NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents detained and arrested three people on undisclosed federal criminal charges late Tuesday afternoon, June 27, in New Brunswick, according to multiple law enforcement sources.
A crowd of concerned residents and community organizers looked on as officers from several agencies entered a multi-family home at 302 Redmond St., near Railroad Avenue, according to videos recorded at the scene.
ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit and Customers and Border Protection worked with the New Brunswick Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office to undertake the criminal investigation, city police Capt. J.T. Miller told TAPinto New Brunswick.
“This investigation stemmed from criminal activity and was not the result of immigration or deportation status,” he said.
The scene drew attention from activists and New Brunswick’s large population of undocumented immigrants. Since President Donald Trump’s ascent, many advocates and immigrants have become cautious due to his vocal desire to deport undocumented people in the country illegally.
And that rhetoric has produced real results in and around the Hub City. A number of local people have been detained in ICE raids. Some, notably those in the nearby Indonesian community, have been forced out of the country.
But ICE stressed that yesterday’s exercise was not carried out by its Enforcement and Removal Operations arm—the unit that is typically responsible for so-called ICE raids.
Rather, this action was taken against three suspected criminals, ICE spokesperson Alvin Phillips told TAPinto New Brunswick.
“These guys, they’re problematic,” he said of the people taken into custody.
ICE detained the individuals and then turned them over to Newark police, Phillips said. They spent the night there and were handed to the U.S. Marshals Service this morning, he said.
Phillips declined to identify the people or the criminal charges against them. But he said they were due in federal court this morning.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey confirmed that a law enforcement operation took place in the area. He offered no further detail.
New Brunswick’s Miller also refused to provide additional information, other than that the investigation is ongoing.
A number of people observed the scene from the other side of Redmond Street. They shot video that showed a handful of unmarked law enforcement vehicles on the street and officers, most of whom wore street clothes, standing on the sidewalk and the house’s porch.
Carlos Ramirez, a reporter for New Brunswick Today, claimed that an agent asked him to produce a green card.
“This is really scary for anybody who lives here, anybody who drives here,” an unidentified woman could be heard saying in a video shot by Teresa Vivar, an advocate for the Latino community in New Brunswick.
Phillips, the ICE spokesperson, eventually arrived at the scene and provided some information to the crowd. He stressed that agents were not engaged in an enforcement and removal operation and there was “no need for the public to be alarmed,” according to video.
But when ICE takes action in New Brunswick, undocumented immigrants tend to become wary, Anthony Mendia, a Unity Square community organizer who was at the scene yesterday, told TAPinto New Brunswick.
“The few arrests that we’ve had happen, the whole block shuts down for a few days,” he said. “People are afraid to leave their doors.”
That happens when ICE acts alone in New Brunswick, he said. If or how the presence of city police and the county prosecutor's office will affect trust in the community is unclear, but activists have long voiced concerns about that prospect.
Mendia further underlined that yesterday’s operation was not a typical ICE raid. While it could make some people nervous, the incident shouldn’t intimidate anyone from taking part in their daily routines, he said.
“Our biggest thing right now is that we want to encourage people to not be scared,” he added. “It’s to encourage people to come out and talk about it.”
Unity Square plans to hold a know-your-rights forum next month. More details will come out soon.
The community advocacy group didn’t have any additional information on the people who were picked up by ICE. But Mendia said activists claim ICE entered the home with assistance from the building manager.