Hermitage, TN – An hours-long standoff between two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and an illegal immigrant they were trying to detain came to an end when neighbors formed a human chain to help him escape custody (video below).
The standoff in the Nashville suburb began at about 7:19 a.m. on July 22 near the area of Brooke Valley and Forest Ridge Drives, WTVF reported.
ICE agents, who were attempting to execute an administrative warrant, blocked the suspect’s van in his driveway as he was attempting to leave home with his 12-year-old son.
The man and his son refused to come out of their van – and administrative warrants don’t allow ICE agents to forcibly remove suspects from their homes or vehicles – so the agents tried to wait the man out, WTVF reported.
Neighbors came out to support the illegal alien as he stayed tucked away from the agents in his van.
They brought water, snacks, and wet rags so the father and son could stay in their van throughout the hot morning while the ICE agents waited outside.
“We made sure they had water, they had food, we put gas back in the vehicle when they were getting low just to make sure they were okay,” neighbor Felishadae Young told WTVF.
After four hours, neighbors got creative and formed a human chain that surrounded the van and the door to the wanted man’s home.
Father and son were able to run into their house without fear of being grabbed because ICE agents couldn’t have reached them without knocking down the citizens blocking their paths.
One man who said he was an attorney showed up at the scene to offer his assistance, WTVF reported.
“There were two immigration officials sort of bullying a family inside of their own vehicle, telling them that they had an administrative warrant, which isn’t the same thing as a judicial warrant, and trying to harass them and fear them into coming out,” Daniel Ayoadeyoon said. “They were saying, if you don’t come out, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to arrest your 12-year-old son, and that’s just not legal. It’s not the right law.”
The ICE agents did call the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department for backup, but the local officers offered only crowd control help and didn’t assist in the attempted arrest, WTVF reported.
The local officers don't have the authority to conduct federal immigration enforcement.
Nashville Mayor David Briley released a statement that said the Metropolitan Nashville police were not involved in the enforcement and were only on the scene to preserve the peace.
“This morning, ICE agents attempted to detain a Nashville resident,” Briley said. “However, the agents did not end up detaining the resident, and no arrests were made. Our police officers do not actively participate in immigration enforcement efforts and only serve as peacekeepers.”
“The officers were at the incident today to keep neighbors safe and secure a perimeter,” the mayor’s statement continued. “I am keenly aware that this type of activity by our federal government stokes fear and distrust in our most vulnerable communities, which is why we do not use our local resources to enforce ICE orders.”
Neighbors said they were glad the man who was the target of the ICE agents was not arrested.
“I could see if these people were bad criminals, but they’re not, they’re just trying to provide for their kids,” neighbor Stacey Farley told WTVF. “The family don’t bother nobody, they work every day, they come home, the kids jump on their trampoline, it’s just a community.”
ICE also released a statement that attempted to explain the day’s activities.
"No at-large ICE arrests happened today in Nashville,” the statement read. “That said, in general, ICE conducts targeted enforcement of federal immigration law on a daily basis in accordance with our routine, ongoing operations. ICE continues to focus its enforcement efforts on criminal offenders as nearly 90 percent of persons arrested for violation of federal immigration law during the past year also had either a prior criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge. ICE does not conduct any type of random or indiscriminate enforcement that would encounter persons indiscriminately."
Watch the neighbors forming a human chain in the video below: