Faith leaders protest ICE raid outside Church

Faith leaders protest ICE raid outside church

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA (WUSA9) - Faith leaders protested at ICE offices in Fairfax County infuriated over news of a raid outside a church in Alexandria along the Route One corridor.

"I have no business arresting people en mass without reasonable suspicion to think that they may have committed some kind violation of the law," said Nicholas Marritz with the Legal Aid Justice Center.

A fewer dozen Faith leaders and legal advocates for immigrants are demanding answers from the federal government about the ICE raid that happened outside the Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church on February 8th.  

"I seen a bunch of officers, yeah undercover. All in plain cars. They had badges with "ICE" on their backs," said Thermon Brewster who witnessed the raid.

Brewster had just come out of the church's hypothermia shelter, having spent the night. 

The church's mission is to help the homeless and other disadvantaged people. They serve free meals to the hungry and have a hypothermia shelter. The raid happened early in the morning as people were leaving the shelter and the raid swept up several men who had come out of the shelter. 

"Hispanics.They were all Hispanics," said Brewster. 

His friend Oscar, who is a permanent resident with a green card, was among the group detained. Brewster says the ICE agents rounded them up in the cold and made them stand along a brick wall across the street from the church in the Aldie grocery store parking lot. 

"I seen them put handcuffs and shackles on [six to seven people]. And they brung a big, old white van, like a plumber's van. And it already had people inside it. And they stuck all them inside that van and drove away with them," said Brewster. 

Pastor of Risking Hope Reverend Keary Kincannon says he believes ICE was targeting the church. 

"I think it says something very terrible when you can't feel safe coming into a church," said Rev. Kincannon.  

Brewster says it was scary to watch. 

"Yeah, because, I mean, if it can happen to them, it can happen to anybody."

Rev. Kincannon went inside the ICE offices looking for answers but didn't get them.

"We don't know where the people are now. The people that have been taken. We have no idea where they are." 

Because of that raid, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is asking for an immediate briefing from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. He wants to know if ICE agents are detaining Virginia residents without cause or specific allegations of criminal activity. He also wants information about how the Trump administration is conducting these raids.

In a statement released Friday, ICE says it follows the law and "does not conduct raid that target aliens indiscriminately." ICE has a sensitive locations policy which requires enforcement at sensitive locations be avoided and prior approval is required.

An ICE official says the raid identified two criminal aliens, one from Honduras who was previously been removed from the United States and has "multiple misdemeanor convictions"  as well as a felony drug conviction. The other individual from El Salvador is a "legal permanent resident of the United States with " multiple misdemeanor convictions...including a 2016 conviction for driving while intoxicated."

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