(ANTIMEDIA) Protesters across the country have taken to the streets, outraged at the immigration enforcement raids that swept the country this week. The raids resulted in the detainment of hundreds of undocumented immigrants in the first official crackdown under the Trump administration. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed they ramped up their efforts as a result of President Trump’s executive order, which directs immigration officers to target even those with no prior convictions.
According to immigrations officials, the “surge operations” began Monday and ended Friday afternoon, targeting homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina, and South Carolina. At a press conference late Friday afternoon, ICE’s Los Angeles field director David Marin told reporters:
“We made 161 arrests, and of those 161, 151 of those had prior criminal convictions. … The majority of them were felons and those felons which had prior convictions included sex offenses, domestic violence, assault, robbery and weapons violations, just to name a few.”
Activists reported that the sweep extended far beyond the cities listed by officials, documenting an increase in ICE raids in Texas, Florida, North Virginia, and Kansas. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) confirmed that the immigration agency “launched a targeted operation in South and Central Texas as part of Operation Cross Check.”
“People are panicking,” said Hiba Galib, an immigration lawyer in Atlanta. With reports of agents going door-to-door and asking people to present papers, she said the raids were causing “mass confusion.” The Washington Post reported that agents were picking people right off the street on their way to work. “People are really, really scared,” stated Galib.
Immigration advocates disagree with claims made by officials that the raids were routine. “What they’re trying to do is a really concerted effort to instill fear and terrorize our communities,” David Abud told NPR. Abud, an organizer with the Los Angeles-based National Day Labor Organizing Network, thinks the operations are a way for Trump to lash out. “It’s a way in which Trump and ICE are retaliating against sanctuary jurisdictions,” he said. According to the Washington Post, “a government aide familiar with the raids said it is possible that the predominantly daytime operations — a departure from the Obama administration’s night raids — meant to ‘send a message to the community that the Trump deportation force is in effect.’”
These mass deportations should come as no surprise to anyone, as Trump is basically picking up where former President Obama left off. During his I years as president, Barack Obama deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in history. From 2009-20015, approximately 2.5 million undocumented immigrants were deported, 91% of whom had previously been convicted of a crime.
In order for Trump to reach his stated goal of 11 million deportations, he will have to take very drastic measures, and many experts are skeptical of whether it’s even achievable. Mike Chertoff, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, doesn’t think it’s possible whatsoever. “I can’t even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years where we don’t have a police state, where the police can’t break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant,” he stated, adding, “Unless you suspend the Constitution and instruct the police to behave as if we live in North Korea, it ain’t happening.”
However, it certainly appears as though the president is dedicated to proving his critics wrong.