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It’s under-reported news this week, but nearly 250 people have been arrested since the start of March in a multi-state ICE effort that has been terrorizing immigrant communities across Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.
Only 18 of those arrested had prior removal orders and more than half had no criminal record whatsoever. Even these numbers overstate ICE’s case for picking up any of these immigrants, as a “criminal record” encompasses things like simply possessing marijuana or lying to an employer in order to work. Prior removal order also means very little — for example, this New Jersey grandfather was ordered removed because he’d received bad legal advice and applied for asylum when he shouldn’t have.
With ICE no longer bound by actual guidelines, its agents are casting a wide, indiscriminate net and seeing who comes in. Instead of setting real deportation priorities, quantity seems to be the focus. As William Stock, a Philadelphia immigration attorney who is now president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told Penn Live, “ICE folks now see the number of people deported as their highest priority.”
What the raids are doing is terrorizing immigrant communities, where parents have reportedly stopped going outside unless necessary, stopped taking their families to public places like parks, and stopped sending children to school. Immigration advocates in Pennsylvania have said that ICE is dressing like civilians, using unidentified vehicles, and detaining people without immigration court orders.
The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, said that he’s concerned and described a sense of déjà vu:
The last time I felt like this was 1968 when I was 10 years old and the world scene was coming apart. And the world seems like it’s coming apart again…
If you are looking for a way to thwart progress in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in medical research, education, trade, reputation — you name it — business creation, then scare the bejesus out of people. The only beneficiary of any of this stuff on the national and state level is Canada.
Philadelphia is a sanctuary city and Kenney has vowed not to change that status, despite threats from the federal government to cut the city’s funding. The city is also promoting a hotline for those affected by the recent raids.