As US agents pre­pare to ar­rest ‘thou­sands,’ mi­grants live in fear

Mindanao Times - - CLASSIFIED ADS -

THOU­SANDS of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants were wait­ing in fear and un­cer­tainty ahead of na­tion­wide raids Sun­day that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said would lead to a wave of ex­pul­sions.

Demon­stra­tors in dozens of cities protested the planned raids, and lo­cal and state of­fi­cials called for re­straint, but to no ef­fect.

Be­fore dawn on Sun­day, agents from Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment (ICE) are ex­pected to hit the streets of at least 10 ma­jor Amer­i­can cities with plans to ar­rest some 2,000 un­doc­u­mented mi­grants who en­tered the United States re­cently.

The scope of the op­er­a­tion ap­pears far more mod­est than the “mil­lions” Trump had promised would be de­tained and ex­pelled when he first men­tioned the raids -- and sub­se­quently post­poned -- last month.

But that has not eased the an­guish felt by those who fear they might be tar­geted.

Adding to their con­cerns are me­dia re­ports that ICE agents are pre­pared to scoop up not just those tar­geted by re­moval or­ders but also other un­doc­u­mented mi­grants that agents may come upon in­ci­den­tally.

That, po­ten­tially, could in­clude some mi­grants who have been in the coun­try for years, with homes, jobs and chil­dren who are US cit­i­zens. - ‘It’s trau­ma­tiz­ing’ “This un­cer­tainty, this fear, is wreak­ing havoc,” Chicago Mayor Lori Light­foot said on CNN. “It’s trau­ma­tiz­ing peo­ple.”

Trump in­sisted on Fri­day that “most may­ors” want the raids.

“Most may­ors do. You know why? They don’t want to have crimes in their cities,” he said, re­peat­ing his fre­quent -- and in­cor­rect -- as­ser­tion that mi­grants are more likely to be crim­i­nals than na­tive-born Amer­i­cans.

Sev­eral may­ors have ex­pressed con­cern about the fed­eral op­er­a­tion.

Mi­ami Mayor Fran­cis Suarez pointed out that in 2018, his first year in of­fice, his Florida city ex­pe­ri­enced its “low­est homi­cide rate in 51 years -- so I don’t un­der­stand the ra­tio­nale for choosing Mi­ami.”

“It doesn’t make it eas­ier for us, as may­ors, to keep our cit­i­zens and those who are in our city ... quiet and calm.”

- ‘A po­lit­i­cal act’ - Some city of­fi­cials, as well as pro-mi­grant and civil rights groups, have sought to ed­u­cate those who might be tar­geted on their rights in the event of a raid.

“We’re ask­ing peo­ple, if you are in fear of de­por­ta­tion, to stay in on Sun­day, to travel in groups,” At­lanta Mayor Keisha Bot­toms said on CNN. If “some­one comes to your door, please don’t open the door un­less they have a war­rant.”

New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio told MSNBC he sees the raids as “a po­lit­i­cal act to con­vince a lot of peo­ple in Amer­ica that im­mi­grants are the prob­lem.”

Like many other city of­fi­cials, he fears the ag­gres­sive roundup could in­tim­i­date mi­grants, mak­ing them less likely in fu­ture to co­op­er­ate with lo­cal po­lice, thus mak­ing it harder to en­sure pub­lic safety. - Mil­lions ‘in line’ “We have mil­lions of peo­ple stand­ing in line wait­ing to be­come cit­i­zens of this coun­try,” Trump said Fri­day.

He said it would be un­fair to them if oth­ers could sim­ply cross the bor­der in an at­tempt to gain the priv­i­leges of Amer­i­can life.

But the im­pend­ing raids have raised con­cerns about how a new in­flux could af­fect fed­eral de­ten­tion cen­ters al­ready badly over­crowded.

The United States has been strug­gling for more than a year with a mi­gra­tion cri­sis on its south­ern bor­der, as thou­sands of peo­ple stream into the US each month, mostly from Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries riven by vi­o­lence and poverty.

The num­ber of un­doc­u­mented ar­rivals to­taled more than 100,000 last month -- down 28 per­cent from May but still at a “crit­i­cal” level, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

On Fri­day and Satur­day, dozens of protests were or­ga­nized across the coun­try by groups de­mand­ing the clos­ing of over­crowded de­ten­tion cen­ters and op­pos­ing the planned raids.

- Req­ui­si­tion­ing ho­tels? Sev­eral Amer­i­can news out­lets have re­ported on cen­ters hold­ing young chil­dren, sep­a­rated from their par­ents, in crowded and un­hy­gienic con­di­tions.

US of­fi­cials have ac­knowl­edged the over­crowd­ing but in­sisted they are do­ing their best to pro­vide de­cent con­di­tions.

Some re­ports Satur­day sug­gested that ICE might have to req­ui­si­tion ho­tel rooms to ac­com­mo­date those de­tained in the up­com­ing raids.

A ma­jor ho­tel chain, Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional, was asked by AFP whether it had been con­tacted by the gov­ern­ment.

It said it had not yet been con­tacted, but added, “Mar­riott has made the de­ci­sion to de­cline any re­quests to use our ho­tels as de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties.” Agence France-Presse

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