These are heady days for undocumented immigrants in America and their allies.
Forgive them if they're on edge, a little more prone to suspicion -- or outright panic-- than usual.
President Donald Trump's swashbucklingly ham-fisted "America first, you guys tied for last" immigration policy has a lot of people scared. Recent rounds of enforcement don't do anything to quell their fears.
Some 680 people were captured in raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents last week, part of a beefed-up effort apparently encouraged by the new sheriff in the White House. In the Twin Cities, nine people were arrested during separate actions in Burnsville and Apple Valley on February 7, though ICE's local office told the Star Tribune those were just "routine law enforcement," and not connected to a nationwide crackdown.
In the past couple weeks, rumors have spread rapidly through different cities, warning undocumented people of imminent danger from ICE agents: In New York City,in Florida, in Portland, in Texas, in Oakland, in Chicago, in Colorado, in Washington... the stories have caught hold in most places in America with large immigrant populations -- and even a few places without.
On Wednesday and Thursday, it was Minneapolis' turn, if Facebook was any indication.
Posts attempting to warn Facebook users of an apparent ICE action "on Lake Street" in Minneapolis spread throughout the social networking site like wildfire, picking up in intensity as Thursday afternoon wore on.
Many users are sharing the unconfirmed rumors and, when challenged by friends to back up the tale, offering a better-safe-than-sorry defense. Others are shaming those sharing for striking unnecessary fear in immigrant communities.
So. Was ICE really on Lake Street in Minneapolis Wednesday or Thursday?
Maybe, says agency spokesman Shawn Neudauer, though he's not aware of any particular activity in that area. Neudauer, who handles media inquiries for a number of Midwestern states, says he's been asked about enforcement rumors -- including those fueled by social media -- on several occasions this week.
"ICE is not conducting any operations in Minnesota similar to the ones conducted in other parts of the country last week," Neudauer says. "That said, every day, as part of routine operations, ICE officers target and arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws."
Neudauer added that the unconfirmed rumors of crackdown activities are "false, dangerous, and irresponsible."
He added: "These reports create mass panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger. Any groups falsely reporting such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support."
Know something he doesn't (and we don't) about something going down on Lake Street? Contact City Pages and help us make sense of the rumors.
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