Last week, ICE announced that in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration arrests of undocumented immigrants increased by 38%. A key way the Trump Administration is running up its deportation numbers involves going after the undocumented immigrants who are easiest to find – those who have been checking in with ICE regularly for years under an exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
These “silent raids” target individuals on a one-by-one basis. Immigrants walk into ICE offices, and instead of being checked in and sent back out to live their lives as has happened for years, they are being detained and deported. Ironically, this strategy punishes people who are trying to do what the government has asked of them. Typically, they have been living in the country for a decade or more, have U.S. citizen children, and have nothing on their record that suggests they are dangerous. They are just regular immigrants who a previous administration thought should be put at the bottom of the deportation list, as long as they continued to check-in as required.
Cases of check-ins leading to deportation
An April Atlanta Journal-Constitution story from Jeremy Redmon, titled, “Check-ins with ICE Can Now Lead to Deportation for Immigrants,” picked up on this trend, noting:
In January, President Donald Trump issued an executive order broadly expanding the pool of people prioritized for deportation. The Republican’s get-tough approach drew widespread scrutiny a month later when deportation officers spread out across the nation and rounded up hundreds of unauthorized immigrants. But ICE has been employing another tactic that has drawn far less attention: Waiting for their targets to come to them.
In South Florida, a Sun-Sentinel article titled, “Undocumented Immigrants Now Being Arrested During Scheduled Check-ins,” and Politico Florida’s Sergio Bustoshighlight how local activists are increasingly speaking out against “the Trump administration’s ‘silent raids’ to deport immigrants who appear for routine appointments with immigration officers.”
High profile cases, such as those of Guadalupe García de Rayos in Arizona and Roberto Beristain in Indiana, and additional examples from Arizona, California, Connecticut,Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina fit into the same pattern: formerly routine appointments at ICE offices are becoming the first step towards expulsion from the United States. Other examples, such as the tragic story of Ohio mother Maribel Trujillo-Diaz, show that detainment and eventual deportation for others have come shortly after an annual ICE check-in.
Frank Sharry: ICE check ins are silent raids
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
With few exceptions, ICE ‘check-ins’ are becoming ‘turn yourself in for deportation’ events. The Trump Administration doesn’t need to rely on raids when these ‘silent raids’ advance their goals of sowing fear among immigrants and deporting whoever they can get their hands on. Those showing up at ICE offices are typically ordinary and hardworking immigrants who were deemed low priority by ICE in the past. They have significant equities, have built families, and have work permits to live and stay in America. Now, they walk into ICE offices to comply with the rules and get put in detention and ripped away from their families and their lives.
DHS Secretary Kelly should come clean and admit that his much-touted focus on deporting ‘criminals’ is actually a quiet focus on deporting settled immigrants. This isn’t what the American people want. This is isn’t who we are. This is a slow-motion mass deportation strategy that is undermining families, communities, and the values and ideals we as Americans hold dear.