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Local group plans to march to keep families together in immigrant communities

Immokalee immigrants afraid to leave their homes
Posted at 1:07 AM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 10:26:56-04

IMMOKALEE, Fla., - Many people living in Immokalee are afraid to leave their homes as Immigration Customs Enforcement operations continue in Collier County.

More arrests reported Thursday in the County as local advocates now figure out how to prevent families from being separated.

People say they’ve seen ICE agents in front of residential neighborhoods, restaurants, even hotels in the area. 

“It’s a ghost town,” said David Flores. “You drive down main street. the main spot where you see a bunch of people coming home from work from the fields, you just don’t see it today.”

Flores, a lifelong Immokalee resident, says many people living in Immokalee are undocumented.

“It’s a small town but majority of the town is migrant workers,” Flores said. “People living in fear, scared to be ripped away from their families.”

It’s unclear how many people have been arrested in Collier County this week. ICE says it’s deported about 1800 illegal immigrants between Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands from January through March of this year.

Ellen Hemrick with Showing Up for Racial Justice Southwest Florida wants to put a stop to these numbers. Her organization along with the Collier County Young Democrats is organizing a march this Saturday at Collier County Jail. 

 “We plan to march around the Jail and sing and chant as loud as we can because there are people in the Collier County Jail who have been separated from their family by ICE,” Hemrick said. 

Hemrick says they plan to speak out against Immigration policies as well as the 287g program which allows local law enforcement to aid ICE in detaining immigrants.

“We are expecting that people who have privilege will be speaking out on behalf of people who are most vulnerable in our community.”

Collier County Sheriff’s Office tells 4 In Your Corner it is not working alongside ICE in this week’s operation. ICE says it’s making targeted arrests and not going after people at random.

Hemrick says she expects hundreds of people to attend the march on Saturday June 30th at 10am. She says hundreds of other similar marches will be taking place across the country as well.