JEROME — A Latino music festival scheduled for Saturday has been canceled because of speculation about Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity in Jerome.
This comes on the heels of ICE raids that were planned for last weekend in 10 major cities.
“El Tour de Idaho de Los Inquietos is canceled until further notice for the safety of our people — we are with our brothers in Jerome,” event organizers with the Colombia Event Center posted to Facebook.
Posts and videos uploaded to Facebook claimed that ICE agents rented several hotel rooms at the Best Western in Jerome and that raids were planned for the weekend. Twitter posts said the raids were also possible in Boise, Nampa and Caldwell. Rumors about raids have been spread nationwide, including one in Blaine County.
The music tour was set to take place in Boise, Nampa, Meridian and Caldwell.
In one Facebook video shared more than 650 times, community activist Maria Bucklew visited Best Western to ask whether immigration officials were staying there.
“All I’m doing is telling people they’re here, now you do whatever you want,” Bucklew told the Idaho Statesman. “We’re going to be ready for them if they’re coming to hurt our communities.”
Bucklew told the Statesman that she did not see the officers herself and did not know whether ICE was there to conduct raids. Bucklew was instrumental in rallying hundreds to protest Jerome County’s 2017 attempt to contract with ICE and lease bed space for immigration detainees.
“We don’t want them here,” Bucklew said in the Facebook video.
The ICE field office in Salt Lake City said that the agency had no official business in Idaho planned, according to representatives from Familias Unidas, which provides legal aid to immigrants.
Best Western said it could not divulge the identity of anyone staying at the hotel.
“It is absolutely possible that ICE could do a raid and we wouldn’t know about it,” Jerome County Sheriff George Oppedyk told the Times-News.
Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker told the Statesman on Thursday night that the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office had not received any notification from ICE about possible activity there.
The agency is not required to tell local law enforcement that it is conducting raids. The only time ICE would inform local police is if its activity involves a case that police are already working, Oppedyk said.
Ticketholders for the canceled event were asked to receive a refund only from the place where the ticket was purchased.
Leo Morales, executive director of ACLU of Idaho, did not have any confirmed information about an ICE presence in Southern Idaho, but he said community members were panicked.
“Immigration is doing their work on a daily basis, that is true,” Morales said. “That’s what they do. It is important for all community members, regardless of their immigration status, to know their rights in regards to law enforcement.”
Morales also cautioned community members to be careful with the information they share, especially in light of the already-present fear in many immigrant communities across the country.
“… It can create a significant amount of trauma for people already in a difficult place,” Morales said.
Megan Taros is a Times-News reporter and Report for America corps member covering the Magic Valley’s Hispanic community and Jerome County. You can support her work by donating to Report for America at http://bit.ly/supportRFA.