ISAIAH and Mesa Latina respond to ICE actions
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Feb. 8, 2017) — On Tuesday morning, ISAIAH and Mesa Latina received calls from community members in Burnsville and Apple Valley about unmarked vehicles – presumably belonging to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that were believe to be targeting and pulling over work vans in the Summit Park and Parkway Estates apartment complexes in Burnsville and Cedar Knolls mobile home park in Apple Valley.
Many Latino families, including construction workers, reside in these areas. Reports mentioned that local authorities were blocking the entrance to some of these residential areas as well as pulling over the vans at local freeway entrances.
In response, Mesa Latina and ISAIAH clergy, leaders and organizers first went to the local ICE office during their office hours, only to find that they closed early without notice. The rapid response team then went to Apple Valley to hear first-hand from community members, gather facts, and assess the situation. Some members of the group also helped frightened construction workers drive their vans into the trailer park since police squad cars were still present in the areas.
News reports have confirmed that 9 people have been arrested, yet community members have reported that ICE has taken more than 50 people. We do not yet know all the identities of those who have been taken, where they are being held, if they will be released or when a release may happen.
ICE reported to media that they were targeting two specific addresses due to ‘crime-related’ reasons and according to a recent StarTribune article, Homeland Security contacted a local school district to “reassure it that the action was routine and didn’t signal the start of a major enforcement effort.” However, we continue to hear from numerous local residents that they did end up taking people who have no criminal records. The actions of ICE have created chaos and fear in the community. The lack of public transparency and accountability is profoundly disturbing.
Both ISAIAH and Mesa Latina believe in a healthy and thriving Minnesota, a state where all of our communities have the opportunity to live, work and play without fear. We have and will continue to remain committed to protecting immigrant families, some of the most vulnerable — and resilient — members of our society due to our nation’s sorely broken immigration system. We condemn this targeting of our undocumented brothers and sisters and will advocate alongside them until their rights, value and humanity are fully recognized.