Hunger strike planned to draw attention to deportation, raids

Juan Carlos says people come to U.S. for safety, opportunity

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY. Fla. - Juan Carlos was 4-years-old when he went on a harrowing trip across the Mexican border with his mom.  

"The only memory I have of it is the person telling me to get on the ground if we see a car," he said.

Now 18, Juan Carlos and his family  feel shell-shocked watching news of immigration raids and arrests around the country.

"They tell me what the current situation is and we can’t be going out that much," he said. "They are extremely scared. It didn't really hit me until recently when they go out by themselves I felt my heart kind of sink."

Juan Carlos, who didn’t want to give his last name, and a dozen others are hunger striking to focus attention those who are in the country undocumented.

He said he wants to draw attention to people who came to the United States for safety or opportunity, and without the time or resources to wait out the legal process.

President Donald Trump’s  administration has promised to deport undocumented people.

Trump has vowed to deport some 3 million undocumented immigrants who have criminal records and promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico as a way to block undocumented immigrants from crossing the border.

A series of immigration enforcement operations around the country netted more than 680 arrests, mostly criminals, the Department of Homeland Security said Monday.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement initially confirmed the five-day raids Friday, saying they were a set of targeted enforcement actions much like those they had conducted periodically under the previous administration.

But immigration advocates and Democratic politicians who represented the areas affected had questioned the activities -- saying they were going beyond the Obama administration in targeting non-threatening individuals and scaring communities with public arrests.

In a statement Monday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly once again emphasized that the operations were "routine."

He said the operations targeted convicted criminals, gang members, individuals who re-entered the country after being deported and individuals who had final removal orders from immigration judges.

Of the more than 680 arrests conducted by the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City ICE offices, which include Southern and Midwestern states in their jurisdictions, roughly 75% were "criminal aliens," Kelly said.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has also announced that county jails will continue to comply with federal immigration guidelines.

Gimenez also said that federal agents do not, and likely will not, notify local governments where or even whether  they plan sweeps.

"You have nothing to fear from Miami-Dade county police. That's all I can say because I don't what the federal government is doing or what they will do," he said.  

The mayor’s recent directive to comply with voluntary federal requests to hold undocumented  jail inmates that has been folded into the protests over the sweeps.

The move was to avoid a sanctuary city designation hinted at in this Department of Justice document last year  and potentially lose federal funding.

 "The big challenge is - it needs to be addressed in the courts," County Commissioner Sally Heyman said on This Week In South Florida. "This is a constitutional issue. We've never had criteria set by the federal government that says only with a judicial order or a warrant."