February 10, 2016

ICE Raid Apprehends Two Men; Immigrant Community Is On Alert

Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials detained two men outside a Wiggins Street home last Thursday at about 5 a.m. Further details are not available at this point, but the Princeton Department of Human Services reports, ”We have been working alongside the Police Department and community partners to get more information about this ICE activity.”

Human Services and the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) have been in touch with the other residents on Wiggins Street to offer assistance and support as needed.

“Several people were detained,” stated Councilwoman Heather Howard at Monday night’s Princeton Council meeting. “This is not local law enforcement. We believe the men were taken to a detention center in Elizabeth, but we don’t know if they have been moved from there.” Ms. Howard emphasized her concern, “Fear is spreading throughout the community. The mayor of Trenton recently expressed concern about activity in Trenton. We want people to know Human Services has been active, and is a source for people dealing with this.”

Early in January ICE announced they would step up enforcement raids and they apprehended 121 individuals in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, holding them in federal detention centers prior to deportation. There have been reports more recently of raids in other parts of the country, including New Jersey, but this is the first report of ICE activity in Princeton.

Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter has stated repeatedly that “local law enforcement does not enforce federal immigration laws,” and Ms. Howard confirmed, “We want to make sure the community knows this wasn’t local law enforcement.”

Princeton Police Officer Jorge Narvaez, who is bi-lingual and a member of the Safe Neighbors Unit, along with local community volunteer and LALDEF member Bill Wakefield, and Human Services officials visited St. Paul’s Spanish language mass last Sunday, informing people what their rights are and how to respond to immigration enforcement activity.

Princeton Human Services has distributed a statement in English and Spanish offering support to anyone feeling fearful or in need of information.

“We recognize that these are stressful times for our community and our residents,” Human Services stated. “Difficult as it is, we suggest remaining calm.”

Information regarding knowing your rights and ICE raids is available at the Human Services office at One Monument Drive and on the town website.

Human Services advised immigrants to keep important documents in a safe place, not to carry home country passports or consular cards, to obtain [from Princeton Public Library] and use a Mercer County ID.

In the event of a raid, Human Services states that they “can link family members of a detained person to community organizations that can help you. There are services available that can assist you to locate your family member, find legal assistance, offer support for those left behind without a parent/spouse/caregiver as a result of a raid. There is assistance available that can help connect you with your family member in the detention center to offer them assistance and support.”