Immigrant Bashing – posted on 3/26/2017
Being very hard on immigrants was one of Donald Trump’s campaign promises. He said, ” I will deport illegal immigrants so fast, I will make your head spin.” I would have to say that in scapegoating immigrants and in fear-mongering, Trump has exceeded expectations.
When he was running for President, Trump promised he would deport violent criminals, gang members, and drug dealers, the people he described as “bad hombres”. Since he became President, he vastly expanded who qualifies as a bad hombre. Now undocumented immigrants can get deported for almost any criminal violation.
Trump has directed the full force of the government to find, arrest, and deport undocumented immigrants, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes.
Probably the story that has generated the most publicity is the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. Garcia came to the United States with her parents at age 14. She had lived in Arizona for over 20 years. She has two children, both U.S. citizens by birth.
In 2008, then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio organized a raid on Garcia’s work site, an amusement park where she was part of the cleaning crew. Garcia had worked there for 10 years. To get the job, she had made up a Social Security number.
State prosecutors persuaded Garcia to sign a plea agreement on a felony charge of criminal impersonation. She served 90 days in a federal detention facility but was allowed to remain in the country on supervised release. Every year she faithfully checked in at the Phoenix Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) office. She did that for 8 years.
In her first check-in under the Trump Administration, she ended up detained and then deported back to Nogales, Mexico. The fact that she had two U.S. born children and she had an otherwise clean record for over 20 years did not stop her deportation.
Then there is the story of Roberto Beristain, who came to the United States in 1998 to visit an aunt. He ended up staying, meeting his future wife and starting a family. He lived in Indiana. In 2000, he came to the attention of immigration authorities when he and his wife made a trip to Niagara Falls. At the time, they accidentally crossed the border into Canada.
Immigration agents discovered Beristain was undocumented. Although he was ordered to leave, he never did. Immigration authorities placed Beristain in a supervised status. He had checked in with ICE once a year for the last 17 years. ICE agents helped Beristain obtain a driver’s license, a work permit and a legal Social Security number. Beristain went to work in the restaurant business at a steak house in Granger, Indiana. In January, he actually became a co-owner of the restaurant.
When Beristain checked in with ICE in February this year, he was detained. He has appealed but he is now being held at a detention center in Wisconsin. Beristain’s wife had voted for Trump. She was quoted: “Trump did say the good people would not be deported…”
Gerardo Marinez-Morales, a 52 year-old man who had lived near Houston was deported on March 17. Martinez-Morales had lived in the United States for almost 20 years. He married a U.S. citizen and he has four U.S. born children under the age of 12.
In 2004, Martinez-Morales returned to Mexico to see family. When he returned, immigration authorities arrested him for crossing illegally at the Texas border. That set in motion his deportation order. Martinez-Morales returned to the Houston area where he lived uneventfully until this March when the police pulled him over for a broken tail light. The immigration authorities deported Martinez-Morales one week after his detention.
The Obama Administration had allowed people living in the U.S. illegally with no criminal record to stay in the country even if they had a deportation order that predated January 1, 2014. Under the Trump regime, people like that are now a priority for removal. As is apparent, Trump and his agents are ripping families apart without concern for the human consequences.
Compounding the harm, Trump is promoting a propaganda campaign against immigrants. In his speech to Congress, Trump announced the creation of a new federal program called VOICE, an acronym that stands for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. The purpose of VOICE is to publish information about crimes committed by immigrants.
As a matter of public policy, VOICE flies in the face of rationality. Innumerable studies show immigrants are less likely to commit serious crime than the native-born. In fact, high rates of immigration are actually associated with lower crimes rates, including violent crime rates. Singling out immigrants this way is simply immigrant bashing.
This is sadly reminiscent of a Nazi practice used against the Jews. The Hitler government publicized Jewish crime statistics as a way to drum up anti-semitism. Nazi newspapers published reader accounts of Jewish crimes. The historian Saul Friedlander, a Holocaust expert, has written that until 1938, Hitler’s Ministry of Justice ordered prosecutors to forward every criminal indictment against a Jew so that the government’s press office could publicize it. VOICE is in this tradition.
Needlessly cruel, legally questionable deportations and hateful propaganda should be beneath the office of an American president. By stigmatizing immigrants, Trump is trying to shift blame from his own failures. Immigrants are a convenient scapegoat.