Under Trump, ICE has become a blunt instrument, a club to threaten all immigrants. Hardliners inside ICE say that Trump “took off the handcuffs.” That means giving them complete free rein to go after any undocumented immigrant any time, and also to pursue legal residents with old or new criminal charges. In How Trump Radicalized ICE, Atlantic magazine describes these tactics:
“[S]elf-deportation or, more clinically, attrition through enforcement … holds that the government doesn’t have the resources to round up and remove the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the nation, but it can create circumstances unpleasant enough to encourage them to exit on their own. … Through deprivation and fear, the government can essentially drive undocumented immigrants out of the country….”
This cruelty is not a response to increased immigration or to any actual threat to US. security. On the contrary:
“The Pew Research Center has estimated that there were 1.3 million fewer undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States in 2016 than in 2007. Even with the recent surge of Central Americans fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, illegal border crossings are a fraction of what they were in the 1980s and ’90s. In 2000, the U.S. apprehended 1.7 million people crossing the southwest border; last year, it nabbed just over 300,000.”
The “radicalization” of ICE, rooted in racism, is expressed daily in what has become routine enforcement, such as the deportation of the wife of a U.S. combat veteran, a woman who has lived in the United States for 20 years. The ongoing family separation, so careless of human beings that no records were kept to connect parents and children, may result in permanent “orphans” who can never find their parents:
“[M]any addresses the administration provided won’t aid reunification. Some simply said “in DHS custody” or “failed to provide,” according to the ACLU.
“The organization estimated that records for 120 parents outside the U.S. — more than one-quarter the total deported without their kids — may lack viable addresses.
“According to the court filing, some records simply say “calle sin nombre” (street without a name) or list the name of a city.”
If you need any reminders of conditions in ICE custody:
- A child died just after release from ICE custody; a 62-year-old woman while in custody.
- In violation of its own policies, ICE continues to detain pregnant women in their third trimester. In this case, there’s no ob/gyn on site and the nearest major hospital is more than an hour away.
- A diabetic man arrested in a workplace raid in Tennessee was denied medicati on in ICE custody and lost the sight in one eye as a result of the lack of medical care.
- An employee at a shelter for immigrant children in Phoenix has been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl housed at the facility.
- Immigrant children were stripped, drugged, and strapped to chairs in privately-owned detention centers under contract with the U.S. government.
In contrast, here’s what the government is required to do with detained children:
“The Flores settlement established standards for the treatment of unaccompanied minors who were in the custody of federal authorities for violating the immigration laws. It requires the federal government to place children with a close relative or family friend “without unnecessary delay,” rather than detaining them; and to keep immigrant children who are in custody in the “least restrictive conditions” possible. Generally speaking, this has meant migrant children can only be kept in federal immigrant detention for 20 days.”
Lawsuits and courts offer one way to resist anti-immigrant policies. Several court cases in different states successfully challenged Trump’s rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The latest ruling from a DC court reverses that rescission, but will be stayed pending appeal. In Texas, an anti-DACA lawsuit will have a hearing this week before a judge generally unfriendly to DACA and immigrants. .
Resistance takes other forms, too. In Tennessee, local residents rallied around Gonzalo Chavez, bonded him out of ICE custody, and are trying to figure out ways to keep him in Morristown. The Independent reports on “grannies, veterans, and angry aunts” organizing across the country to provide direct aid to immigrants and to oppose Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. A Facebook fundraiser went viral, raising more than $20 million for RAICES to provide aid to separated families and immigrants at the border. Small groups of neighbors organize daily, local vigils under the slogan #StandOnEveryCorner, registering their protest daily. I’m going out to stand with my local group at Fairview and Marshall in St. Paul—send me photos from your group, and I’ll publish them here.