DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Fear is spreading through Georgia's immigrant communities over anticipated federal raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that are expected to start tomorrow.
ICE agents will target at least 2,000 immigrants accused of remaining illegally within the U.S.
The Trump administration, which previously delayed the raids in June, says immigration laws have long been ignored and tougher enforcement is needed.
Ahead of the raids, advocates for immigrant communities are springing into action.
On Friday, hundreds gathered at DeKalb County's Plaza Fiesta shopping mall to protest immigration policies and conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border and the threat of immigration enforcement raids across the country.
Democratic state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero says the threat of large-scale immigration enforcement over the weekend and the use of the term "raid" is striking fear in many people in her DeKalb County community.
"It has a lot of misconception that causes greater fear and anxiety, in communities particularly immigrant communities, and the only reason I like to clarify that is because these are target operations and against individuals that have removal orders, and many of these individuals know that they have said removal orders," Lopez Romero said.
And that's the point, says DeKalb GOP Chairman Lane Flynn, arguing that these possible arrests are targeting people who know that they have these removal orders.
"I don't see it as some overwhelming program where we are kicking every immigrant out. I am not in favor of that, the GOP is not in favor of that, I'm sure President Trump is not in favor of that," Flynn said. "They are specifically targeting people who have had every opportunity for their day in court."
Protestors say they hope officials remember the principles of this country and treat those in its borders fairly.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also tweeted about the potential raids, saying that "Atlanta stands with our immigrant communities. Please be prepared."
National groups are confirming mass raids to detain undocumented people around the country. In the Atlanta area, it is predicted that there will be targeted raids this weekend in pre-dawn hours. Share this post and help Atlantans know their rights. pic.twitter.com/bULlkUHoXq— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 12, 2019