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Immigrant families wait in dread, but no sign of large-scale enforcement raids

The nationwide immigration raids that President Donald Trump said would begin Sunday didn’t materialize on the streets of major U.S. cities, even as his statement cast a cloud of fear that kept many families indoors.

Immigration enforcement authorities said their plans to track down migrants with deportation orders would continue, but their actions over the weekend appeared more akin to routine actions rather than mass roundups.

Immigrants and advocates had been bracing for the arrests, which Trump last warned of on Friday, saying he wanted agents “to take people ... back to their countries.”

Trump has vowed to deport “millions” of people in the country illegally, and the long-planned blitz aims to target families who entered the country recently and have received deportation orders.

Acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence declined to confirm whether a widespread operation was underway Sunday.

“There’s not anything I’m going to say that would jeopardize my officers,” Albence said. “Operationally, we’ll never divulge details that would put our officers at any more risk than they already face in this toxic environment.”

Immigrant advocates said the threats have so far been political grandstanding that serves to frighten and intimidate families despite no apparent departure from ICE’s routine work of enforcing U.S. law.

“Trump can declare victory — he already scared the hell out of people,” said Bill Hing, a University of San Francisco law professor and director of the university’s immigration and deportation defense clinic. “There has been so much drama all over the country.”

In New York, Houston, Los Angeles and several other cities that are to be targeted under the Trump administration’s “family op,” community organizers and lawyers responded to Trump’s declarations with seminars about rights, handing out informational fliers, as well as affidavits to declare emergency guardianship for children, should they be separated from their families. Houses of worship have offered their buildings as sanctuaries, and activists have volunteered to stand watch.

But there were few signs that ICE was out in force, with a spattering of reports of ICE activity.

“All quiet in Houston,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Sunday. “I expect ICE will conduct routine removal operations during the week.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday terminated ICE’s access to Chicago Police Department databases and increased the city’s Legal Protection Fund by $250,000 to support legal aid to immigrants. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva took to television to say “unequivocally” that his department would not cooperate with ICE, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms urged undocumented immigrations to stay in their homes Sunday.

Some administration officials have privately voiced frustration with the president for his decision to publicly announce ICE’s plans in advance, blowing the cover off the raids.

Like most law enforcement agencies, ICE officials treat their actions as closely guarded secrets, and they rely on the element of surprise to make arrests. Telegraphing planned roundups, while potentially a deterrent to migrants thinking about coming to the United States, also allows those who might be targeted to flee or hide.

John Sandweg, who served as ICE acting director under President Barack Obama, said he was “struggling to find any legitimate reason to discuss operations in advance, as they have.”

“It puts officers in danger, and, candidly, if you want to score PR benefits, you could just do the operation quietly and then talk about it,” he said, noting that he thinks ICE likely will wait for attention to die down before going forward with the plan. “ICE routinely conducts these operations, and they routinely conducted them during the Obama administration.”

The attention and fear generated by the president’s statements had created an unrealistic expectation of the agency’s abilities to find and deport a large number of people, Sandweg added.

“The thing is — having been involved in dozens of these operations — this was never going to be more than 2,000 to 5,000 targets,” he said. “And if you look at Central American migration, there are 300,000 to 500,000 people who have arrived in the past couple years alone. ... The fear and the hysteria generated far exceed the actual impact this operation would have.”

The Justice Department this spring launched an effort to fast-track the cases of migrant families that have crossed the border since 2017, and the move has yielded thousands of removal orders, many of them delivered in absentia.

The ACLU and three other legal aid groups filed a lawsuit last week, arguing that the government cannot deport families without sufficient due process, including allowing would-be deportees to appear before an immigration judge. Attorneys say notices of court appearances from ICE sometimes don’t identify the date of the hearing; other mail correspondence is sent to incorrect addresses.

But Albence said the criticism of ICE is overblown, noting that his agency is enforcing court orders. Willfully violating a removal order is a crime.

“No other law enforcement agency in the country is asked to ignore the lawful orders of a judge,” he said. “We are merely executing the orders as we are sworn to do.”

Albence said the remarks by some critics — including of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who likened immigration detention facilities to concentration camps — “inflames the emotions of individuals who would do us harm.”

The ICE director referred to an attack Saturday in Tacoma, Washington, where a man who had previously protested at a detention center there returned with a rifle and incendiary devices.

“He set fire to a car, and he tried to set fire to propane tanks,” Albence said, noting that the man could have killed ICE personnel and contractors at the location, as well as the detainees.

Critics, including Democratic lawmakers, Christian groups and the ACLU, have warned that raids targeting families would invariably result in the separation of children from their parents because so many families with undocumented members also have children who are U.S. citizens.

Albence acknowledged that the targeted enforcement likely would lead to the separation of children and parents, but he defended such actions as similar to other law enforcement arrests of criminals, and the fact that children do not accompany their convicted parents to prison.

“When we make criminal arrests, we’re separating families every day,” he said. “When individuals are taken into custody, the child does not go into custody with them.”

U.S. authorities have said part of the influx of Central American families in recent months is due to them taking advantage of loopholes in U.S. law that require children to be released from custody shortly after they are apprehended at the border. Trump administration officials have said people are bringing children because they know it means an easier path to release, and they also have assailed migrants for making what officials call sham asylum claims to initiate what can be lengthy court processes.

Albence said that of the 2,100 families who were notified of their removal orders by the courts, 65 accepted the agency’s invitation to leave the United States voluntarily. “We gave them the opportunity to come report to ICE’s offices,” he said. “We could have arranged orderly travel, so they could be released for a period of time to arrange their affairs and turn themselves in.”

Albence insisted Sunday that the operation — whether or not it was underway — is under ICE direction and was not being guided by the White House.

Trump tells four liberal congresswomen to 'go back' to their countries

President Donald Trump said Sunday that four minority, liberal congresswomen who have been critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” prompting other Democrats — including Pelosi — to leap to their defense.

Pelosi, D-Calif., denounced Trump’s tweets as “xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation,” while the four congresswomen promised to continue fighting Trump’s agenda and accused him of trying to appeal to white nationalists.

Trump’s remark swiftly united a House Democratic caucus that had been torn apart in recent days by infighting between Pelosi and the four freshman women of color — Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. It also comes after Trump announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were preparing to round up migrant families that have received deportation orders across the country.

Trump kicked off the furor with a string of tweets before heading to his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, on Sunday morning.

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Trump tweeted.

Pressley was born in Cincinnati, Tlaib was born in Detroit and Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York - about 20 miles from where Trump was born. Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia; her family fled the country amid civil war when she was a child, and she became a U.S. citizen as a teenager.

All four women won election to Congress in 2018.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Trump continued in the tweets. “Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Trump’s comments prompted a sharp response from Pelosi, who described them as racist and divisive.

“When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again,” she said in a tweet. “Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”

The four freshmen lawmakers also fired back at Trump on Twitter. Omar wrote that “As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States.”

Pressley said in a statement that “it should come as no surprise that a man who has made it his goal to dehumanize and rip apart immigrant families would so brazenly display the racism that drives his policies.”

Tlaib warned Trump in a tweet, “I am fighting corruption in OUR country. ... Keep talking, you’ll be out of the WH soon.”

Ocasio-Cortez sent a string of tweets defiantly addressing the president. “You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us,” she said. “You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”

Trump’s tweets came after House Democrats spent the past week locked in internal tumult over whether Pelosi and House leaders have unfairly marginalized the four liberal freshmen. The firestorm reignited late Friday when the official House Democratic Caucus Twitter account criticized Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff for suggesting that Democrats had voted to “enable a racist system.”

Within a few hours on Sunday, Democratic lawmakers were united in defending their colleagues against Trump’s attack.

“I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring everybody together - I think the president just did that for us,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said. “Nobody in our caucus is going to tolerate that kind of hatred.”

Dingell, whose suburban Detroit constituency includes one of the largest Muslim American populations of any House district, said Trump’s tweet “reinforces the fear of so many people in this country.”

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., responded to Trump by recounting how, despite being born in the United States, he was repeatedly told to “go back to Mexico” throughout his life, regardless of his service in the Marine Corps or how well he did in school.

“To people like Trump I will never be American enough,” Gallego said in a tweet.

Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., a vocal Trump critic who recently left the Republican Party, also defended the lawmakers, calling Trump’s remarks “racist and disgusting.”

By Sunday evening, at least 90 House Democrats, plus Amash, had denounced Trump’s remarks, with more than half of them using the words “racist” or “racism” to describe his tweets.

Some Democrats went further. “This is white nationalism,” said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., who is running for president.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, stayed largely silent.

Later Sunday, Trump escalated his attacks, tweeting that it was “sad” to see Democrats “sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion.” The remark appeared to be aimed at Omar, who has previously made comments that some say invoke anti-Semitic stereotypes, and Tlaib, who has advocated for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump added that “whenever confronted,” the Democratic women “call their adversaries, including Nancy Pelosi, ‘RACIST,’ “ and argued that their remarks “must not be allowed to go unchallenged.”

Trump last year sparked an uproar when he reportedly used the term “s---hole” to refer to some countries in Africa and Latin America. He later denied making the remark.

For years, Trump repeatedly raised doubts about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, making the issue part of his 2016 presidential run. He finally acknowledged in September 2016 that Obama was born in the United States - but falsely accused the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of being the source of the rumor.

“Trump is now turning the same birtherism he directed at President Obama against women of color serving in Congress,” Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said. “Everyone should call this what it is: racism.”

Some on Sunday also pointed out the president’s family ties to immigrants. Trump’s grandparents and mother were born in Europe. His wife, Melania, emigrated from Slovenia to the United States in 1996 for her modeling career, and his first wife, Ivana, was born in what was then Czechoslovakia.

In television appearances, several Trump administration officials declined to defend the president’s tweets. They included Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“I think that you need to talk to the president about his specific tweets,” Morgan said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

Jeh Johnson, who was homeland security secretary during the Obama administration, said on “Face the Nation” that by sending the inflammatory tweets, Trump was undermining his own administration’s efforts on a bipartisan immigration reform deal.

“Americans should not become numb to this kind of language and offensive statements,” Johnson said.

‘Dream Big’ Campaign yields lasting results for Marshall Grand and ETBU

MARSHALL — When classes resume in August, students at East Texas Baptist University’s School of Nursing will report to the landmark Marshall Grand.

The community gathered May 4 to unveil the School of Nursing in the renovated historical building in downtown Marshall.

The Marshall Grand stands today because a group of local business, civic, political and philanthropic leaders decided to revitalize the building to improve the city’s downtown economy.

Richard and Christina Anderson and Jerry and Judy Cargill spearheaded the planning and fundraising campaign to save the building, which had been unused in years past.

The building was given to ETBU in 2013 at the request of previous President Dub Oliver for use by the nursing school.

“We love our colleges here. We love downtown,” Christina Anderson said. “It’s always been about what’s best for downtown economic growth and the vitality of our downtown.”

Built in the 1930s, the Marshall Grand served as a center for social and civic activity in East Texas. Designed by Fort Worth architect Wyatt C. Hedrick, the Grand was built in the Italian Renaissance architectural style with Art Deco elements. It closed in 1970 after competition from several new Interstate 20 establishments.

For decades, the Marshall Grand was empty and forsaken, and the community was at odds over what to do with it.

“It was an eyesore,” Christina Anderson said. “The first step was to save the building.”

Some wanted to demolish it. Estimated costs to implode the building were $750,000. As the most financially feasible approach, the building might have been demolished if First United Methodist Church at 300 E. Houston St. had not been so close by.

The church’s sanctuary was built in 1861 and has a designated marker from the Texas Historical Commission. An implosion of a magnitude to destroy the Marshall Grand in such proximity could potentially have harmed the sanctuary. That concern derailed plans for demolition.

“We didn’t want to do that. It was an iconic landmark,” Christina Anderson said.

The Cargills and the Andersons created the “Dream Big” fundraising campaign in 2003. They were joined by the city of Marshall, Marshall Economic Development Corp., the nonprofit Marshall Downtown Development Corp. and hundreds of individual contributors.

“It was a perfect collaborative effort. It used to stand as what the community couldn’t do,” Christina Anderson said. “With the renovation of the Marshall Grand now standing as a testimony, if we work together and ‘Dream Big,’ we can make it happen.

“It was our labor of love,” she said. “The Cargills and the Andersons, and the labor of love for our community.”

In three years, funds were raised to renovate the building’s exterior, the lobby, mezzanine, basement, restaurant, commercial kitchen, roof, two elevators, double-pane windows, fire sprinklers, water and electric utilities and HVAC for commercial areas and water proofing for the facade.

After renovations, the new Marshall Grand, an upscale boutique hotel, quickly booked more than 85 events, including weddings, reunions and banquets.

Effective Sept. 1, 2013, the Marshall Grand was given by the Andersons and the Cargills to ETBU. At the time of transfer, the building was appraised at $3.2 million.

In 2015, J. Blair Blackburn became ETBU president, and he contributed expertise in master planning, architecture, interior design and fundraising to the effort to renovate the Marshall Grand into the School of Nursing.

“It was a shared vision in melding ETBU with a downtown campus,” Richard Anderson said. “ETBU is taking that vision to a higher level.”


A story on Page 1A Sunday about the owner of Carlitos’ Mexican Restaurant in Longview retiring and closing the business misidentified customer Andy Khoury.