United States

Mayor Attacks Trump as Immigration Raids Spark Fear, Protests in NYC

As a nationwide crackdown on immigrants sparks concerns and protests in New York City neighborhoods, the mayor on Sunday called the raids a "political act" by President Trump intended to help him win re-election. 

Mayor de Blasio said the raids weren't about security or enforcing the law. "This is a political act by this president, he's politicized a United States government agency to help him win re-election," de Blasio said as residents confirmed sightings of ICE agents knocking on doors as early as Saturday.

No one has been arrested, the mayor said, and there were no reported raids in the city on Sunday by midday. 

"There were two attempts here in Sunset Park and no one was arrested because no one open their doors. And I think that is emblematic of people understanding they have rights," the neighborhood's Community Board Chair Cesar Zuniga told News 4.

Protests were held across the tri-state over the weekend as immigrant advocates advised those who feared being deported of their rights. 

In Brooklyn, community members surrounded two plain-clothed NYPD officers who were grabbing dinner at a taco spot and asked them to leave because they mistook the police for ICE agents.

"You’re terrifying people in the neighborhood right now," one protester said to the officers in a video of the exchange.

After the mixup, the NYPD says its officers will be wearing the department's windbreaker jackets to distinguish themselves to avoid future confusion. The 72nd Precinct's Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez also assured that officers will not engange in helping ICE with the round ups.

"The NYPD does not ask anyone for documentation in their citizenship in this country," Gonzalez said.

A senior US official told NBC News on Sunday that ICE raids had begun as part of an operation expected to target 2,000 immigrants in 10 major U.S. cities including New York over the next few days. 

De Blasio, who is one of at least two dozen Democrats running for president, came under criticism himself on Saturday when he was campaigning in Iowa during a massive midtown Manhattan blackout. He canceled campaign events and returned to the city on Sunday. 

At a news conference on the blackout, he also fielded questions about the ICE raids, which he called "horrible."

Trump is "stoking fear and he's trying to pit immigrant against citizen in a way that's very, very cynical," de Blasio said. "But then when the moment of truth comes, suddenly it's all fear, no action."

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan would not answer questions about the operation at an unrelated briefing in Washington on Sunday on the emergency management response to Hurricane Barry.

In 2012 under the Obama administration, there were over 1,000 ICE arrests per day on average. However, families were not targeted then as they are now.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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