President Trump has announced that ICE will conduct raids and that he plans to detain and deport “millions.”
All Republican lawmakers should be asked a few questions before any such proposed raids:
- What level of force will ICE agents be authorized to use?
- Will these deportations orders occur evenly in all states and congressional districts, or will “blue” states and districts see more deportations? Will any farms in Republican districts be raided? (Note: Recently, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley that they need not be concerned that any raids will occur there)
- How many U.S. citizens will accidentally be arrested/detained/deported, and will these efforts be directed primarily at Hispanic people? A U.S. citizen, Francisco Galicia, was falsely detained for over 3 weeks. The American Immigration Council has estimated that ICE has a 5% error rate when trying to detain undocumented immigrants.
- How many injuries and deaths will occur as a result of this policy? How many tragic pictures like the one of Oscar and Valeria — the father and daughter who died crossing the Rio Grande — will it take to challenge your support for this policy? What if someone hurt or killed in this operation is a U.S. citizen? What if it is a child? What if it happens in your district?
- How many children will be separated from their parents as a result of this policy? Will any of them be U.S. citizens?
- Given that the majority of evangelical Christians support a path to legal citizenship for the undocumented are you concerned that you might lose support of this key voting block?
- As part of this policy, thousands of churches may become sanctuaries for those seeking to avoid deportation. Will churches serving as sanctuaries be respected by immigration enforcement?
- The big question: Are you on the record now for supporting this mass deportation policy? Will you own it, come what may?
I have been asking these questions ever since President Trump made his announcement of his impending mass deportations. Not surprisingly, few have been willing to answer.
The truth is that we have de facto amnesty for undocumented immigrants who are working and following the law. The average undocumented immigrant has been in the U.S. for 15 years. They have networks of friends, coworkers, spouses and children — most of them citizens — who don't want to see them taken away. Nothing could reduce the freedom of those U.S. citizens more than a policy that removes all undocumented immigrants whose only crime was crossing the border if those immigrants are people they love.
Everyone should recognize the obvious truth: to let people earn legal status by working and paying taxes. This could be a long and difficult path, but one that immigrants of good will would find possible. Immigration Designed to Enhance American Lives, or IDEAL, supports the Workforce Visa Act, which would do exactly that.