Fabiola Santiago

Your passport – don’t leave home without it

This Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows foreign nationals being arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by ICE aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles.
This Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows foreign nationals being arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by ICE aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles. AP

Unhampered by a cornerstone of American democracy — due process — the Trump administration unveiled Tuesday a series of sweeping orders that signal the beginning of mass deportations for most of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

Let the roundups begin, commands your President Donald Trump — and the Department of Homeland Security eagerly obliges, with orders that instruct federal agents all over the country to identify, detain, and quickly deport any undocumented immigrant they come upon.

Immigrant cities like Miami will most likely become hunting grounds.

What does this mean for all of us? That just like that — as Donald Trump, the candidate, promised — the police state is us. A federal agent now has the power to be judge, jury, and executioner.

Your passport — don’t leave home without it.

The blanket and expansive orders give carte blanche to Homeland Security, opening wide the door to ethnic profiling in immigrant-rich cities like Miami, which ranks sixth in the list of the 20 metro areas that are home to six in ten undocumented immigrants in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.

The children of local undocumented immigrants on Tuesday urged Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to have a “change of heart” on detaining local inmates sought by immigration authorities, a policy decried as appeasing President Donald Trump.

It’s not the Europeans and Eastern Europeans overstaying their visas that Trump’s people will be targeting when they’re looking for the undocumented, but for those of us who resemble the stereotype of the Latin American “brown” person who speaks Spanish. Come to think of it, a lot of the Trump Latino supporters who write me boasting about their perfect “legal” lives and who troll me on social media fit the bill. Puerto Ricans who are U.S. citizens will surely become targets of the ignorant as they have in Florida.

Yes, you’re going to have to walk around with a passport or a birth certificate. The power rests with the Nazi-like circle, a shadow government of sorts with which Trump has surrounded himself in the White House. The acquiescing Republican Congress is of no help. Trump took it all in the election, including our peace of mind and sense of security grounded in treasured democratic values and confidence in institutions.

In the short time Trump has been in office, life in the United States has looked like this: Terrified people reporting and photographing ICE vans parked in their neighborhoods. Night raids like the one in Seattle last week, when Daniel Ramirez was plucked by ICE from sleep, detained and slated for deportation despite being covered by a lawful protective order. ICE stalking the undocumented, as in the case of the woman in El Paso picked up in the courtroom after she pressed a domestic abuse case against her boyfriend.

The only exception from arrest and swift deportation in the Trump administration’s new orders is for children known as DREAMers. Not that it did Ramirez, who has no criminal record, any good. These are children brought here by parents who mostly overstayed visas and are protected under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This country is the only homeland they know.

But what about these children’s parents, similarly protected from deportation under Deferred Action for Parents of Americans? Are we now going to leave these children here parent-less, as was recently done by ICE with Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos’ children in Phoenix? If so, the Republican Party can no longer call itself the party of American family values.

Raids on non-criminals camouflaged as being tough on crime are acts against the vulnerable and against our sense of human decency.

It bears repeating: The Obama administration was already deporting serious criminals in record numbers. Trump is casting the widest net possible for non-criminals, citing minor offenses, or simply the illegal entry itself. The crime rate of immigrants, and particularly the undocumented, is lower than that of the mainstream population. Most of the horrific mass murders in the United States have been committed by white U.S.-born males, often times espousing fanatical nationalist and religious views. Nevertheless, no one is targeting them.

But Trump is destroying the lives of people who’ve lived here and built lives as Americans for decades.

That’s not “fighting for working families.”

That’s sowing fear, division, and the unnerving feeling that we’re all under assault as if this were a totalitarian country. With each stroke of Trump’s pen, the United States is losing the moral high-ground on human rights at home — and all over the world.

The judiciary is the new front line: A group of lawyers scramble to get their clients into the country, while preparing a legal challenge to Trump’s immigration ban.