Immigration Customs Enforcement officers raided two homes in downtown Princeton on Tuesday morning, resulting in four arrests, according to the Latin American Legal Defense Fund, Inc. The group also indicated four names to the Daily Princetonian.
The raids took place on Witherspoon Street and John Street, according to Planet Princeton. Officials confirmed that they had federal criminal warrants for all the men who were arrested. A follow-up investigation from the Princeton Human Services Department has determined that the men do not have any spouses or children.
When contacted by the ‘Prince’, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert stressed that the town has “made a commitment to be a welcoming community.”
“Within minutes of this morning’s ICE raids, municipal officials were in communication with community partners to help provide services to the affected families,” Lempert wrote in an email. “We have been working hard locally to build bonds of trust. We will continue these efforts, but more than ever we need action at the federal level.”
Soraya Morales Nuñez ‘18, a member of the Princeton immigrants’ rights organization DREAM Team, explained that the town of Princeton follows a policy of only limited cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Mayor Lempert issued a in Jan. 2017, following President Donald Trump’s executive order withdrawing federal funds from municipalities, termed “sanctuary cities,” who refuse to hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation. In this statement, Lempert wrote that her administration would “continue our efforts to make Princeton a safe community for all who live, work, and study here, and welcome the engagement of our neighbors and community partners.”
As part of these efforts, Princeton does not comply with immigration detainer requests from ICE. immigration detainers instruct local law enforcement agencies to hold potentially deportable individuals in jails or prisons for up to 48 business hours beyond the time they would have otherwise been released.
Morales Nuñez said that Princeton has always been hesitant about cooperating with certain aspects of federal immigration law, due to the moral and ethical concerns that they pose. However, being a “sanctuary city” does not prevent ICE officers from coming in to raid homes and make arrests.
“It is very saddening to hear about what happened this morning, but I am not surprised,” Morales Nuñez said. “It is more important than ever for individuals to be informed of their legal rights and know how to protect themselves if ICE shows up at their door.”