Residents in a Tennessee neighborhood formed a human chain around a man on Monday morning after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents had tried to take him into custody, the agency said.
The station added that the ICE agent had an administrative warrant, which allowed the agent to detain someone but did not allow ICE to forcibly remove someone from their home or vehicle.
“There were two immigration officials sort of bullying a family inside of their own vehicle, telling them that they had an administrative warrant, which isn’t the same thing as a judicial warrant, and trying to harass them and fear them into coming out,” Daniel Ayoadeyoon, a local lawyer who came to the scene to help, told WTVF-TV.
“They were saying, if you don’t come out, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to arrest your 12-year-old son, and that’s just not legal, it’s not the right law.”
Over the next few hours, neighbors came out to help the man and his son and gave them essential items so that they did not have to leave their van, the television station reported.
“We made sure they had water, they had food, we put gas back in the vehicle when they were getting low just to make sure they were okay,” Felishadae Young, a neighbor, told the station.
After about four hours, the neighbors reportedly formed a human chain so that the father and son could run into their home, the station reported. An ICE spokesman told Fox News the agency had left the scene before the “human chain” was formed.
The spokesman added: “Had such action taken place those persons would be subject to criminal arrest themselves as it is a crime to impede or obstruct a federal law enforcement officer.”
“I know they’re going to come back, and when they come back, we’re coming back," Young told WTVF-TV.
Several people who witnessed the situation reportedly broadcasted video on Facebook Live.
An ICE spokesman also told Fox News that the man the agency was trying to arrest was a convicted criminal who had been ordered to be removed from the country “after receiving appropriate due process before the federal immigration courts.”
He added that ICE officers chose to deescalate the situation by leaving.
ICE also sent this statement to Fox News:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers were seeking a convicted criminal alien ICE fugitive with an outstanding removal order in metro Nashville July 22 when they were encountered by a small group of protestors. Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of all persons involved, ICE personnel subsequently made the decision to depart without making an arrest to deescalate the situation.
ICE conducts targeted enforcement of federal immigration law on a daily basis in accordance with our routine, ongoing operations. In general, ICE continues to focus its enforcement efforts on criminal offenders as nearly 90 percent of persons arrested for violation of federal immigration law during the past year also had either a prior criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge. ICE does not conduct any type of random or indiscriminate enforcement that would encounter persons indiscriminately.”
Officers with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department were at the scene as well, but were not assisting in the man’s arrest, according to the department.
A statement sent to Fox News from Metro Nashville police said an ICE agent had requested the police department’s assistance after a driver would not stop when the agent tried to pull him over and then sat in the van with no intention of getting out.
The agent did not specify what he wanted the police department to do, according to the statement.
“The officers were instructed to not be involved in the service of the detainer, but to stand by from a distance to keep the peace if necessary,” the statement from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said.
“ICE ultimately left while the man was still in the van. The police left accordingly.”