ICE isn’t invading Queens, but if you spent too much time on Twitter over the past couple of days, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
According to Gothamist, an ICE-branded military grade armored vehicle was used in an operation last week in the borough where a man suspected of smuggling and illegally selling weapons was taken into custody.
The armored personnel carrier was first spotted Wednesday morning on Forest Avenue near Norman Street in the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood. Meanwhile, agents wearing ICE jackets were seen standing around the vehicle, while a gunner remained in position.
Local “activists” (Twitter blue-checkmarks) compared the vehicle’s presence in the neighborhood to “an occupying force.”
ICE is literally rolling through Queens in armored personnel carriers like an occupying force. https://t.co/2mFB5LBSx9
— Aaron Leaf (@aaronleaf) November 7, 2019
What they didn’t explain is that the branch of ICE wasn’t there to arrest illegal migrants. Instead, the Homeland Security Investigations unit – or HSI – was on the ground to serve a criminal arrest warrant stemming from a federal investigation into a firearms-related suspect. According to the mayor’s office, the individual in question was found to have bee hoarding “about 50 guns, including a machine gun, gun parts and ammunition.”
While still technically part of ICE, HSI isn’t involved in detaining individuals with a suspect immigration status.
Just the mere presence of the armored vehicle, which, again, was only there because agents presumably feared being fired upon by heavy weaponry while serving their warrant, was enough to incite terror in the neighborhood.
The Ridgewood Tenants Union, a left-wing organization dedicated to protecting the rights of the “marginalized”, accused ICE of inspiring terror.
“People feel terrorized,” said Raquel Namuche, an organizer with the Ridgewood Tenants Union. “This happened right across from a youth program for children as young as four-years-old and there seemed to be no safety protocols in place. For people to leave their homes early in the morning and see a tank out on the street is just wild.”
But the vehicle wasn’t a tank: it’s technically called a BearCat, the tactical vehicle is commonly used by the military and in some law enforcement capacities. HSI’s Special Response Team in New York has one of those vehicles, just like the SWAT team does.
Regardless, a councilman representing the neighborhood bashed ICE over the use of the “tank”.
Councilmember Antonio Reynoso also expressed frustration about the incident, pointing to constant fear in immigrant neighborhoods about the potential for raids and deportations. “I do not understand what necessitated ICE’s use of a tank other than the simple desire to instill fear amongst our community members,” he said in a statement to Gothamist. “At this time, we must ensure that residents are connected to resources like the Immigrant Defense Project so that they are equipped to know their rights against ICE.”
Even when it’s performing basic law-enforcement duties like arresting dangerous criminals, urban progressives have made clear that the agency is evil, illegitimate and should be abolished.