SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A rally against ICE operations is about to get underway at 5 tonight in San Jose at the intersection of Story and King Road. This week, federal agents arrested hundreds of people violating U-S immigration law. It's sent panic throughout the Latino community.
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When people spotted numerous white vans with tinted windows driving slowly through the Target parking lot at Story and King, they started to get suspicious. A government license plate from the Department of Homeland Security confirmed their fear that ICE was in the area.
"We're concerned because it's the most Latino populated area," said Jesus Ruiz, with PACT, People Acting in Community Together, the agency organizing the rally.
News of the sighting spread fast. This restaurant manager tells us the entire plaza looked like a ghost town.
"We saw 7 or 8 hours where the streets were empty, there was no one even walking around, business was down significantly," said Nathan Casper, a restaurant manager at the plaza on Story and King.
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Since Monday, the Rapid Response Network of Santa Clara County has received 400 calls from people who have witnessed or heard about ICE activity in their neighborhood or who have had a relative detained. The network says at least 9 people were arrested in San Jose.
"I think about five of them hit our hotline and we were able to provide them with an attorney to go represent them," said Ruiz.
ICE confirms its agents made 232 arrests during an operation they held earlier this week in Northern California. That enforcement and the local sightings have been disturbing for the immigrant community. SIREN, an immigrant rights group, is monitoring activity every day. It is offering family preparedness workshops.
"If they do encounter ICE or are approached from an ICE agent making sure they exercise their rights to remain silent, ask for a lawyer and ask for a judicial warrant if they are trying to enter their home," said Priya Murthy, the Policy and Advocacy Director for SIREN, Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network.
ICE says the majority of people arrested were either convicted criminals, had been issued a final order of removal and failed to leave the U-S or had been previously removed and returned to the U.S.
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ICE activity in San Jose prompts Friday night rally in San Jose