It is a June morning in a Twin Cities suburb. The young couple has dropped the children off at the babysitter’s house. They are on their way to work. Then vans with flashing police lights block in their car, front and back, and ICE (Immigration Control and Enforcement) agents jump out, guns drawn. They had been watching the house, following the car. They wanted this couple, this mother and father, wife and husband. Handcuffs. Jail.
“Police,” the man at the door told an 11-year-old who answered the door at another home in January. They told his mother they were searching for a gang member, a criminal. They were not. They were ICE agents looking for undocumented immigrants to deport. In this home, they struck out – the mother and son, like most Latinos living in Minnesota, were U.S. citizens. (Most immigrants in Minnesota are citizens or legal permanent residents.)
Shakopee. Blaine. Minneapolis. Farmington. May. June. July. August. Immigration arrests continue, and fear builds, as ICE targets people who have lived in the United States for years. La redada – the raid. Whenever and wherever it comes, la redada spreads fear far beyond its actual targets.
ICE came for the Bloomington family in May. They had worked hard, owned a home, belonged to a church. They had to leave, taking their U.S. citizen children to a “home” in Mexico they had never seen. In their church and community, fear spreads. Who will be next? What plans should families make for their homes, their cars, their children?
In August, ICE descended on the Star Packaging factory in Whitewater, Wisconsin, arresting 25 workers. “”We have been living in the United States for 20 years,” protests a relative. “Our home is here, our job; we have children.”
Also in August, the Barreto family sat in jail in St. Paul. After seventeen years in the United States, they were being sent back to Mexico. Half the family, anyway – mother and father prepared to say goodbye to 16-year-old Jorge and 11-year-old Eric, their U.S. citizen sons. And to their church, their friends, the south Minneapolis community where they lived, the lives they had built since arriving in the United States as young adults with dreams.
Across the country, ICE now targets people with old deportation orders or expired voluntary departure agreements. Who among our friends lives with an expired TPS (Temporary Protected Status) document? Who among our children’s classmates has parents who, many years ago, crossed the border without documents? What family on our block or in our church has one documented, one undocumented parent? As ICE focuses on people who have lived here for years, fear builds in our communities.