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Analyses of government data from both the Detroit Free Press and Cleveland Plain Dealer show that the Detroit Field Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement–the agency that makes deportation decisions affecting Michigan and Ohio families–is one of the most aggressive in the nation. Despite public relations pleas to the contrary, Detroit ICE is prioritizing the deportation of hard working immigrants with no criminal record whatsoever.
In “Michigan non-criminal immigrant arrests, deportations soar under Trump,” the Free Press’ Niraj Warikoo writes:
There was a 126% increase in ICE arrests of immigrants with no criminal records, jumping from 487 in fiscal year 2016 to 1,101 in fiscal year 2017. There was a 32% spike in ICE arrests of immigrants with criminal records; overall, there was a 52% increase in arrests by ICE of immigrants in Michigan and Ohio, from 2,241 to 3,409.
Arrests by the Detroit office of U.S. Border Patrol also jumped over the past year, increasing 49% from 716 arrests in 2016 to 1,070 in 2017. The Detroit office of Border Patrol oversees Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, while the Detroit office of ICE oversees the states of Michigan and Ohio. Border Patrol is the law enforcement arm of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In January, the Plain Dealer’s Michael Sangiacomo reported that:
“the number of people arrested in the local region in fiscal year 2017 who had no criminal background more than doubled from the previous fiscal year,” in contrast to national figures which were basically stagnant.
“The Free Press and Plain Dealer reports prove that the Detroit ICE office is out of control. Director Rebecca Adducci and her henchmen are not focused squarely on people who have committed serious crimes. Instead, they are carrying out President Trump’s campaign agenda and apparently relishing in the destruction of local families. They are taking people who have lived here for decades, with legal work permits, and tossing them out as if their lives are disposable–with no concern at all for the American children and spouses who are left behind,” said Lynn Tramonte, Director of America’s Voice Ohio.
Adducci’s deportations have drawn national and international scrutiny for their particular cruelty, including from the Washington Post editorial board. Now, these articles connect data to the stories and the sentiments many have been articulating for months: a combination of aggressive federal, state, and local enforcement actions have turned much of Ohio and Michigan into a police state for immigrants, with consequences for the children of immigrants as well as anyone who “looks” or “speaks” like they were potentially born in another country.
According to USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration and the Center for American Progress, over 100,000 American citizens in Ohio (including 50,000 children) have at least one undocumented family member. In Michigan, nearly 160,000 citizens (including 70,000 children) could face a loved one’s deportation.
As Jose Franco of One Michigan told the Free Press: “We have seen an increased presence of Border Patrol cars like never before … in neighborhoods across southwest Detroit, Downriver and many other places that tend to have heavy Latino presence.” Ruby Robinson, supervising attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, said: “We’re definitely seeing a rise in people without criminal records being detained in all settings — people in their homes, people out on the streets, people who are driving. It’s really creating a lot of havoc. People are worried, scared to leave their home, take their kids to school, given this pretty substantial rise in the number of detentions.”
A second piece from the Plain Dealer’s Janet Cho connects these deportation numbers to the broader context of immigrants’ lives in Ohio today–one that makes ordinary activities such as driving to work or school a dangerous and risky endeavor. In a recent Medium post, AV Ohio’s Lynn Tramonte explained one of the consequences to society for enabling this police state: undermining our democratic values. She wrote:
The combination of repressive policies and regressive treatment of immigrants in Ohio is not accidental or incidental. It’s a form of control. We are essentially saying: you are welcome to work here, but don’t raise your head or you will risk everything: your job, income, home, family, and future. This transactional attitude toward immigrants is inhumane and cruel. It also violates our values.
“We need to recognize reality. It’s undemocratic to treat immigrants like machines who are here to work for our benefit, but make them live in fear when carrying out their daily lives and ordinary transactions. As Americans and taxpayers, we need to stand up against this treatment of our neighbors. We also need to demand better decision-making from the Detroit ICE Office. The federal government has wide leeway to determine who they should and should not deport, and they should use this authority sensibly. Deportation should not be a rubber stamp decision. Turning loving, two-parent households into broken homes only hurts American children and weakens society.”