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Pittsburgh's Immigrant Outreach Community Reacts To ICE Raids

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Raids by ICE, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, were set to begin today, according to a Trump administration mandate.

The anticipated raids in nine US cities are targeting undocumented immigrants who are court ordered to be removed from the US.

While Pittsburgh is not among the cities officially named in the ICE raids, local immigrant outreach agencies say they're still afraid.

Many refer to Pittsburgh as a sanctuary city, the immigrant agency we spoke to say it's more of a welcoming city. Two days ago local organizations working for immigrant and racial justice held a "Lights for Liberty" vigil to end inhumane detention including, here in Pittsburgh.

ICE planned to arrest and deport families with court-ordered removals in June, but the President delayed the raids to give Congress time to "work out a solution" on what he said were asylum and loophole problems with the country's immigration policy.

"Every person who comes to the US border either the land border or by plane is allowed to present themselves asking for asylum. Everyone has the International right established by the United Nations," said Laura Perkins, Emergency Response Organizer with Casa San Jose Pittsburgh.

Casa San Jose is an outreach and resource center for the Latino population in Pittsburgh.

Many she works with live in Beechview or the city's East End and have largely come from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

"A lot of them are persecuted in their home countries, it's not an illegal act to show up at the border," Perkins said.

That persecution often includes being victimized by gangs and other violence in their home countries.

Not all come undocumented Perkins said, many come with Visas or are students but she says anyone even suspected to be undocumented can be detained.

"So ICE when they detain someone it's very fast, with police officers the goal is safety, with ICE that's not the goal," Perkins said. "The goal is to instill fear and it's terrorism that is the tactic, it's terrorism."

President Donald Trump said, "We are really only specifically looking for bad players but we're also looking for those who came into the country without a process."

Perkins says only less than two-percent of Pittsburgh's population is undocumented and the number detained by ICE here is significant.

"Monday through Friday that's about 35 per week, and that's 35 families being separated in Pittsburgh each week."

Pennsylvania according to published reports, has the highest number of arrests or detainments despite its smaller undocumented population.


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