver, would not con­firm whether de­por­ta­tion roundups were sched­uled to take place in the metro area, say­ing ICE does not com­ment on up­com­ing op­er­a­tions.

Ac­tivist groups have used the time since the first an­nounce­ment to pre­pare for the roundups and make sure im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties are ed­u­cated about their rights.

“It’s been a re­ally good stress test of our sys­tem,” said Ana Temu, the ACLU of Colorado’s im­mi­gra­tion cam­paigns co­or­di­na­tor.

Since the raids were an­nounced June 18, the ACLU of Colorado has given out 300 in­for­ma­tion pack­ets and trained 200 peo­ple on what their rights are when in­ter­act­ing with ICE of­fi­cials, Temu said. The goal is to help peo­ple pro­tect them­selves and their fam­i­lies in the event of a raid.

“We can’t stop the raids, but what we can do is ed­u­cate the com­mu­nity to the point where we have an ef­fect on how they play out,” she said.

After the June 18 an­nounce­ment, the Colorado Im­mi­grant Rights Coali­tion or­ga­nized train­ing for more than 100 peo­ple in how to vol­un­teer for its Colorado Rapid Re­sponse Net­work hotline, which responds to re­ports from the com­mu­nity of po­ten­tial ICE pres­ence and ar­rests.

Fear within the com­mu­nity has caused the hotline to re­ceive a lot of false re­ports, said Cris­tian Solano-Cordova, the coali­tion’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager. Any un­marked van lin­ger­ing in the neigh­bor­hood can be mis­taken for ICE.

As the ACLU has, the coali­tion has fo­cused on in­form­ing peo­ple of their rights. It is en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to make sure that ICE of­fi­cials who re­quest en­try to peo­ple’s homes have a ju­di­cial war­rant. Some agents have been show­ing up with ad­min­is­tra­tive war­rants, which are not signed by a judge and do not al­low them ac­cess to pri­vate prop­erty.

The coali­tion also is re­mind­ing peo­ple that ICE agents are al­lowed to ask only for a driver’s li­cense and in­sur­ance dur­ing traf­fic stops, and peo­ple are not re­quired to dis­close their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

Den­ver Pub­lic Schools sent robo­calls Thurs­day af­ter­noon in English and Span­ish to par­ents in­form­ing them of the district’s com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing its im­mi­grant stu­dents. A state­ment from Su­per­in­ten­dent Su­sana Cordova on the district web­site said DPS will not share in­for­ma­tion about stu­dents with im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials un­less re­quired by law.

“Den­ver Pub­lic Schools is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that all of our fam­i­lies know their rights and that our schools are safe and wel­com­ing places for all stu­dents, in­clud­ing for our im­mi­grant stu­dents,” the robo­call said.

Demo­cratic politi­cians is­sued state­ments against the roundups, many crit­i­ciz­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion di­rectly.

“Th­ese re­ports are of great con­cern and another fail­ure of lead­er­ship by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Gov. Jared Po­lis said. “Th­ese ac­tions make our com­mu­ni­ties less safe and in­crease dis­trust of law en­force­ment. Colorado cel­e­brates our im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, and we will not al­low the pub­lic safety of Coloradans to be held hostage by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

“If Pres­i­dent Trump was se­ri­ous about ad­dress­ing th­ese prob­lems, he would stop th­ese cruel and dan­ger­ous tac­tics and work with Congress to de­velop com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form and so­lu­tions to help those seek­ing refuge in our coun­try,” said U.S. Sen. Michael Ben­net, a Den­ver Demo­crat.

“We are a na­tion of im­mi­grants,” said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Den­ver Demo­crat. “We should be work­ing to help the men, women and chil­dren who have been forced to flee to this coun­try out of des­per­a­tion, not tear­ing their fam­i­lies apart.”

“The threat of sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies does noth­ing to make our coun­try bet­ter or re­form our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem,” U.S. Rep. Ja­son Crow said. “We stand with our im­mi­grant neigh­bors and refuse to let this ad­min­is­tra­tion per­pet­u­ate a cul­ture of fear in Colorado.”

Crow, an Aurora Demo­crat, re­cently an­nounced that he will tour the Aurora Con­tract De­ten­tion Fa­cil­ity, which houses im­mi­grants de­tained by ICE, ev­ery week to in­spect liv­ing con­di­tions. It has been ac­cused of vi­o­lat­ing agency pol­icy and pro­vid­ing un­san­i­tary liv­ing con­di­tions.

A protest at the fa­cil­ity will be held Fri­day night as part of a se­ries of na­tion­wide protests against U.S. im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy called Lights for Lib­erty. There also will be Lights for Lib­erty protests in Boulder, Lafayette and Long­mont, and a sep­a­rate march is be­ing or­ga­nized in Aurora by lo­cal so­cial­ist groups.

Andy Col­well, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

Dur­ing a July 2 demon­stra­tion at the Den­ver of­fices of U.S. Sen. Cory Gard­ner, pro­test­ers place me­men­tos on an al­tar in mem­ory of peo­ple who died while cross­ing the U.S. bor­der with Mex­ico. This week­end fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials may be con­duct­ing raids to ar­rest im­mi­grants liv­ing il­le­gally in 10 cities across the United States, in­clud­ing Den­ver.

He­len H. Richardson, Den­ver Post file

Arnie Carter holds up a sign dur­ing a vigil out­side of the Aurora ICE Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter in May.

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