As Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents attempted to detain a man suspected of being in the country illegally Monday, his neighbors intervened in a big way. They, along with activists from the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, gathered in the Hermitage, Tennessee, yard and delivered water to the man and his 12-year-old son, who were in a van and refused to get out for the agents. The van was running, and the group also made sure to refill it with gas when it got low, NBC News reports. After four hours, the neighbors formed a human chain from the van to the house to shelter the two as they walked inside, News Channel 5 reports; at that point the agents and the police they had called to the scene gave up and left. TIRRC says the agents had "no judicial or criminal warrant to apprehend" the man.
The agents had tried to stop the van as it was driving, but the driver refused, so the agents followed him to the home, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department says in a statement. The agents then blocked him into the driveway, which is what got his neighbors' attention. Some people livestreamed the incident on social media, getting it even more attention. "They told local media outlets that ICE 'picked the wrong community on the wrong day,'" according to a statement from TIRRC, which notes that some neighbors were "outraged," having known the family for more than a decade. "What happened this morning shows how deeply rooted immigrants are in our community." After the agents left, the neighbors re-formed the human chain so the family could get back into the car and leave. As News Channel 5 explains, an administrative warrant only allows ICE to detain someone, not to forcibly remove them from a home or vehicle. (Read more ICE stories.)