Immigrants Claim That ICE Agents Looted and Vandalized Their Homes in New Jersey

“I don’t have any more safe space for myself.” Harry Pangemanan says his eldest daughter uttered these words after they discovered that their home had been vandalized and looted.

Pangemanan and his family are undocumented immigrants living in Highland Park, New Jersey. They and several other families in the area left their homes to avoid deportation sweeps conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, choosing to seek shelter in a nearby church. But some immigrants have reportedly found discovered that their homes were entered and burgled after they returned.

Pangemanan claims that his home was trashed and money was likely stolen. Another immigrant has given a similar account, saying that his air conditioner was pulled out of a wall of his ransacked house.

Reverend Seth Kaper-Dale, who has been providing sanctuary for these families in his church, believes that these acts may have been committed by ICE agents. He says it’s “beginning to feel like we live in a Gestapo state.”

Unsurprisingly, ICE has denied that its agents have intentionally committed any acts of vandalism, with a spokesperson asserting that these accusations are “patently false.”

While definitive evidence has not yet proven that ICE agents were behind these incidents, the timing is suspect. After all, it’s entirely possible that ICE agents entered these homes with warrants and, upon finding no one, took it upon themselves to ransack the place. If this is indeed the case, then doing so would be little more than a tactic aimed at terrorizing and intimidating the immigrant community.

If that sounds like a bridge too far for ICE, then maybe taking a look at their other recent acts might help to put things in perspective.

Over the past year, the agency has been especially proactive in targeting mothers and children for deportation. In one case, officials sent a woman and her child back to Honduras, which they had originally fled because they were being targeted by a violent gang.

In fact, ICE has been so overly zealous with detentions and deportations that the agency has ended up sending thousands of legal U.S. citizens to other countries over the past 15 years.

In a recent example, Riccy Enriquez Perdomo, a 22-year-old mother of two, was arrested and placed in an ICE prison for several weeks in August. Though she resided in the country legally — thanks to DACA — and had been legally employed, ICE opted to take her away from her children. If it were not for a vocal opposition to Perdomo’s deportation, she would likely be in Honduras today.

And then there’s ICE’s extensive use of privately-run prisons which, since the immigrant crackdown under the Trump administration, have seen a spike in instances of abuse and deaths. Rather than attempt to correct these problems, ICE has sought permission to destroy records of such incidents.

All told, would vandalizing immigrants’ homes really be beyond the realm of possibility for ICE agents in today’s climate? It seems that it would simply be the latest attempt to unnerve immigrants and ensure they feel unwelcome and unsafe — ICE’s modus operandi. Perhaps Reverend Kaper-Dale’s comparison of ICE to the Gestapo isn’t entirely off-base.

Photo Credit: Ted Eytan/Flickr

53 comments

DAVID fleming
DAVID f2 days ago

Thank you

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Camilla V
Camilla Vaga2 days ago

thanks

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Angela J
Angela J5 days ago

Thanks

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Bill E
Bill Eagle6 days ago

ICE should not be allowed to get away with this. They need to answer to the law, just like everyone else.

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Joan E
Joan E6 days ago

Lock up the disgusting ICE agents who did this. And hurry up and get rid of Trump and all the evil, disgusting sociopaths he surrounds himself with. He sets the intolerable tone.

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John B
John B9 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Janis K
Janis K10 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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heather g
heather g10 days ago

Something is seriously amiss with American officials - Why all this aggressiveness, cruelty and even worse things reported?

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Angela J
Angela J12 days ago

Thanks

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Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle13 days ago

America no longer is a welcoming country.

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