We knew it was going to happen. It was only a matter of time.
On the campaign trail and shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump insisted he was only going to deport the “bad hombres.” Many believed him. Unfortunately, it appears those on the other side who did not believe him were correct.
Immigration lawyers from coast to coast are reporting individuals who pose no risk, with minimal or no criminal records, are being targeted for deportation.
Over 90 percent of removal proceedings in the first two months of Trump’s tenure have been against people who have committed no crime other living in the country undocumented. Early figures on deportation arrests show the number of people arrested without criminal records has doubled.
William Stock is president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He said:
“The Trump administration has expanded deportation priorities to anyone with a removal order, even where there are good reasons not to execute it.”
Bruce Coane, an immigration attorney operating out of Florida and Texas, said:
“The president says one thing and his homeland security officials in the field do something different. He says he is focused on serious criminals but ICE (Immigration Code Enforcement) is deporting anyone who is undocumented.”
ICE reported to The Guardian it is prioritizing cases that fall within seven categories, from those charged with a criminal offense to those who “pose a risk to public safety or national security.” However, it added:
“While criminal aliens and those who pose a threat to public safety will continue to be a focus, DHS [Department of Homeland Security] will NOT exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and removal from the United States.”
Sadly, this has been building for some time. Border patrol officials are detaining US citizens at border crossings based on racial profiling. A California judge had to order ICE officials to stop lurking around courthouses for people to detain and possibly deport. Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks stated healthcare would be more affordable if we “deported illegal aliens.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked “God’s blessing to deport people.” The Department of Homeland Security has asserted its intent to separate parents detained at our southern border from their their children. The assault just keeps coming.
“Bad hombres” are being rounded up for minor misdemeanors, like traffic tickets.
José Gutiérrez Castañeda is one such example. He reported to the San Bernardino, California courthouse last month to pay overdue fines for driving without a license and failing to obtain car insurance. Most would simply be able to pay what they owe and return on their way. However, Gutiérrez Castañeda did not expect ICE officials to be at the courthouse sniffing around for easy prey. Within hours, Gutiérrez Castañeda was in an immigration detention facility facing removal from the only country he has known since age seventeen.
Gutiérrez Castañeda said:
“All this happened to me just for two tickets for driving violations. “I’ve never been in trouble with the police, and I was going to court to settle my affairs – it’s all very confusing.”
Gutiérrez Castañeda was released from detention last week on $7,500 bail, but he must report back to the ICE office in San Bernardino to learn his fate. He is bracing for detention again and possible deportation. Should this occur, he will leave behind a one-year-old daughter and wife, who came to the US as a child and whom President Obama granted temporary legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a “Dreamer.” Trump said he would “work something out” for those Dreamers and leave them alone.
Francisco Rodríguez is as “Dreamer” as well. He came here from Michoacán, Mexico when he was five years old. He mentors children in the same school in Portland, Oregon he attended as a kindergartner, coaches an after-school soccer team, volunteers at his church, and helps run a food pantry for low-income children.
On March 26, ICE agents acted on a drunk-driving incident from last year to which Rodríguez was linked. Treated as a misdemeanor, he was about to finish a diversion program which would have expunged all mention of it from his record. But it was deemed sufficient to have him picked up and held overnight. Now out on bond, he lives with the threat of deportation hanging over him.
A mainstay of President Trump’s rhetoric during his campaign was that undocumented immigrants pose a higher risk to public safety. According to the New York Times, however, several studies conducted over many years have concluded immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States, and that available evidence does not support the idea that undocumented immigrants commit a disproportionate share of crime.
Apparently, Trump’s connotation of “bad hombres” is markedly different from most others’.
Featured image from YouTube video.