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ICYMI: Univision Special Feature on Immigration — “Essential But Deportable”

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In a seven chapter investigative piece entitled “Essential but Deportable,” Univision addresses the many difficulties faced by immigrant families under the Trump administration citing that “the return of massive workplace raids and the adoption of strong anti-immigrant policies such as ‘zero tolerance’ have destroyed the social and economic fabric of immigrant communities.” Even deemed as essential workers during a national public health and economic crisis, immigrants continue to be degraded and dehumanized, but this must-read investigation sheds light on their continued fight to defend their rights.

Below are excerpts from four of the seven chapters and the full piece can be found in English here and in Spanish here:

Chapter 1: “Two enemy forces: immigration authorities and the coronavirus”

The pandemic has once again brought to light the deep inequalities that exist in the United States. Latino and Black communities have been hit particularly hard. Many Hispanics who live paycheck to paycheck are unable to stay home. In an economy that seeks to exploit cheap labor, immigrants who work in meat processing plants or agricultural fields must continue to show up.

Chapter 2: After the raids, life is put on hold

“These people are afraid to talk, to go out, they don’t want to be seen. I am taking the risk by talking because I want people to hear us, to realize that we are all going through a very difficult time. Many people may think that now things are calm, but that’s not true. Many people are detained and they don’t know if they’ll get out of this or if they’ll be sent back to their country,” Elena said. “As things stand, the future is very uncertain for us Hispanics.”

Chapter 3: United for Trump but split over ICE

Residents of O’Neill, a small rural town in Nebraska, are grappling with the fallout of 2018 immigration raids. Of the 130 people arrested in the 2018 raids, the majority were undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala with no criminal record who had long worked as day laborers in the United States. Though most were released the same day, they now have cases open in immigration courts and are waiting to see if they will be deported. Some have since received work permits, but the companies that previously gave them jobs no longer want to hire them. Many live solitary lives in mobile home parks on the poorest streets of O’Neill, on the brink of bankruptcy. They barely go out, not even to the two bars left in town.

Chapter 5: ‘Immigration came for the big fish’

The U.S. justice system goes after undocumented workers—but not the employers that hire them. For a year, ICE planned a massive raid to arrest an undocumented Mexican man that provided undocumented laborers to food production companies. But representatives from those companies were acquitted. And the workers, who authorities say they seek to protect through workplace raids, were left abandoned. “We were used as bait to get the big fish, and they don’t want to give us work anymore,” said Leonel.