There are chilling reports from around the nation of extraordinary activity by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). From Southern California to South Brooklyn, ICE agents are conducting coordinated raids targeting a population, mostly Latino, which officials describe as primarily “Criminal Illegal Aliens.” ICE maintains that the raids are nothing more or less than compliance with the President’s campaign pledge to prioritize enforcement and target undocumented immigrants who represent a danger to U.S. citizens. According to ICE, “criminal aliens” make up between 75%-95% of those being detained in the current raids.
Even if that is true, there is no doubt that the heightened ICE activity has sown terror in Latino immigrant communities. They are uncertain about what the apparent crackdown means to them. There are widespread reports of immigrant families keeping their children home from school for fear they will be tracked home, where their parents would be apprehended and held for deportation. In Arizona, a 36-year old mother of two U.S. citizen children was deported to Mexico because she was a convicted felon. Her non-violent crime was using a fake Social Security card.
There are urgent questions being asked by representatives of heavily Hispanic districts. Is that the type of criminal ICE means to target? How does the deportation of that Arizona housewife who has been in the United States since she was 14 make America either Greater or Safer? If, the federal government is determined to prioritize immigration enforcement and focus on drug dealers, killers, robbers, domestic abusers and gangbangers, why have they waited until now to launch this crackdown?
Could this really be retaliation for the spread of sanctuary cities and states? Does the re-energized ICE represent the feared “Deportation Force” so many suggested in the buildup to the November presidential election?” In their round up, will ICE next target the otherwise law-abiding “Dreamer” kids now enjoying deportation deferrals? Brought here through no fault of their own, they are currently living in terror of the unknown. Is their entire way of life is in jeopardy?
The actions of President Donald Trump are generating profound uncertainty. In part, that is because the language used to promote his immigration policies is unnecessarily harsh and unforgiving. A backlash is inevitable. Of note to me in the ICE raids of the last week is how local and state cops appear to be playing no active role in assisting the feds in the immigrant roundup. ICE is on its own, and that is the future of immigration enforcement throughout Blue State America.
The frontline in America’s culture clash will be in our Sanctuary states, cities, towns, universities and churches that have declared they will not cooperate with federal immigration authorities when it comes to the undocumented. The declaration that a jurisdiction is a sanctuary does not mean criminals are allowed to go free. It means local cops refuse to enforce federal immigration laws.
That fact causes sputtering rage among conservatives. How dare these political, educational and religious institutions defy the federal government in its righteous quest to rid the homeland of these illegal trespassers? Why do California, Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut have policies that limit cooperation with the federal government? Why do most of Colorado, Oregon and Washington State, and 364 counties and 39 cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore and Washington DC have similar policies of non-cooperation?
There is an easy answer; it is the right thing to do. These communities say they need the undocumented immigrants to be able to call 911 to report a crime or fire or abusive spouse or call for an ambulance or be able to speak to a school counselor or any other authority without fear of being reported to immigration authorities and being deported.
They have declared themselves Sanctuary cities because the law and the Constitution are on their side. Federal courts across the country, in at least three federal circuit courts, the 1st, 3rd and 7th have found that compliance with federal immigration authorities is strictly voluntary. Further, if the federal government were to attempt to commandeer, that is, nationalize county sheriffs or local cops to work the immigration beat that would violate long-standing precedent. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that such a move would violate the Tenth Amendment.
The deportation roundup is not the only punitive anti-Mexican/Latino thing going on. It comes as President Trump pushes for his $21 Billion Great Wall on the Southern Border, along with his promise to re-negotiate NAFTA to the detriment of Mexico, and his concurrent pledge to punish any U.S. business thinking of re-locating to Mexico. In other words, we will attack your jobs and make sure you don’t sneak into the United States to steal any of ours.
There is a fundamental reason why no one in the current Administration speaks to or for the Latino community. Our 45th President did not see fit to name a high-ranking Latino to his inner circle. The nation’s largest minority group, about 18% of the entire U.S. population is not well represented in the Trump Administration. That lack of a Hispanic voice in the President’s ear may be one reason his announced immigration policies are being greeted with fear and anger by so many. It is up to the voting public and our representatives to demand fairness, compassion and reason. America’s Latinos also want the best for America, and we deserve to be represented in the White House.
By Geraldo Rivera