Like all schools, Hope of Detroit Academy in southwest Detroit is supposed to be a safe haven for parents and children, but activists say members of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used the school to stake out undocumented immigrants and harass the community in violation of their own policies.
"It is completely against common human decency and also ICE's own policies to conduct any sort of immigration enforcement at an elementary school," said Ryan Bates, the Michigan director of the Alliance for Immigration Rights.
Bates says he personally witnessed a March 31 incident involving ICE agents.
"At least six ICE agents followed an innocent family to the school and trapped them inside," he told FOX 2. "The school was thrown into chaos and panic. Parents (were) unsure if it was safe to pick up their children."
Bates says at least two parents were arrested following random stops outside the school. Meanwhile, members of the community insist this was not an isolated incident.
A spokesperson for ICE issued a statement saying they are concerned about the way this operation was conducted and their policies may not have been properly followed. An internal investigation is underway.
"I think … this is … an agenda of fear, fueled by anger, motivated by hate," said Democratic State Representative Harvey Santana.
He believes immigrants are being profiled.
ICE admits one of the targets of the recent operation may not have been an enforcement priority.
Robin Schwartz is a reporter for WJBK in Detroit. For more stories go to myFOXDetroit.com.