CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A grassroots community organization said more than a dozen people were arrested Wednesday morning across Charlotte by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Comunidad Collectiva, a group focused on protecting the human rights of immigrants in Charlotte, posted a Facebook Live showing ICE agents in a parking lot behind a CVS store on Central Avenue.
Witnesses told Channel 9 they saw ICE agents arrest several people outside the store.
In the video, you can see people in handcuffs. Community activist Stefania Arteaga told Channel 9 she saw several people in a white van under ICE custody.
“He's in handcuffs for our safety,” an agent said in the video.
“He looks like a kid wearing sandals,” an activist replied.
Arteaga told Eyewitness News reporter Stephanie Tinoco she's being flooded with calls from people who are anxious because they don't know if their family members are missing or if they were detained by ICE.
"We have folks as far as last week who cannot find their loved ones, and we’re trying to work with them and identify where they are,” said Arteaga.
ICE sent a statement to Tinoco saying the agency is targeting criminals and "does not conduct any type of random or indiscriminate enforcement."
Moises Rojas told Channel 9 he was in a van on Central Avenue when his co-worker got pulled over by ICE.
"They took us out of the car, asked us for our paperwork, and that's when they took everybody,” Rojas said. “They were looking for one guy specifically. They took one of the guys from the car they thought was the person they were looking for.”
Rojas said none of his co-workers were who the ICE agents were looking for, but the agents still made multiple arrests.
“They asked for their IDs, and they asked for thumbprints,” Rojas said.
A woman who didn’t want to be identified said her boyfriend was one of six people detained during the traffic stop.
"We just want to know he's OK and what the next step is going to be,” she said.
Arteaga said she's been inundated with calls from people claiming their loved ones are missing, but they don't know if they've been detained.
“We’re working to help families locate their loved ones,” Arteaga said.
The arrests in Charlotte have gotten the attention of U.S.lawmakers.
Rep. Alma Adams tweeted out that her office was in touch with the Department of Homeland Security and is seeking answers.
Community activists called Wednesday’s actions racial profiling, but ICE officials said they are targeting criminals.
ICE said agents arrested 15,000 people last year and that 91 percent of them had either pending criminal charges or a prior conviction.
A statement released Wednesday by Comunidad Collectiva said: "These arrests come after a workplace raid in Sanford, N.C. and threats by ICE to target immigrants following the end of the 287g program in several counties, including Mecklenburg."
The 287g program allowed deputies to run a suspect's name through immigration databases to determine if they're in the country without documentation, and it has been the center of controversy for years in Mecklenburg County.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden's choice to end the program was one of the first decisions he made after being sworn into office, and it received pushback.
McFadden said he chose to join the majority of police and sheriff departments around the country in ending the agreement with ICE because it erodes the community's trust in law enforcement and ties up critical resources.
Comunidad Collectiva said ICE has no place in jails, courts or streets, and it remains committed to making sure Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a place where all families can live.
Channel 9 contacted ICE Wednesday morning for more information on the people who have been detained but has not heard back yet.
Cox Media Group