MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Many in the Memphis Hispanic community are living in fear after a raid by agents with Immigration Customs and Enforcement on Sunday.
The action was a part of a national effort to crack down on undocumented immigrants with violent criminal records.
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The round up took place at three apartment complexes where many Hispanic families live. Many live at the Prescott Apartment Complex in particular.
Few of them wanted to speak with us about what happened Sunday when agents with ICE conducted a round up. One woman told FOX13 that agents went door to door, including hers.
"Immigration, open door. Me, no open door," said a woman who only wanted to be identified as Vanessa.
When asked if she was scared, Vanessa said, "Yes."
Hispanic community advocates told FOX13 at least a dozen people were detained.
Families were separated according to a girl named Sophia who witnessed the round up.
"They hadn't done nothing. They were arrested for no reason. Some of them are fathers," said Sophia.
FOX13 asked the young girl if she was scared. "Yes, because my mother is an immigrant," said Sophia.
Immigration Customs Enforcement agents were supposedly targeting violent criminals across the country.
The acting U.S. Attorney for Western Tennessee told FOX13 most people rounded up had entered the country illegally, departed and reentered the country again.
"I can't tell you if all of them are violent criminals. I can tell you it has been our experience. Some of them are violent criminals," said Lawrence Laurenzi.
"They are terrifying the community. They are separating families. They are terrifying children," said Mauricio Calvo of Latino Memphis.
Calvo told FOX13 he understands if agents targeted violent criminals and suspected gang members, but he can't find evidence the people detained had any criminal record.
"They people we have seen. The people we have spoken with are regular dads, are regular people going about their lives." said Calvo.
Calvo believes most of the people rounded up have been taken to a detention center in Macon, TN. This is a long drive for families to visit loved ones.
The federal round up was conducted without the help of Memphis Police and Shelby County Sheriff's Department although many immigrants believe local enforcement helped.
"The Memphis Police Department was not involved in any of the ICE Operations," said Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings.
Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner of the Shelby County Sheriff's Department added, "The Shelby County Sheriff's Office was not involved in that."
A spokesman for ICE would not tell FOX13 how agents knew who to target.
The individuals detained will be fast tracked to being deported if they have entered the country before or have a hearing to begin the deportation process.
"No one got together and said let's target the Hispanic community which plays a major role in our community," said Laurenzi.
Cox Media Group