At 6 a.m. Wednesday, 24 hours after federal immigration agents descended on their neighborhood, residents of a near-West Side Central American immigrant community went about the business of going to work and taking children to school.
The pre-dawn presence Tuesday of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers sent ripples of fear not just through the Westmont Drive apartment complex in East Price Hill but through the city’s entire Central American immigrant community.
The fear, advocates said, is that Cincinnati could be among the next sites of newly stated deportation raids.
On Wednesday, though, the community exhaled, even as its advocates planned an education session that would reinforce their rights.
“We don’t know of anyone who was detained,” said Don Sherman, retired executive director of the Interfaith Workers Center in Over-the-Rhine. “It appears to be a fugitive warrant.”
An ICE spokeswoman on Wednesday would not confirm the purpose of Tuesday’s presence in East Price Hill but detailed the enforcement policy outlined late this past year by Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security.
“ICE focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” Jennifer Elzea, ICE deputy press secretary, wrote in an email to The Enquirer. “This includes individuals, whether alone or with family members, who have been apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, recent border crossers, and individuals who have received a final order of removal on or after Jan. 1, 2014.”
An unspecified number of ICE agents, clearly identifiable by their yellow jackets, stopped several women beginning at 6 Tuesday morning in and near the sprawling Westmont complex. Witnesses said agents stopped only women who were outside, asked for identification and were clearly looking for two or three women, including one woman whom agents referred to as “Blanca.”
By Mark Curnutte for cincinnati
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