Shock-and-awe mi­grant crack­down re­quires plan

Texarkana Gazette - - OPINION -

If Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump truly wants to con­duct mass ar­rests and de­por­ta­tions of un­doc­u­mented mi­grants in this coun­try, there’s lit­tle se­cret where they’re hid­ing. He merely needs to di­rect Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cers to sweep through the na­tion’s vast chicken farms, restau­rant kitchens, or fruit and vegetable fields of Cal­i­for­nia to net hun­dreds of thou­sands of mi­grants work­ing here il­le­gally.

Take just about any un­sa­vory job, of­ten in places so re­mote that the na­tion’s ur­ban un­em­ployed can­not reach them, and you’ll find un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants toil­ing away at min­i­mum wage or be­low. They are easy tar­gets for ICE of­fi­cers. But what, ex­actly, does Trump hope to ac­com­plish with the spec­ta­cle of a mas­sive crack­down?

Last week, ICE agents raided homes and work­sites across the coun­try, in­clud­ing Texas, Ari­zona, Ge­or­gia, Illi­nois, New York and Cal­i­for­nia. The raids net­ted hun­dreds, in­clud­ing se­ri­ous felons as well as peo­ple whose only crime was driv­ing with­out a li­cense. Many mi­grants fear be­ing tar­geted be­cause they stepped for­ward to reg­is­ter un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s pro­grams for de­ferred en­force­ment ac­tion.

The crack­down ob­vi­ously is de­signed to show that Amer­ica’s new pres­i­dent means busi­ness on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Trump is en­tirely within his right to en­force U.S. law with zero tol­er­ance, if that’s his in­cli­na­tion. Who can ar­gue with ag­gres­sive ef­forts to rid this coun­try of gang mem­bers, drug deal­ers, arms smug­glers or any other mi­grants with se­ri­ous rap sheets?

It’s even hard to sum­mon sym­pa­thy for those whose only of­fense was to pos­sess a fake So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber. That’s hardly a vic­tim­less crime. On the other end is the real holder of that So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber cop­ing with un­paid tax bills and pos­si­ble iden­tity theft. One such mi­grant, Guadalupe Gar­cia de Rayos, a mother of two in Phoenix, was among those cap­tured in last week’s sweep.

Such law-and-or­der sweeps also oc­curred un­der Obama. Trump, how­ever, has pledged not to limit him­self to hard­ened crim­i­nals and, in­stead, to tar­get all 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented mi­grants in the coun­try.

If last week’s raids are the start of some­thing big­ger, he owes the Amer­i­can peo­ple a fuller ex­pla­na­tion. How does Trump plan to ad­dress the food short­ages that will re­sult when chick­ens can’t be plucked, and fruits and veg­eta­bles are left rot­ting in the fields?

If Trump’s goal is to force un­doc­u­mented mi­grants to re­turn home and come back the le­gal way, he first must press Congress to reach a com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form mea­sure that would make that pos­si­ble. That goal eluded Trump’s two pre­de­ces­sors.

The dis­rup­tion ahead is se­ri­ous. It could rat­tle the na­tion’s econ­omy and force many busi­nesses to shut down for lack of la­bor. Em­ploy­ers need to plan.

It’s the pres­i­dent’s job to ar­tic­u­late what he’s do­ing, how much it’ll cost, and how these flashy raids serve Amer­i­cans’ best in­ter­ests.

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