LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Immigrant communities across the country are bracing for ICE raids. Matthew Albence, the latest acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, spoke this morning on Fox News.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MATTHEW ALBENCE: We are doing targeted enforcement actions against specific individuals who have had their day in immigration court and have been ordered removed by an immigration judge. We are merely executing those lawfully issued judges' orders.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Protests have been held across the country in recent days from New York to San Francisco and Chicago.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No hate. No fear. Immigrants are welcome here. No hate. No fear.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joel Rose covers immigration for NPR, and he joins us in the studio.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hey, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, what's happening? What do we know?
ROSE: Very few reports of arrests so far. What we're hearing from WNYC in New York is that activists and politicians are canvassing in the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, where residents say ICE agents were knocking on doors recently. We're hearing from WBEZ in Chicago that local elected officials there are leading what they call bike brigades. They plan to ride to where they hear raids are happening in immigrant neighborhoods around the city. And in Atlanta, WABE says volunteers calling themselves ICE chasers are out in force to help anyone who is caught up in these raids. There has been a lot of talk this week and in recent weeks about fear in these communities. And I'm sure many people are trying to lay low to avoid law enforcement this weekend. But the advocated and immigrants I've talked to also say that there's a lot of resilience on display and that people are standing up for their rights.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So who exactly are these raids targeting?
ROSE: We expect they're going to target migrant families who've recently arrived in the U.S., mostly from Central America. These are migrants who have been ordered removed by a judge and are living in and around a number of big cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago - places where the Department of Justice has sped up the immigration cases of many of these recent arrivals. Originally, this was going to be a list of 10 cities, but we've heard that New Orleans is off the list because of the hurricane that came ashore on the Gulf Coast yesterday.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, ICE has raids all the time, right? So how is this different?
ROSE: Well, you're right. ICE arrested about 3,000 people a week on average last year. And this weekend's events are expected to target about 2,000 migrants so definitely not the millions that President Trump originally threatened to deport in a tweet a few weeks ago. But there is a difference here in terms of who is being targeted. It's typical for ICE to go after single men, usually with criminal records, when they do large-scale raids like this. That is not what we expect today. These are families who've come in this large wave of migrants since last fall. Most of them do not have criminal records. But the Trump administration really wants to send a message back to Central America to discourage these migrants from coming.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: With so much advance notice, a lot of these communities have been preparing, as you note, for weeks. What does ICE say about that?
ROSE: Well, Matthew Albence, the acting director of ICE, told Fox this morning that his agency has been preparing too. He says ICE sent letters to many of these families months ago, asking them to surrender on their own to be deported but that only about 3% of these migrant families responded to those letters. Immigrant rights lawyers counter that most of these migrants may not have gotten those letters. In fact, they believe that many of these migrants who will be targeted today never receive notices to appear in immigration court either. Lawyers and activists around the country have formed these rapid-response networks, and they're prepared to step in and try to challenge these arrests. But they're worried that they're going to have to act quickly. They want to make sure that they can connect with these migrants before they're put on a plane and flown back out of the country.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. That's NPR's Joel Rose keeping us updated.
Thank you so much.
ROSE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.