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3/12: ICE Raids Remove Thousands of Immigrants from Homes and Families
Released 28 March 2015  By The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

3/12: ICE Raids Remove Thousands of Immigrants from Homes and Families

The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

In an official news release this week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed that it had raided homes and workplaces over a five day period and rounded up 2,059 immigrants who had already served their time for previous criminal convictions.

ICE conducted "Operation Cross Check" between March 1 and 5, the sixth large-scale operation since 2011 to identify and deport immigrants with criminal records living in their communities. The agency called the individuals rounded up in this operation "the worst of the worst," emphasizing the several dozen immigrants targeted who had the most serious criminal histories.

However, the agency also reported that only about half of immigrants apprehended had felony convictions on their records, meaning that the other half of those targeted had only misdemeanor convictions. Nearly all had already served their sentences, and were living and working in the community. Pastor Max Villatoro was picked up because of an immigration identification charge from 1999, and would leave behind four U.S. citizen children and the entire congregation of Iglesia Menonita Torre Fuerte (First Mennonite Church) in Iowa City where he serves as pastor.

An unknown number of those targeted were also Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) who had been living in the U.S. for many years. Eduardo "Eddy" Padilla, a grandfather and an LPR who came to the U.S. from Mexico as an infant in 1966, was picked up in a 2013 Cross Check operation for decade-old substance abuse-related convictions. In a class action lawsuit against mandatory detention, Eddy was found by a judge to pose no public safety or flight risk, and was released on bond.

SEARAC has seen the terrible impact of aggressive ICE enforcement on Southeast Asian American families, who are three to four times more likely than the general immigrant population to be deported on the basis of a criminal record. The vast majority of Southeast Asian American immigrants deported came to the U.S. as refugee children and grew up in the American school system.

In a highly criminalized society, a high percentage of all Americans could be targeted using ICE's enforcement priorities. The National Employment Law Project found that an estimated 65 million people, or one in four Americans, has a serious criminal record. People of color, including many immigrants, are disproportionately impacted by profiling, aggressive policing, and harsh sentencing practices. Non-citizens with criminal records are not automatically "the worst of the worst," but they are easily targeted because of our aggressive immigration enforcement system.

SEARAC calls on ICE and the Obama administration to end home and workplace raids, and to recognize that many immigrants who have served their time for old convictions pose no risk to society, and are valued parents, children, colleagues, and members of our communities.

Realted: See ICE Press Release
"2,059 Criminals Arrested In ICE Nationwide Operation"

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