EDISON, NJ — Fake alerts of document checks have led to confusion in New Jersey communities as the news of federal agents detaining unauthorized immigrants reverberates across the country.
In Edison, an alert has made its rounds in the local online community warning of authorities asking for identification as people entered and exited two Indian grocery stores on Oak Tree Road.
"No one has been asking for papers," said Jagjit Singh, who manages Subzi Mandi, a store named in the alert. "People have been asking about it (the post), but we haven’t had any problems. Everyone is OK."
A block down the road, Patel Brothers manager, Satish Patel, also said that warnings were unfounded.
The post, which was accompanied by a screenshot of a conversation from Facebook’s What’s App, went live almost two weeks before the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids but has since spread through multiple social platforms.
"We have found quite a few also," said Chia Chia Wang, the organizing and advocacy director at American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program. The program based in Newark provides immigrants with legal services, as well as training and education on immigrants’ rights in New Jersey.
Wang said people should take note of the posts but if it’s just a warning to stay away from a business, it’s likely fake.
Similar unverified social media posts have been reported in New York City. Another fake alert was emailed and shared last week warning of raids in Jersey City.
The critical detail in verifying any of these reports, according to Wang, is getting a description of authorities making the stops.
"Were they local police or ICE, etcetera?" she said.
Wang’s group encourages immigrants to know their rights and to help educate others in their community since her group can’t reach everyone. She offered the following tips:
–Always carry some form of identification, whether that is local or foreign papers.
–Authorities cannot ask someone if they were born in America but can ask for identification.
–Without a warrant, authorities cannot enter a home.
–Remember that everyone has the right to remain silent.