As Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, detentions, and deportations are taking place at an alarming rate, people have called into question how officials are targeting and handling arrests.
Allegedly, a dozen ICE agents staked out the Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, Virginia to arrest Latino men.
One of the people who was singled out, Oscar Ramirez, explained that he and a couple of other men had left the hypothermia shelter of the church around 6:45 am and crossed the street when ICE officers ordered them to stand against a wall.
In an interview with NBC Washington News 4, Ramirez said that the agents questioned the men and scanned their fingers to check if they had any criminal records.
Although Ramirez had a green card and was cleared, at least six other men were arrested and put into vans, according to Ramirez and other witnesses. ICE officials claim that only two men were arrested across the street from the church.
"They were clearly targeting the church because they knew that they stayed here in the hypothermia shelter."
"So they were waiting for them to cross the street and then jump on them," Rising Hope Mission Church reverend, Keary Kincannon, said. He's concerned that people are in danger because they will become fearful of seeking shelter from the cold at the church due to this situation.
One immigration lawyer for the Legal Aid Justice Center points out that the broadening of the deportation criteria makes any Latino man a focus for agents.
Nicholas Marritz explained, "ICE agents are coming not just for specific people who they're looking for, but are willing to just pick up any other Latino men who happen to be walking around."
Although the arrests happened across the street from a church, an ICE spokeswoman said the sensitive location policy was followed.
"The policies are meant to ensure that ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agents exercise sound judgment when enforcing federal law at or focused on sensitive locations, to enhance the public understanding and trust, and to ensure that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so, without fear or hesitation," the ICE website states.Some of the sensitive locations listed by the Department of Homeland Security are schools, medical treatment facilities, and places of worship. Because the men were not on the church's property, but across the street, ICE was able to take action.
This isn't the first time that ICE agents have marked a church as a location to detain undocumented immigrants.
Just last month, ICE agents reportedly lured a 31-year-old man out of church with fake text messages so that they could apprehend him.