Baltimore Prepares For ICE Raids

Jul 13, 2019
Originally published on July 14, 2019 2:09 pm
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to start the program today in Baltimore, Md., which is one of 10 cities anticipating raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. ICE is expected to try to arrest thousands of undocumented immigrant families in cities across the country beginning tomorrow morning. Last night in Baltimore, hundreds of protesters marched to express their opposition to this plan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Shouting) What do we do?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Stand up, fight back.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Shouting) What do we do?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Stand up, fight nack.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: If we don't show up, who will? This is a - we've reached a kind of a crisis stage. And people of conscience either need to show up or shut up.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: I think it's important for my children to know what's going on in the world, and I think it's important for them to learn to stand up for other human beings - that I feel like this is not a political issue. This is basic human rights, and I think that anybody, regardless of political beliefs, should be here.

MARTIN: Unlike some cities and towns, Baltimore has not just tolerated immigrants in recent years - it has welcomed them as an answer to a declining population. In 2012, Baltimore's mayor at the time, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, set a goal of adding 10,000 families to Baltimore by opening the door to immigrants. Immigrants now make up about 8% of Baltimore's population. Now, with the announcement of impending ICE raids, some members of this community are anxious.

LYDIA WALTHER-RODRIGUEZ: There's constant calls to our hotlines asking if they should go to a community festival happening this weekend - if they should come out, you know, and do their daily routines.

MARTIN: Lydia Walther-Rodriguez is the lead organizer in Baltimore for the advocacy group CASA Maryland. CASA was one of the groups leading last night's protest march. For the past few weeks, CASA has been holding know your rights training for people in Baltimore who worried about being caught up in an ICE action.

WALTHER-RODRIGUEZ: There's been a rumor that ICE is supposed to be picking up at least 2,000 people here. So we're seeing community members stepping up to making sure they're organizing and informing other community members about their rights. But, you know, through all of this, community members are still in fear. They're still in panic.

MARTIN: Walther-Rodriguez introduced us to Carlos, who's been living in Baltimore for 17 years with his family. He is in the country without authorization, so we're only using his first name. Carlos has been participating in the training offered by CASA. He's been coached on how to respond to an ICE agent.

CARLOS: (Speaking Spanish).

WALTHER-RODRIGUEZ: He would only give his name, and he would ask to speak to an attorney.

CARLOS: (Speaking Spanish).

WALTHER-RODRIGUEZ: Because he understands his rights, and he knows that he should not be forced to sign any papers that he doesn't understand what they say.

MARTIN: We also met Jesus Perez, who was brought to the U.S. as a child and is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

JESUS PEREZ: It's a mixture of feelings from the community. Some people are, like, oh, nothing's going to happen. Some people are very anxious and very - like, the anxiety to them is bad because they call me, or they send me a message saying, Jesus, what can I do? And obviously, I can't tell people to stop living but just to be aware of their surroundings no matter where they are.

MARTIN: And as Lydia Walther-Rodriguez pointed out to us, the immigrant community in Baltimore has been here before.

WALTHER-RODRIGUEZ: We've definitely experienced this kind of, you know, raid scares before the Trump administration - during the Obama administration as well. Yet, with the Trump administration, it seems like it's a fear tactic. It's a scare tactic. It's a continue, like, psychological warfare that's happening against our immigrant communities. And this weekend is yet another weekend of him postponing, saying that he's going to be doing these massive raids. And there's really been solidarity and an uprising of community members wanting to get involved and wanting to stand with their immigrant community members that has been amazing to see. But knowing your rights is your first line of defense against a detention or being a victim of a raid. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.