This morning, CASA rallied outside the White House to protest the detention and deportation of Liliana Cruz Mendez – a mother of two US citizen children and resident of Falls Church, VA – as well as three other undocumented parents with no criminal records who are currently being detained.
These cases exemplify the pattern of “silent raids” that ICE has used to bolster its numbers of arrests – targeting settled immigrants who have been living in the country for a decade or more, have U.S. citizen children, and have nothing on their record that even remotely suggests they are dangerous.
They also show that, despite Trump and John Kelly’s rhetoric, DHS is focused on deporting any immigrant and every immigrant they can find – choosing “easy targets” such as those attending government check-ins who have no criminal records.
And, as Boston NPR affiliate WBUR highlights, “looking at a breakdown of the arrests made by ICE since January, it’s clear that non-criminals are being arrested at a higher clip. Nationwide, the number has more than doubled compared to the same time last year…”This administration is carrying out the mass deportation agenda that it promised on the campaign trail,” says Sarah Sherman-Stokes, a clinical instructor at Boston University’s Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program.”
Recent deportations and family separations
Following is a round-up of recent examples of how Trump/Kelly’s Deportation Force is focused on exactly the wrong targets:
In San Diego, four children are now left to fend for themselves as both parents were detained and are facing deportation. Francisco Duarte and Rosenda Perez, longtime San Diego residents with no criminal records, had to ask their 19 year old son Francisco to care for the other children – a 17 year old and a pair of 12 year old twins. Francisco explains: “I’ve been trying to cope with this as much as I can…Trying to get my sisters ready for school. At the end of the day, I’ve got to be there for my family,” according to NBC San Diego.
In Massachusetts and North Carolina, immigrants facing potential deportation have taken sanctuary in local churches. In MA, a 26-year-old was kidnapped and brought to the United States against her will. Eventually, she escaped and settled in Waltham, MA, starting a family that now includes two US citizen children. Last winter, she lost her asylum case and was ordered to return to Ecuador; instead she stayed, too fearful to return to the place where “the man who forced her to come to the United States is threatening to kill her and her daughters” according to the Boston Globe.
In NC, Juana Ortega, a grandmother, applied for asylum after she escaped violence in Guatemala 24 years ago. Her case was rejected, because she returned to Guatemala to care for her sick daughter. Ortega has had regularly scheduled check-ins with ICE for the past six years, but at her April check-in, she was told to prepare for deportation.
Esther Lee at ThinkProgress has the story: ““I’ve never done any of those things — I’ve never sold drugs, I’ve never robbed anyone, I’ve never walked the streets, I’ve never lived off the government,” Ortega said. “I’ve worked the whole time. I do not consider myself a criminal. I feel good about being an American. I understand why they would want to deport people who have done bad things, but some people like me who haven’t done anything wrong, it doesn’t seem like it’s fair,” Ortega added.”
The Washington Post highlights how a former Somali intelligence officer who helped save American lives and was promised protection is now facing deportation. Maria Sacchetti writes:
retired federal agents tell a different story about the thin, bespectacled father who has been sitting in an immigration jail since late March. They say he is a confidential FBI informant who risked his own safety to save American lives and should have received a Green Card. Instead, he faces deportation to a country where his history of spying for the United States could get him killed…
“He’s getting a raw deal,” said Richard J. Lauria, a former immigration special agent assigned to the country’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. “He went above and beyond, and he shouldn’t be in the position that he is now.” The man says he told the FBI two weeks before his arrest that he would no longer be an informant…“They are using this as a leverage for me to continue to cooperate,” the man said in an interview before the April hearing. “Or otherwise, ‘we’re gonna send you back to Somalia,’ where I will definitely be killed.”
In Nashville, TN, mixed-status families live in constant fear as they prepare for ICE agents to rip apart their families. Parents are teaching their US citizen children how to pay bills, who to call, and how to respond if and when they’re left parentless. “Some Nashville immigrants have changed their daily routines, forming contingency plans and filing powers of attorney so their children will be cared for in case they are deported. Many also report they don’t trust local law enforcement and are reluctant to report crimes, visit a health clinic or drive their children to school,” the Tennessean reports.
A Los Angeles Times column by Scott Martelle, “A single deportation ruling spotlights the conflict between the legal and the just,” provides a broader context on why mass deportation is the wrong policy.
[T]his heartless policy is doing more damage than any possible good. Children left without a parent, and spouses without a partner in an economy in which it takes two incomes to get by. Businesses losing workers. Neighborhoods living in fear of immigration agents, and victims — particularly of rape and domestic violence — swallowing their pain and not reporting crimes lest they, too, get kicked out. The left and the right both know that the nation desperately needs comprehensive immigration reform, but the conservatives in Congress killed the last plan in 2013, and have done little to address the issue since. It’s a problem they like to complain about, but not do anything about. In fact, Republicans now control both chambers of Congress and the White House, but still they have no solution — and aren’t even talking about it, content to let Trump’s draconian deportations suffice as policy. That is an indefensible abrogation of their duties to legislate solutions to national problems.
Said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
Every day, Trump’s Deportation Force continues to deport people who are working hard and raising families, with no care for how this affects people’s lives, including the children’s. This is an outrageous misuse of taxpayer resources, going after people who are helping our country and doing everything the government has asked them to do, rather than those who wish us harm. As an American, I am disgusted by what Trump’s Deportation Force is doing to families, children, and entire communities.