HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - People were gathering on Friday evening to protest what they say are inhumane conditions for families at the southern border.
Organizers invited people to the Lights for Liberty rally.
Fired up men and women gathered outside Huntsville City Hall on Friday evening, spurred by recent activity at America's southern border.
"For me, the conversation shouldn't be how can we make these camps better, but how can we get rid of these camps?" Asha Kiran director of operations Yalitza LaFontaine said.
The rally falls on the eve of a series of planned weekend raids.
"ICE comes into Huntsville, into north Alabama. And they take our neighbors," LaFontaine said.
Huntsville attorney Robert Sellers Smith is well versed in immigration law and represents clients facing deportation.
"Normally, the ICE people come and pick them up and they take them to Gadsden. And from there, they're sent to LaSalle Detention facility in Jena, Louisiana," Smith said.
Smith says just because a person is picked up by ICE agents, that doesn't mean they're gone, never to be seen again. He says he can represent his clients over the phone. He admits the asylum process is a slow and frustrating one. Still, he says he's had some success.
"If they're married to a citizen and have children, and don't have a bad criminal record, very good," Smith said.
Still, this group is proposing a united front, urging those who showed up to join the cause.
"They can volunteer, they can donate, they can become aware, they can advocate for their neighbors. If they see ICE, they can pull out their cameras and record," LaFontaine said.
On Friday, WHNT News 19 contacted Immigration and Customers Enforcement to ask if they were planning any arrests in northern Alabama.
They wouldn't comment on specific details related to enforcement operations --
"Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to enforcement operations. As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. In fact, 90 percent of aliens arrested by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations component in FY2018 had either a criminal conviction(s), pending criminal charge(s), were an ICE fugitive, or illegally reentered the country after previously being removed. However, all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and – if found removable by final order – removal from the United States."