Immigration Under Trump

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Immigration Under Trump

Andrea Martinez, Quill Co-Editor

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One of President Trump’s most daunting promises on the campaign trail was his pledge to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants.
“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump told “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl as President-Elect, “But we’re getting them out of our country. They’re here illegally.”
With an executive order signed January 25th, Trump appears to be following through with that promise. That executive order reads that “it is the policy of the executive branch of the United States to detain individuals apprehended on suspicion of violating Federal or State law, including Federal immigration law, pending further proceedings regarding those violations;” (Section 2, part b).
In response, immigration “raids” were conducted in at least six states by ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) the week of February 6th and in the following weeks. Their actions can be classified as “raids” because individuals with deportation orders were rounded up and additional people were found that fit into the executive order’s broad criteria for deportation.
No one is denying it; 2.4 million people were deported under the Obama administration. However, according to the Department of Homeland Security, those immigrants had criminal records. Under Obama’s administration; the scope of whom ICE officials were able to arrest was narrow and 92% of those deported possessed a criminal record.
What makes recent ICE raids so alarming is the fact that Trump’s executive order re-widens this scope. The order allows for not only the deportation of serious offenders, but for undocumented immigrants with minor offenses such as traffic violations or those who have used fake Social Security numbers to find jobs or abuse public benefit programs. Trump’s administration has stressed the focus on immigrants who impose a relevant “threat to public safety.” However, former acting director of ICE under Obama, John Sandweg, bleakly indicates this has little importance to ICE officers. So we’re seeing numbers of those nabbed in raids not reflecting a “threat” climb ever so slightly.
Texas was one of many states where the raids took place in February. According to the Austin-American Statesman, ICE raids in the Austin area, labeled “Operation Cross Check,” resulted in 51 arrests. 23 out of the 51 people arrested had a criminal background and included violent offenders. On the other hand, 28 were deemed “non-criminal” which means that they had committed no crime other than residing in the country illegally. These statistics make the Austin region the number one place in the Unites States for non-criminals arrested in last month’s ICE raids.
Reactions have been fearful in the immigrant community in Austin and around the country, with the Austin teachers’ labor union reporting that many immigrants have opted to keep their children from school for fear of a mass deportation event.
However, not everyone is upset or against the increased deportation operations. “Morale amongst our agents and officers has increased exponentially since the signing of the orders,” the unions representing ICE and Border Patrol agents said after President Trump issued the executive orders on immigration in January. Two officials in Washington said that the shift — and the new enthusiasm that has come with it — seems to have encouraged pro-Trump political comments and remarks from immigration officials about their jobs becoming “fun.”
No matter which side of this polarizing issue you stand on, one thing we must all remember is immigrant’s’ status, not as illegal or legal, but as human. These people fight to exist every day in a country that preaches love, liberty, and freedom. These men, women, and children we are sending back to untellable fates, all carry with them a story. A job, a dream, a purpose, a life- not unlike yours or my own.

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