Local professor responds to ICE raids across the country

Foreign nationals were arrested during the week of February 6, 2017, during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens. (Credit: Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs)

TACOMA, Wash. — Immigration and Custom Enforcement, or ICE agents, call the immigration raids and arrests over the weekend routine, with many of those arrested having prior felony convictions.

However, fear is running high among immigrant communities since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, especially after the President’s executive order on immigration.

Robin Jacobson, an associate professor at University of Puget Sound, who has worked on immigrant rights issues. She said the ICE raids have generated a large amount of fear and a community response to prepare for what’s coming.

Jacobson says ICE agents detained not just criminals who were undocumented but also undocumented immigrants with no criminal past, different than what she says occurred during the Obama Administration.

“What’s different is who they’re picking up,” said Jacobson. “There has been an increased tendency when they’re going after one particular individual to then take up anybody who is in the house or the workplace or people who they have come across under the Obama administration that was really minimized, especially during the end of his administration.”

With Seattle being a sanctuary city, which means that local law enforcement do not have to cooperate with ICE agents, Jacobson fears Seattle could now have a target on its back.

“There has been some indication that possibly sanctuary cities might be at the top of the list for some of the raids that are going to be coming up, and seeing this administration’s retributive nature and seeing his desire to prosecute and enforce his decisions against sanctuary cities suggest there might be something to that,” said Jacobson.

However, Jacobson also fears what these raids mean for cities like Tacoma, who opted not to be a sanctuary city, yet where city leaders vowed to protect their immigrants.

“This might present them with even more questions about how to cooperate or not because clearly ice agents and the federal government are going to be requesting more cooperation from police, and I hope that local communities have the fortitude to do the right thing,” said Jacobson.

The Pew Research Center noted in a 2014 study that Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is a metro area with one of the most unauthorized immigrants, an estimated 150,000.