Pastor Fred Morris looked out over his congregation Sunday as news ricocheted around the world that American authorities were rounding up immigrants in an enforcement surge that President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail.
Parishioners’ eyes darted around the room. They stared down at their feet.
“There is a dreadful sense of fear,” said Morris, whose United Methodist mission is in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Los Angeles. “They were just sitting there in stunned silence.”
For days, fear and confusion have gripped immigrant communities across the nation after word spread that federal agents were rounding up hundreds of immigrants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New York, California, Illinois and Texas. The scope of the operation remained unclear on Sunday.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said the efforts were “routine” and no different than the targeted arrests carried out under former President Barack Obama.
But Trump took to Twitter to claim credit.
“The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise,” he wrote early Sunday. “Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also took to Twitter Sunday to denounce the raids that federal officials said included the arrests of more than 40 undocumented immigrants in New York City over the past week.
“We will continue to stand with the nearly 40 percent of New Yorkers who are foreign born — documented or undocumented,” de Blasio wrote. “We will use all of the tools at our disposal to protect them from any federal overreach.”
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Councilman Carlos Menchaca, chairman of the council’s immigration committee, issued a joint statement saying “dragnet immigration raids would undermine New York City’s public safety, destabilize communities and devastate families.”
Nearly 200 people were arrested in the Carolinas and Georgia. More than 150 more were rounded up in and around Los Angeles. On the Sunday morning talk shows, the president’s representatives said the enforcement was a result of Trump’s policies.
White House policy adviser Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that the administration had “taken new and greater steps to remove criminal aliens” who pose a threat to public safety.
Among those arrested were a Salvadoran gang member wanted in his home country and a Brazilian drug trafficker, officials said.
With Laura Figueroa