News Articles

Immigration Raids and Collateral Damage

crowd of people in nyc
Photo credit: Enrique Alarcon

By Jim Sliney Jr.

“This was not a good weekend for the U.S. Not just for immigrants, but for all of us.” – Monsignor Kevin Sullivan.


The roundups two weekend ago were expected to target about 2,000 migrants. The primary focus was on individuals who have received standing deportation orders after failing to show up to their court hearings. 

In a report from AZCentral, Claudia Valenzuela of the American Immigration Council said, ‘a concern is that, in many instances, the families did not receive court notices, were summoned for non-existent dates, or simply didn't know how to navigate the complex U.S. immigration system.’ Another big concern, she said, is the possibility of "collateral arrests."

If immigration authorities come across "others in the vicinity that maybe aren't the targets for arrest, maybe aren't the subjects of an outstanding removal order, but ICE agents determine they are not here lawfully, that could result in those individuals being apprehended," Valenzuela said.

“The collateral damage is out of control,” said Jeremy McKinney to the New York Times, an immigration defense lawyer with several offices in North Carolina. In late June he said that lawyers in his office were aware of some asylum seekers from Central America being arrested recently by ICE agents, but that the majority of those who had been picked up seemed to have merely been “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”


While immigrants are the targets of detention orders and their family members might get caught up in a raid and arrested, there is another kind of collateral damage as well. Catholic Charities of New York’s own staff members have had bigotry and hatred aimed at them from their fellow Americans just for trying to help their vulnerable neighbors.

Those committed people and those who assailed them are small examples of the greater wedge separating our country.  As long as our national policies target the most vulnerable among us how can we progress as a people? The hurt being done affects us all.

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 20:40

“Rash harsh talk and actions harm not only immigrants but also communities and neighborhoods throughout the country,” said Monsignor Sullivan. “We support and encourage legal immigration, as we also insist on the humane treatment of those who enter without proper documentation seeking protection and opportunity.”

After all, it is that humanity and compassion that makes us who we are.