ICE accused of targeting undocumented parents taking their kids to school: reports
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is being accused of targeting undocumented parents when they take their kids to school.
Officers have said they go after undocumented adults with criminal records and not specific schools. But immigration rights activists said three incidents occurred in Colorado in the past week involving fathers detained before or after dropping off their children, USA Today reported Thursday.
In addition, ICE detained a father in Portland, Ore., after he got his children on the school bus last week, as well as a woman after she dropped off her child at a school in South Philadelphia this month, according to CBS affiliate KOIN in Oregon and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
ICE spokeswoman Tanya Roman defended its Portland arrest, saying Tomas Galvan-Rodriguez was a Mexican citizen in the U.S. illegally and was previously convicted for a hit and run 2004 and larceny in 2008.
“The location of Galvan-Rodriguez’s traffic stop and subsequent arrest did not occur at a known marked school bus stop or a location that was previously known to the officers,” Roman said in a statement.
ICE says it has a “sensitive location” policy forbidding them from making arrests in schools, hospitals, churches, funerals and weddings, but a school bus stop is legal if there are no children present.
The American Friends Service Committee of Colorado called the incidents a “cruel tactic” that “violates the spirit of the sensitive locations policies.”
“The point of the sensitive locations policy is to protect the safety of children and community members from the trauma of witnessing enforcement,” Jordan Garcia, a spokesman for the group, told USA Today.
ICE said that 86 percent of its arrests last year involved people either with a previous criminal conviction or pending criminal charges besides the immigration violations. ICE officers have said they prefer detaining people in courthouses or jails because of the lack of weapons and risk to the public.
“Let me be very clear, ICE does not conduct patrols, raids, or sweeps looking for illegal aliens. Individuals and groups making such accusations are doing nothing but fearmongering and in turn, putting the public and our officers at risk,” John Fabbricatore, acting field office director in Denver, said in a statement obtained by The Hill.
“Our officers are professionals who uphold the law as written by Congress,” Fabbricatore said. “If anyone has an issue with the law, they need to take it to their Congressional representative and stop directing their frustrations with the law at federal employees.”