An immigration rights organization said five undocumented immigrants in Austin were detained by federal immigration enforcement Thursday, according to the Texas Observer.
“I’ve never heard of five people getting picked up in one day,” Grassroots Leadership organizer Alejandro Caceres told the Observer.
Caceres said the organization received reports of the detainments in East and North Austin through its hotline. ICE agents could not be reached for comment.
Reyna Alvarado said Immigration and Customs Law Enforcement agents detained her husband, Francisco Alvarado, on Riverside Drive on his way to landscaping work around 8:30 a.m. Reyna Alvarado said an unmarked car pulled over her husband and ICE agents got out of it to detain him.
“I had to go to school and tell my daughter that they’ve taken her father away,” Caceres said translating for Reyna Alvarado in a video from the Observer.
Reyna Alvarado and members of ICE Out of Austin, an advocacy group against ICE agents detaining locally jailed undocumented immigrants, protested the arrest outside the J.J. Pickle Federal Building, according to the Statesman.
Reyna Alvarado said their family fled Honduras 10 years ago after a gang, called the “Maras,” killed several of their family members. Reyna Alvarado said her children are billingual and are afforded the education she never had.
“What am I supposed to do now?” Caceres translated. “They’ve taken my husband away. Who’s going to take the suffering away?”
On Feb. 1, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said her office would not comply with ICE agents who ask to detain undocumented immigrants held in local jails without warrants. Detainers make requests for investigations if they suspect someone is undocumented, and Hernandez said the requests only ask but do not require local law enforcement to honor them.
Hernandez has said her deputies cannot act as federal immigration law enforcement, and should be expected to handle only local matters. Reyna Alvarado said she fears getting caught off guard by ICE then getting detained as a result.
“I feel that I’ve been corralled,” Caceres translated. “I feel that I can’t watch a car stop next to me because I think that it’s an immigration agent.”
Caceres said he expects future raids in the area.
“This might just be the beginning,” Caceres told the Observer. “Immigration [agents] have stepped up their tactics and we need to think about how we keep our friends and families protected.”