As “Occupy ICE” encampments are spreading across America, protesters have set up an outpost beside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement building at 8th & Cherry Street in Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, police officers are trained to refrain from asking about immigration status, with such questions considered irrelevant to and even obstructive of effective policing. The city declines to hold anyone for ICE without a judicial warrant, even criminal suspects or inmates facing release.
Philadelphia is supposedly designated as a “sanctuary city“ but the city’s ICE office made headlines earlier this year when a ProPublica investigation found that the branch, which covers a three-state region, made more arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions than anywhere else in America.
The office oversees immigration enforcement in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.
Philadelphia Counter-Terrorism Unit and federal DHS tactical unit began arresting citizens that were blocking two garage entrances used to move detainees. Police forcefully arrested 29 protesters as part of a large operation involving hundreds of officers after garages used for detainee transport vans that had been blocked by the encampment.
Police, including horse mounted officers, used barricades and bicycles as they started punching and pushing back protesters.
Philadelphia Counter-Terrorism Unit & DHS federal police have cleared #AbolishICE protesters from. Activist legal support estimates ~20+ arrests & likely injuries – officers seen punching & pulling people from crowd, throwing them to the ground as police clear the street.
Police have cleared #AbolishICE protesters from two garage entrances used to move ICE detainees.
Unicorn Riot has been providing live coverage into the night.
Kerri Evelyn Harris, a Democrat running for US Senate in Delaware, was among those protesting at the Philadelphia ICE encampment.
“We’re here at the Philly ICE Office to demand an end to the inhumane practices committed by this office and its agents,” said Harris. “This is the office that harasses and deports Delawareans as well.”
Since Trump took office, deportation officers have been unshackled, as the White House describes it, from an Obama-era mandate to focus limited enforcement resources on deporting immigrants with serious criminal convictions. Across the country, they have been rounding up people who have sunk roots in this country, living for years, if not decades, with little fear of apprehension.
One such victim of the crackdown was Ludvin Franco, an undocumented cook from Guatemala who married an American woman in 2013, with whom he had twins, but was deported in 2017 during his wife’s second pregnancy despite living a productive, crime-free decade in the United States.
Without guidelines or oversight, some officers are using traffic stops to question Hispanics and turn over undocumented immigrants to the Pennsylvania office of ICE.
Using tactics that raise legal questions about racial profiling and unlawful arrest, local police and state troopers have stopped Hispanic drivers, questioned them and their passengers about their immigration status, and then detained them without warrants for up to four hours until ICE arrived, records and interviews show.
In some instances, Latinos born in the United States were illegally asked to prove their citizenship.
The blockade was broken but it is expected that demonstrators will continue the vigil, which was largely ignored by main stream media despite the arrests and police violence.
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