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Nationwide Immigration Raids Spark Fear, Concern in Florida

The potential for another round of immigration raids weighs heavily on many Floridians. (www.ice.gov)
The potential for another round of immigration raids weighs heavily on many Floridians. (www.ice.gov)
January 7, 2016

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Lis-Marie (LEES-marie) Alvarado, immigration organizing coordinator, American Friends Service Committee.

A series of controversial raids targeting undocumented immigrants is drawing outrage and concern in Florida. Government officials say 121 adults and children were taken into custody last weekend by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in North Carolina and Georgia, as part of a large-scale effort to deport people who have illegally crossed the southern border into the country within the past two years.

Lis-Marie Alvarado, immigration organizing coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee, says that in many cases, that translates to women and children who were seeking asylum.

"These are people that came here escaping violence, for the most part, particularly children, and we think it's inhumane to send them back," Alvarado says.

Last night, American Friends Service Committee and other immigrant-advocate groups held a vigil in South Florida to allow families fearful of raids to voice their concerns and to help educate them about their rights. Homeland security officials have said the raids are part of the department's enforcement priorities, and will continue as they deem appropriate.

Alvarado says the impact of these raids reaches beyond undocumented immigrants and into the very fabric of the entire community.

"The raids create an atmosphere of fear," she says. "It also destroys the trust that you have to your authorities, including police, because you don't know who to trust."

DHS officials insist all raids will be carried out carefully, however those who work with immigrants and refugees say there is no way to conduct a raid which is not traumatizing to families and children in particular.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL