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ICE staking out church homeless shelters

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  • ICE staking out church homeless shelters


    Alex Emmons
    February 27 2017, 12:46 p.m.

    Two dozen homeless men and women filed out of Rising Hope United Methodist Church, where they had found sanctuary the night before from the wind and brutal cold.

    Each winter for more than 15 years, the church has acted as an overnight homeless shelter along the decaying Route 1 corridor in Alexandria, Virginia. Volunteers serve the visitors a hot meal and unroll sleeping bags for them on the church floor. The visitors have to leave the next morning by 7, when the church starts its daytime operations.

    That morning in early February, as the men and women gathered in the church parking lot, a few of them noticed three unmarked cars parked across the street. Then a group of seven or eight Latino men split off from the group and headed for the shopping center across the street.

    As soon as the men stepped onto the opposite sidewalk, a dozen federal agents burst out of the cars, forced them up against a wall, handcuffed them, and interrogated them for at least half an hour.

    Multiple witnesses described the events to The Intercept. “They just jumped out,” said Ralph, one of the men who had spent the night in the church. “Then [the men] were lined up on the wall.”

    “They just looked like regular cars,” said Ashley, who witnessed the raid from across the street. “Then the agents just jumped out. It looked like regular police, but the vests said ICE.” Ashley and Ralph both said they were afraid to give their last names.

    Oscar Ramirez, one of the men who was interrogated, was released after he convinced agents he had a green card. He told the community newspaper that the agents used portable fingerprint scanners on his hands, then let him go.

    Witnesses said the other six or seven Latino men were taken away and shoved into in a van, already half full with other arrestees.

    A spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The Intercept that the ICE agents had “conducted consensual interviews” and “identified two criminal aliens.” She refused to say how many people were arrested, or explain why agents were waiting across the street from a church.

    But to the longtime pastor of Rising Hope, the message was chilling: His church is now a target.

    “They were not here because they were doing a routine community sweep. They were clearly targeting,” said Rev. Keary Kincannon. “They were waiting until the Hispanic men came out of the church. And they rounded them all up. They didn’t question the blacks. They didn’t question the whites. They were clearly going after folks that were Latino.”

    “I don’t know their names. I don’t know where they’re being held. I don’t even know how many there are,” immigration attorney Nick Marritz told me. “That does make it very hard for us to put a case together.”

    Marritz works for the Legal Aid Justice Center, which serves low-income communities in Northern Virginia. Two weeks after the church stakeout, Marritz was still working with witnesses to figure out who was taken and where they are — information he needs to legally challenge the arrests.

    To members of the church community, the men have effectively been disappeared, and ICE officials are still refusing to provide them with any answers.

    ICE maintains a public database online that allows anyone to search detainees by name, date of birth, and an alien — or “A” — number. But the database is often crippled by processing delays and clerical errors and is useless to searchers who don’t know exactly who they are looking for.

    It can also be difficult for homeless and low-income people to contact someone on the outside. “In the case of people who are experiencing homelessness like this, it’s hard for us to say how big the support network is,” said Marritz. “Who do they know to contact? Whoever might know about [them], they haven’t let me know.”

    Marritz, Kincannon, and other United Methodist Church leaders walked into ICE’s regional office in Fairfax on February 17 and demanded the names and whereabouts of the people arrested. “We went to have a vigil and to try with talk with them to find who did they ask, who did they take, what were their charges. Not only would they not meet with us, they wouldn’t tell us the names of anybody,” said Kincannon.

    “They just said: ‘We’re not going to meet with you, we’re not going to give you the names. Please leave,’” said Marritz.

    It is not uncommon for homeless and low-income immigrants to virtually disappear into the U.S. immigration detention system. Prisoners are frequently shuffled around between more than 200 detention facilities. Most of them are held in prisons run by private companies.

    Lawyers and families members often face obstacles in reaching detainees. Audits by the Government Accountability Office have found that officers in immigration prisons frequently deny detainees phone calls, or prevent them from making phone calls during business hours. Some detainees have reported that prison phones drop calls before they can leave voicemails. In many Customs and Border Protection facilities, prisoners have to purchase calling cards to use the phone — which puts a call beyond the financial means of many.
    During a Sunday sermon 11 days after the raid, Kincannon told the congregation about a Latino woman and U.S. citizen who frequents the church food pantry. “She is so frightened she will be picked up and deported before she can prove her citizenship,” he said, “she has started carrying her birth certificate with her.”

    Note that there was no probable cause: They just grabbed a bunch of people who "looked" like illegal immigrants, handcuffed them, and subjected them to "consensual interviews" for half an hour, then arrested two who couldn't prove that they were NOT illegal aliens.

    Put another way, they grievously violated the rights of at least five American citizens for the net benefit of POSSIBLY arresting two illegal aliens who were so much of a threat that they were sleeping overnight in a church homeless shelter.

  • #2
    I already feel how America is Great Again...

    Any idea what job the illegals had? I know some Trump supporters that claims the illegals were stealing the jobs, so I would like to tell the Trump supporters what jobs Trump got back for them.


    • #3
      Originally posted by simpleman View Post
      Any idea what job the illegals had? I know some Trump supporters that claims the illegals were stealing the jobs, so I would like to tell the Trump supporters what jobs Trump got back for them.

      Around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, Oscar Ramirez, Marvin Roach, Thermon Brewster and other men emerged from the hypothermia shelter at Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church on Russell Road in the Mount Vernon Area of Alexandria. Many walked next door to 7-Eleven for cold beers, they said, to begin planning the day out, as is their routine.
      I don't know, but sign me up!


      • #4
        Originally posted by StrongSilentType View Post
        I don't know, but sign me up!
        There is nothing to sign up, you just show up to the church and explain that you are homeless, next day you go for a beer and try to figure out what to do with your day, and maybe with your life...