What is the mission of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)? Its website states:
ICE’s mission is to protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety. This mission is executed through the enforcement of more than 400 federal statutes and focuses on smart immigration enforcement, preventing terrorism and combating the illegal movement of people and goods.
In the past week, ICE has aggressively ramped up its enforcement efforts, sending shockwaves across the nation, as many ponder just how far ICE will go to execute the practically limitless deportation priorities laid out in President Trump’s January 25 Executive Order. The order casts a net so massive that ICE could easily shatter the record of people deported under President Obama. Trump’s actions have instilled fear and anxiety across immigrant communities, and has even spawned scam artists posing as ICE agents and demanding that immigrants pay up to avoid deportation.
While only a small sample of the affected population has come to light thus far, we do know that the locations and individual circumstances of ICE’s targets seem to know no bounds. This includes:
- A woman who was complying with the law and willingly appearing for her regular check-in with ICE. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, age 35, had lived in the United States since she was 14-years-old. She has two U.S. citizen children.
- A domestic violence victim in El Paso seeking a protective order, where it is believed by the El Paso County Attorney that ICE may have been tipped off by the alleged abuser.
- A 23-year-old DACA recipient named Daniel Ramirez Medina, who was arrested in his home in Seattle. Mr. Ramirez has no prior criminal record and has been living in the U.S. since he was 7. However, ICE alleges that he is affiliated with a gang, even though he has twice been vetted for DACA. His attorney firmly states that Mr. Ramirez was repeatedly pressured by ICE agents to falsely admit gang affiliation. With a habeas petition pending, he is still in detention.
- At least two men were arrested near a hypothermia shelter at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, Virginia. The report is that they were surrounded by at least a dozen agents while leaving the shelter.
Do these actions make our country safer? Do you feel more secure now that ICE is arresting these people, lurking outside of churches and courts? How does this advance ICE’s mission of protecting national security and promoting public safety?
Designating virtually every undocumented person as priority for ICE enforcement does nothing more than force more people underground, encourage scam artists looking to prey upon a vulnerable population, erode the relationships and trust between immigrants and law enforcement, and waste valuable resources that could be utilized for smart and more targeted enforcement. So, no, ICE’s recent actions aren’t making us safer.
If you see a raid unfolding, use the power of social media to expose these bad tactics and help protect your community. America’s Voice has a handy guide to show you how to document the action.
In addition, reach out to your legislators and tell them that the Executive Order isn’t doing what it is intended to do. Tell them to support Senate efforts to rescind the EO and urge them to pass legislation requiring ICE to prioritize the deportation of people who pose an actual threat to public safety and national security, rather than hardworking moms, dads, and DREAMers. Demand that ICE stop sowing fear in our communities.
Written by Mo Goldman, Chair, AILA Media Advocacy Committee