MESQUITE, Texas - The Dallas Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office says there is no truth behind social media rumors about immigration raids and checkpoints in North Texas.
Latino activists say it's in response to President Donald Trump's immigration policies and enforcement. But local ICE officials say the posts are causing unnecessary fear in immigrant communities.
A post recently shared over and over on social media claims to show a picture of ICE agents detaining people along Loop 12. Another post says agents were on Park Lane, stopping cars and demanding papers. But none of the posts were true.
At an informational forum on immigration Thursday afternoon, hundreds of people packed into the North Mesquite High School gym, where immigration activists and attorneys told the crowd the rumors are not true.
Odilon Ortuno describes the panic felt by some of his coworkers as they considered keeping their kids out school.
“They worry about it and they feel very insecure,” he said.
But even some people with legal status say they're concerned. Ortuno says his permanent residency expires in two years and was at the meeting to ask about his specific case.
“I'm here to see if there is a chance for me to re-establish my citizenship residence, to get them once again for another ten years,” He said. “Or if it’s possible that I can qualify for citizenship.”
Enforcement is happening around the country, but ICE insists their focus is finding convicted criminals and those who have already ignored deportation orders or have been deported and returned.
ICE tweeted this week that reports of "round-ups" are false and create mass panic and danger for law enforcement and communities. It also tweeted Throwback Thursday pictures of a 2012 operation that targeted fugitives.
These reports create mass panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger.— ICE (@ICEgov) February 16, 2017
In Dallas, the ICE office says it has been fielding calls all week about checkpoints and roundups. ICE says it’s not happening, and attorneys at the forum agreed they haven't seen it either.
Lawyers also took questions from people in various stages of becoming a citizen or who already have legal residency. But lawyers assured people that the law has not changed and encouraged people to keep moving through the process.