A small group of protesters stood outside a detention facility in West Tennessee on Saturday to voice their anger about immigration officials carrying out deportation orders.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been stepping up enforcement in Shelby County as part of an effort to carry out final orders of removal. Officials are targeting those with criminal histories and suspected gang ties.
A Facebook page promoting the protest featured a photo of a button reading “Chinga la migra,” which means “F*** the border patrol.”
A Memphis group called Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz (Communities United in One Voice) was involved in organizing the protest.
Yuleiny Escobar, who was with the group Saturday at the detention center in Mason in Tipton County, told WMC Action News 5 that people in the immigrant community are “terrified.”
“We’re here to show our loved ones inside that we are also resisting outside,” she said.
On her Facebook page Monday morning, Escobar said illegal immigrants detained at the facility are being mistreated.
“They are starving them and breaking them inside those walls,” Escobar wrote, though without providing any details to support her assertion.
Protester Joe Murphy said Saturday, “I don’t believe in treating people the way they are being treated. It’s an injustice, and it needs to change.”
Murphy and others waved signs and said prayers at the protest.
The ICE surge operation is “focused on the identification and arrest of family units, adults who entered the U.S. as unaccompanied alien children (UAC), and UACs who are at least 16 years old and have criminal histories and/or suspected gang ties,” according to a recent statement issued by ICE.
“All of the targeted individuals have been issued a final order of removal by a federal immigration judge, and have no appeals or motions to re-open their case before the nation’s immigration courts,” the statement said.
However, the statement also noted that no one who enters the U.S. without permission is exempt from arrest or removal.