On Tuesday in San Antonio, Grassroots Leadership, RAICES, the Austin Sanctuary Network, Movimento Cosecha, and local partners joined with immigrant advocates across the nation to demand accountability from ICE. The coordinated national actions were in response to ICE’s planned mega-raids during the month of September.
Grassroots staff member Rebecca Sanchez titled the national event “ICE: Show Us Your Papers,” flipping the script of typical interactions for the community to expose ICE’s corruption. The organizations partnered to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on the raids at field offices across the country. Organizers in San Antonio submitted the request electronically and delivered in print to Field Office Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Daniel Bible, only to be met with his denial, derision, and lack of response.
Barbie Hurtado, community organizer at RAICES San Antonio, explained the community’s distrust that ICE canceled the raids: “ICE wants to do mega raids all over the country, they said they won’t be raiding in Texas and Florida, but we know that they’re not honest… We will no longer accept them terrorizing our community.”
Sulma Franco, a leader of the Austin Sanctuary Network, gave context for the constant terrorization that ICE causes. “The Latinx community is suffering from many attacks,” she said. “The raids in February separated families, many fathers and mothers were deported, many children are suffering psychologically... We have SB4, a racist law to target our families and communities, we have DACA revoked, and Temporary Protected Status being removed. Now we know that ICE has been planning these raids to pick up over 8,000 people.”
The community will not tolerate these actions, however, as Franco explained, “Just like ICE asks us to show them our papers, we are demanding that ICE show us their papers, and to show us when, where, and why they are planning these raids. ICE has always taken us by surprise because they have lied to us… The Latinx community is no longer afraid. We are present, here as part of the immigrant community, to say: enough of these attacks.”
Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership, asked if ICE is coming for her next as an undocumented woman. “We know that a community broken by deportations is not good for anyone,” she said. “Today we want to remember some of the people who have been victims of these raids and deportations… We say ‘presente’ to remember their resilience carries on, and we have to fight for those who are still here so the same does not happen to us.”
The group was led in song by organizers from Movimiento Cosecha based in San Antonio. “We, the people, have the power,” said their spokeswoman Alejandra.
As national organizations including Mijente have stated, ICE under the Trump administration has been unmonitored in its corruption and daily targeting of immigrants for detention and deportation. “We want ICE to know there is never a right time to raid our communities or to take away our loved ones, whether or not there is a hurricane,” said Norma Herrera, criminal justice organizer at Grassroots Leadership. “ICE is unchained and needs to be stopped.”
Prevented from entering with cameras, belts, glasses, or bags, the organizers returned from the meeting with Bible unsatisfied. The office denied that raids have taken place in the past, that they have broken into people’s homes, and targeted individuals who were not an enforcement priority. “They lied saying they have no information on the raids, that they have been canceled, they cannot say anything, that it all comes from Washington,” said Franco. “This makes it clearer to us that we are never to trust ICE, and we cannot lower our guard, we need to resist, we need to demand more justice for the immigrant community. We are no longer afraid. We are no longer going to live in the shadows as immigrants.”
The interaction was worsened by Bible’s smiling throughout the conversation, while Barbie, Sulma, and Norma were explaining the trauma and horror of deportation in their communities. Bible smiled and dismissed their stories with a ludicrous comparison: That it was also hard for ICE agents to have to listen to children asking them not to deport parents.
“This was the response we expected from an agency like ICE that is always lying, that thinks it’s funny to break families apart and hurt innocent people,” Muñoz said. “This is not going to stop here. We are not just going to drop the papers without following up. We know that even if the raids don’t happen this weekend, we know they’re coming. This is the time to resist, and to organize.”
See our recorded video of the event on Twitter.