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This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) boasted about how many people they arrested during the first 100 days – even though the majority of people they arrested are either immigrants with no criminal record or immigrants who are not threats to public safety. At the same time, the GOP-led House is attempting to turbocharge Trump’s mass deportation agenda by beginning work on a package of bills in the House Judiciary Committee that would codify and expand on DHS’s crackdown.
On the ground, the effects of the GOP’s radicalism is experienced personally by immigrants who are deeply rooted in American society. Below are just a few of the people directly affected, and families separated, that have surfaced in recent days.
In Massachusetts, 37-year-old Jose Flores, who has not been able to work since falling off a ladder at a job site in March, was detained after his employer set up a meeting place and time for Flores to receive workers’ comp. Upon arrival, Flores was met with ICE officials ready to arrest him. According to WBUR:
Because Flores has orders to be deported back to Honduras, ICE agents had the authority to take him into custody. But the concern for Flores’ immigration attorney, Christina Corbaci, is that this could signal another new enforcement approach by ICE under President Trump. ‘Before, I wouldn’t have really had a concern telling someone, ‘Yes, you should go ahead to report something like this and assert your rights,’ Corbaci said. ‘But now we have this added fear that, could an employer in this kind of case just, you know, use someone’s immigration situation against them?’ In an emailed statement, an ICE spokesman said he wouldn’t comment on specific work methods for security reasons. He did say, however, that ICE receives investigative leads and tips from a variety of sources, and through many means and methods.
In Virginia, the Washington Post reports that ICE officials arrested Liliana Cruz Mendez, 30, a mother of two from El Salvador at her routine ICE check-in on Thursday:
The arrest of Liliana Cruz Mendez, 30, a mother of two from El Salvador, comes a day after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released statistics showing a significant increase in deportation arrests since Trump’s inauguration, mostly involving undocumented residents with criminal records. While immigration hard-liners are applauding Trump’s efforts, advocates for those here illegally say ICE is defining the term “criminal” so broadly that many minor offenders — including Cruz Mendez, who has a misdemeanor conviction for driving without a license — are being torn from their U.S.-born children. The agency also more than doubled the arrests of non-criminal immigrants, to nearly 11,000, about a quarter of the arrests reportedWednesday. ‘This is the real face of what ICE is doing,” said George Escobar, senior director of human Services for CASA, a Maryland-based nonprofit that is aiding Cruz Mendez. “They are shattering families and children’s lives.’
In North Carolina, Wendy Miranda Fernandez, a high school graduate who sought asylum in the United States at age 14, was detained at her last ICE check-in on March 22. Her deportation has been delayed, but appears imminent. According to the Herald Sun:
Nardine Guirguis, an attorney representing Fernandez, said Fernandez, has never been convicted of a felony. Of the 41,318 individuals arrested by ICE in the Jan. 22-April 29, 2017 time frame, almost 11,000 did not have a prior criminal conviction. That’s more than double the number of immigrants without criminal convictions arrested in 2016 during a comparable time period. Fernandez entered the U.S. at age 14 and sought asylum claiming she feared for her safety in El Salvador after witnessing a murder outside her home by the international gang Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. She said the attack occurred after her older brother refused to join the gang.
In California, 22-year-old Cal State L.A. student and Immigrant Youth Coalition organizer Claudia Rueda was detained by CBP on Thursday. Rueda led protests following her mother’s detainment last month. According to LAist:
Rueda has lived most of her life in the United States and is studying Latin American Studies at Cal State L.A., according to a statement from the Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles chapter. The DSA-LA reports that she is eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection and ‘has been preparing for apply for DACA but had been unable to gather the money for the filing fees.’ “Claudia is an extremely supportive, empowering, and hard working friend. All throughout high school, she encouraged students to continue their studies in higher education, becoming involved in afterschool programs like ESCALERA,” her best friend told the DSA. ‘Throughout our college career, she has continuously supported me, offered her home, and her wisdom to continue being a hardworking student and following our passions.’
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
Unfortunately, for every case we highlight, there are thousands more that are just as heartbreaking. DHS is rounding up people who make contributions to the country they now call home. In doing so, they are ruining lives, ripping apart families, and sullying the American idea. The vast majority of Americans believe that the appropriate policy for undocumented immigrants is citizenship. But DHS, with the solid backing of Trump and the Republicans in Congress, believe that the appropriate policy is deportation, regardless of equities, family ties, and contributions. It is time for Republicans of conscience to stand up to this slow-motion, mass deportation strategy. And it is time for Americans of good will to fight back, so that the majority view prevails over the extremism of this administration.