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As ICE Raids Begin, Advocates Remind Immigrants That 'You Have Rights'

"I can only imagine the fear our immigrant communities feel this morning."

As seen through fencing, migrants—including a young child—stand while being detained by Department of Homeland Security police after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier, on June 27, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.

As seen through fencing, migrants—including a young child—stand while being detained by Department of Homeland Security police after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier, on June 27, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Long-feared ICE raids began quietly over the weekend as the agency moved slowly to lead off what's expected to be several days of actions targeting families as part of President Donald Trump's war on immigrants. 

Plans for the raids were made public on July 11. Reporting from The New York Times revealed the scope of the planned raids—targeting 10 cities and thousands of families—and President Donald Trump, in a tweet, confirmed the operation. 

In the days leading up to the weekend, as Common Dreams reported Saturday, politicians, celebrities, and activists used their platforms to promote a "know your rights" campaign for potential victims of the raids.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) used his mailing list to "target a message to supporters that may be impacted by the upcoming enforcement raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement" according to CNN's Ryan Nobles.

The raids began in New York City on Saturday morning, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, with unsuccessful attempts in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park and Harlem in Manhattan. The city is not cooperating with the operation. 

In a tweet, de Blasio told his constituents that the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and other advocates were going door to door to distribute resources. 

"Remember: you have rights," the mayor tweeted. 

News from other cities targeted by ICE, such as Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, and others—New Orleans operations were postponed due to Tropical Storm Barry—on the raids has been muted. But whether or not the raids end up netting all the targets may be beside the point, as Saru Jayaraman, president and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunity Center United, told the Washington Post:

It's both the specificity (10 cities) and the randomness (no one knows where agents will show up) that cause anxiety among workers, she added. Employees will just leave their workplaces rather than wait on ICE agents to possibly appear, and their departures can sometimes leave restaurants in the lurch.

The waiting is the hardest part, said Americans for Immigrant Justice Director of Family Defense Adonia Simpson.

"I can't help but feel like we are waiting for the other shoe to drop," said Simpson. "Given the anxiety I have been feeling, I can only imagine the fear our immigrant communities feel this morning."

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