Fearing ICE Raids, Immigrants In Baltimore Stay Home | WYPR

Fearing ICE Raids, Immigrants In Baltimore Stay Home

Jul 14, 2019

Protestors march outside Baltimore's ICE offices at Hopkins Plaza last week.
Credit Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore is one of 10 cities where President Donald Trump announced Immigration and Customs Enforcement — known as ICE — would conduct targeted deportation raids beginning Sunday.

The threat of those raids has made some members of local immigrant communities afraid to leave their homes.

Lilia Torres and her brother were selling tacos at the Latin American Folklore Fest in Patterson Park Sunday afternoon. The Dundalk resident said the tacos are typical in her hometown of Morelos, Mexico.

She said her sisters would have been at the festival, too, but they were scared of the announced raids.

“They’re scared to go outside today, the stores. They don’t want to come to the park,” Torres said.

Tiffany Nelms, director of Asylee Women’s Enterprises, said that fear is common among many of the immigrants she works with.

Even people who have legal refugee status, she said, are afraid that if they leave their homes, they will be detained by ICE.

“We try to tell our clients, ‘It’s OK. Go out. You’re here. You’re in a legal process that hasn’t been completed yet, so even in the worst-case scenario that you get stopped, you show them your identification,’” she said. “They still won’t go out.”

Among the assistance she offers her clients, Nelms said she helps them decide who would take care of their children if they get detained by ICE.

“As a social worker, these kinds of conversations are really troubling — to have to work with a family to talk about the very real possibility that their parent could go to work, they could go to the store, they could go to the gas station and not come back,” she said.

She said she tells her clients that if immigration enforcement agents knock on their doors, do not open them unless the agents have a warrant signed by a judge.