U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Friday disputed allegations from pro-immigrant groups earlier in the week that the agency was targeting parents who were dropping off their children in Colorado.
“Misinformation and rumors concerning U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) presence in neighborhoods conducting targeted enforcement actions continues to be promoted without merit by those with political agendas,” ICE said in a statement.
The agency defended its officers, saying they operate professionally and humanely. There was no mention or denial of the three alleged detentions of fathers in the process of dropping their children off at schools in southeast Denver, Durango and the Montbello neighborhood of Denver. The Colorado Rapid Response Network, a coalition of pro-immigrant advocacy groups, made the initial announcement.
Arguing that ICE employees do not need warrants “when they encounter someone breaking the law in a public space,” the statement continued to say that issuing warrants for civil immigration violations is a responsibility granted “solely to supervisory immigration officers.” No judge, ICE said, “has the authority to issue a warrant for a civil immigration violation.”
John Seaman, a senior legal instructor with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, explained that administrative warrants without a judge’s signature do enable ICE officers to detain someone in what are known as “non-REP” (reasonable expectation of privacy) areas. Arrests in public spaces are permissible, whereas officers need consent to enter private property.
“If the officer does not have consent to enter, even if the officer knows the person subject to the warrant is inside the home, the officer has no legal authority to enter the home pursuant to that removal warrant,” Seaman said.
The agency described its operations as making “targeted arrests.” ICE denied that it conducts raids or operates checkpoints, saying that “the use of these terms evokes images of indiscriminate targeting of neighborhoods and spreads fear in immigrant communities.”
“individuals and groups making such accusations are doing nothing but fearmongering and in turn, putting the public and our officers at risk,” said John Fabbricatore, acting field office director in Denver. “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.”
President Donald Trump has called large-scale deportation operations, including the detention of 680 workers at Mississippi food processing plants, “a very good deterrent.” His hardline position on immigration has been a hallmark of his presidency and his first campaign for office.
“Wow, because of the pressure put on by me, ICE TO LAUNCH LARGE SCALE DEPORTATION RAIDS,” he tweeted in December 2015, adding, “It's about time!”