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Among Other Outrages, Immigration Agents Arrest Newborn’s Parents at Texas Hospital

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ICE and Border Patrol Cruelty Needs to Be Reined In

Washington, DC – Every week brings more troubling examples of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol actions that violate basic social norms and offend our sense of who we are as Americans.

Below, we lift up some of the most recent, outrageous incidents. Remember, these are just the ones that have been exposed to the media.  Countless other individual tragedies are occurring on a daily basis, as ICE and Border Patrol agents act in unshackled, unaccountable ways – funded with our tax dollars.

NPR story, “Border Patrol Arrests Parents While Infant Awaits Serious Operation,” describes a horrific example from Texas, in which undocumented parents without a criminal record and with four U.S. citizen children are now in deportation proceedings because border agents arrested them at a hospital they had traveled to for their newborn child’s critical operation:

When 2-month-old Isaac Enrique Sanchez was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, a condition that causes vomiting, dehydration and weight loss in infants, his parents were told that their son’s condition was curable. The problem was that no hospital in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas had a pediatric surgery team capable of performing the operation on his stomach.

To make Isaac well, Oscar and Irma Sanchez would need to take their infant son to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was just a couple of hours up the highway, but for them it was a world away. The Sanchezes, who are undocumented, would need to pass a Border Patrol checkpoint. “The nurse told us we had to go there,” Oscar says in Spanish. “We said we couldn’t go.”

While they pondered their predicament in a Harlingen, Texas, hospital, a Border Patrol agent showed up in the waiting room — Oscar Sanchez suspects a nurse turned them in — and said he could arrange for officers to escort the parents through the checkpoint to Corpus. But the agent said when they arrived, they would be arrested and put into deportation proceedings. The couple agreed.

The events that followed at the Corpus Christi hospital are the latest developments in a national controversy over so-called sensitive locations. Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Homeland Security adopted a policy that immigration agents should avoid enforcement actions at hospitals, schools, churches and public demonstrations unless there are special circumstances.

Here’s another case that should result in an investigation. Juan Coronilla Guerrero was killed after being forcibly taken from Travis County Courthouse (Texas) in February, deported to Mexico, andaccording to the Austin American-Statesman, killed by gangs that took him from his bed while he slept. His wife says that fear of gangs was the reason he fled Mexico in the first place, and she warned the government that this would happen if he was deported. They did not listen. Now a family is without a father. Guerrero’s murder follows examples of other individuals deported to Mexico who were kidnapped and held for ransom.   

In Oregon, ICE racially profiled a Latino U.S. citizen who works on a road maintenance crew for Washington County and tried to arrest him for being an undocumented immigrant. As The Oregonian recapped:

Federal agents mistook a longtime Washington County employee for an illegal immigrant just as a nearby demonstration against arrests of undocumented immigrants ended at the courthouse in Hillsboro.

The mistake rattled Isidro Andrade-Tafolla, a married father of three children who lives in Forest Grove and has worked as a road maintenance worker for the county for nearly 20 years.

“It was frightening, disturbing, humiliating and I’m still trying to process being stopped because of my color and my race,” he said Tuesday.

Last week, Cleveland, Ohio ICE agents went to an Akron mother’s home in an obvious attempt to scare her children and intimidate the family.  Agents knew that the mother, Leonor Garcia, would not be at the home, as she had advised them she was living in sanctuary and had an ankle bracelet they could have easily checked.  Instead, they spent hours of taxpayer time driving down to Akron, aggressively pounding on the front door, and terrifying the U.S. citizen children inside.  

Esther Yu Hsi Lee of ThinkProgress summarizes a new American Immigration Council report that underscores that disturbing allegations against Customs and Border Protection agents are far from isolated:

Deportations in the Dark: Coercive Tactics and Deprivation of Information and Processes in the Repatriation of Migrants,” alleges that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents routinely abused and intimidated migrants, detailing a disturbing pattern that advocates worry may increase as the Trump administration intends to detain and deport more immigrants.

The report — based on the accounts of 600 individuals between August 2016 and April 2017, within ten calendar days of their removal from the United States — found that 43.5 percent of respondents surveyed said they weren’t advised of their right to consult their consulate; more than half of people weren’t asked if they feared returning home, depriving them a fair opportunity to present their immigration claims; 23.5 percent said immigration authorities subjected them to some type of abuse or aggression; 50.7 percent said they weren’t allowed to read repatriation documents before signing, while another 42 percent said they didn’t receive their repatriation documents at all. According to one of the researchers Guillermo Cantor, 437 of the interviews analyzed were conducted before January 20, 2017, the date of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, and 163 after that date.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “These actions, being done in our name and using our tax dollars, violate constitutional rights and American values. It’s as if Trump’s deportation agents are competing to see who can be the most cruel. They refuse to see immigrants as humans and deny them basic dignity and common decency. Congress must ensure that ICE, CBP, and others within the Trump Administration face more oversight and actual accountability.  The Trump Deportation Force cannot be allowed to continue operating with free rein and a blank check.”

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice Education Fund on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

America’s Voice Education Fund – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform