Operation “Safe City”: A federal retaliation against cities and communities who refuse to cooperate with a white supremacist administration
On September 12, 2017 Juntos along with over 30 local organizations and nine individuals including City Councilwomen Maria Quiñones-Sanchez and Helen Gym and Juntos executive director Erika Almiron filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Philadelphia field office in response to reports that a massive nationwide raid known internally as Operation Mega would be unleashed upon immigrant communities with a goal of detaining over 8,000 individuals before the end of ICE’s fiscal year on September 30th. Not long after, ICE publicly announced that they would be postponing Operation Mega with no indication of when and proceeded to deny the FOIA request at the Philadelphia field office.
This lack of transparency to the public demonstrates that any sense of security from ICE should not be trusted. Just eleven days after submitting the FOIA request, ICE once again proved they are a rogue agency by launching “Operation Safe City”, a massive raid operation targeting “Sanctuary Cities” like Philadelphia. Operation Safe City can only be described as a deliberate retaliation against cities and communities who refuse to cooperate with a racist, xenophobic and white supremacist administration in violating people’s rights. Philadelphia felt the brunt of this retaliation by having the largest number of people disappeared in the country, with 107 people picked up in four days, more than any other ICE office in the country.
The irony of this operation being dubbed “Safe City” does not go unnoticed by the victims of the raids. One local family reported that ICE raided their home wielding guns in front of several children, interrogating one of their daughters without parental consent and proceeded to fingerprint everyone in the household. Some who were handcuffed and removed were described as “collateral damage,” meaning they had no reason to be detained other than being immigrants and are the victims of an agency and political climate that terrorizes and tears apart families with Gestapo style tactics in the name of public safety.
Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos, said “Public safety is about all of us being safe from the hands of Trump’s criminalization machine and cannot be defined by ICE agents who knock down the doors of our homes with guns and drag people out in front of their children. This is why we need to Expand Sanctuary in cities like Philadelphia and in our state to protect our families from this new age Gestapo using immigration as a way to do ethnic cleansing. We must push for policies inside our systems that decriminalize people who are just trying to survive and ensure that our legal system and police don’t collude with ICE, which only makes everyone in our city less safe.”