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According to the most recent information from the New York Times, ICE agents swept up as many as 600 undocumented immigrants in raids spanning at least 11 states. Reports indicate that some of these sweeps, which started last week, have been at restaurants, at homes, and at workplaces. Additionally, unsubstantiated rumors of checkpoints in Austin, Miami, and New York City have sent shockwaves throughout the undocumented community.
While the acting press secretary for DHS claimed that said these sweeps are “consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis,” there are overwhelming indications that these immigration enforcement actions are not only political, but keeping in line with Donald Trump’s campaign promise of a Deportation Force to round up millions of undocumented immigrants.
Take the recent, tragic case of Guadalupe Garcia. Guadalupe, a mom of two US citizens, was swept up in one of Joe Arpaio’s raids eight years ago. While she had never been considered a priority for deportation during her years of routine ICE check-ins under the Obama Administration, and despite living in the US for 20 years, Guadalupe was arrested during her first check-in under the Trump Administration last week and deported.
ICE wants advocates to think this is simply a continuation of the Obama Administration’s immigration policies. That was bad enough, and advocates fought it. But this is much worse.
According to The Hill, Guadalupe became “one of the first undocumented workers to be removed from the US under a new executive action” by Trump. Trump claimed in releasing his executive order that he would target only dangerous criminals and “bad hombres” for deportation, but Guadalupe was neither. And, advocates have said that some of the immigrants swept up in the recent actions didn’t even have a criminal record.
In throwing Obama’s prioritization out the window and targeting undocumented immigrants with deep roots to this country, Trump and his ICE agents are creating “a reign of fear,” as Greg Sargent wrote earlier today. “Their public statements leave it ambiguous as to whether they will go after non-criminals, in hopes of scaring undocumented immigrants into self deporting,” AV’s Frank Sharry told him.
Trump’s order was handcrafted by the numerous anti-immigrant and bigoted masterminds he has brought into his fold, including senior counselor Steve Bannon and policy advisor Stephen Miller. Bannon is notable for introducing the so-called “alt-right” — in plain terms, white nationalists — to his former site Breitbart. Miller, a former Jeff Sessions aide, is a man with deeply nativist and anti-Latino sentiments dating back years.
Their anti-immigrant animus is sewn into ICE’s recent actions, which is why it’s no coincidence that these sweeps have occurred in cities with significant undocumented immigrant populations and pro-immigrant sanctuary city policies, like New York City and Los Angeles. Trump and California leaders already look to be headed toward a legal stand-off over sanctuary cities, with Trump saying that the state is “out of control” and that he will cut off federal funding.
As an anonymous immigration official told the Washington Post:
“Big cities tend to have a lot of illegal immigrants,” said one immigration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly because of the sensitive nature of the operation. “They’re going to a target-rich environment.”
“Target-rich environment” is the kind of term one would expect in a war. And, it’s starting to feel like Trump is following through on his often mentioned assault on immigrants living in the U.S. We’ll fight this — and expect our allies on Capitol Hill (of both parties), mayors and others to be on the front lines with us.