(AUSTIN, Texas) — Austin immigration advocates brace for the impact of massive “Operation Mega” raids, planned to take place nationally in mid to late September, and now reported to have been canceled.
Yesterday, multiple sources within and close to ICE revealed the sweeping plan to target between 6,000 - 10,000 immigrants nationally. These sources reported that the operation would intentionally target anyone who is currently undocumented. Austin immigration advocates are now calling on ICE to release documents that reveal their plans for the raids.
At a time when Trump is building more private detention facilities like the new 1000-bed facility in Conroe, advocates from Detention Watch Network assert that this raid is a mechanism to intentionally elevate detention numbers before the new fiscal year to manufacture a need to fund more new detention beds.
“Trump’s plan to blatantly round up immigrants to fill detention beds ahead of the national budget debate is outrageous. We will continue to organize to defend local immigrant communities from this latest repulsive threat of a white supremacist ideology that dehumanizes immigrants for political gain and corporate profit,” said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership.
Despite ICE’s statement yesterday evening that has been widely reported as a cancellation of the raids, local advocates remain concerned at the threat of raids. They are preparing for the potential of retaliation against Austin due to the city’s defense of its residents from unconstitutional ICE detainers mandated under SB4. During the February raids in Austin, ICE stated that its operations were “routine” to media and local officials but this March, a judge in Austin revealed in open court that mass immigration raids in February were retaliation for Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s detainer policy.
“Since a federal judge revealed in court that ICE had been untruthful about the February raids in Austin, we know that ICE lies. We are wary of reading a vague press statement as a promise that raids will not take place,” said Bethany Carson, immigration researcher and organizer at Grassroots Leadership. “We will not sit back and wait for our community to be attacked. We demand that ICE release its plan and communications about Operation Mega.”
In a press release yesterday, national immigration advocates called on local elected officials across the country to “take immediate steps to ensure that local and state resources are not used to help implement Operation Mega or other enforcement actions.”
There remains no public policy that would prohibit ICE from commandeering Austin Police Department or other local law enforcement to assist in immigration arrests. With the threat of massive raids imminent, local advocates call on Austin City Council and other local officials to act swiftly to ensure our local law enforcement will never be used to assist in terrorizing immigrant communities in Austin.
“Now more than ever, officials at every level of government should cut ties with this agency that uses its power to terrorize our community and then lies to elected officials about the reason for its operation,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.
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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.
Cristina Parker, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-499-8111