The Mexican government recently issued a warning to all Mexicans living in the United States, asking them to “reach out and stay in touch” signaling to many that they perceived a shift in policy. That perception was spot on and throughout the week Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, officials conducted raids in cities across the country.
More specifically raids were conducted in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina. There were also numerous sightings of immigration officials throughout the week, with ICE popping up in unusual places such as Northern Virginia and Kansas. Furthermore people have reported open immigration patrols in Austin Texas, throughout Northern Florida, throughout the Southwest and in Southern California.
On top of all of that, a viral video of immigration officials conducted a raid in broad daylight, in the middle of a mall parking lot in Austin, Texas. They tailed a school bus, following it stop to stop.
These sightings are notable because it is a stark shift in policy from the Obama administration, which is far from innocent when it comes to deportations. In fact Obama deported over 65,000 immigrants in 2015 alone and more than 400,000 at his peak in 2012, but the process behind those deportations has seemed to shift substantially.
Throughout the Obama administration ICE officials conducted thousands of now infamous late night raids, and they almost always took place at night. ICE officials were hard to spot and unless they were busting down your door in the dead of night most people would never interact with them. ICE under Donald Trump has a whole new operating procedure and it involves showing up in public frequently and conducting raids in the light of day.
It’s hard to overstate the massive symbolism embedded into such a small policy change.
Going from night time raids to day time raids shows in no uncertain terms that Trump policy is being enacted. Even more sinister though, the policy is plucking people right out of their day to day lives, in public for all to see. Even if Obama was deporting hundreds of thousands of people, he at least paid some lip service to the idea that these immigrants were people who deserved some semblance of peace of mind.
Another way Obama’s immigration policies gave some people peace of mind was the fact it only targeted felons and more specifically felons who committed violent crimes. Trump policy has stretched felon to include people who are simply living in the United States without documentation, which potentially endangers the status of 11 million people. ICE under Donald Trump has already proved themselves willing to deport people for simply living without documentation.
And that represents a huge shift in policy from the Obama administration, which despite its record on deportation did not actively add millions to the list of potential deportees.
In some respect this change in policy should not be a surprise. Trump’s premier campaign promise was a massive immigration crackdown that manifested itself time and time again at his rallies in the form of “build that wall” chants. Still, it’s an incredibly draconian policy that literally rips families apart, separate mothers and fathers from children, and irreversibly alters the course of the life of everyone involved.
Many were alarmed with Donald Trump’s rhetoric when it was just campaign promises, but now that it has turned itself into actual policy there is no hiding exactly how inhumane it actually is. There is no use speculating any more, Donald Trump is willing to deport people simply for being in this country without proper documentation, it has to be believed that all 11 million people here without proper documentation could be a target. Activists have already started organizing, showing they will do what they can to protect their families, friends, and neighbors. Which is good because proving to Donald Trump that every deportation will be a messy headline grabbing affair might be the only way to stop him.
And he must be stopped, millions of people’s families and well being quite literally depend on it.