Residents of a Nashville neighborhood recently came together to help a father and son escape Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The incident took place Monday morning in Hermitage, Tennessee, where two ICE officers had approached an undocumented man and his 12-year-old son as they sat in a van parked in their driveway. Witnesses say the agents blocked the man's vehicle and attempted to get him and the child out of the van. A neighbor eventually alerted other community members about what was going on, and soon after, a group of residents and activists arrived at the scene to assist the family.
According to Tennessean.com, the father and son remained in the vehicle, as others brought them food, water, and cold rags to keep them cool inside the car. Some also brought gas for the van so the AC could remain on.
Tristan Call, a volunteer with the advocacy group Movements Including X, livestreamed the community's efforts as local police monitored the situation.
"Seeing these children ripped away from their parents in the way they do it makes me wanna cry," a neighbor said in Call's Facebook video. "It hurts to see people go through what they’re going through. I understand if they didn’t take proper procedures to be United States citizens, maybe they didn’t know how to do it, maybe they waited too late but there's a way to do it. They shouldn’t have to be broken away from their parents."
Hours later, the ICE agents and the local police eventually left, as the father and son remained in the car. Once the officers drove away, neighbors and activists formed a human chain to around the van so that the man and child could get into their home safely.
Call told TIME magazine the family was then taken to an undisclosed location, where an advocacy group is advising them about their next steps.
You can watch Call's full video below.
Metro Nashville Police confirmed they arrived at the scene after one of the ICE agents had called them; however, the department stressed that it was not there to assist in any ICE arrest.
"When the police arrived, they learned that ICE was attempting to serve a detainer only on the individual," police said in the statement to News Channel 5. "The officers were instructed to not be involved in the service of the detainer, but to stand by from a distance to keep the peace if necessary. ICE ultimately left while the man was still in the van. The police left accordingly."
Nashville Mayor David Briley also released a statement on the matter, reminding the city that local police does not "participate in immigration enforcement efforts."
Reports of immigration raids and deportation crackdowns have surged under Donald Trump's administration. Tens of thousands of people are being held at ICE-operated facilities that have been widely criticized for their unsanitary and inhumane conditions.
Eighteen-year-old Francisco Galicia had to endure three weeks inside one of these detention camps, despite the fact that he was born in the United States. Galicia was released from the Texas facility on Tuesday, after his detention made national headlines.
According to the Associated Press, Galicia was taken into ICE custody after he was stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint on June 27. The student was traveling with his brother and a group of friends to a college soccer scouting event. His 17-year-old brother, who was born in Mexico and lacked legal status, was sent back to his home country. Galicia, however, was born in Dallas in December 2000, and had a Texas State identification card, a wallet-sized birth certificate, a social security card, as well as his Mexican tourist visa; the latter of which inaccurately listed his place of birth as Mexico.
So, how did this happen?
According to the Dallas News, when Galicia was 1 year old, his then-pregnant mother had moved back to Mexico after working in Dallas with a fake ID. Because of this, the mother's real name isn't listed on Galicia's birth certificate.
"She never corrected his birth certificate and just thought it was easier to get him a tourist visa so he could get in and out of the country," Galicia's attorney Claudia Galan told CNN; however, when the mother applied for the visa, she listed him as being born in Mexico. "And that brings a conflicting claim on his U.S. citizenship," Galan added.
The conflicting documents led CBP officers to question Galicia's legal status, so he was taken into custody. Galan said she presented border agents with various documents—such as a birth certificate, school ID, and health insurance card—that proved Galicia's citizenship, but he remained in custody for two more weeks.
"If he's a citizen, then the Department of Homeland Security, it seems, really doesn’t have grounds to hold him," Sarah Pierce, policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told Dallas News. "But this speaks to how easy it is to fall into and escape ICE’s removal apparatus."