The worst fears of many living in the United States has now become a reality. Acting on orders from the White House, deportation squads in six states arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants.
While they were ostensibly only targeting those with “criminal records,” many innocent and hard-working people were swept up in the first wave of large-scale raids in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina. Smaller raids took place in Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia.
The extraordinarily vague executive order that Trump signed two week ago vastly expanded the powers of ICE agents, encouraging them to arrest and deport anyone who committed “fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter” – i.e. using fake papers to get a job and pay taxes for benefits they’ll never enjoy, like the vast majority of undocumented workers do.
The order also states that agents have the power to deport anyone they consider “a risk to public safety or national security,” which is in practice a green light to deport any undocumented immigrant they like without a real reason.
The accounts of the raids are harrowing, instantly reminding those who know their history of the terror inspired by totalitarian regimes as security services knock on your door to take your family away:
Hiba Ghalib, an immigration lawyer in Atlanta, said the ICE detentions were causing “mass confusion” in the immigrant community. She said she had heard reports of ICE agents going door-to-door in one largely Hispanic neighborhood, asking people to present their papers.
“People are panicking,” Ghalib said. “People are really, really scared.”
“We cannot understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities,” said Walter Barrientos of Make the Road New York in New York City, who spoke on a conference call with immigration advocates.
Trump has promised to deport three million illegal immigrants, using them as scapegoats for the non-existent crime wave he keeps prattling on about and blaming them for taking your jobs when in reality, the manufacturing jobs of the past that Trump obsesses over are never coming back.
Unfortunately, deportation raids have been a constant throughout American history – President Obama deported 400,000 during his administration, more than any other before. But they were never conducted with such obvious malice by an administration that openly embraces white supremacists within its ranks or speaks so hatefully of nonwhites. This may only be the tip of a terrifying iceberg.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.