Immigration activists have been sent scrambling in recent days amid reports from around the nation of a surge in immigration raids, as Democratic lawmakers in Congress demanded answers from federal officials, worried this was the start of big push against illegal immigrants by the Trump Administration.
“At this point it is unclear how many cities or localities are being targeted though anecdotal reports indicate Los Angeles, Atlanta, Austin, and areas of Kansas may be implicated,” said an alert sent out by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“I had several calls from high school students worried about their undocumented parents and ICE showing up at their home,” said Mana Yegani, an immigration lawyer in Houston, said on Twitter.
But it wasn’t immediately clear that these raids were part of a brand new crackdown by the Trump Administration.
The AILA told its members – and some lawmakers in Congress have been told the same – that this is simply the renewal of an immigration effort that was started during the Obama Administration, known as “Operation Cross Check,” but possibly with some broader detention guidelines as well.
Back in March of 2015, Operation Cross Check was used to arrest 2,059 criminals who were here in the U.S. illegally.
The flurry of reports about new raids raised suspicion among Democratic lawmakers in the Congress, who have been on guard for immigration enforcement changes in the Trump Administration.
“I am asking ICE to clarify whether these individuals are in fact dangerous, violent threats to our communities, and not people who are here peacefully raising families and contributing to our state,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX).
Immigration officials have characterized the activity as normal efforts to pick up people who are not only in the U.S. illegally, but who have committed crimes.
“ICE immigration enforcement actions target specific individuals according to the laws passed by Congress,” said a tweet from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which repeated a refrain of, “Know the facts” about their operations.
But there are some who see something different.
“I am a lawyer,” said Texas immigration attorney Robert Armstrong Jr.
“I represent immigrants and their families. I’m going to be very busy for the next four years,” he said on Twitter.