Next week, members of Congress will face a key decision: will they be complicit in Trump’s war on immigrants – and approve his $21.5 billion request to bolster his arsenal of deportation agents – or will they defend our history as a nation of immigrants?
According to Pili Tobar, Managing Director of America’s Voice, “Under their current funding, ICE and CBP agents are already running amok, detaining and deporting all who cross their paths, including veterans, mothers, and victims of crime. Why would we give them more money, on taxpayers’ dime? Americans deserve better than for Congress to throw more money at a dysfunctional, rogue agency. Members of Congress must stand against Trump’s outrageous request.”
Below, we excerpt coverage of the latest outlandish behavior from Trump’s Deportation Force.
The federal agency that runs the U.S. immigration system is creating an internal division to more rigorously police its own caseworkers, a move possibly aimed at those who may be too lenient with applicants seeking residency or citizenship, according to staffers and internal documents obtained by The Washington Post.
A USCIS official with knowledge of the plans said it has been viewed internally as a crackdown on employees who may be too forgiving toward applicants for permanent legal residence or citizenship and who may have demerits in their case files, such as misdemeanor criminal charges, or having received public assistance for health care, food stamps or other benefits.
JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: A cold and lonely protest in the far reaches of New England, a dozen demonstrators stand amid piles of dirty snow outside of a health clinic in Richford, Vt., not far from the Canada border. They’re upset that the Border Patrol arrested an undocumented dairy worker here right after he got his teeth cleaned. An unsmiling young woman in a pink knit cap steps forward.
ZULLY PALACIOS: (Speaking Spanish).
BURNETT: Her name is Zully Palacios. She’s 24, from Peru. She, too, is undocumented and was caught by immigration agents. What makes Palacios’ case different is that she’s a high-profile spokeswoman for an organization called Migrant Justice. It advocates for undocumented dairy workers in Vermont, and that’s why she thinks they targeted her.
PALACIOS: (Speaking Spanish).
BURNETT: “We’re always at the marches, giving interviews without fear of what could happen,” she says of the leaders who’ve been arrested. “So to go against us is a way to intimidate the community.”
PALACIOS: (Speaking Spanish).
BURNETT: Palacios and another prominent Migrant Justice leader, Enrique Balcazar, were arrested a year ago while they were driving away from the organization’s office. Officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement had taken their names during an earlier arrest of another colleague. They investigated and learned that Palacios had overstayed a student visa, and Balcazar had entered the country illegally from Mexico to work on dairy farms. Neither Palacios nor Balcazar have criminal records. They’re among a half-dozen Migrant Justice leaders, all told, who are fighting their deportation orders.
Six children have been left without parents after their mother and father were killed in a car crash in an apparent attempt to flee Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, who pulled them over after mistaking the father for an arrest target.
ICE confirmed that its officers had not only pulled the couple over, but had in fact mistaken Garcia for a target they had planned to arrest.
“ICE deportation officers arrived at a residence believed to belong to a previously removed Mexican citizen. A male matching the target’s description exited the residence and entered a vehicle,” ICE spokesperson Jennifer Elzea told Newsweek.
At first, the conversation with the two immigration officials was friendly.
They said they believed her marriage to an American citizen was genuine, Lilian Calderon Jimenez recalled. Her application to become a permanent resident was cleared to move forward.
They even chatted about sports, teasing her over her love for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Calderon said.
A few moments later, they told the Providence woman that officers from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement were in the other room. They wanted to speak with her briefly, they said.
Minutes later on that January morning, Calderon, a 30-year-old waitress, was in handcuffs, sobbing. Her husband, Luis Gordillo, who had been waiting outside, was told by government officials that she was in federal custody. They handed him a binder of family photos and documents Calderon had brought to the interview, to prove their relationship was real.
“You’re all set,” he recalled they said, then walked away as he stood in a daze.”
After waiting for 15 years, Vitor and Neta Pukri had reason to believe they were on the verge of adjusting their immigration status. Having lived in the shadows as undocumented immigrants, they were finally going to become legal U.S. residents.
Or so it appeared.
The Pukris, natives of Albania who now live in Clifton, received an email in December from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services summoning them to an interview at the agency’s offices in Newark on Feb. 6. Vitor’s application for legal status through a program called the diversity visa lottery had been selected for further processing, and the Pukris assumed the interview would be one of the final steps.
Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers appeared within minutes of the start of their meeting. The Pukris were told that there were existing orders of deportation against them and that they would be held on the spot. Their son Mikel, who accompanied them to the interview and is protected from deportation under the DACA program, was told to wait outside.