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Immigrant advocates say Detroit ICE office "out of control"

Jose Luis, left, describes hiding out inside his kids' school as immigration agents waited outside.
Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio
Jose Luis, left, describes hiding out inside his kids' school as immigration agents waited outside.

Advocates for undocumented immigrants say the Detroit office ofImmigration and Customs Enforcement – or ICE – is “out of control.” They say agents are ignoring the agency’s own guidelines prohibiting enforcement near schools and churches.

Ali Abdel is the principal at Hope of Detroit Academy. He says ICE agents surrounded the school last week, terrifying parents and students:

"The school was like a ghost town. People were coming to get their students out of school, they were scared.... They were calling, flooding our lines – is ICE in the building? Are they around the corner? And this is no way for children to learn."

Jose Luis is one of several parents who hid inside the school last week as immigration agents waited outside. Luis says agents in three SUVs appeared to follow him as he dropped his kids off for school:

"ICE should be following people who they have warrants for. But that’s not what they’re doing, they’re following everybody."

The Alliance for Immigrants’ Rightshas a series of demands. They include identifying who authorized the enforcement action at the school, and disciplining those responsible.

ICE released this statement in response to the incident at the school:

"ICE is concerned by reports about the manner in which this operation was conducted, and is conducting an internal review of the facts surrounding it. While a preliminary analysis suggests that certain requirements were followed, elements of the operation appear to have been inconsistent with policy and our standards and priorities. ICE officers are required to follow a policy that prohibits operations near schools unless approved by headquarters or otherwise based on exigent circumstances. It is not clear that this policy was appropriately followed in this matter. In addition, one of the targets may not have been within the agency's stated enforcement priorities. If internal review results in a finding that procedures were violated, appropriate steps will be taken. ICE will work closely with the local community to address any concerns arising from this matter. "



Sarah Hulett is Michigan Radio’s Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.