Immigrations officers have conducted numerous, and often violent, raids targeting undocumented immigrants across the country. Since last Thursday, over 680 people have been detained by federal agents. These raids mark the first wide-scale enforcement of Trump’s January 25 executive order doubling down on the criminalization of immigrants, especially from Central and South America.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump promised to deport at least 3 million undocumented immigrants. In his brazen racist bravado, he oftentimes branded them as criminals, rapists, or terrorists, and blamed them for job losses and wage depreciation.
According to US authorities, these enforcement raids are “routine”. In fact, ICE agents routinely rip immigrants from their families and communities. Despite his liberal reputation, Obama deported more undocumented workers than any other president in history, even more than every single president of the 20th century combined. The “deporter-in-chief” deported more than 2.5 million immigrants during his tenure at the White House. That is 23% more than during the George W. Bush years.
Trump has inherited this aggressive deportation infrastructure. In a press conference on Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump claimed, “We’re actually taking people that are criminals, very, very hardened criminals in some cases with a tremendous track record of abuse and problems.” Yet, data made public by ICE paints a very different picture: less than half of those arrested had criminal records, and most of those who do have criminal records have committed minor offences, not “terrible crimes”.
One of these “very, very hardened criminals” is a 36-year-old Arizona mother, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. De Rayos has lived in the United States for over twenty years and her two children were born here. Allowed to remain in the country under the Obama administration, she was brutally ripped away from her family and deported to Mexico last Thursday. She is only one among hundreds of innocent people whose only crime is to lack proper documentation and to be poor.
The raids specifically targeted sanctuary cities who have said that they would not allow local police to participate in immigration raids. At least 41 people were arrested in New York City, and dozens were arrested in other cities like Los Angeles and Austin. For one government official, this recent wave of raids is meant to “send a message to the community that the Trump deportation force is in effect.”
Panic and terror have quickly spread throughout immigrant communities. But that has not stopped them and their allies from organizing protests. In New York, thousands of protestors took to Washington Square Park and spilled into Greenwich Village streets. Thousands hit the streets in Los Angeles, effectively shutting down traffic.
Resistance to the continuing raids and Trump’s planned mass deportations is expected to continue in the days and weeks ahead. In Wisconsin, ten thousand immigrants stopped work yesterday in what they called “A Day Without Latinxs”. A day without immigrants is also in the works for May 1. Such initiatives must continue. But the resistance to Trump’s racist anti-immigrant policy must join forces with other birthing resistance movements against the attacks on women, Muslims, the environment, the Native Americans at Standing Rock, and workers.