Flyers that warn about penalties for supporting illegal immigration have been posted in Washington, D.C., and the city's mayor is telling people to remove them.
Official-looking flyers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo and the words U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement say "SANCTUARY CITY NEIGHBORHOOD PUBLIC NOTICE" and warn of jail time for harboring "illegal aliens." The flyers are glued to light poles and utility boxes.
But ICE says they did not post the flyers.
“The immigration enforcement notices appearing across Washington, D.C. were not issued or sanctioned by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)," a spokeswoman said.
"Just like false reports of immigration checkpoints or random sweeps, notices like these are dangerous and irresponsible," the spokeswoman continued. "Any person who actively incites panic or fear of law enforcement is doing a disservice to the community, endangering public safety and the very people they claim to support and represent.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser instructed residents to tear down the flyers. "DC is a sanctuary city. Clearly the flyer is meant to scare and divide our residents. We won't stand for it. #DCValues," she wrote.
D.C. police and the Department of Public Works (DPW) also have been told to take them down.
"I'm having my DPW crews go out along with the police, and we're going to see how much we can tear them down as well," Bowser said.
The flyer cites portions of U.S. immigration law and lists phone numbers for ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection tip lines.
It's not clear who posted the flyers.
Bowser said the flyers are meant to scare and divide the city.
"Well we know over the last year, year and a half, we've just seen this type of rhetoric that incites hate," she said.
Carlos Granados of Southwest D.C. said his parents are immigrants and the flyers' message worries him.
"Whoever is doing this should be ashamed of themselves, and they're causing concern for these illegal immigrants," he said.
"If this was fake, it's obviously the people trying to spread hate around the neighborhood, and that's not OK," said Alexa Disch, who works in Southwest.
D.C. is a proud sanctuary city that issues provisional driver's licenses to undocumented residents. Police do not ask about residency status, and in January Bowser announced the creation of a legal defense fund to help immigrants.
"MPD has a longstanding policy that prohibits police officers from asking about citizenship or residency status to determine whether an individual is undocumented," a police spokeswoman said Thursday.
On Friday, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) sent a letter to the FBI requesting an investigation into the flyers.
“The fake fliers were clearly designed to convey the impression of authenticity, and I believe they were posted in order to target and intimidate immigrants and their families living in the District," Norton wrote. "D.C. is a city that welcomes and provides sanctuary to people from all over the world, and we believe a federal investigation to determine who is responsible is fully warranted.”
The Takoma Park, Maryland, Police Department sent out a community advisory informing residents of the flyers and asking them to report them and take them down if they see them.