ICE officers arrest 51 people in Austin raids; Deportation fears grow
SAN ANTONIO -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were busy over the weekend arresting more than 50 undocumented immigrants in Central Texas.
A total of 51 foreign nationals were arrested in Austin, and more across the country, in an ICE operation targeting those with criminal records.
Of the group, ICE officials say 23 had criminal convictions including a citizen of El Salvador who plead guilty to sexual assault of a child.
However, the arrests are causing tension in immigrant communities who fear ICE is rounding up undocumented immigrants.
“There's an overwhelming amount of fear regarding the raids,” said San Antonio immigration attorney Andres Perez.
Perez says he's been getting calls from clients who are concerned about ICE raids in the San Antonio area.
“There's been rumors of people staying home from work, staff not showing up for fear of being raided,” Perez said. “Immigration agents show up at random times and random places, and people simply don't know if they're going to get caught up in the raid or not.”
ICE officials say reports of checkpoints and sweeps are false, adding the raids last week focused on arresting those with criminal records, gang members, immigration fugitives who were already ordered to be deported, and those who were previously deported but reentered the country.
“Assuming the clients don't fall into those categories they shouldn't have anything to worry about,” said Perez. “However, it's very common for ICE to detain individuals at these raids who they're not necessarily looking for, but may not have legal status. ICE will make that determination and could detain them.”
Perez advises all individuals to know their rights.
“I tell my clients that they are obligated to identify themselves, names, date of birth, addresses, but beyond that they don't have to give any information,” he said. “Ask for an attorney and let the immigration proceedings play out.”
And remember, raids like these are not uncommon.
“During the Obama administration we had the highest amount of deportation ever by any president, by leaps and bounds, so this is nothing new,” Perez said.