US immigration authorities is reporting the arrest ofhundreds of unauthorized immigrants in six states. The raids, authorized in Trump's January 26 executive order, occurred Monday through Friday of this week.
According to Gillian Christensen with the Department of Homeland Security, the raids (or as she prefers to call them, "targeted enforcement actions) took place in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and in wider areas of North and South Carolina.
However, the Washington Post reports immigration activists documented "ICE raids of unusual intensity during the past two days in Florida, Kansas, Texas, and northern Virginia."
According to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Homes and businesses were targeted.
Nevertheless, activists captured video documenting raids in shopping areas, door-to-door searches in immigrant communities, and at roadway checkpoints.
According to Christensen, those arrested were "threats to public safety or a threat to the integrity of the immigration system." She said most of those snared were serious criminals, including some who had been convicted of murder and domestic voilence.
Others with ICE said "many" of those detained had criminal histories that included child sex crimes, weapons, and assault charges.
Those assertions are being questioned by Rep. Joaquin Castro who said in a statement last night, "“I am asking ICE to clarify whether these individuals are in fact dangerous, violent threats to our communities, and not people who are here peacefully raising families and contributing to our state.”
Also last night, California's Senator Diane Feinstein said in a statement, "These reports show the serious consequences of the president's executive order, which allows all undocumented immigrants to be categorized as criminals and requires increased enforcement in communities, rather than prioritizing dangerous criminals."
This is the first time since Pres. Obama's second term that unauthhorized immigrants with no crimial history have been detained. During his first term, he authorized several broad sweeps that were met with vocal opposition from immigration activist groups. During his second term, Pres. Obama changed his policy, using night raids to minimize panic and narrowed actions that targeting specific individuals or activities that posed a clear risk to the public.
These raids have the glaring footprint of jackbooted thugs. They are being conducted in daylight, in grand scale, detaining as many unauthorized immigrants as can be found, to create the maximum amount of panic possible, to send the clear message to unauthorized and mixed-status residents that regardless of one's peaceful life and significant contribution to this country, you are not welcome here and will you be deported if found.
The message has been received. Immigrants are panicking. They are staying home from work, kids are not attending school, and few are answering knocks on the door.
In a powerful show of support, Spanish language radio stations and the Los Angeles NPR affiliate have been airing public service announcements about the hourly "Know Your Rights" seminars the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles has been conducting.
Additionally, The Hill reports, Diaz-Balart, the anchor for Noticieros Telemundo, the network's nightly news program, is hosting a town hall event Sunday for viewers to better understand the administration's immigration actions and their rights if they are stopped or detained.
And, Immigrant activist groups are trying to connect families who have been torn apart by the raids with legal representation.
However, according to The Hill, Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, said agents denied access to immigration lawyers after a raid in Los Angeles that rounded up about 100 people.
"Immigration attorneys flocked to the scene," Tumlin said. "They were shut out."
"[It's] absolutely unacceptable and potentially unlawful," she added.
Those detained were mostly adult men from more than a dozen birth countries south of the US. ICE and DHS say no children were taken into custody. While most in custody now face deportation proceedings, more than 40 have already been removed from the US. ICE and DHS may be utilizing an expedited deportation process, though that is not yet clear.
Christensen says these raids are not an escalation of their standard procedures."These are existing, established fugitive operations teams. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately. ICE only conducts targeted enforcement of criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation's immigration laws."
The breadth of the raids, the manner in which they were conducted, and the deportation Thursday of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a 35-year-old mother of two, who had checked in with ICE at an office in Phoenix the day before, as she had regularly since a 2008 conviction of using a fake Social Security number suggest otherwise.
According to Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, "The President wants to show off and it appears he has unleashed the Department of Homeland Security to kick-out large numbers of immigrants and anyone they encounter, without much oversight, review or due process. The goal of such policies is to inject fear into immigrant communities, frighten families and children, and drive immigrants farther underground. It damages public safety and the fabric of American communities while putting a burden on local social services and the foster-care system."
Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza said,"It's fair to say we’re all extremely troubled by the deportation action we saw take place yesterday in Arizona."
"The first deportation [after] his executive order is of a working mom with two U.S. kids," she added.
"This reaffirms that when the Trump administration said they would go after criminals, they really meant everybody," Murguia said.
José Magaña-Salgado, an attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, cited a study that said as many as 8 million people could now be targeted for deportation, according to The Hill
"Under Trump's order, the definition of criminality was expanded to include misdemeanors like illicitly crossing the border.
"It also expanded the definitions for immigrants to be considered priorities for deportation. Foreigners who have 'committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense' are priorities, even before conviction. It also includes those who have committed "fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency," a category that includes using fake Social Security numbers to work."