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7/15: Undocumented Immigrants in Trump's America Now Deported After Running Red Lights(1)
Released 20 August 2017  By Erin Banco - Newsweek

Undocumented Immigrants in Trump's America Now Deported After Running Red Lights

Erin Banco - Newsweek
July 15, 2017

Just before 7 a.m. on May 11, Jonatan Palacios quietly closed the door
to his apartment in Haverford, Pennsylvania, to avoid waking his wife.
In the parking lot, he got into his car to drive to the restaurant where
he works as the head cook. But as he pulled out of his parking space,
Palacios saw two law enforcement officers in his rearview mirror walking
toward his car. As they got closer, Palacios, who is an undocumented
immigrant, could see the small logo on the upper left side of their
chests—and knew they were from immigration. He checked the door handles,
and felt a moment of relief when he realized the doors had locked

The immigration agents knocked on the window and asked him to get out of
his car. Palacios froze. After a few seconds, he told the agents through
the glass that he needed to make some phone calls. He called his boss to
tell him he wouldn’t make it to work, his lawyer, and his wife, an
American citizen, who was still asleep in the apartment. She came to the
parking lot to ask the agents if they had a warrant to arrest her

They didn’t have an arrest warrant, they told her, but they did have a
deportation order issued by a judge in 2008—a couple of years after
Palacios had arrived in America from Honduras when he was 17. Seeing no
way out, Palacios opened the car door, hugged his wife, and allowed the
officers to bind his arms behind his back with plastic zip ties. They
brought Palacios to a processing center in Philadelphia before moving
him to Pennsylvania’s York County Prison.

“I was so panicked,” Palacios says. “I was trying to think through every
little detail. Eventually, there was nothing else we could do and I just
got out of the car, gave Lillie a hug and went with them.”

Read more: On the frontlines of Trump's battle over borders and
undocumented immigrants

For the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States,
fear of deportation isn’t new. Former President Barack Obama deported
2.7 million undocumented immigrants, the majority of them with criminal
records, during his eight years in office — more than any other
president before him —causing some immigration groups to nickname him
“deporter in chief.” Yet barely six months into Trump’s presidency,
immigrants like Palacios —people without criminal records who are
working and raising families, and who have been living in the U.S. for a
long time—are feeling even less secure. That’s because although Trump
campaigned on an immigration policy that he said would target the “bad
hombres,” his executive orders don’t fall in line with his candidate
promises. In the time since Trump has taken office, immigration lawyers
and advocates in cities such as Philadelphia have seen a spike in the
number of people detained whom they say fall outside of the realm of the
“bad hombre” definition.

In a statement to Newsweek, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) said the agency is focusing first on detaining people
who post a threat to national security, but he added that officers would
also pick up anyone they encountered who had entered the country

Under Obama, the White House issued clear policy memos that directed ICE
agents to prioritize criminals when sifting through the mountains of
files of people facing deportation. The policy directed agents to focus
on deporting only recent arrivals, repeat immigration violators and
people with multiple criminal violations. Under the former
administration, about 1.4 million people were considered priorities for

Trump has taken immigration enforcement in a different direction. His
orders effectively overturned Obama’s policy. Whereas before, agents had
to follow a specified list of priorities, they can now go after any
undocumented immigrant they deem to be a "risk to public safety or
national security" —a deliberately vague mandate, say immigration
experts, that gives individuals in the agency a lot of leeway to make
their own choices. “With his executive orders, Trump played into [ICE
officers’] worst instincts,” says Matthew Archambeault, Palacios’s
lawyer, adding that officers “feel like they can be mean and not give
any breaks to anyone.”

The result has been an increase in enforcement against immigrants
without criminal records. Several lawyers in Philadelphia told Newsweek
that ICE officers are arresting any undocumented immigrant they
encounter, even ones that run red lights or stop signs. ICE agents now
routinely raid houses, take in undocumented immigrants picked up for
minor traffic violations like speeding, or go after old cases of illegal
re-entry or missed court dates for immigrants who otherwise have no
criminal records, according to Peter Pedemonti, the director of the New
Sanctuary Movement, a grassroots, interfaith organization that works
with immigrant families in Philadelphia during their court cases. “They
[ICE officers] feel like the chains have come off,” he says.

The head of ICE “wants everyone to be afraid, and that policy and
mindset trickles down through the ranks to the lower-level officers,”
says Archambeault. “The real difference between Obama and Trump is tone
and attitude. There is no one in the executive checking in on what ICE
officers are doing.”

And Trump’s administration has been apprehending immigrants more swiftly
than Obama’s did. In the first 100 days of Trump’s administration, ICE
made 41,000 arrests of individuals known or suspected to be in the
country illegally, about a 38 percent increase from the same time period
in 2016. But those numbers, it seems, cannot be achieved by focusing on
criminals. The biggest jump in arrests since January comes from
undocumented immigrants without criminal records. Between January 22 and
April 29, ICE arrested 10,845 people whose immigration violations were
the only marks on their record. That's nearly triple the number of
immigrants, most of them criminals, arrested in total during the same
time period in President Barack Obama's final year in office....


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