Passaic Mayor Urges People to ‘Stop Crying Wolf’ About ICE Raids
There were no confirmed reports of mass immigration raids across New Jersey on Monday following weekend rumors that federal activity would be stepped up.
But communities with large immigrant populations remained on edge, uncertain of what activity may unfold in the days ahead.
Passaic Mayor Hector Lora and Passaic Police Chief Luis Guzman held two Facebook Live sessions on Sunday, in English and Spanish, responding to citizens’ concerns about expected ICE raids.
Lora said people sharing false information on social media should "stop crying wolf" so that when something serious happens, it still would be taken seriously.
Lora also dismissed a rumor that a routine traffic checkpoint in the city was an ICE operation and said police are out there to do their job.
Guzman offered to send city police to any residence where people suspected that ICE agents were knocking on the door in order to "verify" who the visitors might be.
"I believe in appropriate law enforcement," Lora said. "I will cooperate with ICE agents and federal immigration representatives when they are seeking out criminals and when they are doing their jobs. But not when it comes to creating panic in our community for political points or to divide our community."
He also said "there is a balance and a fine line we must walk."
Due to "law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security" of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency said Monday it would not offer specific details related to enforcement operations.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat who represents Passaic, said of the Facebook live session: “It is tragic that communities are taking these measures, but they have become necessary in these dark times. I applaud our great police department and the mayor for their vigilance. Our constituents are rightly unsettled. Passaic residents, like all Americans, should feel safe in their streets, on their way to work, or to trips to the supermarket."
ICE said that 90% of the people it agents arrested last year had criminal convictions, were facing new criminal charges, had been previously deported or were fugitives.
"As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security," ICE officials said. "However, all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and – if found removable by final order – removal from the United States."
Pascrell also said of President Trump's announcement back in June of a new round of ICE activity: "Donald Trump has ordered these raids to deliberately instill fear, tear families apart, and divide this nation. My office will keep educating constituents and inform every one of their legal rights. And I’m going to keep fighting for an America that is led by people and policies that unite us, not rip us apart.”
The first Facebook live event, delivered in English by Lora and Guzman, is below: