Nationwide Immigration Raids Stoke Local Fears

The Department of Homeland Security has begun a large-scale effort to deport people who have illegally crossed the southern border into the country within the last two years.

DHS says 121 people were taken into custody in raids last weekend in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. The raids targeted adults and children who have crossed the United States’ southern border since 2014, and who have since been issued final orders of removal.

There are 89 individuals in Massachusetts who fall under this category, making them eligible targets for the DHS raids, according to federal data compiled by Syracuse University’s TRAC Immigration site.

“We’re talking about primarily women and children who were fleeing violence in Central America,” says Sarang Sekhavat, federal policy director at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA).

Sekhavat says that ever since federal authorities revealed plans for the targeted sweeps, MIRA has been fielding calls from community members who are afraid to leave their homes, worried about being swept up in a raid.

“We met someone who said she didn’t go to work because she was terrified of what was going on,” he explained. “You know people see police officers at T stations and they assume they’re ICE officers. They might be keeping their kids home from school, all kinds of problems like that.”

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