Following Donald Trump’s executive order expanding the power of immigration authorities, those affected have included a married mom of two, an individual protected by DACA, and a victim of domestic violence who was in court seeking a protective order. Now ICE has moved on to target people seeking safety from deadly weather.
NBC News 4 reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials surprised a group of men leaving a hypothermia shelter in Alexandria, Virginia early on Wednesday morning. The shelter is part of Rising Hope Mission Church, and thus falls under ICE’s “sensitive location” policy. The policy demands that arrests not take place at churches, schools, or medical facilities. Agents reportedly waited until the men had crossed the street before surrounding them.
Rising Hope Mission Church’s Reverend, Keary Kincannon, told News 4 that he believes the agents very deliberately sought a way around their own rules. “They were clearly targeting the church because they knew that they stayed here in the hypothermia shelter,” he said, “So they were waiting for them to cross the street and then jump on them.”
The church has been a safe haven for many in the community and as a hypothermia shelter, it can also be a place that stands between life and death for some. With ICE agents targeting these kinds of locations in defiance of their own policy, they discourage vulnerable populations from seeking the help they need.
Witnesses say that a dozen agents surrounded the group leaving the shelter, and that six Latino men were arrested, but ICE maintains that only two were taken into custody. One man named Oscar Ramirez says he was cleared after showing he had a green card, but he was shocked by the confrontation. “This is the first time I see something like that,” Ramirez told News 4.