FREEHOLD - Members of Freehold’s Hispanic community say that they are living in fear because they believe there’s been a crackdown on illegal immigrants in the community.
A Freehold resident who says her name is “Maria” told News 12 New Jersey that her parents are Mexican immigrants living in New Jersey without documents. She says that for the past two weeks they have been afraid to leave their apartment because they are afraid they will be deported.
“People are afraid of what’s going on this month,” Maria says. “It’s happening. It’s never happened… [officials] are stopping [residents] on the streets and at the stores and ask them ‘Do you have papers?’”
Eugenia Solares, of Casa Freehold, an organization that represents the Hispanic community, says her clients are reporting increased encounters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in recent weeks.
“There's been a lot of raids, people are very scared,” she says.
However, ICE spokesman Alvin Phillips tells News 12 New Jersey that “ICE does not conduct raids” and the fears are based on rumors.
"We're not doing anything different than we have done in the past,” he says. “To say otherwise would be categorically false."
Phillips says ICE targets individuals based on investigative information, which means they're going after illegal immigrants who have also committed some other crime.
There is a national operation underway to round up undocumented immigrants who have exhausted their claims for asylum. However, Phillips says that no one in New Jersey has been arrested under that directive.