No major ICE raids over weekend after all, advocates say

Advocacy groups have been canvassing neighborhoods

By Catherine E. Shoichet, Eliott C. McLaughlin and Paul Vercammen, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer badge and gun.

(CNN) - Immigrant rights advocates across the United States told CNN they saw few signs over the weekend of the ICE raids that Trump administration officials had warned would begin Sunday.

"It's very quiet. Let's hope it stays that way," said Jose Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, speaking to CNN Sunday afternoon.

Jennaya Dunlap of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice in Ontario, east of Los Angeles, also said she hadn't seen signs of sweeps.

"The way we see it with all the rumors and hysteria, we're telling the community that ICE is always conducting operations," she said Sunday. "This is nothing new. It's a daily reality for us. "

As of Sunday evening, there also weren't any confirmed reports of migrants being apprehended in Baltimore, Chicago or New York, immigrant advocacy groups in those cities said.

"For the most part, it's quiet," said Cara Yi, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "We've been dispatching rapid-response teams out to meet with people who have reported ICE activity over our hotline. None have been confirmed as of yet."

Most of the reports were about sightings of government vehicles, Yi said, but advocates had confirmed they were not ICE.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New York said earlier on Twitter that it had received "some reports of ICE at subway stations, but none have been substantiated."

A senior administration official said Sunday that the operation had begun. Its aim: detaining and deporting about 2,000 undocumented immigrants who've been ordered removed from the United States in immigration courts.

The raids are slated for Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco, a senior immigration official said. New Orleans is also on the list, but the city tweeted last week that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it would suspend operations through the weekend in areas hit by Tropical Storm Barry, which weakened to a tropical depression Sunday.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Monday that he didn't know how many people had been arrested because the acting director of ICE hadn't told him.

Asked why he didn't have details, Cuccinelli said, "presumably because operational details are kept contained within the agency executing the operation, as they should be."

On Sunday, Cuccinelli characterized the raids as normal ICE business and pointed to statistics showing ICE has deported fewer people under President Donald Trump than it did under President Barack Obama.

"This is their job every day. We've got compassionate, loyal ICE agents who are just doing their job," he said. "It shows you how far we've fallen in that it's become news that they would actually go deport people who have removal orders."

Word of the planned raids has sent fear rippling through immigrant communities.

Across the United States, advocacy groups have been canvassing neighborhoods, handing out fliers telling people what to do if ICE agents show up at their door.

Advocates told CNN they're not letting down their guard.

"I'm worried they may conduct sweeps Monday or Tuesday," Cabrera said. "They may not. But lying to us could be part of the game."

CNN's Jim Acosta, Priscilla Alvarez, Devan Cole, Kevin Liptak, Taylor Romine, Rosa Flores and Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

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