BY KELLY MENA AND JEFFERY HARRELL
As raids of undocumented immigrants continue throughout the city, fear is running high in immigrant communities across Brooklyn.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a press conference Wednesday that there have been at least eight ICE raids throughout the city. Six of these raids were in Brooklyn.
Eye witnesses deemed credible by MOIA representatives reported four took place in Sunset Park, one in Midwood and one in Bay Ridge, which took place Wednesday morning. All eight raids, which took place across the span of five days, were unsuccessful and did not lead to arrests.
“We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are feeling tremendous fear right now,” the mayor said at a press conference Wednesday.
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs estimates that around 127,000 of the roughly half a million undocumented New Yorkers live in Brooklyn.
The raids come after President Trump and federal officials confirmed that large scale raids would take place beginning Sunday.
Though the raids have been fewer in number than expected, fear is still high in immigrant communities.
Local resident of Sunset Park and Dominican Republic native, Rosario Diaz, 65, who is a legal resident of the U.S., has been looking out for her neighbors in recent days, warning people anytime she sees ICE officials in the area.
“These [raids] have been hard to take and have been affecting many people, especially the children. They are those most panicked and scared. Whenever I see someone on the street or a neighbor, I tell them to watch out and be paying attention. If they knock on your door, don’t answer it,” Diaz told the Brooklyn Eagle.
Diaz, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, credits her local church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (or Perpetuo Socorro as it is known in the immigrant community) for their increased efforts in arming undocumented immigrants with knowledge of their rights when it comes to confronting the federal immigration agency.
“The people [undocumented immigrants] have been listening. The church has been telling them about what to do and handing out pamphlets and it seems to be working. I hear people aren’t answering the door,” added Diaz.
For some residents, the raids have been a cruel reminder of what has already been a daily reality for some families.
Ms. Lopez, a Sunset Park resident and Mexico native from a large immigrant family, has been feeling the weight of the raids from a personal perspective. Lucia is the oldest sibling out of three who currently live in Brooklyn and the only one who is a permanent legal resident of the U.S.
Her younger sister and her three young children (ages 2, 6 and 9) have been separated from their husband and father for nearly a year after he was detained by ICE officials last July while at Brooklyn Criminal Court.
“I’m not scared because I have papers but I worry for my sister and her children. Especially her children. The youngest son has refused to eat and talks about ending his life because he wants his dad back,” Lopez told the Eagle.
While Lopez and her family members have been waiting anxiously for the outcome of her brother-in-law’s fate, the Brooklynite wants more action from local officials and activists who promised to be there when raids started, but who she claims have been invisible in recent weeks.
“They say there is help. But when we call on them [local officials and activists] there is none. My family and my nephews are suffering and no one is there. Watching them in pain breaks my soul in half,” added Lopez.
City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca’s office told the Eagle that they have been working with local community members regularly since last week’s announcement, using the office as a triage center for referring those affected by ICE or any immigration issue to legal services.
“Anytime a family has been affected by ICE, they have been referred to us. We are connecting people to legal services and providing help to the local community. We even recently helped a family that had ICE knock on their door to get the children in the home into a local summer camp so they wouldn’t be at home if a raid did happen,” said Anthony Chiarito, communication director for Menchaca’s office.
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs is urging New Yorkers to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to report any additional raids.