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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A spokesperson for the federal agency that handles immigration enforcement confirmed they captured "two individuals" somewhere on Suydam Street.
But the agency refused to confirm who was taken into custody or what they did wrong.
At first, Alvin Philips, who works for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) declined to say what went down on the major thoroughfare at 6:00am on May 17.
"I can confirm ICE actions this morning on Suydam St. Nothing further to provide at this time," said Phillips.
Under questioning from New Brunswick Today, Phillips eventually admitted that his agency had taken "two individuals" into custody.
One source told this newspaper that ICE agents were seen near the railroad tracks, in an area that has recently been a hotspot for crime, with at least four stabbings over a recent two-year period.
But Phillips refused to identify the individuals they captured, or confirm where on Suydam Street this incident occurred, citing unspecified "privacy guidelines."
"We have privacy constraints we are not at liberty discuss," said Phillips.
Asked to elaborate on why he could not name names, like nearly every other law enforcement does when adults are arrested, Phillips could not cite a specific law or policy.
"Right now, I can only say that's the guidance from [the US Department of] Homeland Security," said Phillips, citing the agency that has overseen ICE, formerly known as "the INS," since 2003.
However, Phillips was the same spokesperson who identified German Nieto-Cruz as the individual captured by ICE agents on January 5.
In his own email titled "MAN DETAINED BY ICE IN NEW JERSEY RAID," Phillips insisted that "ICE does not conduct raids."
"All ICE enforcement actions are targeted against specific individuals based on investigative information," Phillips said at the time.
In a May 24 phone interview, Phillips described the agency's actions not as raids, but rather as "takedowns."
When we asked if he could provide a more specific location for the recent takedown, Phillips declined, referring us to New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD).
"I would recommend checking with the New Brunswick Police Department. They were present," Phillips told us.
The NBPD disagreed with Phillips about whether or not local police were involved in the May 17 action.
The ICE spokesperson supposedly read from an official report that said the action took place "with the assistance of NBPD."
But NBPD Captain JT Miller disputed that account, telling NBToday, "I do not know why ICE would have told you to contact the NBPD, because we are not aware of any investigation they may have been involved in."
"The New Brunswick Police Department did not participate in any investigation with ICE on the date or location you referenced in your phone call… Please keep in mind that ICE is a federal agency and they have no obligation to contact the NBPD or advise the NBPD of investigation(s) they may be involved in."
"I guess we have a communication conflict," responded Phillips, after being read the statement NBT received from the NBPD. "As you know credibility is key."
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.