A rally against ICE in Columbia Heights on July 16, 2018, shortly after multiple arrests in the same neighborhood.
A rally against ICE in Columbia Heights on July 16, 2018, shortly after multiple arrests in the same neighborhood. Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Just hours after Donald Trumppublicly delayed an ICE operation that would target 2,000 immigrant families in D.C. and across the country, immigration officers reportedly descended on several homes and businesses across the District of Columbia. At least two people were arrested and detained, taken from their children in a family apartment in Northwest D.C.

The family was waiting for a maintenance worker to show up Saturday evening when they got a knock on the door, according to Luzhilda Campos, the deportation defense manager at the immigrant-led advocacy group United We Dream. She says the family thought it was their handyman and opened up. ICE agents walked in. They interrogated the whole family for a while and then took both parents away, leaving their children behind. Campos spoke to their son and to their employer. She says both children are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a policy that allows some immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children to receive a renewable deferred action from deportation.

“Right now, our largest concern is that there is publicly available knowledge that the largest detention center in Virginia has a mumps quarantine,” explains Kelly White, an attorney who runs the detained adult program for the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. “So our concern is that family members may be sent out of state, likely to Alabama or Louisiana.”

Sanctuary DMV, a local volunteer group that runs an immigration emergency hotline, also received multiple reports Saturday night of ICE activity across Northwest D.C. They do not know of any additional people detained, but they learned through their hotline that ICE agents interrogated people at several businesses around Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights over the course of Saturday evening.

An ICE spokesperson could not confirm whether there was ICE activity in D.C. Saturday.

“I don’t know if you can print what I want to say,” says Jennifer Amuzie, a volunteer with Sanctuary DMV. “The fact that we spent half a week scrambling [to prepare for the threatened raids] and then let [Trump] seem like this nice guy for calling them off and then to have our community attacked and broken up anyways?”

Advocates expressed differing opinions as to whether the activity Saturday night was related to the national operation Trump advertised. “The reality is that raids have been and continue to happen on a daily basis,” says Campos. “Trump simply announced an increase as a means to manipulate congress into giving them more money.”

“Unfortunately, we are at constant risk with or without [an] announcement,” she continued. 

Sanctuary DMV is planning a rally this coming Saturday in response to the raids, which will start at 4:30 pm at Columbia Heights Civic Plaza.

“This is the moment that D.C. officials need to not only condemn raids, but to take meaningful action to make D.C. actually a sanctuary city,” says Sanctuary DMV member Ben Beachy. “Nice words aren’t enough.”

This post has been updated to include the time and location of Sanctuary DMV’s rally in response to the raids. 

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