U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, arrested dozens in raids that took place in north Alabama over the last week, representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a conference call with reporters on Friday.
“In recent days, ICE conducted a series of home raids in heavily Latino communities, terrorizing communities and arresting dozens of persons,” SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer said.
SPLC Deputy Legal Director Dan Werner said the raids took place at at least three locations, including a trailer park and an apartment complex in Fort Payne, Ala., and another location in Collinsville, Ala. According to Bauer, the SPLC became aware of the raids thanks to phone calls to a hotline the organization set up to allow residents to report problems with Alabama’s tough new immigration law. They’ve received more than 4,000 calls since the law, HB56, went into effect.
It’s not clear if the raids had anything to do with the Alabama immigration law. It is not yet known if Alabama law enforcement officials participated in the raids, but Bauer said local law enforcement participation is “typical” of ICE raids.
“Our point is that this is a terrible, disastrous time for ICE to come in and do this particular type of enforcement action,” Bauer said. “Door to door raids are the most terrorizing type of enforcement that ICE can carry out.”
“These raids profoundly undermine the federal government’s substantial efforts to reassure people that they still have civil rights and that the federal government is committed to protecting them,” Bauer said. “They are terrorizing a community already living in fear and chaos.”
According the SPLC reports, ICE agents entered homes without permission and interrogated children, including some U.S. citizens, about the whereabouts of their parents.
SPLC representatives are interviewing people affected by the raids to find out more details.
“In some cases, they claimed to be looking for particular individuals but they inquired about the immigration status of any Latinos they met,” Bauer said.
UPDATE: U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Matthew Chandler offered this statement when asked to confirm details of the operations in Collinsville and Fort Payne:
“The Department of Homeland Security has directed ICE to review the operation to determine whether or not it fit within the agency’s enforcement priorities. DHS has also directed its Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to review the allegations of civil rights violations associated with this operation.”