ICE crackdown puts Immokalee residents on edge

Roger Villareal says yesterday started out just like any other day, but quickly took a turn for the worse.

Villareal and his three coworkers where driving to work when out of nowhere, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers surrounded his car and arrested all of his friends.

“Like, five cars surrounded us and, like, 12 agents. And they just bum rushed us and started taking people out of my van,” Villareal said. “They didn’t ask for permission or nothing like that.”

Villareal says none of the ICE agents would tell him what was going on.

“They flung open my door and started taking people out,” Villareal said.

An ICE officer out of the Miami district office says they randomly search areas like Immokalee, but they do targeted enforcement operations instead.

Targeted enforcement operations mean ICE officers set out to detain one person, but could arrest others near them if they find it necessary.

“Families are getting torn apart. You’re leaving kids without parents, like, who does that?” Villareal said.

When the ICE officers were done searching Villareal’s van, he was free to go. But since the incident, he is shaken, and says he has never seen anything like this before.

“We’re repeating history, picking on people who can’t really fight back,” Villareal said.

According to an ICE agent, they don’t disclose where they sent their agents for their safety.

It is unclear what those three people ICE detained is accused of, or who they are.

Villareal says that he has not heard from his friends since.

Reporter:Olivia Mancino
Writer:Emily Ford