The man and child sat in their car for four hours before returning home
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent tried to bring a Hermitage, Tennessee man into custody, but some quick-thinking neighbors stepped in to allow he and his 12-year-old son to safely enter and leave their home.
The man got into his van with his son when an ICE vehicle blocked him in earlier today. Over the next few hours, concerned neighbors brought them food, water, gas, and wet rags so they could stay safely in their van. The agents had an administrative warrant for the man, meaning they can detain someone, but cannot forcibly remove them from their home or vehicle.
“We made sure they had water, they had food, we put gas back in the vehicle when they were getting low just to make sure they were okay,” Felishadae Young, a neighbor, told Channel News 5 Nashville.
But what they did next can only be described as incredible. As more and more neighbors stepped in to help, they created a chain by holding hands to allow the father and son to run into their home after four hours of sitting in their car, likely scared to death.
“There were two immigration officials sort of bullying a family inside of their own vehicle, telling them that they had an administrative warrant, which isn’t the same thing as a judicial warrant, and trying to harass them and fear them into coming out,” lawyer Daniel Ayoadeyoon said after arriving at the scene. “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.”
“When ICE comes to your door, you have no obligation to open the door unless they have a judicial criminal warrant,” Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, Policy Director for the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition added.
ICE agents eventually left, but concerned neighbors believe that they will be back. If that happens, they said, they’ll be back to protect the man and his son again. “I know they’re gonna come back, and when they come back, we’re coming back,” Young said.
“I could see if these people were bad criminals, but they’re not, they’re just trying to provide for their kids,” Stacey Farley, a neighbor, added. “The family don’t bother nobody, they work every day, they come home, the kids jump on their trampoline, it’s just a community.”
Police also showed up on scene to keep the peace but did not engage with the family or agents during the event. “There are reports I have heard that the ICE agents may have been telling the gentleman in the van that he had to give himself up or else MNPD would arrest him,” Nashville Metro Councilman Bob Mendes said. “If that’s what they said, that’s not true. Again, Metro’s policy and MNPD’s policy is to not be involved in federal civil immigration enforcement. Our city is less safe if people are afraid of MNPD.”
“I could not imagine how that family was going to be able to rest tonight. I mean after something like that something that traumatic,” community member Susan Hudson said.