DORAVILLE, Ga. — Atlanta area immigrant communities are bracing for what they fear will be raids to deport people illegally in the United States. The Trump administration has said the enforcement will target illegal immigrants who have disregarded orders to leave.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson in Atlanta declined to confirm any raids Sunday because the agency doesn’t discuss future operations.
Yehimi Cambron is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient and professional artist who spent the day painting a mural in Decatur. Her family crossed illegally from Mexico 19 years ago.
"Atlanta is home for us," she said.
Cambron said people in her DeKalb County community have panicked since first hearing about the potential of an ICE raid Sunday and are taking steps to lay low that day.
"Just in general, when raids happen, people stay home," she said. They "make sure nobody’s driving without a license, that people are staying home and not go to work if possible."
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms echoed the advice.
"Remind people they are entitled to due process. They don’t have to open the door. Please make sure you have some type of contingency plan in place for children if you are separated and to the extent you can, record what’s happening," Bottoms said Friday.
"It’s, in my opinion, a political distraction," Bottoms said. "And it’s creating this level of anxiety and chaos that is really dumbfounding when you look at the humanitarian crisis we’re already seeing with (detained immigrant) children."
Enforcement could target immigrant-rich communities like Doraville – where city police have spent years building relations with immigrants of all legal statuses.
"I’ve heard a lot of people who just want to know if there are ICE raids happening," said Doraville councilman Joseph Geierman.
He thinks ICE action would have unintended consequences.
"I don’t think our police are going to change their policy at all. But what I am concerned about is just the fear...could lead to some people not trusting our police," Geierman said.
Doraville police, through a spokesman, declined comment.
Cambron said her community fears any raids would be more far-reaching than announced.
"This isn’t just about undocumented people. Undocumented people are the most vulnerable of course. But... they target the entire community," she said.
There are many supporters of President Trump who are applauding the raids promised by the president. They said ICE needs to do its job – which includes enforcing orders to force out immigrants who disregard orders to leave.