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Unshackled Deportation Force Creating Fear and Chaos Well Beyond “Bad Dudes”

 

Washington, DC – President Trump yesterday claimed that his administration’s Deportation Force was focusing on criminals, stating: “We’re getting gang members out, we’re getting drug lords out, we’re getting really bad dudes out of this country — and at a rate that nobody’s ever seen before…it’s a military operation.” Even by the standards of President Trump’s aversion to facts, this is a brazen falsehood.

By ICE’s own admission, during the recent immigration raids across the nation, Trump’s Deportation Force went after anyone and everyone they could find. The largest single category of those rounded up was the “non-criminal” category and fully one-third of those arrested had either no criminal record or minor immigration-related charges.

Despite the PR campaign from Trump and DHS about “bad dudes,” the truth is coming out. An unnamed DHS official told the Washington Post last week “that the term ‘criminal aliens’ includes anyone who had entered the United States illegally or overstayed or violated the terms of a visa.” Meanwhile, the DHS immigration enforcement implementation memos released this week admit that they “will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”

Still, the government statistics and admissions written in legalese don’t fully capture the cruelty and chaos resulting from the Trump Administration’s mass deportation strategy. Real stories from across the country capture the real world fallout:

Vocativ: “ICE Tried To Detain ‘Dreamer’ Who Had Unpaid Parking Tickets”

“Federal authorities attempted to place an immigration hold on a 25-year-old ‘Dreamer’ after he was jailed in Texas over a pair of unpaid traffic tickets, the young man’s lawyer and police said. Edwin Romero spent nearly 15 hours behind bars in Richardson, a Dallas suburb, before he was finally released on Wednesday afternoon. During that time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement pushed to keep the undocumented college student in custody — a request that Richardson police said it ultimately declined … Romero, who arrived in the U.S. from Mexico when he was six, is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Initiated under the Obama administration, it provides two-year work permits and a reprieve from potential deportations for certain people who, as minors, entered the U.S. illegally with their parents … But the case of Romero, an accounting student at the University of Texas at Dallas, shows just how vulnerable Dreamers remain. Romero said he was driving to a friend’s house to study for an exam on Tuesday night when an officer stopped him for having an expired vehicle registration. The officer learned that the young man had warrants for a pair of unpaid traffic tickets and arrested him, according to police.

At the jail, police said they contacted ICE after Romero informed them that he was not a U.S. citizen. ICE initially told Richardson police that it would not seek an immigration hold for Romero, which could land him in federal detention, said Sergeant Kevin Perlich. But ICE later backtracked and asked police to keep Romero in custody related to a ‘civil matter,’ Perlich said.”

Houston Chronicle, “Local immigrant facing deportation after checking in with authorities”:

“Rose and Jose Escobar arrived early at the Houston immigration office for their annual appointment, bringing their toddler, Carmen. They chatted about their plans for the weekend, probably a Chuck E. Cheese kind of night with the kids and a movie. Usually updating immigration agents about Jose’s work status and address, as they have been required to do since 2012, goes quickly. Wednesday, the wait dragged on. They stepped out for lunch. The packed lobby emptied out. Finally, around 5 p.m., immigration agents informed Jose they were revoking his temporary protection from deportation and returning him to El Salvador, a country he left 16 years ago, and hasn’t seen since.

…His mother had sent for him when he was 15 and he qualified for temporary protected status for people fleeing widespread disasters in certain countries. She assumed his permit would automatically renew when she reapplied for hers. But it didn’t. Because they had moved, they didn’t receive the paperwork informing him that he had missed the deadline. When he finally figured out what had happened, he tried to reapply for the permit but it was too late. The government had already initiated deportation proceedings. Rose said their lawyer told him not to show up at the court hearing or he would be deported. In his absence, the judge ordered him removed in 2006.

But with no one trying hard to find him, the Escobars lived a normal life, moving to New Orleans where Jose worked on construction projects after Hurricane Katrina and then back to Houston to help care for an ill relative. Walter was born. They had good jobs. They were happy. Then came the morning of June 6, 2011, when immigration agents stopped Jose as he pulled out of his driveway to go to work … He was released in January 2012 and was required to check in with immigration agents once a year. Life settled back into a routine.

‘We weren’t living in fear anymore. We were actually happy,’ Rose said. ‘That’s what you dream of, right? You go to work, you pay your bills, you have a family.’ Then, on Wednesday, the immigration agent told her to say her goodbyes.”

Denverite video shows ICE agents waiting in a Denver courthouse hallway without a warrant:

“In this video, attorney Whitney Leeds confronts three men standing in the hallway outside Courtroom 5C in the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. She asks them if they are agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, if they are there to arrest someone, if they have a warrant, if the court administration or the judges are aware that they’re there.

They confirm that they work for ICE and that they’re there to make an arrest. They seem to confirm that they don’t have a warrant, but they won’t provide any additional information.

This video, shot on Feb. 16 by an intern with the Meyer Law Office, is evidence of something immigration attorneys insisted was happening and that local officials had said was not happening: immigration enforcement officers using the court process to find people wanted for possible immigration violations and take them into custody.”

The New Yorker, “The Woman Arrested by ICE in a Courthouse Speaks Out”

“[T]he morning of February 9th, Irvin González, a thirty-three-year-old transgender woman, was sitting in a waiting room on the tenth floor of a courthouse in El Paso, Texas. At 9 a.m., a judge was scheduled to hear her request for a protective order against an abusive ex-boyfriend. González was nervous that she’d have to confront him in court, but her caseworker, who was from a local aid agency, reassured her that he might not even be there, and that if he was he wouldn’t be able to get too close. She allowed herself, momentarily, to relax. ‘I felt very safe and protected in the court,’ she said. A sudden commotion outside the door jolted her upright. González assumed her ex had arrived, and the caseworker hurried out to see what was happening. She returned with unexpected news: an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer was there to arrest her.”

Washington Post, “Federal agents ask domestic flight passengers to show IDs in search for undocumented immigrant”

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Thursdaythat their agents requested to see the identification of domestic flight passengers landing at a New York airportWednesday night as they searched for an undocumented immigrant who had received a deportation order to leave the United States. According to the agency, two CBP agents asked passengers who had been on Delta Flight 1583 from San Francisco to show their identification while deplaning after landing at John F. Kennedy Airport at about8 p.m. Wednesday. The search was conducted at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP said in a statement, but the person they were seeking was not on the flight … The search prompted several passengers to post photos online, and it raised questions about whether it was connected to current federal law enforcement efforts to locate, detain and deport undocumented immigrants — a push that has intensified at the direction of President Trump.”

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