Feb. 16 — The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has ramped up its presence in the South, specifically in North Carolina, over the past couple weeks. ICE has begun their known terrorism tactics of separating families and attacking Black and Brown workers.
The raids started Feb. 5 at a workplace in a gun-manufacturing center in Sanford, where 27 workers were detained. They continued with arrests of parents attempting to drop off their children at a high school in Durham.
There have been reports of ICE raiding homes and knocking on doors in neighborhoods with Black and Brown residents, specifically in the Latinx community. These neighborhoods are also heavily terrorized by a police presence.
Even when im/migrants are doing everything “right,” they are punished and oppressed by the state. As of Feb. 12, ICE had detained more than 200 people across North Carolina. At least 60 of these arrests were collateral arrests of people who were not targeted, but who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
During a Feb. 8 press conference, ICE Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher admitted these raids are in direct response to several North Carolina sheriff’s departments’ refusal to collaborate with federal immigration officials, specifically in reference to the controversial Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. This section allows state and local law enforcement departments to voluntarily enter into a formal contract with ICE. Gallagher plans these raids to be the new normal.
To avoid run-ins with ICE, undocumented immigrants have resorted to drastic measures. These include not going to work, keeping children out of school and fleeing their homes. Many of those living in Durham and other parts of the triangle area — which includes Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Carrboro — are afraid to drive and have been resorting to ride-shares.
Community fights back
Although ICE is attempting to maintain its campaigns of tyranny and manipulation, people have been fighting back.
Since learning of the ICE raids happening across the state, activists have been coordinating rapid-response measures and demonstrations to keep communities safe. The most recent tactics are volunteer ICE verifications, ride-shares and “know-your-rights” trainings and canvassing.
Other groups have assembled vigils and actions in response to the raids. Several im/migrant-led organizations, such as Alerta Migratoria, Mijente, El Siembra and Comité de Acción Popular, have been pulling together groups over social media to respond and verify any known or suspected ICE activity. These organizations’ goal is to prevent rumors that may ignite more fear among undocumented communities.
Another newly established online network is RadarSafe, which was created to inform communities about ICE raids, its whereabouts and how to identify ICE. RadarSafe also provides know-your-rights resources.
Even though ICE remains present, the community in the South is determined to keep their people safe. They demand an end to the attacks on undocumented workers, families, children and undocumented LGBTQ people. They call for the abolition of ICE, demand that local politicians and sheriffs end any collaboration with ICE and put people’s safety first.