BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — With potential immigration raids across the country, there is fear among some neighbors in Alabama.
Advocacy groups like the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama and Adelante reported that there is concern.
“What we see is people are concerned, that there’s fear in our communities that they may be separated from their loved ones,” said Carlos Aleman, Deputy Director for HICA.
While immigration raids have been happening for years, advocates said there has been even more conversation about the issue.
“We know that family separation and that raids are a possibility, but our main concern especially here in Birmingham is actually between immigration and police,” said Luis Eduardo Robledo, a worker’s rights organizer with Adelante in Hoover.
Adelante helps day laborers in central Alabama and said many immigration cases begin as normal encounters with local law enforcement.
“It is actually with their interactions because they have a busted tail light, it’s because somebody got pulled over for speeding,” said Robledo, who added that many of the local cases are then transferred to ICE.
Robledo said Adelante helps in certain court cases and follows up on reported ICE activity in the area. Robledo doesn’t believe that local police departments need to be closely connected to federal customs and enforcement agents.
“What we are seeing here in our communities is just happenstance arrests, so immigrations customs enforcement goes out into the community is looking for one individual, turns out they don’t find that individual but they find other individuals that may be undocumented and take those people into custody just as collateral damage,” said Robledo.
Adelante has a team of volunteers working as a ‘rapid response team’ that will respond to reported law enforcement activity.
“Just yesterday people were reporting ICE activity in Pelham and we went, we investigated, we verified that it wasn’t true and we reported it on our social media, so we are feeling a greater fear than maybe two years ago,” said Robledo.
If team members do encounter federal authorities, Robledo explained that volunteers remind detainees of their rights.
“We go and investigate. Someone will film and we ensure that things are done properly in that place and the ultimate goal is to make sure people avoid falling in the hands of immigration,” said Robledo.
Groups like HICA told CBS 42 about the importance of working with police officers to ensure that laws are enforced legally.
“We work with law enforcement, we make sure that people can come to the police and report any sorts of crimes, because if they can do that then our communities are safer and so in terms of check points, we want to make sure that it is not being done based on a characteristic of what someone looks like and that what’s really being taken care of is making sure we can build safe communities,” said Aleman.
While President Donald Trump and other lawmakers worry that crime can follow illegal immigrants across an unsecured border, advocates want to make sure everyone’s rights are protected in the process.
“We like anyone else want safe communities, but we also want to make sure that we do this in a just way,” said Aleman, with HICA.
CBS 42 reached out to a spokesperson for ICE to learn more about the operations and needs in the state of Alabama. No one responded to our request.
Neither HICA or Adelante was aware of any raids in central Alabama in the past week or so.
To learn more about HICA, click here.
For more information on Adelante and how to get involved with the rapid response team, you can contact the organization at 205.317.1481 or click here.