Long-time US immigrants fear ICE raids

World Today

Immigrant communities across America remain on edge. The U.S. President may have backed off on a threat to begin mass deportations this week, but said he’s ready to put them back in motion as early as next month. CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports from Denver.

It looks like a normal family portrait — Ingrid Encalada Latorre with her two boys — but there’s little normal in Ingrid’s life. A church in Boulder, Colorado, is the only place where she gets to see her kids.

“I don’t go outside, like normal, my family you know,” Encalada Latorre said. “I don’t pick up my kids from school. So this is the hard part. I feel sometimes I’m in the prison.”

Jeanette Vizguerra lives away from her children too, in this church in Denver.

“Ah, it’s a little difficult,” she sighs.

Both are immigrants, in the U.S. illegally, who fear deportation and have taken sanctuary to avoid arrest by immigration authorities.

“I know I’m a target,” said Vizguerra. “There are others around the country who are like me, vocal and public, and we are definitely targets.”

Their circumstances may be unusual because they’ve been outspoken about immigration issues, but their cases are not. Undocumented immigrants across America are looking over their shoulders these days. Raids targeting 2,000 of them may have been postponed, but the move hasn’t eased their concerns.

“Anxiety and fear and I think a little bit of whiplash has been happening with everything that kind of comes out of the White House,” said Jordan Garcia with the American Friends Service Committee.

He helps run the Colorado Rapid Response Network, a two-year-old hotline staffed by 400 volunteers created to safeguard immigrants’ rights.

The network encourages people to report immigration enforcement activity, and it reminds immigrants that only ICE agents with valid arrest or search warrants signed by a judge are allowed inside their doors.”

“ICE will be looking for one particular individual, and when they’re not able to find that person, they get anyone they can,” Garcia said. “What we want to do is make sure that we can just prevent as much of that collateral damage as possible.”

Encalada Latorre uses the word “panic” to describe what fellow immigrants are feeling.

“They don’t want to go outside, they don’t want to go shopping, they don’t want to go to the park,” she said. “They want just want to stay and feel safe inside the house.”

“People are afraid and I’ve received lots of calls and messages, and I tell them,  ‘live your normal life. Don’t let that fear stop you,’” Vizguerra said.

Since ICE policy has essentially made churches enforcement-free zones, both women feel fairly secure at the moment, but they don’t like their situations.

“I’m not afraid,” said Vizguerra. “If I leave though, I know 11 years of struggle would be lost. They would pick me up and deport me as fast as they can.”

It’s shaping up to be a tense summer for people who broke the law to seek a better life in the U.S. and are at more risk than ever of paying a high price for that decision.