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No More Discretion? Trump Administration Deporting Low Priority Immigrants Across America

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Deportation cases of low priority immigrants from across America continue to expose the Trump Administration’s purported emphasis on “bad hombres” to be little more than a smokescreen. The Administration and Republican members of Congress talk ad nauseum about prioritizing serious criminals, but with DHS targeting virtually each and every undocumented immigrant they encounter, the GOP talk turns out to be vacuous and dishonest talking points.

As we recently highlighted in a report assessing Trump’s first 100 days, the Trump Administration has laid the groundwork to implement a mass deportation plan. A key plank in fulfilling this vision is removing any semblance of discretion and detaining virtually anyone they come across. This includes formerly “low priority” immigrants showing up for routine appointments at ICE and other DHS departments, or attending hearings at our nation’s courthouses.

See below for new disturbing cases from CA, FL, GA, ME, NC, and NJ:

  • In California, the Los Angeles Times reports on the case of Gurmukh Singh of Garden Grove, CA: “As a taxi driver with a diabetic wife, two teenage daughters and elderly parents, Gurmukh Singh worried about his family’s future … On Monday, Singh reported to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Santa Ana, as he has been required to do for several years. But this time, the 46-year-old Garden Grove resident didn’t walk back out.… ‘The request we filed with [ICE] is that they put a temporary stay on Mr. Singh’s deportation based on the … hardship his wife, children and parents will face if he’s deported,’ said immigration attorney Monica Glicken … ICE officials confirmed that Singh does “not have any known criminal convictions in the United States.”
  • In Maine, the Portland Press Herald writes,“Undocumented Maine immigrant, in U.S. for 20 years, now close to deportation: “A Naples man who was detained by federal immigration officers last month as part of the Trump administration’s move to tighten immigration enforcement is on the brink of being deported to Guatemala after living in the United States for about 20 years. Otto Morales-Caballeros, 37, came to the United States alone as a teenager without legal documentation … Morales-Caballeros left Guatemala two decades ago after his brother was murdered and his niece was killed, his wife, Sandra Scribner Merlim, told the Portland Press Herald … Morales-Caballeros and Merlim have been together for 11 years. They married two years ago and do not have children together. At the time of his arrest, Merlim said they were still waiting on a response to their Form I-130, a petition for a relative to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.”
  • In New Jersey, four Indonesian men who fled persecution in their native country during the 1990s are now facing deportation: “An Indonesian refugee was trying her best to sing through her sorrow but the pain of what happened Monday was just too much. Four of her friends, also Indonesian refugees who fled their country in the 1990s, were detained during their routine immigration office check-ins. But this did not unfold the way it has for the past four years — and they were held at a nearby detention center … ‘No criminal records at all whatsoever,’ said the church’s pastor, Seth Kaper-Dale. ‘These are all family people. They’ve been deeply involved in our church and other churches around. They have US citizens kids, they have US citizen grandkids. They’ve got jobs. They’ve got taxes. They’re wonderful people.’”
  • In Georgia, Amanda Sakuma of The Intercept reports that routine traffic stops are increasingly becoming the first step toward deportation for immigrants in the state: “Gwinnett County, one of the most diverse regions in Georgia, has seen an uptick in the number of immigrants caught in removal proceedings by what started as a minor infraction. Local police there flagged nearly 500 people to ICE for potential immigration violations between February and April. Only a fraction of those were linked to charges of serious crime. Of all pending charges that accompanied the referrals, 70 percent were the result of traffic-related violations — most for driving without a license, according to county data on jail admissions compiled by The Intercept.”
  • In North Carolina, a Raleigh woman in the process of obtaining legal immigration status was detained by ICE at her six-month check-in and told that the whole family may have to return to Honduras. Her husband, David Ramirez, was not detained, but was given self-deportation orders: “Ramirez thought he was doing the right thing and taking all the proper steps, but now he and his wife are unsure what is in store for the future. ‘I just could not believe that a family like this would show up for their appointed immigration hearing and then be put in handcuffs before their kids,’ a friend said. The Ramirez’s church family is rallying around them, raising money and reaching out to elected officials in the hopes that they can turn the situation around. ‘My wife and I, we have been very active in the community and we just want to be part of it,’ Ramirez said.”
  • In Florida, Victor Arriaga, a 48-year-old father of four suffering from liver disease, has been deported back to Mexico for minor offenses such as making an improper U-turn and failing to vaccinate a pet: “An immigration judge issued a voluntary departure order for Arriaga in February 1997. Because he never left the country, a final deportation order was issued last month, ICE spokeswoman Tammy Spicer said. Spicer said between March 2005 and Oct. 2012, Arriaga was issued citations alleging several misdemeanor violations. They included driving with a suspended license, violating an open-container ordinance, making an improper U-turn and failing to vaccinate a pet. None of those violations triggered deportation under the Obama administration. Arriaga was allowed to continue living in the U.S., and he checked in with ICE annually…Although Arriaga’s four children, including two born in the U.S., are grown, his son said his absence over the past couple of weeks has put a strain on them. The younger Arriaga was taking midterm exams at the University of South Florida in Tampa when he learned his father had been detained.”