Latino Memphis Holds News Conference On ICE Operations

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Latino Memphis and other local activists and leaders joined together Friday morning for a news conference on recent ICE operations in the bluff city. 

Members of Memphis' Hispanic community are on edge, after agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, detained at least a dozen people this week.


An ICE spokesperson said they do what they call “targeted enforcement operations,” rounding up the most dangerous people, in order to keep you safe. But some Latino leaders believe those in custody were picked at random and say they were never shown warrants.

Friday, Leaders with Shelby County Schools looked to ease immigrants concerns about registering students. Students are supposed to head back to class a week from Monday.

"Shelby County Schools mission is to serve all families,” says Brian Stockton.

Alongside Latino activists Friday morning, SCS chief of staff Stockton sent this direct message to parents. 

"To register your child, we do not require social security card, birth certificate or any type of immigration document,” says Stockton.

Advocates say families in the Prescott Place Apartments, with undocumented individuals, are scared to come out of their units.

"Yall got a legit warrant (what's that?) You have a legit warrant?" could be heard on Facebook video from activist Keedran Franklin Sunday in the southeast Memphis. The video and pictures from the complex show ICE agents detaining people believed to be undocumented during a daylong operation.

"That has tremendous impact on our school system, for our future, for this US born children not to go to school because their parents are scared to go out,” says Mauricio Calvo, the executive director of Latino Memphis.

According to SCS, about 16,000 Hispanic students were enrolled this past year. Children born in the United States are U.S. citizens, even if one or both of their parents are undocumented and subject to being detained by ICE agents.

"Most of the people that we have spoken with at Latino Memphis were detained without a warrant. That is unacceptable,” says Calvo.

We are awaiting an updated statement from an ICE spokesperson.

Earlier this week, ICE leaders said the agents do not conduct sweeps or raids which targets one particular community indiscriminately. An attorney at Latino Memphis said a dozen people detained by ICE agents this week requested their representation. 

In a statement announcing Friday's news conference, the group says:

ICE is detaining people outside of what they have communicated: an operation targeting individuals who pose a danger to the community. Although ICE can legally remove any immigrant, they are doing so without warrants and inciting fear in the Memphis community. The lack of ICE’s transparency and effective communication along with their abusive practices, racial and economic profiling is creating distrust, division and fear across too many Memphians.

“We cannot continue to allow an abuse of authority to cause division and fear in our community. We are providing a voice. We are coming together. We are raising awareness around the issue to empower all people, as one Memphis, one city, one community,” said Gina John, Advocacy Coordinator for Latino Memphis.

“However, we cannot be one city and one community when people are being detained and deported. We want to keep all our families together, because we all contribute to the prosperity of our city.”

Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen's office says he sent a letter to ICE acting Director Thomas Homan expressing concerns about the operations. READ THE LETTER HERE.


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