Community Activists in Koreatown Fight to Keep ICE out of their Neighborhoods

About 50 community activists and residents gathered outside of a 7-Eleven in Koreatown after rumors surfaced that agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, would be conducting legal employment verifications of the staff.

In an effort to crackdown on undocumented workers, 100 7-Elevens across the nation were raided last week by ICE agents. Five of those locations were in the Los Angeles area.

The diverse crowd gathered just before 9 a.m. and remained in front of the store until after 11:00 a.m.. People held signs that read "immigrants are welcome here” and “ICE out of L.A." until an organizer from the Koreatown Rapid Response Network got on a megaphone and to announce ICE would no longer be coming to the business.

Koretown Rapid Response Network organizer addresses a crowd at the 7-Eleven in Koreatown

The Koreatown Rapid Response Network, nestled under the Los Angeles County Rapid Response Network, defines itself as, “a group of neighbors that takes reports of immigration raids, sends trained volunteers to respond and alerts the community.”

"We have a phone number set up that people can call and we can send out first responders to that location to be witnesses … and document what is happening," says Sebastian Sanchez, attorney and member of the Koreatown Rapid Response Network.

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"We won’t allow ICE to come and intimidate employers, workers, community members that are coming to a local establishment,” Sanchez says.

For some Koreatown residents, who say they want ICE to know the community is watching, today was a small victory. But many expect the raids to keep coming considering the recent explicit statements coming from immigration authorities.

"L.A. has a long history of immigration activism," Sanchez says.

"Immigrants are very much aware that there are people out there who support them but they also know that this is a moment nationally that there is a lot of rhetoric that is filled with hatred towards immigrants."

Calls to ICE were not returned before publication.

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