WXXI AM News

Local protests over immigration policies

Jul 13, 2019

Hundreds of people gathered in Washington Square Park in Rochester Friday night to protest the treatment of undocumented immigrants.
Credit Spectrum News

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is expected to conduct raids in at least 9 cities across the U.S. on Sunday, or around that time. They reportedly include New York City, and several other large cities.

The New York Times reported that immigration agents will work to deport anyone they find undocumented. Sara Curtis with the Rochester Rapid Response Network said some people may not be aware they are a target.

“There’s like clerical administrative issues within the department itself that people aren’t actually receiving communications. And then the other things is that ICE will take anyone that is intercepted in these sweeps and raids. Just anybody can get picked up and unfortunately that also means many, many children, Curtis said.

Curtis says the  threat of raids also raises questions about detention centers where detainees would be placed.

“If a raid like that was to happen in New York or in Upstate New York, our detention centers are totally already overflowing with people. There’s not even capacity to handle mass raids,” she said.

In Rochester, Deputy Mayor James Smith says that Rochester mains a sanctuary city, and local police will not comply if raids do happen here.

"If ICE is going to be targeting immigrants and refugees, it’s not something we support and it’s not something we’re going to assist them with. Federal courts have said that local police agencies do not need to do that. We do not need to carry out that function that is a federal function," Smith said.

Smith added that the city is obligated to comply with the U.S. and New York state constitution, but police will not be taking on additional responsibilities related to targeting immigrants and refugees.

Protesters are planning a demonstration Sunday outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Irondequoit in response to the expected raids across the country.

Hundreds of people turned out in Rochester's Washington Square Park on Friday night in a 'Lights for Liberty' vigil, part of a national effort to oppose family separation, and the conditions in which migrants are being held.