Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

Trump Eliminates Immigration Enforcement Priorities, Putting American Citizens in Peril

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Since the beginning of his campaign for the presidency, Trump has attacked the immigrant community with outrageous lies. He has painted immigrants as “bad hombres” (and nasty women), rapists, drug dealers and criminals.

Now that Trump is President, the campaign rhetoric has moved to policy. You can see when immigration policy officially changed by reading his executive order issued January 25, 2017, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”

Previous administrations had prioritized targeting immigrants who posed a danger to the community, since immigration enforcement cost more money, time and human resources than the U.S. could afford to allocate.

The Trump administration has shifted immigration enforcement policy priorities to target everyone, no matter how valuable the individual is to his or her family and the community. In fact, the term “priority” is now null.

All undocumented immigrants are targets for detention and deportation.

When immigration enforcement priorities are nonexistent, the results are disastrous. Here, you can see a viral video of a mother being snatched from the streets by ICE agents while her children scream in terror. There was no warrant or evidence for their arrest.

ICE responded to the outrage this video produced by calling the action “a targeted operation to arrest a woman who allegedly has ties to a transnational smuggling organization.”

The American Immigration Council published a paper last week describing what the abandonment of priorities means and the impact it has in communities. Read the complete study here.

DHS under Trump walks away from former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s directive and memos, which spelled out immigration enforcement priorities to target:

  1. threats to national security or public safety, including most migrants with criminal convictions of any kind;
  2. undocumented migrants who recently crossed the border; and
  3. migrants who didn’t heed a previous order of removal, or who re-entered the country after being deported.

With this dramatic policy shift, DHS severely curtails the ability of immigration agents and courts to exercise prosecutorial discretion or to balance the individual’s equities when making case decisions.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to the American Immigration Council study, citing ICE statistics, “between January 25, 2017, and the end of fiscal year (FY) 2017 (September 30, 2017), ICE made 110,568 arrests – a 42 percent increase over the 77,806 arrests made during the same period in 2016.”

ICE also reported a number of questionable statistics. For example, ICE stated that 92 percent of arrests during that time were of individuals who either had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges. But the American Immigration Council study notes that it is problematic for ICE to group together people convicted of crimes with those only charged with a crime. Additionally, DHS is classifying individuals as “criminal” to include persons with traffic offenses, immigration offenses and possession of drugs, making the accounting misleading.

The Trump administration is making real its campaign promises of criminalizing a whole group of individuals.

Where does all this lead to?

We know.

When the current administration dedicates resources to persecuting innocent people, it takes away resources to investigate real crime and real criminals.

Just ask Maricopa County residents what happened when Arpaio’s immigration crusades and anti-constitutional immigration saturation patrols took resources away from investigating hundreds of child sex abuse cases.

“This shift away from enforcement priorities and into blind enforcement is socially destructive. At the most pragmatic level, it wastes finite law-enforcement resources on the apprehension and removal of people who represent no danger to public safety,” the study authors state, noting that this draconian immigration enforcement tears apart the social fabric of the U.S.

The men and women caught in this misguided effort are very likely parents of U.S. citizens and have extensive connections with their communities. 4.1 million U.S. citizen children live with at least one undocumented parent.

The lack of priorities means fewer resources to prosecute criminals and brings poverty and hardship to hundreds of thousands of families. It is not good for the USA.