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Demonstrators block off streets in Las Cruces to protest alleged ICE raids

Demonstrators outside the Las Cruces federal courthouse protesting an alleged ICE raid are created problems for traffic Wednesday afternoon.

Members of the NM Comunidades en Accion y de Fe organization gathered outside the courthouse to demand that ICE cease its raids in their community.

"This morning we were hearing reports as early as 5 a.m. or maybe earlier that ICE agents were knocking on the doors of our neighbors and asking for their papers. We know of at least two people that were apprehended and taken from their families today," said community organizer Sara Melton.

Demonstrators first held a press conference in front of the courthouse before blocking off Griggs Street by forming a human chain in the crosswalk.

"As a community that is not who we are," Melton said.

The protesters then marched to the Las Cruces City Hall. "We're here today to stand with everyone who is afraid and terrified today for themselves or their own family members. We're here to tell them that we love them and we want them (here). We're also here to send ICE a message and everyone that has power to stop this."

Once the group made it to N. Main Street and E. Picacho Avenue, they blocked off the intersection by siting down along the street.

Las Cruces police officers arrived not long afterward to try to get the protesters out of the streets.

Some of the demonstrators were asked to move on to the sidewalk for their own safety, but they refused and stayed, chanting “No ICE,” “What side are you on, what side are you on my brother?” “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.”

After 30 minutes of protesting and blocking traffic, demonstrators moved over to the sidewalk along North Main Street into Albert Johnson Park.

Sara Silva with the organization said the protest wasn’t planned.

“We heard about a number of ICE raids were happening in Dona Ana County," said Silva.

Silva said the organization was trying to find people but couldn’t locate people detained in the alleged raid.

"People didn't think this was going to happen and now it's happening here," said Johanna Vencomo, one of the demonstrators.

Vencomo said she hopes local and state leaders heard about the ICE raids in Las Cruces and subsequent protests and will step in.

"We really need our local, state and congressional representatives to step up and take on the leadership because it is happening now in our community," Vencomo said. "One person separated from their family is way too many."

KFOX14 was not able to independently verify that raids happened in Las Cruces Wednesday or that anyone was detained.

For aliens who have had their due process and have been ordered to depart the U.S by a federal judge, it is ICE's duty to execute those judicial orders. The taxpayers of this country spend a significant amount of money on the apprehension, detention, and judicial proceedings for individuals entering the US in violation of federal law. When a federal court issues a final decision, those orders must be implemented by ICE. The president has been clear in saying that DHS should be focused on removing individuals who pose a threat to public safety, who have been charged with criminal offenses, who have committed multiple immigration violations or who have been deported and re-entered the country illegally.

None of the protesters who blocked off streets in downtown Las Cruces were arrested.

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