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Across Country, ICE is Overseeing Mass Deportation of Immigrants Who Shouldn't Be Priorities

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Every day, Donald Trump’s mass deportation crackdown continues. Trump’s Deportation Force has been relentless in detaining and deporting all undocumented immigrants, whether that’s a grandmother who has lived in the US for a quarter of a century or a man married to a US citizen who is trying to adjust his status. Over and over, the lawyers and advocates who know these cases say that the person detained and deported should never have been a target for ICE. Under Trump and his Administration’s lack of deportation priorities, it doesn’t seem to matter. Below is a roundup of recent stories.

ICE mass deportation cases

In Framingham, Massachusetts, Oscar Millan was picked up by ICE while on his way to the hospital to pick up his newborn son. Oscar had been ordered deported in 2008 after a failed asylum claim and had a DUI, but had stayed in the US to be with his partner. When his son, Oscar Matias, was born, the baby had a serious condition that prevented food from traveling to his small intestine. But the baby had successfully undergone the first of two surgeries to repair it, and Oscar was on his way to pick up his son and partner. He never made it to the hospital. Advocates noted that Oscar should not have been a priority for deportation, and Steven Carl, a former Framingham Police Department chief, said “it seems odd just because he has a DUI that they would pick him up. I’d think ICE would have higher priorities than that.”

In Cincinnati, Julian Motino was arrested by ICE agents while he and his wife were at a USCIS office to apply for a marriage petition that might have put Julian on a path to citizenship. Julian had been in the country since 2005, worked as a house painter, paid taxes, had no criminal record, and had two US-born children and a US-born wife of two years. A final order of deportation was issued for Julian in 2009, handed down in absentia after he was detained at the border in 2005 and allowed to continue on to his destination in Cincinnati, where a family member lived. As his lawyer, Matthew Benson, said, “This is a very troubling case and illustrates how, despite Trump’s promise to target the bad ones and criminals first, virtually everyone here without status is now a target for ICE. ICE clearly should have much more important priorities than this man.”

In Houston, a father of three US citizen daughters who is also the breadwinner of his household has been ordered to turn himself in to be deported to El Salvador. Juan Rodriguez has been checking in with ICE since 2007 and has come in for a total of 25 times. He has a work permit from ICE that allows him to legally work as an auto mechanic. Over the years, he’s spent more than $30,000 in legal fees trying to correct his immigration status. But in February, ICE told Juan that he was going to be removed, even though he has been in the country for 16 years and committed no crimes. “Things have changed, Mr. Rodriguez,” the ICE officer told Juan about why he was going to be deported after being allowed to check in for so long. “We will have to deport you.” Juan was allowed to stay in the country until his daughter’s high school graduation, which has passed now. ICE expects him back on June 29, and his family does not know how they’ll be able to remain together.

In New Jersey, four Indonesian men who have lived in the US since the 1990s are in the process of being deported. They came to the US fleeing religious persecution, were denied asylum, but had check-in arrangements with ICE that the Trump Administration is now refusing to honor. Three of the four men have already been deported, while the fourth had his stay of removal rejected last week. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) called their deportations “morally reprehensible”, saying, “these men who sought asylum from religious persecution have now fallen victim to the Trump administration’s appalling refugee and immigration policy.” A reverend who was leading efforts to help the four say that their families were not warned when the men were deported.

In Denver, a mother of two US-citizen children has spent the last six months taking sanctuary inside a Quaker meetinghouse. Ingrid Encalada Latorre came from Peru when she was 17, was arrested for using false documents in order to work, spent two and a half months in jail, completed four and a half years of probation, and paid $11,500 in back taxes. She sought refuge in the church in November in order to keep her family together. Recently, immigration officials granted Ingrid a three-month stay of removal, though it’s unclear whether agents will try to deport her again.

A Hawaiian coffee farmer who gained the support of a federal judge last week now has his state’s Congressional delegation on his side. Andres Magana Ortiz is scheduled to be deported this week even though he has been in the US since he was 15 and has committed no crimes. Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote last week that “the government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe.” Hawaii’s entire Congressional delegation is now asking DHS Secretary John Kelly to stop Magana Ortiz’s deportation. As they wrote, “Mr. Magana Ortiz poses no…threat to national security or public safety and therefore should not be a priority for removal. It is in our national interest for Mr. Magana Ortiz to remain in the United States where he can continue to work, pay taxes and raise a family.”

Other reads in immigration

Rep. Juan Vargas and six other Democratic members of Congress spent last weekend in Tijuana, Mexico, visiting US veterans who were deported after serving in the military. One veteran they met served in the military, was arrested for firing a gun, was honorably discharged, and was deported after serving a prison sentence. Another joined the Marines when he was 18, served in Kuwait, but was deported after a conviction on drug and weapons charges. Since veterans receive military burials after they die, the deported vets will be allowed back in the US for their burials — but will be kept out of the country while they’re alive. The Democratic Congressmembers want to pass legislation that would prevent the deportation of veterans who commit non-serious crimes.

In San Francisco, an SFPD officer was caught on tape telling a group of minorities — who did not appear to be under arrest — that the department had taken their picture and was going to get immigration authorities involved. One of the men can be heard saying, “I don’t do nothing, why do you take picture of me?” and the officer responded, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, wait ‘til we get INS [the precursor to ICE] involved in here too, it’s going to be awesome. We’re going to ship everybody back to their own country.” As SFPD Chief William Scott said about the incident, “Department policy is really clear in terms of, we do not engage in the work of enforcement for immigration laws. It’s very clear if that’s violated then disciplinary matters have been and will be taken.”

According to a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California, 51% of California adults said increased immigration enforcement under Trump worried them because they might know someone who could be deported. It was in California that a recent roundup of 10 alleged gang members also resulted in the arrest of 10 undocumented immigrants who had committed no crimes. The same poll found that just 27% of Californians approved of Trump’s job performance, compared to 67% who disapprove.

From Arizona comes the story of the Marins, four siblings who were separated when their mother, Gloria, was arrested and deported for being the housekeeper to a migrant smuggler. At the time, Arizona’s Child Protective Services was in crisis, and it’s now being sued in a federal class-action lawsuit for wide-scale mismanagement. Without Gloria, her four children bounced around different family members and family friends, including one of the children’s fathers(who neglected them) before being separated and put into the foster care system. One of the children, Angel, was put into a school for delinquent and dependent boys even though he’d never been in trouble with the law. The children eventually had to decide whether to self-deport in order to rejoin their mother in Mexico, or remain separated from her in order to continue living the life in America they knew.