Harrisburg mayor weighs in on immigration arrests
The young woman had purchased a $25 Visa gift card, and was clutching it in her hand, trying to figure out how she could get it to her husband.
He was in a car, on his way to work at a Harrisburg pizzeria Thursday when he was apprehended by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, she said. He was one of four undocumented immigrants that were apprehended during the same stop.
She said her husband, who now sits in immigration detention in York County Prison, is the sole breadwinner for a family that includes two daughters, ages 8 and a year-and-a-half. The young woman is trying to figure out a way to get the card to him so that he can call her from the prison.
Latinos living and working on Allison Hill say they’ve heard that Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been conducting sweeps across Harrisburg in recent weeks, taking scores of undocumented immigrants into custody.
Harrisburg mayor weighs in on immigration arrests
The woman whose husband was detained Thursday speaks little English. She spoke very softly, her voice trembling as she shares her profound apprehension for the future of her family.
“Estoy muy triste,” she said in her native Spanish.
“I am very sad. “I don’t know what is going to happen.”
Like her husband, the woman, who is from Jalisco, Mexico, is undocumented. She has been in the U.S. nine years; her husband 10. He’s worked all those 10 years, most recently in a pizza shop. She said neither has ever committed a crime. Fearing she could also be detained, she asked that her name not be used.
Across the country, tens of thousands of ICE agents, emboldened by President Trump’s plan to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, have in recent months swept through shelters, places of employment and airports scouring for individuals without legal status, The New York Times reports. The Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of ICE and the Border Patrol, has detailed plans for speedier deportations, the newspaper reports.
ICE officials could not be reached for confirmation on the number of people apprehended and detained in recent months. Mayor Eric Papenfuse said he has spoken with ICE, and that the level of enforcement is not new, but a continuation of past practices. The federal agency reiterated that in a statement to ABC27 on Friday.
But residents of this vibrant community say they believe hundreds of people have been taken into custody since January. They talk of hearing of near-daily raids, and sometimes multiple raids in a day.
Gloria Vazquez Merrick, executive director of the Latino Hispanic American Community Center, said that a few months ago she would have heard reports of ICE conducting one or two raids per month. These days raids are being reported on a daily basis.
“Despite other people’s opinion, they have escalated,” she said. “It definitely has come to a head. It’s every day now.”
Moises Sandoval, proprietor of La Estrella, a green grocer and dried-goods market along Derry Street that caters mainly to Mexicans and Central Americans, says the raids have impacted his community.
“It’s very sad,” he said. “They are taking the husbands and leaving children behind alone.”
Sandoval said ICE agents start as early as 4 a.m.
“It’s really concentrated here for about a two-mile radius,” he said. “They drive around two to a car in unmarked cars … starting at 4, 5 or 6 a.m.”
Victor Acosta, owner of Paks Supermarket on the corner of Derry and 13th streets, said he has seen ICE agents on stakeouts pulling cars over near the Interstate 83 access ramp off 13th Street.
“Sometimes they put 50 people in a van,” he said. “They pull someone over and they take everyone.”
Merrick says the community is gripped with fear.
“People stop by to tell [ask] us if we heard about the latest raid,” she said. “They are fearful. They want to talk to someone.”
Merrick, whose non-profit organization is able to connect people with resources, said she is focusing on the humanitarian mission of the organization, helping those who could be affected by the raids to plan and prepare for possible detention.
In particular, Merrick said, the focus is on parents. She has heard stories of children left behind in school, waiting for a parent who has been detained by ICE.
Merrick said the recent raids have affected the entire community – not just undocumented immigrants but citizens and their children as well. Families often are blended, with many families including both U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants.
“It’s impacting everyone. There is a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety,” she said. “People are crying and nothing’s happened to them yet. It’s just the thought of what could happen.”
Merrick said she has had reports of ICE agents knocking on front doors and asking, “Do Mexicans live here?”
Merrick says misconceptions abound, and taint the way Americans in general view some members of her community.
“There is a misconception that everyone being picked up, rounded up or apprehended are criminals or felons,” she said. “In a lot of cases they are not. They are on the street corner being picked up because they are waiting for a ride to work. They are being stopped because they fit the profile. Even though we think that’s not happening, it’s happening.”
Merrick said she is directing people to the appropriate agencies that can provide legal help and assistance in procuring food and heat.
She is concerned, though, that members of the community affected by the ICE raids are so afraid of leaving their homes they are not even going to the food bank to get food for their families.
“They are afraid to go and stand in line to get food. They are afraid they are going to be questioned,” she said.
On Friday the young woman whose husband sits in prison was at a loss for words, her mind solely occupied with her husband and her daughters — and how to get the gift card she bought to her husband so he can call her.
“We have to eat,” she said. “I don’t know how we are going to eat without an income.”
Written by Ivey DeJesus. Read article and watch video here: http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/03/ice_raids_illegal_immigrants_u.html