Agents with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency made an early morning sweep Monday in Glynn County, arresting as many as two dozen undocumented immigrants, according to Glynn County Sheriff Neal Jump.
The arrival of ICE agents here caused a stir throughout the county, particularly among working-class immigrants, documented or otherwise. Those working in construction, landscaping, painting and other blue collar jobs reported numerous no-shows among immigrant workers who feared being deported.
The News received several such calls from employers and concerned residents Monday.
Jump confirmed that ICE agents out of Savannah used the sheriff’s office parking lot off U.S. Highway 341 as a staging ground for the operation. No deputies with the sheriff’s office took part in the operation, Jump said. ICE officials contacted him in advance about the federal agency’s desire to use the sheriff’s office compound as a staging ground, he added.
Jump said the ICE agents arrived before dawn and the operation was complete before 8 a.m. Those taken into custody were returned to ICE facilities in Savannah, Jump said
“They did let me know that they were in town, but none of our resources were needed or used,” Jump said. “But they did stage in our parking lot. I don’t know who they arrested, but everyone they picked up, they took back to Savannah.
“It was over 20 (people) and not less than 30 (people). They started around 5 a.m. and they were done by 7:30 a.m.,” the sheriff said.
Glynn County Police Chief John Powell said he knew nothing of the ICE operation. ICE is an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“If they are doing a roundup, we are not aware of it,” Powell said. “They have no obligation to tell what they’re doing. We’ve had several news outlets contact us, but we are unaware of any action.”
A man identifying himself as ICE’s agent-in-charge in Savannah could not comment further, referring all questions to ICE’s regional offices in Atlanta. Bryan Cox, regional communications director for ICE, said any action targeting undocumented immigrants that may have taken place in Glynn County would not be considered beyond the agency’s normal day-to-day enforcement activities.
He later said ICE “did make some targeted immigration arrests in Brunswick today,” but that social media reports circulating that more than 100 people were arrested are “simply not correct” and “wildly inaccurate.”