ICE agents target Woodland Avenue immigrant community

May 13, 2018 GMT

Imagine going about your everyday life thinking that this day is like any other day you have live in Philadelphia.

You are out food shopping with your spouse and your children, then suddenly you are surrounded by Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents who whisk you off to a detention facility to be processed for deportation.

That is what has been happening in various immigrant communities throughout the United States and that is what happened this past weekend on Woodland Avenue in a known African immigrant community.

Some of these immigrants are illegal immigrants and others are those in the process of working with an attorney to get permanent legal status here in the United States. ICE agents have been targeting immigrants in communities that are sanctuary cities and at times they are not stopping to check to see who is trying to go through the process the legal way.

According to the ICE website “on January 25, 2017, the President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order 13,768, which set forth the Administration’s immigration enforcement and removal priorities. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) February 20, 2017 memorandum, Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest (implementation memorandum) also provided direction for the implementation of the policies set forth in the Executive Order. The order expanded ICE’s enforcement focus to include removable immigrants who (1) have been convicted of any criminal offense; (2) have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved; (3) have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense; (4) have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency; (5) have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; (6) are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or (7) in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security. The Department has directed that classes or categories of removable aliens are no longer exempted from potential enforcement.”

None of the policies laid out above, 1 through 7, clearly define what a criminal offense entails. For many immigrants of color, especially males, a minor criminal offense could put them in the path of ICE.

One guy said that he is on the ICE list because he was arrested for smoking a joint (marijuana cigarette) over 10 years ago. According to attorneys and immigrant advocates, many immigrants with green cards and visas who are here legally are afraid that they will be arrested and taken away for any misdemeanors.

Some may need to go to court regarding parking tickets, child support, or other minor issues but they do not show up because of the police presence there. One article reported that many immigrants who live in New York are living in fear of even coming outside.

Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco are all sanctuary cities. The definition of a sanctuary city is a city in the United States that follow certain procedures that ends up benefiting illegal immigrants. These procedures can be by local law or by action. These cities do not use local funds or resources to be applied in enforcing the federal immigration laws. The police are not permitted to get involved in detaining anyone because of their immigrant status. They do not get involved in matters that should be taken care of by ICE.

Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia has continued to uphold the executive order that was put in place by former Mayor Michael Nutter back in 2014 to make the city a sanctuary city. As a result, the Trump administration is withholding funds to the tune of $1.5 million in grant monies to the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit against the federal government and the case is now pending in court.