The reasons cited by the agent for speaking out include the treatment of Central American refugees who arrived to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors. Many of these children and youth—who have escaped unspeakable horror and gang violence in their home countries—have been placed with relatives already in the U.S., and have become a part of their neighborhoods and schools. But now that many are turning 18 and are entering adulthood, they are falling onto the radar of Donald Trump’s deportation force. Just weeks ago, New York high school student Diego Ismael Puma Macancela was arrested by ICE on the same day as his prom:
“I don’t see the point in it,” the agent said. “The plan is to take them back into custody, and then figure it out. I don’t understand it. We’re doing it because we can, and it bothers the hell out of me.”
The agent went on, “The whole idea is targeting kids. I know that technically they meet the legal definition of being adults. Fine. But if they were my kids travelling in a foreign country, I wouldn’t be O.K. with this. We’re not doing what we tell people we do. If you look next month, or at the end of this month, at the people in custody, it’s people who’ve been here for years. They’re supposed to be in high school.”
The agent also cites the administration going after families who are trying to reunite in the U.S.:
The agent was especially concerned about a new policy that allows ICE to investigate cases of immigrants who may have paid smugglers to bring their children or relatives into the country. ICE considers these family members guilty of placing children “directly in harm’s way,” as one spokeswoman recently put it, and the agency will hold them “accountable for their role in these conspiracies.” According to ICE, these measures will help combat “a constant humanitarian threat,” but the agent said that rationale was just a pretext to increase arrests and eventually deport more people. “We seem to be targeting the most vulnerable people, not the worst.” The agent also believes that the policy will make it harder for the government to handle unaccompanied children who show up at the border. “You’re going to have kids stuck in detention because parents are too scared of being prosecuted to want to pick them up!” the agent said.
And none of this is making us any safer, or finally finding a fix to our nation’s broken immigration system. What it is doing is padding deportation numbers on the backs of immigrant families trying to realize the American Dream. Meanwhile, Donald Trump keeps claiming he’s targeting only dangerous people and “bad hombres” for deportation. That’s a lie, like so much of everything else coming out of his mouth.
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