Georgia’s growing African-American community is reacting with alarm to the news that federal immigration authorities have begun arresting Somali nationals in parts of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
As of early April, there were 4,801 Somalis in the U.S. who had been ordered deported, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The vast majority of them are not being detained. Georgia was home to an estimated 2,658 Somali natives in 2015, U.S. Census Bureau figures show.
Glory Kilanko, director and CEO of Women Watch Afrika, said she is aware of eight Somalis who have been arrested in ICE “raids” in Clarkston in recent weeks.
“Everybody is feeling insecure,” she said. “People are beginning to hide and be afraid of law enforcement. They are saying they feel terrorized by ICE’s presence.”
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox pushed back against Kilanko’s use of the term “raids.” Those who were arrested, Cox said, entered the U.S. without authorization and have been ordered deported by federal immigration judges.
“ICE makes arrests every day in the course of its ordinary, routine targeted enforcement operations,” he said. “There is no special operation taking place in Clarkston. As I’ve said repeatedly, ICE only conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. ICE does not conduct checkpoints nor sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately. Any claims to the contrary are simply false.”
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