Between Friday and Saturday, Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers detained nine people in Moab. Several workers in the popular tourist area stayed home from fear of being arrested.
Both undocumented and documented employees feared to show up for work once word broke out that ICE officers were in Moab. Several restaurants shut their doors to Friday night business.
“The Moab City Police Department received a courtesy call indicating that there would be individuals from immigration in the area,” said Moab City Police Chief Jim Winder. “When I tell you that, that is a courtesy call because immigration does not communicate directly with local law enforcement regarding their operations – not tell us how many agents or officers are coming, they don’t tell us the nature of the operation, etc. – they simply say ‘just be aware. We’re going to be in the area.’
"And by the way, it is not policy for us to then notify anybody else. That would be breaching a professional confidentiality.”
According to the Department of Workforce Services, 10.2 percent of the Moab community is Latino. Roughly, 5 percent of Moabites were born in another country.
“I think that what we see here today is that people are sick of the racism and the division and the separation of families,” said Cassandra Begay, a member of the Navajo Tribe. She organized a rally Saturday near the Moab Information Center building where about 50 people gathered.
“I think that a lot of people here in this part of the world believe that everybody has knowledge and wisdom and value to add to the human race,” she said.
The Moab Multicultural Center has posted information on Facebook outlining an individual’s legal rights if they encounter ICE officers at home, in public or at work.
Thanks to KZMU News in Moab for providing audio for this story.