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Local group works to make sure immigrants know rights after reports of potential ICE raids

Posted at 5:22 AM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-15 05:22:58-04

WIMAUAMA, Fla. — Activists are making sure people know their rights after reports there would be potential immigration raids on Sunday.

Officials did not name Tampa as part of it, but they did name Miami in a list of 10 cities. By the end of the day, there were no widespread reports of raids, but nonetheless people working with the Florida Immigrant Coalition worked to make sure community members were informed.

"People that are scared, they don't know what to do," said Ana Lamb, an organizer with Florida Immigrant Coalition.

She and others spent hours going door to door and business to business in Wimauma passing out fliers and cards. It included information about people's rights and what someone should do and not do if they're stopped by ICE.

"Even though we are not a target city we know there is people that are facing problems with immigration because the lack of help at the national level," Lamb said.

Authorities said raids would target individuals who had been ordered to be removed by an immigration judge.

While some said it was an attack on communities and causing fear, potential raids were welcome news for some local political leaders.

"Almost about time that we start acting responsibly. I mean keep in mind this is not just indiscriminate raids. What they’re focusing on is people who have actually had hearings, they’ve been targeted as deportations and they violated the deportation order," said Tom Gaitens, state committeeman with the Hillsborough County Republican Party.

Gaitens said he believes Congress needs to reform laws.

"Congress needs to step up and reform the laws that make legal immigration possible, encouraging people not to come across the border and endanger themselves and their children," he said. "If this is a family crisis they need to stop encouraging lawlessness. what we need to do is reform the immigration system so people won’t feel the need to risk their lives to come across the border.

"America is an extremely compassionate, generous, and welcoming country. As it is, we 'legally' take in over a million people every year. We have immigrants from all over the world, of all ethnicities, and races, and we're proud of that.
However, we are a sovereign nation, with laws that are in place to protect our citizens from all asymmetric threats (safety, health, economic, terrorists, crime, etc.) and we have the right to both defend our borders, and to know who enters them," wrote Hillsborough County Republican Party chairman, USAF Ret. Col. Jim Waurishuk in part in a statement.

But Lamb says "the reality is people are coming here to look for the American dream, but what they are finding out is the American nightmare."