Neighbors in Nashville first brought food, water and gas to the unidentified man and his 12-year-old son, who were holed up for close to four hours in the family van after it was blocked in their driveway by the ICE agents, who witnesses said were not in uniform.
“We made sure they had water, they had food, we put gas back in the vehicle when they were getting low just to make sure they were OK,” neighbor Felishadae Young told News Channel 5 in Nashville.
The neighbors then created a human chain blocking the agents as the father and son rushed inside their home.
“I could see if these people were bad criminals, but they’re not,” said another neighbor, Stacey Farley. “They’re just trying to provide for their kids. They work every day, they come home, the kids jump on their trampoline. It’s just a community.”
The ICE agents could have used their administrative warrant to detain the father on the street, but the warrant doesn’t allow officers to forcibly remove anyone from a vehicle or home.
Nashville lawyer Daniel Ayoade Yoon said that the immigration officers were “bullying” the man and his son inside their van, “trying to harass them ... into coming out.” They threatened to arrest them both, and “that’s just not legal,” Ayoade Yoon said. The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department issued a statement Monday saying ICE was trying to issue a detainer for just the father.
Nashville police officers were on the scene to keep the peace but offered no assistance to the ICE agents.
The man and his son later left their home in another car. Neighbors vowed to return if the ICE agents come back.
ICE released a statement saying that agents conduct “targeted enforcement of federal immigration law on a daily basis in accordance with our routine, ongoing operations.” The statement claimed ICE “continues to focus its ... efforts on criminal offenders.” It did not specify if “offenders” were at odds with immigration laws or had committed other crimes.
A statement from the MNPD said that, although police aid was requested by ICE, officers on the scene were “instructed not to be involved in the service of the detainer, but to stand by from a distance to keep the peace if necessary.” The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office issued a similar statement.
Mayor David Briley said “this type” of ICE activity “stokes fear and distrust in our most vulnerable communities, which is why we do not use our local resources to enforce ICE orders.”