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Demonstrators at Baltimore's Patterson Park march in defense of immigrants

Rally held Sunday to protest recent executive actions on immigration.

Crowds that stretched more than a city block marched from the Highlandtown library and wrapped around Patterson Park on Sunday afternoon, shouting "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here!"

Organizers said they called the rally to protest recent arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Baltimore and Baltimore County. They said multiple individuals have been stopped by federal agents without cause and have been detained.

"People are terrified; they're afraid," said Maria Gabriela Aldana Enriquez, the education director for the Creative Alliance in Patterson Park and a rally organizer.

ICE officials said they could not confirm any arrests without more information, and a city police spokesman said he was unaware of any recent ICE arrests in Baltimore.

Nationwide, advocacy groups say federal agents rounded up hundreds of undocumented immigrants last week in New York, California, Illinois, Texas and other states.

Aldana Enriquez said she and others felt compelled to show support for the immigrant community following a series of executive orders by President Donald J. Trump.

In his first weeks in office, Trump has signed orders to build a wall on the Southwest border, to hire more agents who conduct deportations, to take federal funding away from so-called "sanctuary cities," to suspend refugee admissions and to ban visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

He has said the orders, which fulfill campaign promises, will make the country more safe. A federal judge stayed the ban on visitors from the seven Muslim countries, and a federal appeals court upheld the stay last week.

At the rally Sunday, several speakers spoke of the arrest of a man stopped in Highlandtown last week.

Aldana Enriquez did not have details about the arrest and did not give his name to a reporter.

"We are very concerned about ICE officials dressing up as police officers" and detaining people, she said. She also referred to what she said have been more than a dozen recent arrests in Baltimore County and two others in Baltimore, but she did not have specifics.

ICE officials said they could not confirm the arrest of a man in Highlandtown without more information and denied any alleged raid or impersonation tactics.

"ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations during which additional resources and personnel are dedicated to apprehending deportable foreign nationals. All enforcement activities are conducted with the same level of professionalism and respect that ICE officers exhibit every day," spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez in a statement. "The focus of these targeted enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis," she said.

Officials said the agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for enforcing national immigration policy, including carrying out deportation orders issued by federal court judges.

Baltimore County police did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday night.

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said this month that city police wouldn't ask residents for proof of citizenship.

"We're your Baltimore Police Department, and we don't care about your immigration status," he said. "We will not check your immigration status and we do not have a database to check your immigration status," Davis said."

Aldana Enriquez said the rally was also intended to express concerns about federal immigration enforcement tactics to local leaders.

City Councilman Zeke Cohen attended the rally. In brief remarks to the crowd, he told ICE officials to "get out of Baltimore," drawing cheers from the crowd.

Some marchers carried signs that read "No Human is Illegal."

Some people who were walking their dogs in the park joined the march. Others stopped and watched from the sidewalk, taking pictures. Some residents heard the chanting and came out of their houses to watch from their stoops. A few drivers, held up by the crowd, honked their horns in support.

One man stopped to shout "We love Trump!" and shook his fist.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/janders5

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