[OP-ED] Even Documented Immigrants are No Longer Safe
If you still believe that only undocumented immigrants are at risk of being deported by Donald Trump’s hateful crusade against immigrants, I have news for you: no immigrant, legal or not, is safe as long as the ignorant nativist occupies the White House.
Last week Lukasz Niec, 43, a Polish-born physician in Kalamazoo, Mich., was arrested by ICE and, as of yesterday, when this column was written, remained in a county jail awaiting possible deportation. He was five years old when his family moved to the U.S. and has been a lawful permanent resident since 1989.
Despite Niec’s sterling reputation among patients and colleagues, two misdemeanor convictions for very minor infractions from 26 years ago – he was 17-- are being used as the excuse to deprive his wife and two daughters from their father, and the community from a caring and knowledgeable doctor.
So much for Trump’s promise to focus on deporting undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to this country.”
Nothing illustrates better Trump’s cynicism than the cruel game his administration is playing with the fate of 800,000 Dreamers. Sadly, democrats, who cowardly sold out the DREAMERS by agreeing to vote in favor of a Senate bill to reopen the government without any agreement on fixing DACA, are also willing, if meek, participants in such a disgraceful game.
“We will vote today to reopen the government to continue negotiating a global agreement with the commitment that if an agreement isn’t reached by February the 8th, the Senate will immediately proceed to consideration of legislation dealing with DACA,” said minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in what Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, called “a stunning display of moral and political cowardice.”
“A promise from known liars Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, or Donald Trump isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” Chamberlain added. “Yet despite that fact, most Senate Democrats, including Schumer, voted to allow Donald Trump to continue to subject an ever-growing number of Dreamers to lives threatened by deportation. That’s not what moral courage or leadership in the face of Trump’s hate looks like, and it sure as hell isn’t a display of competent negotiating skills.”
To top it all, the Trump administration is systematically targeting immigrant rights leaders for deportation, something writer and activist Roberto Alvarenga Lovato has defined as “a dangerous escalation building on the sinister ICE apparatus built up by Obama.”
Just this month four nationally known immigration activists were targeted by ICE in what appears to be retaliation for their political activism: Jean Montrevil (Haiti) was arrested and deported; Ravi Ragbir (Trinidad) was incarcerated in a Florida detention center; Maru Mora-Villalpando (Mexico) was served with a Notice to Appear for court and has been placed in deportation proceedings, and Eliseo Jurado (Peru) was arrested and is in deportation proceedings.
“With the letter delivered to my house, ICE has officially made the leap from a law enforcement agency to a political repression agency, crossing a line that should concern us all,” said Mora-Villalpando, the leader of the Northwest Detention Center Resistance, who has lived in the U.S. for more than 25 years. “They are sending me a message. They want me to stop. And I won’t stop,” she added.
It is a cruel message designed to frighten the people –not only immigrants-- into passivity and submission. Instead, the resistance is growing stronger as four million women made clear when they took to the nation’s streets last Sunday.