The Trump Administration is planning a nationwide immigration enforcement action this weekend. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids will target migrant families in 10 major cities, raising concerns among immigrant-rights advocates across our region.
Migrant Justice is a group in Vermont that advocates for the nearly 1,500 migrant farmworkers in the state. Several of its members have been arrested or detained by ICE in the past. Migrant Justice team Member Marita Carnedo says they will continue to work for human rights whether there are raids this weekend or not. “It makes them feel frustration, maybe anger, feeling scared. We are taking about seeing people known as just a labor force that could be oppressed. So it’s really important for our community to feel that these are the times that we need to be together stronger and as a community. Because yes we are being criminalized and targeted and being afraid and hiding is not the answer. Although a lot of people in the community is feeling this chilling effect. And we keep on trying on visiting people and organizing and meeting in order to tell them that yeah we’ve had enough and this is not right.”
American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont Executive Director James Duff Lyall says he doesn’t know of any raids planned in Vermont, but says it’s important that people be aware of their rights regardless. “For example no one ever has to open their door to any law enforcement official absent a warrant signed by a judge. Everyone always has the right to remain silent no matter what ICE or anyone else may claim. You know I also want to say regardless of whether or not there are any raids in Vermont or anywhere else for these agencies to be publicizing raids in advance is clearly a fear tactic and I think it says a lot about how far these paramilitary agencies, ICE and Border Patrol, will go to terrorize immigrant communities. But it is not new. It has been going on for years under both Democratic and Republican administrations.”
Advocates agree that fear appears to be the ultimate goal of the threatened raids and deportations. Berkshire Immigrant Center Executive Director Michelle Lopez echoed the sentiment in a recent interview with WAMC. “Obviously it’s scary and I’m sure that it will have an impact on the number of people who are attempting to come into the United States. It’s also affecting people on the local scale because we do have questions from people who come to see us at our offices about what they can do if they’re undocumented. But I don’t think that the crackdown is going to be affecting Berkshire County in the ways that it may be affecting larger cities. I think that the most important thing to keep in mind is that a lot of things that we’ve seen coming from this current administration has been used as a scare tactic.”
Springfield, Massachusetts Acting Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood says she has not heard of any ICE actions planned there this week and her department has not been contacted by federal agencies.