Advocates Say Use Caution When "Spreading Awareness" About Immigration Raids

Feb 14, 2017

Social media has proven an effective tool when it comes to organizing for advocates and activists. But it's also been proven effective at spreading misinformation, which now includes false warnings about immigration stings.

It's not surprising people are willing to share posts that claim insider info regarding immigration raids. President Donald Trump ran a campaign based largely on deportation of undocumented immigrants and bulking up border security between the U.S. and Mexico.  Last week Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, arrested some 680 people in raids across the U.S. NPR reports, "(ICE officials) have said the agency routinely does these enforcement surges, but immigration advocates say the Trump administration is casting a much wider net than President Obama did." Read more on that here & here.

Since Tuesday an anonymous "copy/paste" type of Facebook message urging undocumented immigrants to be wary in parts of Chicago has been widely shared, it reads some variance of:

From a friend 2/14/17:

"One of my regulars has a contact inside ICE and just told me there are mass raids planned for Chicago this week. Round-up quota is 20k people. They're mostly targeting schools, churches, etc. One of the neighborhoods on the list was Pilsen." Also: "Homeland Security is checking IDs on the red line for Hispanic or Middle Eastern appearance, heads up everyone."

Please copy/paste without attribution.

It’s possible the message was started in part when some commuters were apparently met by a Department of Homeland Security checkpoint at a CTA stop on the north side of the city. (More on that here.) However the claim of a quota to round-up more than 20,000 people in Chicago is harder to pin down. Meanwhile, the city has passed policies to designate it a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.

While advocates are on high alert, many still suggest using discernment when sharing information about the raids taking place across the country. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights tells me it agrees with guidelines recently put out by DRUM, a "South Asian Organizing Center" in New York City. The writing warns that unverified reporting of raids spreads “fear and paranoia in targeted communities, without offering any actual safety: People stop going to work, sending their children to school, or leaving their homes.” The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights says over half a million undocumented residents live in the state. 

According to a statement from ICE, regarding the “targeted enforcement operations” that started last week: “These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.”