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Reminders That Trump’s Plan to Deport “Criminals” Is a Pretext to Start Deporting Hardworking Immigrants

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Washington, DC – Several recent assessments of President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to immediately deport 2 to 3 million immigrants offer reminders that Trump’s immigration plan would extend far beyond ‘criminals’ in any normal sense of the word, sweeping up hardworking people who have lived in the U.S. for years and by most accounts deserve a chance to obtain citizenship.

Meanwhile, the President-elect’s promise to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program continues to sow fear and anxiety among the 750,000 young immigrants who have already obtained protection from deportation and work permits, as well as the other young people who should be aging into the program.  And heartbreaking stories from across the country highlight how immigrant schoolchildren are increasingly anxious and fearful for their families’ futures under a President Trump.

Following are pieces that help describe what’s at stake.

In a recent Politico piece, Ted Hesson assessed:

“To reach 2 million, Trump would have to target many immigrants living in the U.S. legally; such deportations are permissible, but only in the case of felonies and certain misdemeanors. In addition, Trump would have to pursue many undocumented immigrants who are low-level offenders.

…As a consequence, says David Leopold, a Cleveland-based immigration lawyer, a numbers-driven haul of criminals could easily devolve into a ‘chaotic’ roundup that included many more noncriminals. ‘Even though they give lip service to going after people with criminal convictions,’ Leopold said, ‘they’re going to go after whoever they can find, because the people without the criminal convictions are easier to find. They’re the ones who are going to open the door when ICE comes knocking. They’re the ones who are going to be compliant.’”

And in the New York Times, Amy Chozick noted that Trump would likely have to rely on such reviled tactics as workplace raids, which were “widely criticized for splitting up families, gutting businesses that relied on immigrant labor and taking aim at people who went to work every day, rather than dangerous criminals”:

“[A]s President-elect Donald J. Trump prepares to take office and promises to swiftly deport two million to three million undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes, bipartisan experts say they expect a return of the raids that rounded up thousands of workers at carwashes, meatpacking plants, fruit suppliers and their homes during the Bush years.

…But Mr. Trump’s advisers have said that to promptly reach his target number of deportations, the definition of who is a criminal would need to be broadened … Targeting workers for immigration-related offenses, such as using a forged or stolen Social Security number or driver’s license, produced a significant uptick in deportations under Mr. Bush. But the practice was widely criticized for splitting up families, gutting businesses that relied on immigrant labor and taking aim at people who went to work every day, rather than dangerous criminals.”

As America’s Voice Education Fund Deputy Director Lynn Tramonte wrote in a recent Medium piece:

“[W]hen Trump goes looking for 2–3 million people to deport, he’s not going to find 2–3 million dangerous people. He’s going to find a few bad people that a Clinton Administration would have also deported, and many regular people who have lived here for decades, working hard and raising families. Remember: we know Trump is lying about immigrants because his lips are moving. Get ready for four years of that.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “It’s clear that Trump plans to use a small number of bad guys to taint a much larger population of deeply rooted immigrant families in order to justify what would be one of the largest forced migrations and darkest chapters in American history. Sweeping up hardworking immigrants and ripping apart families through a massive deportation program promises to be chaotic, costly, and heartbreaking. It does not represent who we are and what we stand for as a nation. All people of conscience should join the growing movement of those pledging to stand up to Trump and to stand up for immigrants.”

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice Education Fund on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

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