Amnesty advocates say federal agencies have begun to enforce the nation’s long-dormant immigration laws, prompting defiance among activists and alarm among some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
Immigration agency officials say their actions are routine, but any return to normal enforcement actions by the agencies is a huge change from the lax enforcement policies established by President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order allowing immigration officers to take action against illegals who “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” That is a very broad delegation of authority that could approve action against illegals who have committed the initial criminal offense of illegally entering the United States.
During Obama’s tenure, officers were told they could not repatriate illegals unless the migrants had committed major crimes or were a terror threat. Enforcement actions were monitored and curbed by lawyers in Washington, even as Obama pushed Congress to pass an amnesty law in 2013 and 2014. In fiscal 2016, only 65,322 illegal immigrants were sent home from the interior of the country. That is only 0.6 percent of the roughly 11 million illegals in the country.
In response to Trump’s enforcement policy, amnesty advocates quickly are organizing rallies, protests and media events. Their goal to build public opposition and to boost an expected wave of lawsuits asking judges to suppress the federal government’s right to repatriate foreign citizens.
The protesting groups include Make the Road New York, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles or CHIRLA, and United We Dream, which is a union-backed group of illegals brought to the United States while they were children.
“Make no mistake about it: these sweeps are directly linked to President Trump’s “new normal” where criminalizing and dehumanizing immigrants is convenient to violate their due process and facilitate their deportation,” claimed CHIRLA, which added:
For [the federal government], the arrest, detention, and deportation of more than 160 members of our community is business as usual. It is not for us and we will fight tooth and nail to stop them.
The establishment media is playing up the enforcement actions. “Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states,” declared the Washington Post, which continued:
U.S. immigration authorities made a series of arrests in at least half a dozen states across the country on Thursday and Friday, sweeping up an unknown number of undocumented immigrants, immigration lawyers and advocates said.
The raids, which appeared to target scores of people, including those without criminal records, mark the first largescale episode of immigration enforcement inside the United States since President Trump’s Jan. 26 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally. Immigration lawyers and advocates said some of the enforcement efforts included traffic stops and checkpoints, though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials disputed those accounts, saying the agency does not use checkpoints while engaging in targeted enforcement operations.
It also appeared to signal a departure from the Obama administration’s position of prioritizing immigration enforcement against criminals. Trump has pledged to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
The Huffington Post reported a small number of detentions in Austin, Texas, the detention of 160 people in Los Angeles over several days, 26 detentions in Savannah, Ga., the detention of nine people working on construction sites in Apple Valley, Minnesota, plus additional detentions in Virginia, New York, Oklahoma and Florida.
The amnesty groups spread their alarm via Twitter, and called for protests and demonstrations against enforcement of immigration laws.
— MaketheRoadNewYork (@MaketheRoadNY) February 10, 2017
— United We Dream (@UNITEDWEDREAM) February 10, 2017
— Daniel Altschuler (@altochulo) February 10, 2017