South Florida undocumented immigrants just received a reprieve from the predawn raids Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had threatened for Sunday morning. Let’s hope this correction is a return to some sanity and a show of compassion.
Saturday afternoon, President Trump unexpectedly tweeted he was postponing — for two weeks — the ICE round ups that terrified those in our community who have legally lost their quest to remain in the U.S. and are now deportable. Trump stopped the crackdown in reaction to a request from Democratic mayors and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The planned enforcement was a despicable mission set to be carried out in Miami and nine other cities, where criminals immigrants, but also a lawn man or a housekeeper, perhaps yours, along with entire families, were going to be taken into custody to face deportation.
No one on the list was exempt from the crackdown. “We are enforcing the rule of law and maintaining the integrity of the system,” ICE Acting Director Mark Morgan told reporters. But that does not excuse this planned ICE enforcement from being an outrage.
Undocumented or not, rousing a family out of bed at 6 a.m. to abruptly end their lives in the U.S. seems heartless. We don’t do that in America, or at least we shouldn’t.
Now, after spreading panic by playing bad cop, Trump is now playing good cop, saying he wants Congress to try to come up with a solution — or else the raids will be on again. Classic Trump move to put Congress on the spot — and maybe they should be on the spot. It’s easy to blame President Trump for this immigrant mess. But when he points the finger at Congress for not passing immigration reform measures years ago, he’s right. He is now using their failure as a re-election ploy.
When they had control, congressional Republicans didn’t see fit to do much of anything about immigration, even when their political-party brethren, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, went out on the limb and offered palatable measures. So now, in a re-election cycle, Trump is reforming our immigration system with predawn raids, even in Miami which has long welcomed immigrants and has been strengthen by them. We embrace immigrants, not deport them. That’s who we are.
Before we’re called naive, we are not saying that undocumented criminal immigrants shouldn’t be removed. They are a public menace and should be deported. Yes, go after criminals. And yes, people should not have overstayed their tourist visas, which a fair amount of the undocumented have done. But the round up is a Gestapo tactic unworthy of us.
As always with events like these, there is collateral damage. There will be victims who get caught in the crossfire, suffering a tragedy or an injustice that will derail their lives forever. But immigration turmoil of all stripes appears to be the new reality of the Trump administration. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that ICE will specifically target for deportation as many as 1 million people. Sunday’s scheduled roundup was to target an initial group of about 2,000 immigrants in the 10 cities named.
Among those who were singled out were said to be minors who came into the U.S. without their parents and have since turned 18; people who were ordered removed in absentia or missed a court hearing and did not respond to letters telling them to turn themselves in. They should, but we understand why they don’t. They know their chances of staying are nil as immigration judges have little leeway but to rubber stamp their deportation. And that’s the hole we’re now in.
How do we get out?