Advocates for illegal immigrants in New Jersey are complaining that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency “scared kids” with unannounced raids on the homes of undocumented immigrants in New Brunswick and Freehold.
Apparently ICE officials had told New Jersey advocates that the Garden State was not part of the nation-wide sweep of criminal illegal aliens being carried out over the last few months. Yet several raids on individuals were carried out — and without advance notice — and it is these raids advocates are criticizing.
Two men were taken into custody last week, sparking the community to wonder if ICE was conducting sweeps despite assurances otherwise.
“It sounds like they are ramping up enforcement,” Chia-Chia Wang, an organizer with American Friends Service Committee, an immigrant advocacy group, told the Asbury Park Press. “We believe that these are regular, ongoing raids.”
According to the newspaper, ICE officials reiterated its denial of any planned sweeps in the area and said these particular raids were just “business as usual” and targeted raids, not a wide sweep.
“We’re not doing anything that we were not doing in December,” ICE spokesman Alvin Phillips, said. “We’ve done absolutely nothing differently. We must enforce the law. Our borders are not open to illegal immigration, if you come here illegally we will send you back.”
But advocates for illegal immigrants insisted that the “fear” in the community is palpable, nonetheless. One of the families even accused ICE agents of “scaring kids,” some of whom were American citizens, by smashing down doors and entering rooms with guns drawn.
Advocates presented the story of 14-year-old Anel Nieto, present in one of the homes ICE raided.
Anel claimed ICE officers entered her home, forced her father to the floor, yelled, pointed guns, and “made her cry.”
“My dad tried to lift his head and (an officer) put (his) foot on his neck and his head hit the floor. He had a bruise and I started crying more,” Anel claimed.
“I was very scared, I was crying. I was shaking a lot, I couldn’t talk well,” Anel insisted. “When I talked, my voice sounded that I wanted to cry.”
During that particular raid, ICE officials took the girl’s uncle, German Nieto-Cruz, into custody, saying he was suspected of gang activity.
Nieto-Cruz has a legal work permit issued under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.
Officials also say they followed procedures and did nothing wrong.
ICE officials reported that in the second case in Freehold, New Jersey, Jaime Martinez, 25, was arrested for being convicted of an aggravated felony, a felony, or involved in a criminal gang or suspected of terrorism.
According to federal reports, 235,413 illegal aliens were removed nationwide in 2015. 91 percent reportedly had previously been convicted of a crime.
The number of deportations for 2015 are way down compared to the two previous years. The Obama administration reported the deportation of 414,481 in 2014 and an even higher 438,421 unauthorized immigrants in 2013.