- “ICE should not be permitted access to CPS facilities or personnel except in the rare instance in which we are provided with a criminal warrant.”
- “If a child is left stranded at your school…because [the] parent is detained, please exhaust the child’s emergency contact list.”
Let both of these points sink in for a minute.
A major city declaring that it won’t let immigration authorities enter its schools without a warrant is coming just at the beginning of Trump’s clampdown. It speaks volumes about the potential impact of the government’s plan to turn Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) into a militarized and sweeping deportation force. School districts like Chicago’s are reacting not because they have enlightened bureaucrats. They’re responding to fear and panic from families and children in their communities.
Yes, Trump’s immigration plans are dangerous and mean. But in some ways, these plans are nothing new: The Obama administration deported more immigrants than any other — more than three million in all. Under his watch, ICE agents routinely carried out “collateral arrests.” That is, if they went looking for a specific family member at a home or workplace, they would question and detain any other undocumented people.
Yet Trump’s plans are unprecedented:
- They have clearly stated that any undocumented immigrant can be deported at any time.
- They plan to hire 5,000 border patrol officers and 10,000 ICE agents, tripling the force at ICE.
- They will fast-track deportations by increasing the number of people who will skip a hearing before a judge.
- They will turbo-charge the use of local law enforcement as immigration agents.
These are the foundations of our country’s new deportation force. Beyond the policy is the culture of ICE. And judging from their most recent actions, ICE didn’t need any memo. They were already unshackled. In the past week alone, the agency detained six men who were leaving a church hypothermia shelter in Virginia. In Seattle, immigration agents seized a young man from his home in Seattle who had already received protection from deportation. ICE agents even showed up to a courthouse in El Paso and detained a woman at her own domestic violence hearing, where she was seeking protection from her abuser.
Trump’s presidency may look like an amusing mess to some, but make no mistake: for immigrant families, it looks like an orderly war that’s going exactly as planned.
I can take more time and pixels to drill into the policies and their impact, but that’s no longer the question here. The question is, what we will do about it? Will immigrant families cower in fear behind closed doors? Some will. But many others will get on the streets as they already have.
Yet the evil and malice behind this new deportation force is so deep that the challenge goes far beyond immigrants ourselves. What will white people do to fight against Trump’s bigotry? What will African-American leaders do as his cronies try to play a divide-and-conquer, zero-sum game between black and immigrant workers? What will small and large business leaders do as the Trump administration attempts to seize a group of people who contribute about $500 billion in output towards our economy?
The questions are numerous, and they are staring our country in the face. I know what I’m doing: I’m joining Carlos Roa, a young undocumented organizer, who knows what to do when you’re confronted with a bully like Trump: you fight back. The question for you, dear reader, is whether you will take action with us by speaking with your own voice, experience and privilege against this horror.
Mehrdad Azemun is an immigrant who was born in Iran. His parents’ and grandparents’ generations lived under tyranny during the rule of the Shah. He’s not about to sit around idly while his adopted country lurches under another authoritarian.