Tennessee neighbors form human chain to prevent ICE from arresting father in driveway

The man and his 12-year-old son were in their driveway when ICE arrived.

July 23, 2019, 7:28 PM

Neighbors in the outskirts of Nashville prevented immigration officials from detaining a man in his driveway, and then formed a human chain to allow the man and his son to return to their home.

The man and his 12-year-old son were sitting in a van outside their home in the neighborhood of Hermitage when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrived. The man and the boy refused to get out of the van -- and that's when neighbors stepped in to help, according to video posted on social media.

The neighbors brought gas, food and water, and then formed a human chain so the father and son could get inside their home without being stopped by the ICE agents.

The agents eventually left without arresting the man, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.

Neighbors formed a human chain on Monday, July 22 to prevent the arrest of a man outside his home near Nashville.
Nashville Noticias

It was the second incident in just a few days in which ICE agents appeared to try to take people from their cars into custody, even though it is unclear the agency has that authority. In the other incident, on Sunday in Los Angeles, a neighbor also intervened -- taking video of the incident on her cellphone.

Both incidents also come in the wake of an announcement by the Trump administration that it planned to increase the pace of deportations.

In Sunday's incident, a woman was pulled out of her car by ICE agents in unmarked vehicles on a street in the Echo Park neighborhood.

When a neighbor, Alicia Rivera, saw what was happening, she pulled out her phone and began documenting the arrest. At one point, she tried to block the agents' vehicle to stop them from driving away with the woman in the back seat.

"Show me the order," Rivera is heard saying in the video. "...You can't take her. It's not signed by the judge."

The agents then left the woman's car in the middle of the street with its hazard lights on and took the keys, Rivera told ABC Los Angeles station KABC.

Rivera identified the woman as a mother of two and told KABC the woman's partner and children are "devastated" over her arrest.

ICE did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News about either incident. Neither of the two individuals have been publicly identified.

After the Los Angeles incident, the agency told KABC: "Congress has established no process, requirement, or expectation directing ICE to seek a judicial warrant from already overburdened federal courts before taking custody of an alien on civil immigration violations. This idea is simply a figment created by those who wish to undermine immigration enforcement and excuse the ill-conceived practices of sanctuary jurisdictions that put politics before public safety."

A spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles told ABC News that the organization has spoken to the woman and evaluating how it might assist her.

CHIRLA attorney Yolanda Martin told KABC that ICE agents cannot pull over a car unless they have reasonable suspicion that the person is undocumented.

After the incident in Nashville, police there put out a statement, saying officers learned that the ICE agents were trying to serve a detainer on the man, they were instructed to "not be involved in the service of the detainer, but to stand by from a distance to keep the peace if necessary," police said.

Nashville police said when ICE had attempted to pull the van over when it instead pulled into a driveway on Forest Ridge Drive.

"The caller said the driver was sitting in the van and was not getting out," the statement read. "He requested the police department's assistance, but did not specify what he wanted the police department to do."

A man and his 12-year-old son were in their driveway at their home near Nashville on Monday, July 22, when ICE agents arrived and tried to arrest the father.
Nashville Noticias

Video posted by Facebook group Nashville Noticias shows at least a dozen people surrounding the van while holding hands. Soon after the chain was formed, the man's son was seen getting out of the passenger seat to go inside the home.

"We were going to hold it down as long as the police were here," Felishadae Young, neighbor who participated in the human chain, told ABC Nashville affiliate WKRN. "We were going to be out here just as long."

The boy's mother was seen in video thanking the volunteers for helping the family.

Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, policy director for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, told WKRN that people "have to look very closely" at the document when ICE agents say they have a warrant because they are "often signed by an ICE agent," rather than a judge, so it is not legally binding.

The organization responded to the family's home on Monday morning after hearing about what had happened, WKRN reported.

ABC News' Quinn Owen and Robert Zepeda contributed to this report.

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