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Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to the southwestern border yesterday to deliver two speeches that, once again,scapegoated immigrants as criminals and used that portrayal to try and justify sweeping new measures aimed at immigrants. Describing the ramped-up focus on immigration enforcement, A.G. Sessions said: “This is a new era …This is the Trump era.”
The story of Maribel Trujillo-Diaz shows what the “Trump era” really means for immigrants across America. Trujillo-Diaz is an Ohio mom of four U.S. citizen children who is now facing imminent deportation by ICE despite no criminal record, a real risk of harm if returned to Mexico, and the attempted intervention of both Republican and Democratic elected officials on her behalf. This editorial cartoon from WCPO Cincinnati captures the reality: ICE is needlessly ripping a mother away from her children.
Maribel’s case is just one of the heartbreaking stories from across the country that show that the Trump Administration is not prioritizing so-called “bad hombres,” as Trump claimed and AG Sessions would have you believe. Instead, ICE and CBP are going after whomever they please, however they please and are seeking to detain and deport virtually anyone they encounter.
Under Trump, ICE is now going after “low-hanging fruit” — immigrants such as Maribel who have been dutifully checking in with ICE as required. Despite the fact they have work permits, possess driver’s licenses and pay taxes, they are picked up when they come forward to comply with the government’s rules.
As Adolfo Flores of Buzzfeed writes of Maribel’s case:
Her legal team and supporters said Trujillo-Diaz is the victim of new President Trump-era policies that make any undocumented immigrant subject to deportation despite having US-born children and not having a criminal record. Under President Obama, such people were considered a low priority for immigration enforcement. Trujillo-Diaz, an asylum seeker, had been checking in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and complying with Obama-era rules.
‘Maribel is a very good example of why these policies are so misguided,’ her attorney, Emily Brown, told BuzzFeed News. ‘If a mother of four US citizen kids who has no criminal record is up for deportation, then this is an inhuman policy that everyone needs to know about.’
…Trujillo-Diaz came to the US in 2002 after illegally crossing the border into Arizona. She’s married and has four kids, one of whom has special needs. She first came into contact with ICE when she was arrested in a 2007 workplace raid at Koch Foods and placed in deportation proceedings. She applied for asylum because she fears the same gang members who threatened her brother in Hidalgo, Mexico, will come after her and her children … In recent court documents filed in an attempt to reopen her case, Trujillo-Diaz’s lawyers said her father was kidnapped by the Knights Templar cartel in February and the family had to pay a ransom to get him released.”
The Trump era’s radicalism on immigration is directly at odds with the views of the vast majority of Americans. For example, CNN polling released in March found that 90% of Americans, including 87% of Republicans, back an earned path to citizenship and that, by a 71%-27% margin, Americans oppose the notion that the government seek to “deport all people currently living in the U.S. illegally.” In short, Americans want people like Maribel to stay in the U.S. with her family and to have a path to eventual citizenship instead of deportation.
As Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich said to the Cincinnati Enquirer about Maribel’s case, “We have enough broken families in the country. And now what we’re going to do is go hunt them down and ship them out and break up the family and scare the kids? That’s not my way of thinking.” Unfortunately Kasich also added that he could not personally stop the deportation, stating, “there’s nothing I can do about it. In case you didn’t know, I’m not president.
Both of Ohio’s Senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, have been trying to intervene on Maribel’s behalf.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, said:
Yesterday Sessions demonized immigrants as criminals, and today the Trump Administration is deporting Maribel, a mother of four U.S. citizen children with no criminal record. That sums up the story of this Administration to date. Deporting mothers and fathers is devastating to their children and communities. The fact that it’s official government policy should be devastating to any American who cares about our history a welcoming country and as a beacon of hope and freedom to those around the world.