Since the Trump administration entered office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been conducting raids that appear to target not only convicted criminals, but also those individuals whose only crime is living in the United States without documentation.
In the Obama-era, restrictions were put in place to limit the agency’s “enforcement priorities,” to convicts, terrorist threats and people who recently crossed the border.
While the Trump administration is within their rights to lift Obama’s constrictions, recent ICE arrests suggest that facts and evidence may be being manipulated in order to move in an aggressive new direction.
Donald Trump’s original promise after his election was to use ICE agents to target “murderers, rapists and other bad hombres who pose serious threats to public safety.” However, the increase in arrests of those without criminal records does not appear to follow suit.
According to USA Today, of the 678 people rounded up in 12 states during raids last week, 74 percent had been convicted of a crime. Under Obama, 90 percent of those detained had criminal records.
The Washington Post reported several accounts of immigrants being taken from their homes and families. A student in Chicago called her high school teacher to tell him that ICE had raided her home the previous night. He was an undocumented immigrant whose criminal recorded included only traffic violations, according to the teacher.
In the Baltimore parking lot of a Walgreens, ICE agents arrested a barber and local business owner who advocates said had no criminal records.
While keeping the United States safe from harm is important to most American citizens, these seemingly random arrests have caused the nation’s immigrant community to live in a state of fear.
How is keeping the unharmful immigrants out of the country they’ve known to call home beneficial in the long run? These immigrants are also people, and they are being ripped from their homes, families and friends in a sloppy attempt to “save” the country. In reality, all that it is doing is creating more destruction within our own nation.
If ICE focused on the immigrants that have caused harm in this country rather than painting all immigrants in a false light, maybe part of this huge divide could start to come together again. And while ICE is certainly to blame for some of the mayhem that has happened this past week, it is only fair to look at who is giving them their orders.
Although not perfect, the number of those detained with criminal records under Obama vs. Trump is striking, and it seems to be clear that the goal of these raids is not just for the good of all Americans, but only the ones that fit into Trump’s America.
This country was built from the ground up by immigrants, creating an everlasting ideology of “America the Great.” This melting pot of a nation is what had given America its strength and uniqueness, but now it seems the phrase has a new meaning behind it. In times like these, we must keep asking ourselves: how can we keep our melting pot when all we have is one color?
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org