Hundreds of people march in New York in opposition to the Trump administration’s plans to continue with raids to catch immigrants in the country illegally in Queens on Sunday.
Julius Constantine Motal/AP
President Trump’s threatened roundup of undocumented immigrant families this weekend that sent migrants in many communities on edge showed few signs of materializing on Sunday, the second time rumors of a large-scale immigration enforcement operation failed to come to fruition.
Instead, in the cities where rumors of mass raids swirled, many immigrants stayed inside their homes, as jitters turned typically vibrant migrant markets and commercial corridors eerily quiet.
Immigrant advocates across the country, meanwhile, took to the streets to demonstrate in protest of the promised roundup.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not confirm any arrests, nor would immigrant rights activists.
“The ACLU has not heard reports of any raids today,” Ruthie Epstein, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy director for immigration policy, told NPR.
Before Sunday, there were weekend reports of attempted arrests by ICE in New York, New Jersey and Chicago, where The New York Times reported that a mother and her daughters were apprehended but the family was immediately released. But those actions appeared to be part of routine enforcement activity, not connected to a massive raid operation.
Still, fears of ICE catching migrants by surprise sent many into hiding on Sunday.
In Miami, one of the cities anticipating the crackdown on immigrants, a hush fell over a market usually buzzing with activity among immigrant merchants and shoppers.
“People are clearly hiding. If you look around, it’s the people who are working are basically the only people here. But the majority of our clients are immigrants. Some with papers, others with no papers, but they are all scared,” Yohanna Gomez, a Honduran immigrant who runs a Central American stall at the market, told WLRN.
A similar scene played out in in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, typically bustling with immigrants from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. But on Sunday, the streets were noticeably calmer and vendors seemed to have taken the day off due to the threatened raids.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Saturday that ICE had already attempted to make arrests in the city, but they were not successful.
Activists have been spreading the word to migrants to not open their doors if an immigration agents knocks, since they cannot use force to enter a residence.
In Chicago, another city where federal immigrants officials were expecting to conduct raids, streets in immigrant communities were scarcer than on a normal Sunday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the residents on the north side of Chicago before the raids were supposed to start.
“This is a community that has a diversity of people coming from all over the world,” she said. “There’s been a lot of rumors,” Lightfoot said. “Dangling this sword over peoples’ head is causing great harm and trauma to entire households, entire communities.”
The weekend operation was reportedly supposed to focus on immigrant families who have been sent final orders of removal after failing to appear in court. And top administration officials have argued that many of the estimated 2,000 migrants who fit this category have ignored requests to turn themselves in. President Trump originally set the nationwide raids for June before delaying the planned mass arrests in order to give Congress more time to hammer out changes to federal asylum law.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing four immigration legal aid nonprofit groups, sued to blocks the raids on Thursday, arguing that while the Trump administration claims the migrants have been given an opportunity to appear in court, many never received the paperwork because of letters being sent to wrong addresses, or when they did arrive, the requests to appear did not contain specific dates and times.
And so, the lawsuit claimed, the families that were expected to be targeted have never received proper notice of removal and did not have their day in court before an immigration judge.
“Unless this Court enforces that requirement, thousands of individuals could be deported without ever receiving a fair opportunity to appear before a judge, as required by the Due Process Clause and the immigration laws,” wrote lawyer Melinda LeMoine in the suit, which is pending a judge’s ruling.
WNYC’s Beth Fertig contributed to this report.