Since President Trump has taken office, every day brings a new immigration nightmare: reports of undocumented families broken apart, Dreamers apprehended, and asylum seekers held in detention. Each of these stories is deeply troubling and cries out for greater attention, but there are so many that it is overwhelming and impossible to keep track of what has happened in each case. There is barely time to evaluate how dramatically the enforcement of immigration laws has changed in a single year.
AILA’s report, Cogs in the Deportation Machine, surveys these changes in immigration enforcement and brings into focus how the administration has marshalled the many tools of enforcement into an incredibly powerful deportation machine. Contrary to the administration’s public claims that it is concentrating on threats to national security and public safety, the report shows that the administration has gone to great lengths to deport as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, with little regard for the financial cost or the impact upon American communities.
Upon hearing the stories of people targeted under the Trump administration, I could no longer doubt that everyone is now at risk of deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is targeting adults who step forward to care for unaccompanied children if those adults are undocumented, even if it means a victimized child may end up in detention or deported back to danger. ICE is pursuing people who have valid claims for relief, including victims of crimes who have helped police officers investigate serious criminal cases. ICE is even deporting the parents of children who are being treated for special medical needs. Under this new regime, it seems there are no equities compelling enough and no contribution great enough for someone to warrant an exercise of discretion.
Every day, AILA members represent clients who experience the cruelty of these policies firsthand. Katja* and Ernst* had been checking in with ICE regularly for 17 years when Katja was suddenly arrested by ICE on her way to work. She is currently in detention, and her husband is fearful he might be arrested at any time. Targeting Katja and Ernst not only hurts them but also hurts their 10-year old U.S. citizen son, who is autistic, non-verbal, and needs constant care. Ernst works with elderly veterans who will no longer have his help if he is deported. Terrorizing their family does not make our country safer, it weakens our nation.
Congress has already funded federal immigration enforcement at the highest level in history: ICE and CBP’s budgets amount to nearly $20 billion dollars. Yet the President has asked Congress for billions more. To what end? To increase the number of ICE agents, Border Patrol agents, and detention beds. These funds would enable the administration to implement the policies described in this report and more policies announced in the President’s 2017 Executive Orders but not yet implemented. Congress – and the American public – need to reject these increases as inhuman, excessive, and unnecessary.
This report clearly shows what is happening across the nation day after day. We cannot let this stand. Take action by contacting Congress and urging your Congressional delegation to deny funding the deportation machine even further. Share this report through your networks to amplify the message. Make sure that as many people as possible know what is happening. Every cog in the deportation machine is hurting our communities and we need to stand together against that harm.
* Names changed for privacy