A large, armored vehicle belonging to the Department of Homeland Security startled residents in Queens, New York City, on Wednesday as authorities used it to conduct an arrest, according to local news outlets.
A federal source who spoke to Spectrum News NY1 on the condition of anonymity said the Special Response Team, a division within Immigration and Customs Enforcement, used the military-style vehicle, commonly known as a BearCat, for a criminal arrest in Ridgewood. The operation “did not involve an immigration issue,” the source added.
According to the Gothamist, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio told the website that the federal agents were present to investigate a firearms suspect, who was alleged to have “about 50 guns, including a machine gun, gun parts and ammunition.”
As word of the operation spread online, some people took to social media to voice their concerns about what appeared to be an outsized, heavily militarized operation targeting undocumented immigrants in New York City.
In a statement given to Gothamist, Raquel Namuche, a member of the Ridgewood tenants union, said the operation scared local residents. “People feel terrorized,” Namuche said, adding that the arrest occurred near a youth program for children as young as four and didn’t account for their potential fears about seeing a tank-like vehicle as they left for and returned from school.
The Trump administration has resorted to various shows of force designed to instill fear in people it believes to be in the U.S. without documentation. Last year, it deployed thousands of troops to the border in response to a migrant caravan.
In July, a wave of highly publicized ICE raids on immigrant communities in Harlem and Brooklyn resulted in only a few arrests relative to the scale of the operation. The Trump administration targeted 2,000 migrants in that raid, according to the New York Times. Of the 2,000 migrants targeted, 35 were reportedly arrested.
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