Immigrant communities in Parlier were on high alert Tuesday after reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents knocking on doors.
The United States Department of Homeland Security assisted various Fresno County law enforcement agencies in an operation “held strictly” to identify gang members involved in eastern Fresno County shootings, according to a statement from the Parlier Police Department.
Police conducted about 40 parole and probation searches within the City of Parlier, the statement said, and one gang member was arrested because he was in violation of his parole.
“The Public is being notified that no homeland security or immigration laws were enforced during the operation and therefore no arrests pertaining to ICE were made,” the statement added.
This operation comes the same week the Trump administration announced there would be ICE raids in 10 major cities around the country. Thousands of immigrant families were expected to be deported. San Joaquin Valley communities have been on edge ever since, according to immigrant advocacy groups.
The National Lawyers Guild Central Valley chapter is calling on elected, community and statewide leaders to condemn these law enforcement practices.
“This is irresponsible to the community-at-large and furthers the distrust between the immigrant community and law enforcement,” said a statement from the National Lawyers Guild Central Valley chapter. “Our support hotline has been inundated with calls from concerned community members about ICE enforcement in their neighborhoods.”
Officials at the Parlier Police Department also said they received a “high volume” of calls from concerned community members about ICE presence, according to its Facebook post.
The Reedley Police Department hosted the operation, the police department’s statement said. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Sanger and Kingsburg police departments, assisted.
There have been no confirmed ICE arrests in the San Joaquin Valley as of Wednesday morning since the nationwide raids were announced last week. But advocates say just the presence of ICE can have a chilling effect on Valley communities because often immigrants who weren’t initially targeted by ICE will get arrested anyway.
Local immigration attorneys have said many of their clients have been arrested by ICE not because they were the ones being looked for, but because they were in the area. Last week, Fresno-based immigration attorney Jeremy Clason said it’s “really common” and happens “almost every single time.”
For the record the law firm Jeremy Clason practices with, The Yarra Law Group, is a corporate sponsor of Valley Public Radio.