Massachusetts State Rep. Michelle DuBois posted a warning on her Facebook page yesterday saying that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would be conducting a raid in the city of Brockton, MA. DuBois claimed the warning came to her from a “friend in the Latin community.”
The warning stated, “I have a message for the immigrant community of Brockton. Please be careful on Wednesday 29. ICE will be in Brockton on that day.” It continued, “If you are undocumented don’t go out on the street. If there is a knock on the door of your house and you don’t know who it is, don’t open the door. I ask you to be careful.”
Officials with ICE criticized DuBois, telling Fox News the agency had no enforcement actions planned in Brockton. “For operational security reasons, ICE does not release information regarding future operations. ICE does not conduct random sweeps, checkpoints or raids that target aliens indiscriminately,” ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer told Fox News. He added, “Any person who actively incites panic or fear of law enforcement is doing a disservice to the community, endangering public safety and the very people they claim to support and represent.”
Asked by a reporter if her warning constituted “fear mongering” to spread rumors about immigration raids without having the facts, DuBois said simply, “No.” She added a lengthy update to her original Facebook posting which calls the controversy was “unintended.”
I am an elected State Representative and the response to one facebook post has caused people from across the Nation to inundate my facebook page with some pretty ugly and threatening posts. If this is what happens to an elected representative – what must be happening to immigrants every day in our Nation, both documented and not documented.
I posted on my personal and public facebook page about a rumor about an ICE raid happening on two future dates. I had heard this rumor from several immigrants in the community.
There are many people in Brockton (documented and not) as well as people across this Nation who are terrified. This rumor of an ICE raid in Brockton was wide-spread in Brockton. There have been many ICE raids in the City.
Passing information along that is already all-over the community, not only lets the people I represent know what is happening, it lets ICE know that everyone in Brockton is aware of ICE’s planned raid (if there was one).
Having ICE know that this rumor is wide-spread in Brockton allows them to change the date if they feel the public’s knowledge of the raid would undermine their planned raid. So I do not agree with Sheriff Hodgson on his point that he made before a federal panel in WashingtonDC that my public facebook post in anyway undermines law enforcement.”
So, according to DuBois, she was doing ICE a favor by letting them know the word was out about their planned raid (except, of course, there wasn’t one). Meanwhile, Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), told Fox News DuBois’ rumor-mongering was not helpful:
“We have to be very careful not to spread rumors and put statements online when the sources are unknown,” Millona told Fox News. “It adds to what already is a high level of anxiety. We advise people to learn about their rights, to get the information they need [to prepare in case they’re detained] and what they need to do if they have citizen kids.”
Millona said that while DuBois’ intentions may have been to help immigrants, her Facebook post was shortsighted and counterproductive.
This clip shows DuBois defending her decision to publish the rumor: