UPDATE: In response to ICE operations, ACLU-WV raises funds to hire immigrants' rights staffer
The news of ICE raids in Monongalia County last week prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia to launch a fundraiser to hire a full-time immigrants' rights campaign coordinator.
The organization set its initial goal at $2,000.
By Sunday, it had raised more than $15,000 from more than 400 donors.
On its website, the organization says ICE is terrorizing immigrants in West Virginia, claiming the state has the highest ICE arrest rate, but the second-smallest undocumented population in the country.
Its Facebook fundraising campaign page says undocumented immigrants are more than seven times more likely to be arrested by ICE in West Virginia than anywhere else in the country.
The posts cite "recently obtained data" without saying where it gathered the information.
The organization said thanks to the fundraiser, it will create a job posting in the coming weeks for a full-time staffer to work solely on immigration issues.
As for the ICE raids -- The federal agency declined to reveal specifics to 5 News regarding last week's operations.
The City of Morgantown Police Department and Monongalia County Sheriff's Office were both notified of their activities before they began, but officials said they weren't given specifics.
In response to a request for more detailed information, we were told to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to ICE.
We did that on Friday. We have yet to hear back.
Delegate Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, issued a statement regarding ICE operations in the Morgantown area.
"With that being said, difficult moments and being uncomfortable has set a new precedent," said Walker in a Facebook post. "As we were traveling yesterday my son couldn’t keep up with the text, emails, and calls. ICE being in Morgantown is not a rumor. Folks being detained is a concern."
Walker says that she is currently on vacation but is still aware of what is going on in the area.
ICE officials declined to release the number of people detained in the Morgantown area this week.
Multiple local law enforcement agencies said Friday ICE gave them courtesy calls ahead of expected operations in the Morgantown area.
Those local agencies were not asked to assist ICE and didn't have any other knowledge regarding their operation.
An ICE official released the following statement to 5 News:
"ICE is not currently conducting any large scale operations in Morgantown, however ICE does conduct targeted enforcement operations in compliance with federal law and agency policy every day in West Virginia and across the nation."
Monongalia County Sheriff Perry Palmer said his office received notification in the last few days of the ICE operations in the area.
Palmer referred to it as a courtesy call that's typically made by federal agencies before they operate in an area.
He said his office was not asked to assist ICE. Morgantown Police were also notified of the operations, but not asked to assist the agency.
Palmer wasn't sure if other local departments were made aware of ICE's activities and weren't told where they were working.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement on Friday.
According to ICE Public Affairs Officer Shawn Neudauer, ICE will not release details of any future enforcement activity for reasons of operational security.
Morgantown Police received notification from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that it will be operating in the area, according to a city spokesperson.
ICE recently notified the Morgantown Police Department about its operations and not city hall, according to Communications Manager Andrew Stacy.
ICE did not provide a timeline either, Stacy said.