First Deportation Under Trump’s Fascist Order on Immigrants:
“We're living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants"
Updated February 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Wednesday, February 8, 200 immigrant rights supporters rushed to the U.S. Immigration office in Phoenix, Arizona as word went out that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents had just arrested a 36-year-old mother of two children and were going to deport her. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, the immigrant who was arrested, has been living, working, and raising a family in this country since coming here with her parents when she was 14.
Donald Trump has issued three executive orders radically escalating the war on immigrants: the ban on Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven countries; one threatening sanctuary jurisdictions; and a third that orders government agencies “to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States.” In the context of a campaign filled with vicious lies and threats against immigrants, that opens the door to deportation of any and every undocumented immigrant in this country. In that light, Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, Garcia de Rayos’ lawyer, described what this arrest represents: “We are living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants.”
For hours the protesters blocked enforcement vans from leaving the U.S. Immigration office in Phoenix. A group sat down in front of the van Guadalupe was in, while one protester wrapped his arm around the axle inside the tire well. At 10 p.m., as people chanted “Power to the people, no one is illegal,” police arrested seven demonstrators. Sometime after that the van left, but no one was told, not even her family, whether Guadalupe was sent to a detention facility or taken to the border and deported. In fact, she was immediately deported. The fact that there was no legitimate purpose to single out Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos for arrest and deportation at this time sends an ominous message among immigrants that from now on, no one is safe. Her daughter, in tears, said: “To me this is an injustice. She has always worked to give us a good education.”
Guadalupe was arrested on Wednesday when she went to the immigration office to check in with ICE officials, the same way she had been doing, every six months, since 2009. In 2008 she was arrested in one of the work-site raids carried out by former Maricopa County Sheriff, the pig Joe Arpaio. Those raids have since been challenged in the courts as being unconstitutional. Garcia de Rayos entered a guilty plea for “identity theft” because she had been working with false papers. People in this country without papers, trying to feed themselves and their families, often must use phony IDs to get work. Despite her conviction, for eight years she had been allowed to live in Arizona, as long as she reported every six months to ICE. This time, in the wake of Trump’s order, Guadalupe was arrested and deported.
One young protester said, “Lupita was a victim of Arpaio’s raids, and now she’s a victim of Trump’s deportation machine.”
Sign of What’s to Come
Trump launched his presidential campaign by declaring he is an “America First,” anti-immigrant bigot. He has worked overtime to criminalize immigrants from Mexico, calling them “rapists,” “criminals,” and “drug dealers.” Trump has repeatedly made clear his intention to have everyone in this country without documents deported. And he has called for three million undocumented immigrants to be deported this year.
His new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is just as rabid a xenophobic bigot as Trump. In his statement when sworn in, he made it clear that in his eyes, there is no place at all in this country for undocumented immigrants, and there will be no path to citizenship—regardless of how many years of brutal exploitation, degradation, and fear they have endured or the magnitude of the contributions they have made. He said, “We need a lawful system of immigration. One that serves the interests of the people of the United States... We admit a million people a year plus, lawfully, and we need to end this lawlessness that threatens the public safety, pulls down wages of working Americans.” Sessions wasted no time getting the deportation machine in gear—he met with law enforcement officials involved with immigration roundups even before he was approved by the Senate.
Obama earned himself the title “Deporter-in-Chief” from immigration activists after he topped the two million mark for deportations during his presidency—the highest number of deportations under any administration in the history of this country. Trump’s fascist regime now threatens to bring horror on top of horror. His executive order calls for a dramatic increase in Border Patrol agents and an increase in the number of immigrant detention centers. In order to fill their “quotas,” immigration agents are already targeting people for deportable “crimes” as minor as a traffic infraction—or the eight-year-old victimless “crime” committed by Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos who was only trying to get work to support herself and others.
Further, as we wrote about Trump’s executive order on immigrants:
Trump is not just targeting people with criminal convictions. Also in his sights are people who “have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved” (emphasis added), and people who “In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security,” and people engaged in “fraud or willful misrepresentation....” In other words, anyone who has committed the “crime” of being an immigrant working at some crap job in this country. Anyone picked up while they’re waiting for a bus or coming out of a subway station speaking Spanish. Anyone who some racist cop thinks looks “suspicious,” or maybe just “looks Latino,” and gets hauled to jail. Anyone languishing in a county jail month after month, never charged with anything. Anyone who overstayed a student visa, or made a minor mistake on a visa application. (From “Trump Criminalizes Millions of Immigrants and Threatens ‘Sanctuary Cities’”)
The coming to power of the Trump-Pence fascists has already struck fear in immigrant communities around the country: Men and women dreading the possibility of being arrested at work, their children left to come home to find out their parents have been taken away and deported. And children terrified that they will come home and find their parents have been taken away. These kinds of conversations are taking place among five-year-old children in elementary schools. A spokesperson for Puente Arizona, the immigrant rights group that rallied supporters to rush to the Phoenix immigration station, said he anticipates that other undocumented immigrants who have been released on supervision like Guadalupe will stop checking in with ICE and go into hiding.
The plans of this fascist regime are inhumane and criminal, and must be resisted. The response of those who stopped the ICE buses in Phoenix is righteous—and everyone revolted by the Trump-Pence fascist regime has to be prepared to join them.
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