Federal immigration officials confirmed Monday that more than 50 people were arrested in the Austin, Texas, area following a crackdown on unauthorized immigrants last week — and Austin Mayor Steve Adler is not happy.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, 51 people were arrested during a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement effort called Operation Cross Check. Those arrested included 23 people with criminal convictions.
In an open letter Tuesday, Adler derided the raids as he said his city is a "welcoming, inclusive" community.
"With the current immigration enforcement action, we need ever more to visibly express and reaffirm our values, individually and collectively," Adler said. "The overly broad way these ICE raids are being conducted is making our community less safe and causing disproportionate harm by dividing the families of non-serious offenders and others who are of no threat and have been caught merely in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"These raids are sowing distrust, not just with ICE but even with local law enforcement, and that makes our community less safe," the Democratic mayor continued, adding that the raids were not conducted with the Austin Police Department or the Travis County Sheriff's Office.
I will continue to speak out in defense of our community and urge people on all sides of this issue to continue to make themselves heard clearly and peacefully. Please, do not put yourself or our local police in danger. Our police department wants all residents in Austin to be safe regardless of their immigration status.
There is help in Austin if you need it.
Adler has remained a vocal critic of the raids, telling KUT-FM that his community "feel[s] targeted."
"We have a community that is, quite frankly, scared," Adler said. "There's a lot of uncertainty here. It's unfortunately undermining a lot of the trust relationship that had been built up with our public safety officials over time. It's sending people back into the darkness."
And while federal officials have maintained that they are targeting those with a criminal history, Adler contends that they are "also picking up people that are caught in that net that don't have the same kind of criminal backgrounds."
As the Washington Post reported, the arrests in Austin weren't unusual last week as authorities arrested hundreds of people in at least six states last week. Along with Austin, the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Atlanta were also targets.