South Philly raids leave Latinos on edge

Miguel Andrade of Juntos translates during a press conference where adults and children from South Philadelphia's Latino community spoke about the way they were treated by law enforcement officers during recent raids. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

Miguel Andrade of Juntos translates during a press conference where adults and children from South Philadelphia's Latino community spoke about the way they were treated by law enforcement officers during recent raids. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

Immigrant advocates and law enforcement are giving different accounts of a raid in South Philadelphia last week.

On Wednesday, members of the Hispanic community say, FBI officers arrived in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood around 9th and Ellsworth around six in the morning.

They say the FBI agents were accompanied by Philadelphia police and immigration officers as they searched for a number of suspects.

 

At a press conference held on the scene of the arrests, 15 year old Aidee Martinez said she was approached by officers as she left her house for summer school. They asked questions, including whether she was Mexican.  

“I was going to go get my mom but they didn’t let us. They actually grabbed my brother and told him he was not allowed to go upstairs,” she said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says its officers weren’t present last week. Other law enforcement officials confirmed that the agency became involved only after the arrests.

At least three of the men arrested did enter immigration proceedings and one woman alleges her husband, who was not a target of the operation, was arrested because he’s not in the country legally.

Erika Almiron, an organizer with the group Juntos said the perception of collaboration with ICE makes people afraid to cooperate with Philadelphia police.

“Local law enforcement when they work with ICE — you cannot build trust with our community,” Almiron said.

Philadelphia police declined to comment because the operation was led by the FBI.  The FBI said it had no comment on the raid.

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