RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — People gathered Wednesday outside the Wake County Detention Center in protest of recent immigration raids.
They held a vigil, trying to call attention to how they feel the raids are tearing families apart.
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security announced U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 121 people during raids, primarily people from North Carolina, Georgia and Texas.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson says the move was part of a broader strategy to deal with illegal immigration. He noted officials took into custody both adults and children who’d crossed the border illegally, have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court and have exhausted their appeals.
“I know there are many who loudly condemn our enforcement efforts as too harsh,” Johnson said in a statement. “But, we must enforce the law consistent with our priorities.”
People at Wednesday’s vigil are concerned about kids getting separated from their families and their safety back in their home countries.
The brought balloons and stuffed animals to represent the kids being deported. Some people also wore masking tape over their mouths to represent people who could not speak on their own behalf.
“It’s always a constant fear. This takes a psychological toll. Since I was a kid I’ve had a mistrust of the police because every time I saw a police car, I automatically feared that I’d be separated from my parents,” said Jorge “Tito” Ramos, whose family fled from the violence near the U.S./Mexico border.
“There’s still the fear of them being deported. They still could be exploited,” he added.