Trump’s ICE Raids Deliver the Message:
All Undocumented Immigrants Are in His Sights
February 17, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In Phoenix, Arizona, Mexican-born Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who was brought to the U.S. by her parents 22 years ago when she was 14, was arrested February 8 by ICE agents while she was checking in at the U.S. immigration office, which she had been doing routinely for years. Garcia de Rayos’s arrest—followed by immediate deportation—triggered resistance in Phoenix and outcries of anger across the U.S. and in Mexico. (Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP)
Arrest during an ICE raid in Los Angeles, February 7.
(Photo: Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)
In the past week, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) carried out immigration raids in at least 11 states, reportedly arresting 600 or more immigrants, and immediately deporting an unknown number. Word of these raids sent a shudder through the hearts of millions of immigrants; and through the hearts of millions more who don’t think like Trump’s “Americans” but think about their neighbors, their friends—about humanity instead. And while ICE and Homeland Security officials would have us believe that this past week was no more than a “ramped-up” version of “deportation-as-usual,” reports by immigrant rights activists and lawyers show that the targets of Trump’s ICE agents have broadened dramatically, to potentially include every undocumented immigrant in the country.
From day one of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump slandered Mexican immigrants, vowing to stop “rapists” and “drug dealers” “coming across our southern border”; “build a wall”; and drive out all the undocumented immigrants already here, whose presence he considers a direct challenge to his promise to make America white again. When Trump was elected, it sent shockwaves through immigrant communities, and left many people paralyzed with fear. Elementary school children in immigrant neighborhoods were discussing it on the playground, then coming home and asking their parents if they were going to have to leave the country. In Los Angeles, immigrants said that police came to their Sunday services to “assure” people that the local police were not going to act as ICE agents and they wouldn’t check the immigrants’ IDs. And Central American refugees who have been denied refugee status once again felt the imminent danger of being sent back to their deaths.
Executive Order Widens the Net for Deportations
Only days after Trump’s inaugural speech, when he proclaimed the fascist slogan “America First,” Trump signed the executive order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” The order widens the criteria for “removal” (in other words, deportation) to potentially include all undocumented immigrants. The order states: “We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.” The clear signal being sent to ICE agents and other law enforcement thugs is that any and all undocumented immigrants are fair game for arrest and deportation.
Since the order says that there aren’t any categories or groups among the undocumented that should be exempt from deportation, this will no doubt include the 750,000 or more undocumented immigrants who qualified for “deferred deportation,” or DACA, when Obama was president. This order also “empowers State and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer ... to the maximum extent permitted by law.” In other words, it authorizes a huge number of additional “immigration officers” to be available when this fascist regime determines that it’s time for massive “search and deport” operations to be carried out.
Raids Across the U.S.
Blocking traffic during a protest of ICE raids throughout the U.S., Las Cruces, New Mexico, February 15. (Photo: Josh Bachman/The Las Cruces Sun-News via AP)
Soon after Trump’s executive order, ICE launched coordinated raids across the country. While ICE and Department of Homeland Security officials repeatedly denied that these raids were anything more than a “surge” in their regular deportation roundups, the reports that came from around the country said otherwise. In city after city immigrants were arrested based on criteria far broader than in the past—consistent with Trump’s new executive order.
In Phoenix, Arizona, Mexican-born Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who was brought to the U.S. by her parents 22 years ago when she was 14, was arrested by ICE agents while she was checking in at the U.S. immigration office, which she had been doing routinely for years. Garcia de Rayos’s arrest—followed by immediate deportation—triggered resistance in Phoenix and outcries of anger across the U.S. and in Mexico.
Daniel Ramirez Medina was arrested by ICE agents and taken to a detention center in Tacoma, Washington, despite having a work permit granted to him after he signed up for DACA. That program had given Ramirez temporary legal status and permitted him to stay and work here. According to the New York Times, when Ramirez showed his permit, ICE agents said, “It doesn’t matter because you weren’t born in this country.” A lawyer with the Public Counsel who helped Ramirez file a lawsuit in this case said, “This is a clear violation of his rights.... There was a solemn promise from the executive branch that they would be protected. People have staked their lives and well-being on that promise.”
In El Paso, Texas, ICE agents entered the courthouse where, according to the Washington Post, a transgender undocumented immigrant—“brought there by a victim’s advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse where she had been living”—was arrested immediately after being granted a protective order against the abusive partner she was living with. This was not just coincidence. The ICE agents had received a tip, apparently from the alleged abuser—and had gone to the courthouse to arrest and deport the victim if she showed up. Imagine the terrible choice that puts before undocumented women: risk repeated beatings, and possible death, at the hands of your abuser—or risk deportation if you seek some kind of legal assistance.
The Post also reported on an undocumented mother of four, a resident of the United States for 20 years, who “sought refuge in the basement of a church this week, rather than check in with authorities, for fear she too would be deported.”
After all of this, and after the repeated lies by officials from ICE and Homeland Security that there was nothing new or extraordinary about their week of terrifying immigrant roundups, Trump himself clarified the origin and purpose of these raids in a tweet: “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”
The fact is that these raids were meant to deliver a message of terror: No matter the age you crossed the border, or how long you have lived in this country... no matter how hard you’ve worked, how much you’ve sacrificed to raise and support your family, and how much you’ve contributed to your community... and no matter how grave the danger you face if you are forced to return to your country, ravaged by U.S. imperialism... nothing can protect you from arrest and deportation under the new regime now in Washington.
In a February 13 piece in the Washington Post’s The Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent writes about Trump’s recent “Muslim ban” and the stepped-up deportation raids. Sargent notes how both were met with “extreme blowback,” or mass protest and resistance, and puts forward his thoughts on what that may mean for the future. The title of his piece contains a warning not to have illusions that these fascists may “grow a heart,” or back off: “Trump’s reign of fear may soon get a whole lot worse.” Sargent suggests that the week of deportation raids, as well as the Muslim ban, may be just the beginning: “These policies may merely be designed to lay the groundwork for something much more ambitious to come—it’s plausible that they may constitute a test run, an initial effort to gauge just how far the administration can go in limiting legal immigration and in expelling undocumented immigrants with longtime ties to U.S. communities.”
As we wrote in “High Stakes in Trump’s War on Sanctuary Jurisdictions”:
...demonization, persecution, and driving immigrants out of the U.S.—at least ones who don’t fit into their definition of “white” ... is central and essential to their hellish agenda to “Make America White Again.” For them, there is no turning back in the war on immigrants. They have whipped up mobs of people who believe they are “entitled” to going back—way back—to a nightmarish era of U.S. history, and worse. That requires the violent ethnic cleansing of America.
What people have done so far in response to Trump’s all-out war on immigrants has been very important and inspiring. The outpourings of tens of thousands of people at airports in response to Trump’s ban on Muslims from seven countries entering the U.S., along with the massive women’s marches the day after Trump’s inauguration, sent a message to the world that there was profound, widespread outrage. The direct action people took, for example, to attempt to prevent the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in Phoenix was righteous—and everyone revolted by the Trump/Pence fascist regime has to be prepared to take that kind of stand.
And as the new Call to Action from Refusefascism.org says:
The Trump/Pence Regime is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is. For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.
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