Recent reports from Casa de Maryland confirmed 15 deportation raids throughout Langley Park, Baltimore County and Sterling, Virginia, within a period of six days. One occurred in Montgomery County. Eleven undocumented immigrants have been detained so far.
Lead field organizer at immigration advocacy organization Casa de Maryland Ricardo Campos said that activity from Immigration Customs Enforcement is expected to have a heavy impact in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas.
“Here in the Metropolitan area, we have observed a lot of activity from immigration [ICE]. We have reports from community members that the ICE (have) entered their houses,” Campos said.
The deportation raids began on the weekend of Jan. 2. According to immigration attorney Patricia Minikon, this operation is a response to the surge of immigrants illegally entering the country in 2015.
“In 2015, there was a really high number of entries, illegal entries, into the US, and, from what I sustained, they are doing this now to sort of send the message that we’re going to be tough on these removals,” Minikon said.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released a statement regarding the matter on Jan. 4, specifying the immigrants that the ICE was searching for.
“The focus of this weekend’s operations were adults and their children who were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally, have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws,” the news release said.
In the most recent statement, ICE press secretary Gillian Christensen said that ICE did not target immigrants with pending appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals or immigrants whose time to file an appeal did not expire.
Campos, however, said that immigrants who do not qualify as the priority for ICE are still vulnerable to being found by the ICE. Having a record also increases the chances of being found by the ICE.
“We have reports from a couple of civilians who don’t have a record and came to the country before May 2014 and have been arrested [by the ICE],” Campos said.
Minikon said that although the operation targets specific immigrants, the law allows for ICE officers to execute any court order signed by a judge, even if the immigrant is not a priority for removal. Minikon also said that it is up to the detainee to point out that they do not qualify as a priority for removal, which may provide temporary relief.
Senior Program Director of Identity Inc., an organization for Latino youth, Candace Kattar said that a mass mailing has gone out with information in Spanish to all of the organization’s clients regarding their rights when confronting an ICE officer.
“The information explains that it is important that families have emergency contact phone numbers available to them in case they are picked up by ICE. It also explains to them that they do not have to answer the questions that ICE officers pose to them,” Kattar said.
In a statement released on Monday by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, he said the police will not participate in enforcing federal immigration law.
Montgomery County spokesperson Patrick Lacefield said that if anyone is a victim of a crime, they should not hesitate to call the police whether they are an immigrant or not.
Lacefield also said that the purpose of the statement was to ask ICE to be check that those they do proceed to detain or deport fit under the priority removal standards.
“We can’t tell ICE what to do. It’s ICE’s business to enforce federal immigration law. But we can say, ‘Look, if these are your standards, make sure that the folks that you are deporting met those standards,’” Lacefield said.