In a standoff between a man in Hermitage, Tennessee, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, neighbors came to aid the man and his 12-year-old son while they sat in the car for four hours to avoid detention on Monday.
According to the Washington Post, for two weeks, people kept spotting an unmarked white Ford F-150 in the neighborhood flashing red and blue lights and on Monday, it turned out that it had been ICE. The car had followed the man — who hasn’t been publicly identified — as he pulled into his driveway, blocking him in, WTVF and WZTV reported.
The driver then alerted immigrants rights advocates and neighbors who came to his aid bringing him and his family water, gas, and food so they could stay in the van safe and sound. More than 10 of the man’s neighbors formed a human chain around their vehicle at one point so that they could enter their home where his wife and other family members were waiting.
“I was real scared about what was going on,” said Felishadae Young, the man’s neighbor, in an interview posted on Facebook by CNN affiliate WZTV. “It put a lot of fear in me because it could be me, it could be my family. It could be anybody. It could be your neighbors, just like it was my neighbor today.” Young said she’s known the family for 14 years.
According to WTVF, ICE was there to serve a detainer (civil warrant) on the man. Daniel Ayoade Yoon, a lawyer who said he witnessed the standoff, claimed the ICE agents were “sort of bullying” the man. “They were saying, ‘If you don’t come out, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to arrest your 12-year-old son,’ and that’s just not legal, it’s not the right law,” Yoon said.
“They were here with an administrative order that they wrote themselves,” he told the Washington Post. “There’s no judicial review, no magistrate review, no probable cause. It doesn’t give them the authority to break down a door like you would with a normal warrant. They didn’t try to do that. But they still lied to the individuals inside and to people on the scene about, ‘No, this does give us that authority.'”
The agents eventually left (though they’ll likely return) and public information officer Bryan Cox told the Tennessean that the officers left the scene to de-escalate the situation. He made it a point to note that 90 percent of those arrested by ICE in the past fiscal year had either a prior criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge. However, the publication reports that officials have not said whether the man has a criminal record. The Metro Nashville Police Department indicated he has no active warrants. Nashville policy prohibits police officers from getting involved in ICE operations unless they have a warrant that a crime had occurred since immigration enforcement is considered a civil matter.
“Thank you,” the wife said in Spanish to their neighbors for stepping up to protect them. “Thank you to everyone who supported us, from the bottom of my heart.” This incident took place on the same day the Trump administration announced a new rule that would speed up the deportations of undocumented immigrants who can’t prove that they’ve been in the U.S. for more than two years. Advocates and neighbors alike told CNN affiliates they wouldn’t back down if and when ICE returns. One neighbor stated, “they came to the wrong community on the wrong day.”