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ICE Raids on US Immigrant Families Risk Serious Abuses

Trump Administration Policies Fostering Cruelty, Terror

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. on February 9, 2017.  © 2017 Reuters
President Donald Trump has reportedly ordered US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to carry out raids on undocumented immigrant families in at least 10 major cities starting Sunday. Although ICE Acting Director Mark Morgan claims the goal is not to instill fear but to follow “the rule of law,” ICE officials have openly acknowledged they only expect to arrest “10 to 20 percent of their targets in each city,” and instead make “collateral” arrests of any other deportable immigrants they encounter.
Like many of Trump’s immigration policies, the effect of these raids will be to foster cruelty and terror with the apparent aim to deter others from seeking refuge or a better life in the US.
Should the planned raids move forward – the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking to block them – there are fears a cascade of human rights abuses will result.
We will see more families locked up in detention centers, suffering trauma, suicidal feelings, dangerously inadequate medical care, and sexual assault.
We will see more family separations, causing increased numbers of families to experience severe and lasting harm. Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan reportedly called off these raids in early June in part because undocumented parents could be separated from US citizen children. We have already seen that family separations are not temporary – there are families who still have not been identified as separated, let alone reunified since the American public first learned family separations were occurring.
And even more people are likely to go into hiding, pulling children out of school, not reporting crimes, and not seeking medical care, even for children.
Many of the families targeted for this operation are reported to be asylum seekers who have received final orders of removal but remain in the US. Arresting and deporting them will only compound any harms incurred while seeking asylum through a process that repeatedly fails to ensure a fair hearing, with court notices sent to incorrect addresses, lack of legal representation, and the Trump administration’s new barriers to asylum. Because of these abuses, many with final orders of removal may be entitled to reopen their asylum cases.
The Trump administration seems determined to double down on its abusive policies, making it imperative that Congress passes legislation to end them. In the meantime, state governments, law enforcement agencies, and companies should take steps to avoid being complicit in these abuses.
For more information on what to do during encounters with ICE, see the ACLU’s Know Your Rights webpage.

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