Unusual detentions, raids raise questions as Trump announces ‘crackdown’

| Rhina Guidos | February 17, 2017 | 5 Comments

People participate in a Feb. 11 protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policy and the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in New York City. CNS photo/Stephanie Keith, Reuters

People had been on edge for a while. You could feel the tension rise in immigrant neighborhoods in the U.S. as news of the first immigration raids under the Trump administration began in early February.

Then news of unusual detentions, some involving battered women and students who had been protected under previous policies, set off panic.

A variety of communities, from the Irish to Latinos, worry that the roundups mark the beginning of what President Donald Trump promised in his campaign for the presidency: to deport the country’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants.

Responding to the fears, Spanish-language television network Telemundo hosted a prime-time show Feb. 12: “Immigration, Trump and Hispanics.” The show featured activists, lawyers, children of deported parents and relatives, along with advice about what to do if government officials come knocking. The publication IrishCentral almost daily has been posting stories about raids in Latino communities sprinkled with some assurances, but also a few worries about the immigration status of some 50,000 unauthorized Irish immigrants in the U.S.

In a recent post on its website, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns said that of the more than 4 million Filipinos in the U.S., “1 million are undocumented and Philippine officials in Washington D.C. recently reported that more than 300,000 could be facing deportation due to Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.”

Whether the recent raids and detentions are routine or whether they’re part of a new effort is unknown. Officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which directs Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, said the February raids that resulted in more than 680 arrests are “routine.” But later, Trump said they were part of a new effort. About 75 percent of those arrested in the raids near Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City, the agency said, had been convicted of crimes, but it did not say who made up the other 25 percent. Some worry that it included students and women who had previously been protected from deportation through programs such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, and the Violence Against Women Act, which protects victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

In a wide-ranging Feb. 16 news conference after announcing his pick for labor secretary, Trump talked about a “crackdown on sanctuary cities,” said a “nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens” had begun, and that he had ordered an end to the “catch and release policy” that allowed unauthorized immigrants caught by officials to go free while they await a hearing. He also announced the creation of “a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, of which there are many,” he said.

In attempting to answer a question about the future of some 750,000 DACA beneficiaries who were brought as minors to the U.S. without legal permission, he said, “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me,” and “you have these incredible kids in many cases, not in all cases, in some cases they have DACA and they’re gang members and they’re drug dealers, too. But you have some absolutely incredible kids.” He said, “I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do and the law is rough,” but he didn’t say how he would address the situation other than it would be with “heart.”

The announcement came just a day after Catholic bishops whose dioceses are on the U.S.-Mexico border met Feb. 13-15 in Texas in the Diocese of Brownsville. They visited an immigration detention center as well as a church-run facility that helps migrants.

In a statement, the border bishops said they could sense the “pain, the fear and the anguish” migrants are undergoing and asked that they be treated with respect and dignity “regardless of their migration condition.”

All of this came in a week of incidents carrying the narrative that no one is safe from deportation. In Alexandria, Virginia, the pastor of a church denounced actions of ICE agents who arrested in mid-February a group of homeless men leaving a hypothermia shelter his church operates. In Seattle, a 23-year-old with no criminal record and protected by the DACA program was detained Feb. 10. In early February in Texas, ICE agents showed up to a protection order hearing and arrested a woman who was about to testify against her alleged abuser. The Associated Press reported Feb. 17 that the president is considering using the National Guard to detain unauthorized immigrants, a charge the White House quickly denied.

ICE reportedly canceled a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as the lawmakers were trying to find answers to the incidents. While all of them involve Latinos, other immigrant groups are expressing on social media anxiety in their communities. Some of it was manifested as Trump spoke of them by those who took to the streets in “A Day Without Immigrants” protests against the immigration measures he has proposed and his promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Restaurants and businesses closed across the country and schoolchildren boycotted classes, but Trump said he was pressing ahead and was in the process of “beginning to build the promised wall on the southern border.” He said it would be a “great wall,” not one “like they have now which is either nonexistent or a joke.”

The Catholic bishops who met along the border, without mentioning Trump or his proposals, said they wanted to build “bridges, rather than the walls of exclusion and exploitation.”

Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, who is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in the Brownsville Diocese, said during a Feb. 15 town hall that those who work along the border had started seeing that something was different. One of the centers that helps migrants had been seeing about 300 to 350 people a day seeking shelter and food after being released by immigration officials. Now they see between 50 and 75 a day, she said.

“It’s unfortunate that this is happening because these families come so eager to find a place that’s safe, where they feel protected, and unfortunately they find themselves in detention facilities where they feel hopeless, not knowing what’s going to happen to them.”

Sister Pimentel, along with Jesuit Father James Martin, participated in the town hall as part of the “Build Bridges, not Walls” campaign sponsored by the Washington-based Faith in Public Life. The campaign is taking place Feb. 17-24 and asks those wishing to support immigrants and refugees to organize prayer events, call their local politicians, attend town halls and educate others about the plight of migrants during the campaign.

Father Martin, who is a book author and editor at large for the Jesuits’ America magazine, spoke of the Holy Family, how they once were refugees, too, and how the Bible throughout calls on Christians to help “the stranger.”

“Jesus says that how we care for the stranger is a kind of a litmus test for whether we get into heaven and he says ‘whatever you did for the least of these, you did to me,'” he said. “That includes the stranger.”

It’s also part of a consistent pro-life ethic, Father Martin said. “If you’re for an unborn child, who’s in the womb of a migrant woman, are you (in support) of that child’s safety and health after that child is born?”

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Category: Featured, U.S. & World News

  • DebraBrunsberg

    I think the Catholic Spirit might try to be a bit above the false news articles, it is bad enough that it is all around us in the secular world. All of this is being hyped because it is part of the agenda to disrupt and protest every move President Trump makes. The woman grabbed at a domestic abuse hearing, that would be a man, transgender, who had already been deported six times before and had a lengthy criminal record. ICE has gone on record stating that they are deporting convicted criminals, criminals convicted here or in the countries they fled from. In 2013, under Obama, 430,000 illegal aliens were deported from this country. We did not hear a peep then did we? Think about that. A little discernment over assisting the left wing agenda in their hysteria politics would be nice. Entering the U.S. illegally is a crime. Why is the Church supporting criminal activity? I work in social services and people have no idea what is really being supported.

  • Dominic Deus

    Debra Dude: Yes, I know you”work in social services” but doing what? Your comments are exclusively political and do not reference Catholic teaching, theology, sociology or scripture. You are free to write what you wish but don’t expect a blank stare in return.

    You are giving us garbage. Shape up. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a96fd24b00ae7a5c565f29852787faae054aaf49e78f4b59cdb907764ea83332.jpg

    I don’t care what Trump or ICE says. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6241d95f879d5de144f0f72d89da1bca121c67108b014874a06595746a82ec34.jpg

    I want to know what Jesus says and what you intend to do about it. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c859d06ca1ea0003b32da18f3727c981e4f10f4ac4122227d9325942626d6f77.jpg

    You should *know* the reason why the Church is supporting immigrants, even undocumented ones. If you don’t you should, well…read the above article. Then read this: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/791c8588752f4fa223c5e563ba151c2ef8aa17039373406d0c2b016ad6032b0f.jpg

    Why is this important or even relevant to your comments: “The woman grabbed at a domestic abuse hearing, that would be a man, transgender…” Is there some religious relevance that I missed? And how was she “grabbed?”

    You write like a man, phrase sentences that way, make your points, such as they are, like a man, and your content reads like a post from Breitbart, which you do, in fact post to and sound more or less like the basic Breitbart Storm Trooper living in his mother’s basement.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/54dfb1a4f072ea75c6ad6482817e88a1322e21d9e2c4c63be5985fbb48be3161.jpg .

    Face it man, you are a man. I don’t care and if you want to be a Debra, I’m fine with that, too, but don’t trash transgender people. They are trying to own an identity. What’s yours? Look at my picture. I wear a dress, a cape, and carry a flower. I own it. I’m also a scholar of scriptural illumination and you’re supposed to know that because I am showing you a book, probably a book aspiring to know God’s Truth.

    What’s in your book? Show us a picture./Users/michaelanderson/Desktop/Dominic Deus.jpg

    • Racca

      Please allow me to weigh in with a reference to the Acts of the Apostles, Dominic:

      Acts 4:32-35New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      32 And the [a]congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them [b]claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the [c]proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.

      In 2013 it was concluded that illegal immigration cost US Taxpayers 113 billion dollars.
      [http://www.fairus.org/DocServer/research-pub/USCostStudy_2013upd.pdf]

      Please share with us, Dominic, when it was that you sold your land, home and possessions, and brought the proceeds to our Bishops and asked them to distribute to all of our new immigrant brothers and sisters, or new immigrant neighbors who may have need?

      • Dominic Deus

        Racca, welcome! It is always good to have new voices. Please keep inquiring, questioning, having your own opinions and expressing them.

        As to my full disclosure, divestiture, and donation to charitable causes, I have an appointment at the Apostolic Office of Giving Things to Those Who Have Nothing and wouldn’t you know it, I am in the queue immediately after the Trump Foundation so I expect it will be any day now. 😉

        You have responded to my request for teaching of the Church instructing us in the ways we are to shelter the stranger and you provided one. Not only that but you provided a good one that seems to be saying “Sell all you have and give it away.” Is that what we are called to do and if we do not, should we not speak of sheltering the stranger? Are we disqualified from doing so?

        The answer is no, no, no and no. To better understand the meaning of the verses you cite it is necessary to read *all* of Chapter 4. It’s largely the story of Peter and John in the early days of the Church. they are an interesting and sometimes funny pair. Here they are “discovering” the empty tomb of Christ and Peter is asking John, “What am I supposed to do with *this?*
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6f7ca8c0b4662cedca559b95564ac09de60e04d0c2d712df8094af7eaef6753d.jpg
        Never mind that the apostolic women had already been there and knew Christ was risen. But I digress.

        The verses you cite are descriptive of a small faith community that took John and Peter *very* seriously and even sold personal property, giving the money to them for others in need. It was an extraordinary act by extraordinary people and it should inspire us to similar charity. It inspired Barnabas to sell “a piece of property” as well and turn the money over to Peter and Paul. It wasn’t described as everything Barnabas owned but it was his property, his money and he gave it away. Indeed, you and I should do the same, as should President Trump. Not everything, but something. That’s the lesson.

        I suggest we all read the verses before and after scriptural citations to understand them more fully and appreciate context. My scriptural studies focus primarily on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. I’d be lost without context. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/49a648535baa31e2c726e6007f0761f0a59d6a169b09f16fe2da67a14116cc37.jpg

    • tdj

      Speaking of Catholic teaching, what about Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness? Again, in 2013, under Obama, 430,000 illegal aliens were deported from this country. We did not hear a peep. This is not a new issue, so why is the MSM, and apparently the CS, on the offensive now?