NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An immigration agent gave up trying to arrest a Tennessee man who, aided by neighbors, refused to leave his vehicle for four hours.
WTVF-TV reports an Immigration and Customs Enforcement vehicle blocked the unnamed man’s van in his driveway in Nashville and attempted to take him into custody Monday, but he refused to get out. As he sat in the van with his 12-year-old son, neighbors decided to help.
“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 OK,” Felishadae Young told the station.
The ICE agent had an administrative warrant that allows officers to detain someone but not forcibly remove them from a home or vehicle.
When the man refused to cooperate, the ICE agent called Metro Nashville Police to the scene, but they were instructed not to get involved. Instead, they were told to “stand by from a distance to keep the peace if necessary,” according to a statement police released on the confrontation.
Mayor David Briley released a statement explaining the police action.
“I am keenly aware that this type of activity by our federal government stokes fear and distrust in our most vulnerable communities, which is why we do not use our local resources to enforce ICE orders,” the statement reads.
After several hours, neighbors formed a human chain to protect the father and son as they ran into their house. The ICE agent left.
Neighbor Stacey Farley said the father and son were good people.
“I could see if these people were bad criminals, but they’re not. They’re just trying to provide for their kids,” Farley said. “The family don’t bother nobody. They work every day; they come home; the kids jump on their trampoline. It’s just a community.”
ICE issued a statement saying the agency “conducts targeted enforcement of federal immigration law on a daily basis in accordance with our routine, ongoing operations.” It added that “ICE does not conduct any type of random or indiscriminate enforcement.”