KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids being conducted in at least 10 major U.S. cities starting Sunday, immigration supporters gathered on Friday to rally and bring awareness to issues facing immigrants at Washington Square Park in Kansas City, Missouri.
The raids, which are expected to target around 2,000 undocumented immigrant families, will last a few days and take place in major cities, including New York to Los Angeles.
“My roommate and I said we can sit on the couch and we can complain or we can come out here and do something,” Nancy Hall said. “We’re letting people know that we’re serious. This is a big issue.”
Hundreds of people came together, many holding signs and chanting during the event.
After hearing speeches in support of immigration, supporters lit candles for a special vigil.
“I’m appalled by the separation and the ICE invasions,” Marcie Eisterhold said. “It seems like a matter of putting yourself in the shoes of the people that have left very bad situations.”
News of the upcoming raids has brought concern in some communities around the metro.
While Kansas City is not on the list of cities being targeted, staff at El Centro said any raid operation leads to unease for immigrant families.
“Regardless of it being in 10 cities across the country, we know it happens and it has happened here,” El Centro President Irene Caudillo said. “What you see is a lot of them not attending or going out for work, play, the grocery store, or church.”
As the federal government continues to clamp down on illegal immigration, Caudillo said that her staff has been working with families to make them more aware of their rights.
“What we do is try to get them to understand not to run, to utilize their Fifth Amendment, to not open the door,” she said. “We did a lot to bring people out of the shadows. What we’re seeing is a lot of that destroyed and people going back into the shadows.”
Caudillo said the effort also involved handing out thousands of “Power Packets,” which include pamphlets on what to do if Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents come to a home.
“It’s really about the basic steps of knowing their awareness, ...” she said. "We try to give them all of the education,” she said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”