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Trump’s Deportation Force Targets the Most Vulnerable

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As we highlighted yesterday, there are no lingering doubts: Trump’s Deportation Force is targeting all 11 million undocumented immigrants, including DACA-recipients, domestic violence survivors, and those seeking shelter at a church.

A new piece from the La Opinión editorial board encapsulates the heart of the problem: “It is impossible to limit this order to only capture dangerous undocumented people. Its vagueness reveals a different intention: to deport whoever they can, whether it is a Dreamer, a working mother or a murderer.”

El Paso, TX: Transgender Domestic Violence Survivor 

Last week, an undocumented transgender woman appeared in court to testify regarding domestic violence charges: “Last fall the undocumented immigrant filed her first of three police reports against her live-in boyfriend, whom she accused of punching, kicking and choking her, and of pulling her hair. A report from December alleged… that after failing to stab her with a knife, the boyfriend threw the blade at her instead,” according to the Washington Post.

When she finished her testimony, ICE agents were waiting outside the courtroom to arrest her, after receiving an anonymous tip from someone who knew the exact time and location of her hearing, as well as her legal status – most likely her abuser. The message this sends out is unmistakable: if you are undocumented and look to the criminal justice system for protection from domestic abuse, all your abuser has to do is call ICE and you could be picked up.

Jackson, Mississippi: Danielle Vargas, DACA-recipient

Yesterday, ICE agents entered Danielle Vargas’ home in Mississippi unannounced and detained her father, who was trying to have his visa reinstated, and her undocumented brother.

As reported by Mississippi News Now, “”I’ve been here for 17 years and this is the most scared I’ve ever been,” Vargas said, with her voice trembling. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know what happens in the next 30 minutes. I just want to see my Dad.””

While Danielle is a DACA-recipient, she has barricaded herself in her home, fearful that ICE will return and detain and deport her. As we’ve seen in the Daniel Ramirez Medina case, DACA is no longer protecting the immigrant youth from Trump’s Deportation Force.

Fairfax County, Virginia

Last night, Oscar Ramirez left the hypothermia shelter at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria with a group of fellow Latino men. Immediately upon crossing the street, they were surrounded by a dozen ICE agents.  The agents began questioning the group regarding legal status and scanning their fingerprints — six men were arrested.

As reported by NBC 4 Washington, “”They were clearly targeting the church because they knew that they stayed here in the hypothermia shelter. So they were waiting for them to cross the street and then jump on them,” said Rising Hope Mission Church Rev. Keary Kincannon.”

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, said, “ICE has been given the green light to arrest, detain, and deport any and all of the 11 million, and they’re charging ahead at full speed. Those most affected by his policies are the already vulnerable populations – a domestic violence survivor, men seeking shelter on a cold February night, DACA-recipients. This is not how we make America safe again, this is how we begin a mass deportation strategy.”

Ice agents, particularly those led by Border Patrol Union President Chris Crane, have long wanted this green light. As Linda Greenhouse summarizes in the New York Times, union members fought against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program; endorsed then-candidate Donald Trump based on his hardline immigration stance; and resisted President Obama’s deportation prioritization memo. “[This] matters because along with entrusting our immigration enforcers to keep us safe, in the president’s often-tweeted phrase, we also entrust them with the responsibility of treating unauthorized immigrants not as prey but as human beings entitled to dignity, even if only minimally to due process,” according to Greenhouse.

The Washington Post editorial board weighs in as well, contending that Trump’s end goal is a fear regime:

“It is hard to imagine what purpose is served by focusing on immigrants with clean records, unless instilling terror in immigrant communities is the goal. Of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, most have been in this country for more than 15 years. Roughly 8 million of them are in the workforce. Large numbers have children, spouses and other relatives who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. They are part of this country’s fabric, and to deport them en masse is wrong.”