ICE raids, talk cause the jitters in Elkhart County immigrant community

Sunday Jan. 10, 2016

The detentions of 121 undocumented immigrants by federal immigration officials, announced Jan. 4, 2016, caused the jitters among Elkhart County immigrants. Elkhart County immigration attorney Felipe Merino discusses immigration issues at a Nov. 25, 2014, presentation in this archive photo. By Tim Vandenack

The detentions of 121 undocumented immigrants by federal immigration officials, announced Jan. 4, 2016, caused the jitters among Elkhart County immigrants. Elkhart County immigration attorney Felipe Merino discusses immigration issues at a Nov. 25, 2014, presentation in this archive photo. By Tim Vandenack

On Monday Jan. 4, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the detention of 121 undocumented immigrants in an operation over the prior weekend. He said more action, focused on undocumented Central Americans, could be forthcoming.

That, plus earlier talk of such action, spurred nervousness in the Hispanic and immigrant community in Elkhart County. I received word that evening of Jan. 4 of a supposed raid, ongoing, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at an apartment complex in south Elkhart and went. Nothing.

Still, talk was rampant on Facebook and elsewhere about supposed ICE action, the fear of ICE action, and I looked into it, getting in touch with a pair of immigration attorneys and an ICE official, among others. Here’s the story that resulted:

“People are frantic right now,” one immigration attorney told me. “I have folks all over that are on the edge right now.”

Turns out a local law enforcement unit that also goes by the acronym ICE (focused on drug dealers, not undocumented immigrants) had conducted an operation at the south Elkhart complex. They arrested a Hispanic man, but on drug charges, not immigration violations.

 

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Filed under Elkhart, Immigration

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