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Trump’s Mass Deportation Policy Inspires Vigilantism and Violence

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To Some, Immigration Status More Important than Human Status

In a new report for NPR, Josh Burnett finds that President Trump’s “new immigration crackdowns [are] creating ‘chilling effect’ on crime reporting:

Police officials have been warning about the unintended consequences of Trump’s immigration dragnet. They caution it will further isolate immigrants who are in the country illegally and are victims of crimes like sexual assault. In Houston and in other U.S. cities, police and immigrant advocates say: it’s already happening.


“What we’ve created is a chilling effect that we’re already starting to see the beginning of,” [Houston Police Chief Art] Acevedo said. “They’re afraid that we’re more interested as a society in deporting them than we are in bringing justice to the victims of crime.”

As Burnett notes, this is not uniquely a Texas problem, “a new survey of hundreds of victim’s advocates and legal service providers in 48 states finds that immigrants are afraid to call police, afraid to press charges and afraid to testify at trial because ICE is making arrests at courthouses.”

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

The Trump Administration’s mass deportation policy is hurting public safety and fostering a climate of vigilantism and violence.  Instead of making America great again, they’re making America hate again, spreading violence and nativism across the states. Just take a look at our Trump Hate Map and these incidents over the past few days. 

A few of the examples of vigilantism and anti-immigrant sentiment nationwide:

In Maryland, after threatening a rape victim with possible deportation if she goes forward with her charges, Attorney Christos Vasiliades and an interpreter Edgar Rodriguez were indicted this week on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and intimidating a witness. According to the Associated Press, “The men told the couple that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is “looking at this case,” and referred to President Donald Trump’s policies as creating a hostile environment for immigrants in the United States, the indictment said. “You know how things are with Trump’s laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away,” Rodriguez is quoted as saying during the meeting. Rodriquez added: “They’re going to ask, ‘you have your documents?’””

In Reno, Nevada, Héctor Torres, a 44-year old Brooklyn-native and Puerto Rican, was speaking on the phone with his mother, when a man approached and accosted him for nearly ten minutes, for speaking Spanish: “learn how to speak f*** English, you live in America… I feel like a real piece of s** like you can kiss my a**. The entire video is available here from Telemundo.

In Key West, Florida, Marcos Antonio Huete, an immigrant from Honduras, was hit by a car while bicycling to work. Police were called to the scene, but, instead of helping Marcos, they inquired about his status, “You illegal? Are you a legal citizen or no? Speak English? You got ID? Passport, visa, or what?” According to a report from Univision, “According to his sister, Olga Huete, after he was discharged from the hospital a police officer told them to return to the scene of the accident. “He did not tell us why, but we went back because my brother had not done anything. We had no reason to flee.”… Then Border Patrol agents showed up and asked to see Huete’s papers, suspecting him of being undocumented.” Marcos is now detained and faces deportation.

In Minnesota, a part-time metro transit officer is the subject of an internal investigation after he asked a passenger about his legal status, while checking for proof he had paid fare. According to the New York Post, the officer inquired, ““What’s your name?” “That’s not what you gave me. Do you have a state ID? Are you here illegally?”” The officer retreated after another passenger informed him that acting as immigration police is a “very touchy legal territory…I would not act on behalf of another agency if you’re not legally empowered to do so.” The New York Post has the entire video here.

In Arkansas, Eva Hicks was confronted by a woman in Walmart, who informed her that the United States was not her country, and that ‘we’ don’t want her here. The woman instructed Eva to speak English and return to Mexico. When an African-American woman stepped in to defend her, the accoster turned her remarks towards both of them. Finally, an employee intervened to remove the offender. Univision has the full video.

Concluded Tramonte:

Since when is one’s immigration status more important than their status as a human being?  These incidents are reprehensible, but they do not represent the views of a majority of Americans. Trump’s policies are inciting hate and vigilantism, and society needs to stand up against them and in support of policies that make our entire communities safer.