With just a couple of days to go before the US begins nationwide raids on around 2,000 undocumented immigrant families, activists and immigrant-rights groups are rallying to block the Trump administration from deporting them.
In a recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) round-up, at least nine Hindi-speaking South Asian restaurant employees were detained and taken to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Washington DC, according to South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a non-profit organisation advocating for the rights of South Asians residing in the US.
ACTION ALERT: An Indian restaurant in DC was raided by ICE last week. Several employees have been detained. Given the prospect of more raids in the DC area, we are seeking volunteers to help with some immediate needs: https://t.co/tNx4IQmmjm— SAALT (@SAALTweets) July 8, 2019
Four of the nine detained were released the same day, while the remaining five individuals were released later, according to SAALT.
WHAT WE KNOW
According to SAALT, a community member who provided direct support to the detained restaurant, reached out to them about the incident. SAALT then sought assistance from the community members to provide legal and language support to the detained immigrants. The news spread on social media platforms, with other activist groups such as Justice for Muslims Collective, Restaurant Opportunities Center United, and Sikh Coalition requesting assistance from members of the South Asian community.
.@SAALTweets recently reported an ICE raid on an Indian Restaurant in D.C. last week. As @WhiteHouse continues to threaten to scale deportation raids across the US, please share our immigration Know Your Rights resources, available in English & Punjabi. https://t.co/yHFvRCBFTo— Sikh Coalition (@sikh_coalition) July 9, 2019
Qudsia Raja, Policy Director at National Domestic Violence Hotline, sought assistance for those detained too.
URGENT REQUEST: ICE raided an indian restaurant in Columbia Heights, and several Hindi speaking employees were taken to Montgomery county jail in MD. We need south Asian folks that can volunteer to provide translation, outreach, legal counsel this weekend: https://t.co/NZl82bMe6o— qudsia (@qudsiaraja) July 8, 2019
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
The Quint reached out to SAALT, but they refused to disclose the name of the restaurant and those detained by the ICE.
Meanwhile, the Montgomery County MD refuted allegations of raids, calling them “a rumour”.
There is no truth to the rumor that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) is detaining people for ICE after a recent alleged raid at a D.C. establishment. DOCR does not accept individuals into custody from ICE or detain individuals beyond their release date. pic.twitter.com/QRDELFqt6S— Montgomery County MD (@MontgomeryCoMD) July 9, 2019
Immigrant Crackdown Grips US
US President Donald Trump, on 17 June, tweeted that the ICE would begin removing "millions" of undocumented immigrants from the US.
Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
However, on 22 June, he said they would hold off the raids for two weeks, at the request of the Democrats, giving them time to work out a solution to secure the Southern border. "If not, Deportations start!" Trump threatened.
At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2019
The operations had prompted immigrant advocates to step up awareness initiatives for migrants on their rights.
The anti-immigrant policies in the US have affected thousands of Indians and South Asians.
The US reportedly plans to carry out a new wave of raids targeting at least 2,000 undocumented immigrants, starting Sunday, 14 July.
The New York Times, which first reported on the raids, said they are expected to take place in at least 10 cities. The round-ups are also expected to occur over multiple days and are likely to include collateral deportations in which “authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.”
(With inputs from The New York Times.)
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