Miami's immigrant community is understandably paranoid about what the next four years of President Donald Trump's administration will look like. Trump has pledged to rid the nation of undocumented immigrants and has spent the past 18 months or so injecting fear and bile into the American consciousness. Everybody is on edge right now.
That does not, however, excuse spreading blatant rumors. Today, whispers flew through town that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had set up multiple "checkpoints" around town — one at NE 56th Street and Biscayne Boulevard in Miami and one at 73rd Street and Dickinson Street in Miami Beach — to begin rounding up undocumented people and deporting them.
But the rumor is not true. ICE spokesperson Nestor Yglesias confirmed to New Times there were no "checkpoints" in Miami today, and this reporter spent a full hour driving around town looking for deportation vans that never materialized.
In the event that one reporter's eyes aren't convincing enough, journalists from WLRN Radio and Univision also scrambled to find the mythic ICE trucks and also came up empty.
It's unclear where the rumor originated, but by 1 p.m., multiple immigration and labor organizations were sounding the alarm about citizenship "checkpoints" all over town today. Miami's Community Justice Project tweeted out that multiple people had seen the checkpoint in Miami Beach, only to pull their tweets down after reporters arrived on
"Lesson of the day: Our communities are on high alert, and there is real, grounded fear of what's to come," the group later said online.
Lesson of day: our communities are on high alert & there is real, grounded fear of what's to come. We must love and protect each other.— CommunityJusticeProj (@cjpmiami) February 1, 2017
Meanwhile, a photograph of walls of ICE trucks driving on a wooded street began to circulate online — but that photo was taken in Yuma, Arizona, in 2014.
The rumor isn't entirely off-base: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol does operate permanent
But the wildfire rumor makes it clear that Miami's immigrant community is tense, especially after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez last week announced the county will comply with Trump's ban on immigrant-protecting "sanctuary" communities.
However, there's one obvious reason this was likely a lie the whole time: If Trump had sent ICE trucks out all over Miami, you can be sure he would have bragged about it.
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Update: Miami Beach Police also said on Twitter that there are no ICE enforcement operations underway on the barrier island today.
Contrary to rumors being shared, MBPD has confirmed with @DHSgov that there is NO immigration operation currently underway in Miami Beach.— Miami Beach Police (@MiamiBeachPD) February 1, 2017
Zachary Fagenson contributed to this story.