Activists crashed ICE picnic following a round of immigration raids


us
 Activists crashed ICE picnic following a round of immigration raids

An unidentified Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer reviews forms at the the Pacific Enforcement Response Center in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on April 26, 2017. Protesters in Hendersonville, N.C., crashed an ICE picnic following a week of immigration raids in the area.

Protesters in Hendersonville, N.C., crashed a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement picnic following a week of immigration raids that collected at least 25 people from Henderson and Buncombe counties who were living in the U.S. illegally.

About 60 protesters and a brass band interrupted about 30 ICE agents and local law enforcement as they ate lunch in a public picnic shelter at Jackson Park on April 20, according to several news reports.

In Facebook Live videos, protesters can be heard shouting, "Stop deportations!" and "Our friends and neighbors are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!" as they surrounded the shelter.

Federal agents had to shout over the picnic tables to drown out the music and protesters, the Asheville Citizen Times reported.

Bruno Hinojosa, co-director of Companeros Inmigrantes de las Montanas en Accion (Companions of Mountain Migrants in Action), organized the protest. He said he believed the picnic was a celebration of the recent immigration raids in Western North Carolina, according to local news reports.

"We're just here to see what this get-together is about," Hinojosa said to Blue Ridge Now. "We want to express our grieving for what has occurred over the past couple of days."

"It's not right," he said. "How can you have a celebration after families have been separated, after the community has been under fear. To me that's what it is. It's shameful that they're having some sort of celebration after what happened over the weekend."

The picnic, however, was an annual event for ICE's Homeland Security Investigations Division, scheduled before recent detention and deportation raids in Western North Carolina, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told local media.

"Those individuals who were there today were of that division, they had no role in the immigration enforcement actions that took place last week, that's a separate division of ICE," Cox said to Blue Ridge Now.

"So the claims that this had any connections to that or that these are the same individuals is not correct."

Agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations Division were in town for a meeting with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Asheville, Blue Ridge Now reported.

Since January 2017, anyone who is living illegally in the United States has been a priority for deportation, not just those with a criminal history.

Visit The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) at www.newsobserver.com

By: Tribune News Service

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