Lynn Tramonte: Now “mind-numbingly common” to learn about deportations targeting the “very types of people our country should celebrate, not deport”
U.S. military recruits hailing from countries throughout the world. A prominent Syrian pro-democratic activist. A Ground Zero clean-up worker who sacrificed his health to help America rebuild after 9/11. An Iraqi who aided in the U.S. military in the fight against Saddam Hussein.
These are heroes who embody, stand up for, and protect American values and American lives. These are also heroes who, in Donald Trump’s America, are facing deportation.
During the past few days alone, these new stories and examples underscore the extent to which the Trump Administration is turning its back on immigrants’ sacrifices and contributions, and subjecting real life heroes to deportation. Meanwhile, everyday unsung heroes who live up to our foundational values of hard work and putting family first continue to be targeted by the Trump Administration for arrest and deportation, uprooting long-settled lives, splitting apart families, disrupting local businesses, and serving notice to American communities that indiscriminate deportations will not target bad actors after all, as promised.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
It is becoming mind-numbingly common in Donald Trump’s America to learn about indiscriminate and heartless deportations that target the very types of people our country should celebrate, not deport. From those who have put everything on the line for our country to everyday heroes and heads of American families, few are being spared in the effort to ramp up deportations and sow fear among immigrants. DHS Secretary John Kelly and others complicit in this cruel and costly approach should be forced to answer how our country is strengthened by their radical approach to immigration enforcement focused on these individuals. The clear answer is that it America and our values are instead weakened by their approach.
Below, and from just the past few days, we present some of the examples of the types of people being targeted by the Trump Administration:
In New York, Rep. Joe Crowley fights against the impending deportation of former Ground Zero worker Carlos Cardona, who is battling health problems from 9/11 cleanup: Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) is trying to weigh in on Carlos Cardona’s behalf,launching a petition that notes in part, “Mr. Cardona is facing the threat of deportation because of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. Instead of expressing our gratitude as a nation that Mr. Cardona helped clean and contain the World Trade Center site, our government is doing everything it can to deport a man who is facing serious health problems because of the work he did on our behalf. This is shameful … Deporting Mr. Cardona would send a message to the immigrants who call our country home that even if they serve our country during its darkest days, we will not welcome them in our communities. This is not what the United States represents.”
U.S. Military veterans and recruits not being spared from deportation. Several recent articles have highlighted how military veterans and recruits are facing new risks of deportation. A PRI story this week, “These deported vets risked their lives for the US. Now, they struggle to return,” notes that one of Trump’s executive orders from January “lowers the bar for who can be deported.” Meanwhile, in an article this week titled “The Pentagon promised citizenship to immigrants who served. Now it might help deport them,” theWashington Post noted how our country is now, “considering a plan to cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits without legal immigration status, knowingly exposing them to deportation, a Defense Department memo shows … Those recruits are in what the military calls the delayed-entry program, a holding pool of recruits assigned training dates in the future. About 1,000 of them have seen their visas expire while waiting for travel orders, which would put them at risk of deportation if their contracts are canceled.”
Radwan Ziadeh, a prominent Syrian dissident and democratic activist, faces potential eviction from America after his asylum claim was rejected and despite death threats back in Syria. As the New York Times described, Ziadeh has been told he doesn’t qualify for political asylum because he organized a conference with Syrian opposition groups — even though the American government has supported members of those same groups in the Syrian civil war. Ziadeh, who has received fellowships at Harvard, Georgetown and the United States Institute of Peace, has testified in Congress, written books and served briefly as a spokesman for the Syrian opposition umbrella group that the American government supported. He and his wife, Susan Aljlelatie, have lived in the United States for 10 years on a series of temporary permits, the latest of which expires next spring. Their children were born in America and are U.S. citizens. If Ziadeh is forced to return to Syria, he faces a dangerous situation – the Syrian government has a warrant out for his arrest and the Islamic State has him on a list of Syrians it wants dead.
In New Mexico, “Two Iraqi refugees in NM helped the US military. Now they’re facing deportation”: NM Political Report notes that Abbas Oda Manshad Al-Sokaini, an Iraqi Christian who came to Albuquerque 20 years ago as a political refugee after helping the U.S. military during the first Gulf War, faces potential deportation to Iraq and separation from his American wife. The article notes, “During the Persian Gulf War, Al-Sokaini served in the Iraqi military but helped the U.S. locate weapons and ammunition belonging to the Saddam Hussein regime. Hussein’s regime tortured Al-Sokaini, according to Sisneros, which prompted him to flee the country for asylum in Saudi Arabia. In 1997, Al-Skaini was granted refugee status in the U.S. and came to Albuquerque, where his cousin was already living.” A 2000 drug charge that no longer shows up on his record is the stated reason for his impending deportation to a country where he faces potential persecution and danger. Meanwhile, 1,400 other Iraqi Christians received a temporary reprieve from their potential deportation after a federal judge’s ruling earlier this week.
In South Florida, a woman facing terminal cancer now also faces potential deportation to Honduras: Latina Comunica reports how a longtime local domestic worker, Reyna Gómez, is facing potential deportation to Honduras in July despite having a rare form of leukemia that requires frequent treatment. Gómez, who fled an abusive relationship in Honduras, was seeking asylum in the United States and instead has become another example of how the Trump Administration is using “silent raids” – such as check-in appointments with ICE – to ramp up deportations against formerly low priorities for arrest and deportation, such as Gómez.
In Baltimore, a local restaurant owner blasts the Trump immigration for the mass-resignation of 30 of his employees, after ICE showed up at his restaurant. 30 employees of a popular Baltimore restaurant quit their jobs out of fear after ICE showed up at the restaurant and demanded papers. As theWashington Post noted, “In an open letter to his customers Saturday, BoatHouse Canton owner Gene Singleton blamed the Trump administration ‘for targeting the Hispanic community … Properly documented and potentially less than properly documented are all fearful of being separated from their families, many with small children,’ Singleton wrote in a Facebook post Saturday, a day after their departure. ‘Many went home to pack up and leave.’ They were, Singleton told The Washington Post, ‘some of the best citizens we have.’ The owner didn’t expect problems under President Trump either, he said, despite campaign talk of ‘bad hombres’ and the administration’s push to penalize immigrants who commit crimes. ‘I understood the immigrant community was not going to be targeted aggressively,’ Singleton said. ‘Either I misunderstood or they changed.’”