Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted a five-day raid called Cross Check that resulted in the apprehension of 2,059 immigrants. Over at CNN, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is quoted as saying that Cross Check aimed to round up “the worst of the worst criminals.” But almost half of those people taken in the operation have never been convicted of a felony.
Obama’s executive action on immigration hinges, he’s said, on “felons, not families.” That executive action is on hold, caught up in the courts after a Texas-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen judge ruled in favor of a 26 state lawsuit challenging Obama’s authority. The Department of Justice, meanwhile, filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit today, in hopes of blocking Judge Hanen’s order.
The “felons not family” rhetoric is fraught with trouble: felons, like non-felons, also belong to families. Nevertheless, Obama’s messaging suggests that his administration is only targeting people with violent criminal records for deportation. But if ICE-ERO’s latest raid is any indication, it’s not just felons that get caught in the administration’s hunt—it’s also people who have been convicted of misdemeanors, especially those with DUIs. “This shows that the Executive Action isn’t being used to curb deportations,” says #NotOneMore campaign member Angelica Chazaro. “It’s being used to redirect them against criminalized immigrant communities.”
Over at Think Progress, Esther Yu-Hsi Lee provides some damning examples of some of the people caught up in ICE-ERO’s recent raid:
Among those immigrants is a 42-year-old immigrant from the Middle East who faces possible persecution or death if he’s deported because of his religious belief. The immigrant, whom his wife referred to only by the pseudonym Rick, reportedly became undocumented in 1981 at the age of nine when U.S. immigration officials lost his citizenship application that his father filed for him. His siblings are all U.S. citizens.
Two ICE agents arrested Rick last Thursday morning as he was getting into his truck in his driveway. Rick’s wife told ThinkProgress that ICE agents “made it sound like he would get out that day or the next day. They said, ‘you have a job. You have a child. You’ll probably be able to talk to the supervisor when you get out the next day.’” Rick’s wife said that ICE agents stated that he received a “failure to report” violation stemming from a drug-related possession charge that Rick got in the late 1990s. At the time, he served 18 months in immigration detention, and according to various family members, Rick checked in with ICE officials for five years under supervisory visits and a judge in a “drug court program” as a part of his rehabilitation after he was released from detention.
Around 2006, Rick’s family members said that ICE stopped his check-in visits because “he has no birth certificate, no records that tied him to [the Middle Eastern country he’s from]. … he was ‘not deportable’ so they released him,” his sister said. Rick went on to receive a degree from culinary school and up until his detention, was working for 13 years in the food industry.
“I’m hurt by this,” Rick’s sister said, “My 14-year-old son is livid. We’re just a basket case. For a person to be picked up from his driveway, he’s going to lose his job. He’s been working hard and he’s married. He pays taxes! We’re all humans, we make mistakes. … Not everyone deserves to be sent back, or held, or detained.”
You can read more about the people caught up in the immigration raid at Think Progress.