Just when I thought the Trump Administration couldn’t sink any further, news broke yesterday that 19-year-old Diego Ismael Puma Macancela of Ecuador was arrested by ICE agents just hours before his high school senior prom. The only crime Diego was charged with was being brought to live in Ossining, New York years ago by his mother who had been arrested by ICE the day before. Trump’s ICE Gestapo has once again protected Americans from another “bad hombre” who was guilty of attending high school, dating and hoping to attend his senior prom.
Week after week, reports of noncriminal immigrant arrests are becoming more frequent and normalized. It is now common for ICE agents to suddenly appear in municipal courts to round up noncriminal immigrants. Large cities like San Francisco, Denver, Nashville and Memphis all reported arrests by ICE agents at their court houses. More shockingly though, raids are being conducted in smaller towns like those that occurred on Thursday night in Monterey and Santa Cruz, California.
Now Reuters is reporting that the administration is arresting and deporting immigrants who were given protected status from deportations by the Obama Administration. These immigrants were deemed to be of no threat to the American public and typically came from war torn countries such as El Salvador. Many of these immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens.
Trump previously claimed that noncriminal aliens had nothing to fear from his administration, even going so far as to feign sympathy for those children who were brought here by their parents and were registered under the DACA Program. For these immigrant children, the United States is the only home they’ve ever known. They have never even been to their birth countries. Yet day after day, the Trump Administration is quietly picking them up at their homes, schools and neighborhoods and shipping them back to these unfamiliar countries.
DACA registered immigrants have even more reason to fear ICE since the government has all their information: addresses, schools, churches and relatives. Should they try to move and not report their change of address, they will be violating the law drawing even more attention to themselves.
Of a more curious note is the trend of deportations that involve students who are known immigrant rights activists. Claudia Rueda is but one example of who Trump is targeting and silencing with deportation orders. Rueda has lived in the U.S. since she was 7-years-old and could not register as a DACA immigrant because her family couldn’t afford the nearly $500 fee. This "bad mujer" was studying immigrant rights at Cal State and was an outspoken activist. That was until a month ago when ICE secretly arrested her and detained her more than 130 miles away in San Diego without notifying her family of her whereabouts.
Rueda was released from jail this weekend by immigration judge Annie Garcy who found that her detention without a bond and for such a lengthy time was severe. Trump's immigration lawyers argued that she should at least have to wear an ankle bracelet monitoring her whereabouts because of her criminal history of protesting in support of immigrant rights. Justice Garcy scoffed at this claim stating, "Really?" and ordered her release.
According to a Salon.com report that analyzed ICE statistics for the 1st quarter of 2017, only 6% of immigrant arrests under Trump have involved those convicted of violent crimes. The administration claims that upwards of 75% of those arrested had criminal convictions, but as the author pointed out, “criminal” can mean many things. The data does not state what crimes these immigrants are convicted of. They could have been convicted of driving without a license or working without a green card; both of which are not afforded to undocumented immigrants. Overall, ICE arrests are up 38% since Trump took office. Over 10,000 of those arrests were of noncriminal aliens.
If noncriminal immigrants and DACA registered aliens have nothing to fear from Trump, why then do they not release these children and young adults? Why are they not focusing on criminal aliens like they promised they would? As I recall during the election, Trump trotted out those who had family members murdered by criminal aliens and promised to arrest those responsible. I’m old enough to remember his claim of criminal immigrants lurking around every corner just waiting to attack helpless American citizens.
Once again, Trump has lied to the American voter.
Jenn Budd is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @jenn_budd.