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Group educating families ahead of announced ICE raids

Trump urges passage of House immigration bills
Posted at 3:50 PM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 00:10:25-04

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — There is uncertainty ahead this weekend for thousands of families across the United States.

This week, senior Homeland Security officials announced that nationwide arrests of undocumented families are scheduled to begin Sunday.

The raids will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), targeting at least 2,000 immigrants ordered deported in several cities including the greater Miami area.

The effort comes weeks after President Donald Trump had tweeted ICE's plans to conduct the raids, then delayed the operation to see if Democrats and Republicans could work out a solution to questions of asylum.

The president, adamant on doubling down on illegal immigration, has repeatedly tweeted about an impending operation, a striking move given that operations are not announced ahead of time.

Organizations like the Guatemalan Maya Center in Lake Worth Beach are preparing by speaking to their clients on their rights when it comes to immigration officials.

It was business as usual on Thursday as volunteers continue to help clients with job help, paperwork, food, anything they need.

“A thousand families a month, all year round,” said Daniel Morgan, outreach director. “We’re seeing an influx of people coming into Lake Worth and Palm Beach County. It’s the work we constantly do about finding resources for them, for their children.”

This week, the center is also arming their clients with knowledge.

“There’s been stress and anxiety for a while now,” said Morgan. “The center is just doing what we always do in reassuring the people by answering their questions.”

High schoolers Laisha Martinez and Emily Martinez are spending their summer vacation volunteering at the center by sending out mass messages to families.

“To inform them so they know their rights and that nothing bad can happen,” said Daisha.

They’re sending links to resources on the center’s website and videos from the ACLU on what to do if they’re contacted by an ICE agent.

“We have sent messages to over a thousand people,” said Emily.

And as of Thursday, they had between 2,000 to 3,000 more messages to go. The girls have been working on this mission all week.

“Most people think that they have to open the door if ICE agents come. The video tells us that they don’t have to, it’s not mandated to open the door. That they can speak to them through the door or if they have a warrant or something,” said Daisha. “They also have the right to speak to a lawyer or make a phone call.”

Details on the raids are still changing and the center said it is careful not to spread misinformation.

“We don’t want to contribute to that spread of terror,” said Morgan.

But the center hopes educating families will be enough to help them navigate this latest storm in the ongoing immigration crisis.

“I feel like I'm helping the community and doing better so that they can be informed,” said Laisha.

The raids are expected to last several days; it’s unknown exactly how long.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said it has not been informed of the raids and is not assisting with anything.

The Guatemalan Maya Center is need of donations and volunteers. For more information, click here.

Information from CNN Newsource was used in this report.