During President Trump’s first 100 days in office, he has primarily utilized executive orders to try and keep his campaign promises on immigration: building a wall, defunding sanctuary cities, and creating a “deportation force” to remove the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States whom he has largely dismissed as “criminal aliens.”
Although many of these gestures have failed, Trump has succeeded at taking unprecedented steps to further criminalize the undocumented community, focusing on vulnerable people not previously targeted. We share some of the most egregious examples below to show how despite Trump’s failures in his first 100 days, he’s successfully instilled fear in millions of people, their family members, and their communities.
The last week of April dealt a number of powerful blows to Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. He failed to secure a down payment for his border wall, backing off his demand that Congress approve funding for the project alongside a short-term spending measure needed to avoid a government shutdown. Meanwhile, a federal San Francisco judge ruled that Trump overstepped his powers with his January executive order that attempted to cut $4.1 billion in federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities—jurisdictions that fail to comply with or fully engage in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainment and deportation proceedings.
It’s important to note that whether it’s by funneling more resources to the border or expanding the detention system, Trump is merely doubling down on policies the Obama administration helped put into place. In his first 100 days, the 45th president has barely managed to maintain the detainment and deportation rates of the Obama administration—an administration Trump and other members of the GOP have routinely derided as “weak” on immigration.
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Under Trump, immigration officials have increased the number of unauthorized immigrants in detention to roughly the level that the Obama administration maintained in 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported. Meanwhile, removals are relatively the same for January and February this year as they were during the same time period in 2016 under Obama. As immigrant-rights activists Marisa Franco and Carlos Garcia reported at the Nation in June, Obama left “his successor the most sophisticated and well-funded human-expulsion machine in the history of the country.”
After countless conversations with activists and affected families, we at Rewire can report Trump has terrorized many undocumented communities during his first 100 days. Under his administration, the nation is seeing some of the most openly aggressive attempts turn undocumented people into criminals. And we can anticipate that under an expanded deportation force—a tenet of one of Trump’s executive orders, which called for the hiring of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 additional ICE officers—that number will only continue to grow.
Here is just a sampling of the Trump administration’s most shameful detainments and deportations yet:
Transgender Woman Seeking a Protective Order Against Her Abuser
In what the El Paso, Texas, county attorney called an “unprecedented” move, ICE detained an undocumented transgender woman who was at a hearing regarding a protective order against her abusive boyfriend. Ms. Gonzalez was able to attend the hearing because of the ride she was given by an advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse where she was residing. Reports suggest it may be the first “courthouse stakeout” where at least one ICE agent may have sat in on a protective hearing for the purpose of detaining someone. The judge who issued Gonzalez’s protective order said it was likely Gonzalez’s abuser who tipped off ICE as to her whereabouts, according to the Washington Post. In the weeks since Gonzalez’s arrest, some immigrant women have reportedly dropped their domestic violence cases or declined to report sexual assaults. Because ICE has made a practice of stalking courthouses, many have been afraid to come to court to testify as victims or witnesses.
Deferred Action Recipients
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an Obama-era immigration program that allows undocumented young people who meet certain requirements to obtain a work permit and protection from deportation, renewable every two years. While Trump has flip-flopped on whether or not he will terminate the program, he has also said that DACA recipients are “incredible kids” and that deciding what to do with the immigration program is one of his “most difficult subjects.” But his administration has not spared these young people during nationwide immigration sweeps. In February, Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, became the first known DACA recipient taken into custody by ICE. Others have followed since then, including 19-year-old Josue Romero of San Antonio, Texas; 25-year-old Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez of Portland, Oregon; 22-year-old Jesus Alonso Arreola Robles of Los Angeles; and 22-year-old Daniela Vargas in Jackson, Mississippi. Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez is the first known DACA recipient who has been deported under Trump, and he is suing the U.S. government.
Mothers of U.S. Citizen Children Attending Check-Ins
About eight years ago, immigration officials detained Guadalupe García de Rayos in Phoenix, Arizona. She was a mother of two U.S. citizen children and had been in the United States since age 14. After appealing her voluntary deportation, she was allowed by ICE to remain in the United States, with the stipulation that she had to check in with the federal agency first once a year, and then every six months. After Trump took office, García de Rayos went to check in at the central Phoenix offices of ICE in February and was detained. She has since been deported. After years of checking in with ICE, Maribel Trujillo, a mother of four U.S. citizen children from Fairfield, Ohio, was deported. Francisca Lino, a mother of six, including three young children who are U.S. citizens, received a deportation order at a regularly scheduled immigration meeting in Chicago. She is set to be deported in July. Meanwhile, Jeanette Vizguerra, an undocumented immigrant and mother of three young U.S. citizen children, has been holed up in a Denver, Colorado, church. Fearing she would be detained and deported at her February meeting with ICE, she sought refuge at the church, where she has resided for more than two months.
Reporters Without Borders considers Mexico to be the deadliest country for journalists in the Western Hemisphere. In 2016 alone, 11 journalists were killed because of their work exposing corruption and injustices. After receiving repeated death threats for his story about police officers violating the rights of citizens, journalist Martin Mendez was physically assaulted in his Guerrero, Mexico, home. He decided to seek asylum in the United States. Mendez crossed the border into El Paso, Texas, in February and his attorney turned him over to Border Patrol, who immediately detained him. Mendez has been in detention ever since, despite passing his credible fear interview weeks ago. Asylum officers conduct a credible fear of persecution or torture interview when a person who is subject to expedited removal expresses an intention to apply for asylum, expresses a fear of persecution or torture, or expresses a fear of return to their country, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Other asylum seekers have similar stories under the Trump administration, including Ana, who made the journey from Guatemala to the United States and presented herself at the border in accordance with international asylum law. Ana was afraid to return to her native Guatemala, where a gang member shot her in the head at the restaurant where she worked. Last month, a U.S. asylum officer reportedly accused her of lying about her story and fast-tracked her deportation.
Those Seeking Citizenship
At a USCIS office in Lawrence, Massachusetts, earlier this month, ICE reportedly detained five undocumented immigrants—and four of them were there for appointments seeking legal residency, including Leandro Arriaga. The father of four U.S. citizen children had been in the country for 16 years. As the Washington Post reported, Arriaga went to the office for his marriage petition interview—the first step to gaining legal status through his wife, a naturalized citizen. He had no criminal record. Despite those seeking citizenship being targeted, immigration attorneys are strongly encouraging the estimated 13 million lawful permanent residents, also known as green-card holders, who legally reside in the United States to promptly apply for naturalization given the immigration enforcement priorities of the current administration.
The Trump administration’s push to deport undocumented groups less likely to be removed by previous administrations will only continue. For instance, he has suggested he’ll take the battle over sanctuary cities all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And a USCIS official has proposed removing temporary protected status from an estimated 50,000 Haitian immigrants currently residing in the United States, fast-tracking their deportations. Emboldened under Trump’s regime, ICE may continue targeting undocumented communities in new, horrifying ways.
But with every anti-immigrant move Trump makes, there has been resistance at all levels: mayors and attorneys general refusing to comply with Trump’s push to end sanctuary cities; college campuses, churches, and restaurants emerging as sanctuaries; and advocacy and immigrant rights organizations mobilizing and marching in support of undocumented people.
Most important to highlight is the incredible resilience and resistance of the most affected people: the undocumented communities who are fighting back every day, in ways both big and small. A recent American Prospect piece by journalist Aura Bogado featuring a Central American mother in Los Angeles fearful of deportation under Trump illustrated that simply existing is resisting.
The U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents are also fighting back. Along with many other children on a tour to spread awareness about the issues undocumented communities are facing, 11-year-old Uriel, the son of two undocumented immigrants, recently addressed a crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina. The small, bespectacled boy, nervous at first, read from his prepared speech, expressing his fears that one day, his parents would be deported.
“Donald Trump, we can’t be living like this,” Uriel said. “We can’t keep living with fear that at any moment our parents can be arrested leading to a deportation. It’s in your hands to keep our families united.”