Report of immigration search in Pleasantville was false, mayor says
Pleasantville’s mayor spent most of Wednesday battling a bad rumor fueled by a Facebook post that fed off the recently heightened worries of immigrants.
Despite the claims by Atlantic City Councilman Mo Delgado that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was “invading Pleasantville … going door-to-door in search of undocumented immigrants,” it was only a search for one person wanted by the agency, officials said.
Pleasantville police were notified ahead of time, which has happened before and is similar to picking up someone wanted on a warrant, Mayor Jesse Tweedle explained.
He began getting calls around 7:30 a.m. from concerned residents and business owners, the mayor said.
At first, “I was sick to my stomach” thinking it might be true, Tweedle said.
But, after making some calls, he found that it was one person being looked for by uniformed ICE agents. No one was at the home in question, but it’s likely neighbors saw the shirts and the rumor was born.
“Once it hit Facebook, it took off,” Tweedle said.
When reached Wednesday evening, Delgado said he no longer comments on his Facebook posts.
But his posts show how he went from “100%” certain to “Did this claim early this morning actually happen? Still pending.”
There were at least 35 shares of the original post: “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been reported to be invading Pleasantville this morning and are going door to door in search of undocumented immigrants. I’m praying that this wave of paranoia and hatred dies and the innocent are left to prosper while helping America be ‘great.'”
The last post on the incident came about four hours later, saying that the mayor had confirmed ICE was in town but only for “a specific person.” That post had three shares.
The rumor came just about a week after the city had someone from Homeland Security meet with residents to assure them there was no search for undocumented immigrants, Tweedle said.
He was hoping that would calm fears of people worried that even a speeding ticket could alert someone to their immigration status and get them deported, he said.
The mayor said he returned calls to everyone who called him letting them known the facts of what happened.