An ICE vehicle had followed the man’s van, trying to pull it over, and then blocked it in when the van driver pulled up to a house in Hermitage, near Nashville, the affiliates said. The driver alerted immigrants rights advocates and neighbors, and they rallied, bringing the man and his son – who was in the van with him – water, gas and food so they could stay in the van and avoid possible detention, the affiliates reported.
The standoff lasted for hours. Nashville police were called, but stood by “to keep the peace if necessary,” the police department said in a statement.
At some point, the neighbors formed a human chain around the man and his son, who weren’t identified to the media, allowing them to get into a house, and later to get from the house to a car and drive away.
“ICE officers chose to depart the scene today without making an arrest to de-escalate the situation,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told CNN in an email. Cox said he wouldn’t say “who the agency’s target or targets may have been so as to not compromise a potential future operation that would seek to arrest the individual at a different time and place.”
The ICE agents had an administrative warrant, WTVF reported. Nashville police, who had been called in by ICE, said in its statement that ICE was “attempting to serve a detainer” on the man.
Daniel Ayoade Yoon, a lawyer who said he witnessed Monday’s standoff, said the ICE agents were “sort of bullying” the man, WTVF reported. “They were saying, ‘If you don’t come out, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to arrest your 12-year-old son,’ and that’s just not legal, it’s not the right law.”
“We made sure they had water, they had food, we put gas back in the vehicle when they were getting low just to make sure they were OK,” Young told WTVF.
This isn’t the first time advocates have tried to block ICE from detaining and potentially deporting someone. Results of such efforts have been mixed.
A video that went viral earlier this year showed a man in upstate New York arguing with an ICE officers who attempted to stop the vehicle he was driving and detain the passengers inside. The man refused to open his car door and repeatedly told the officers the warrant they had wasn’t signed by a judge. The officers eventually departed the scene, the agency said, “to avoid further disruption.”
On Monday, advocates and neighbors alike told CNN affiliates they wouldn’t back down.
“I know they’re gonna come back, and when they come back, we’re coming back,” Young said.