An Army veteran and small business owner. A family man who had lived in the US for 20 years. A green card holder who had been a resident of the US since he was three. A young man who has already lost two siblings, unable to return to his family and American life. All have longstanding family and community ties to the US – and all were recently deported.
One of President Trump’s central campaign promises was to address the supposed dangers posed by unauthorized immigrants. Since coming into office, his administration has continued to scapegoat immigrants as violent criminals and has ramped up immigration arrests across the US. Even as his administration has claimed to focus on violent criminals, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently threatened all people without legal status, “[You] should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.” This administration wants to instill fear in all 11 million unauthorized immigrants, and some legal residents as well.
Today, Human Rights Watch is launching a series, The Deported, telling the stories of people who have been recently deported or are facing potential deportation since Trump was elected. The stories of these immigrants show what these policies mean in real life, to real people and their families. These first four accounts were told to Human Rights Watch researchers by immigrants who were recently deported to Mexico, a country none had lived in for years.
Trump’s deportation policies target unauthorized and legal residents with a range of criminal histories, including those with minor offenses or no records at all. Many have strong family and community ties in the US.
Congress should resist Trump’s request for more deportation and detention dollars. In September, members will decide whether to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on a broken immigration system that too often fails to provide fair hearings, including for people seeking protection from persecution; locks people up in dangerous and sometimes even deadly conditions; and prevents judges from even considering an immigrant’s years of residence, family ties, and service to this country before ordering deportation.
The stories in this series remind us the failures of the US immigration system go beyond this administration. Trump inherited a deportation machine that he wants to put into hyperdrive, built by laws that were hastily passed decades ago. We need more than outrage at the Trump administration. We need a renewed movement and commitment by Congress toward humane and comprehensive immigration reform.
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