Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly spent much of last week testifying on Capitol Hill on behalf of the Trump Administration’s budget request for billions of dollars to ramp up its mass deportation agenda. He was quick to defend his agents, demonize immigrants, and repeat the bogus claim that his deportation force is focused on serious criminals, going so far as to claim that immigrants are only detained if they are flight risks or dangerous.
Said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund: “If you tell a lie over and over again, it still doesn’t become the truth. Every day, we see new examples from different corners of the country that prove Secretary Kelly either has no clue what his agents are doing, or is willfully refusing to tell the truth. From the detention of a U.S. citizen in San Bernardino, to the arrest of an American citizen’s spouse in Cincinnati – while he was literally in the process of fixing his papers – it’s clear that Kelly’s DHS is implementing a mass deportation policy that targets anyone and everyone they come across.”
In Cincinnati, a “silent raid” at a USCIS Office: A key plank in this mass deportation strategy is targeting immigrants who are easiest to find. These “silent raids” sweep up those who have been doing exactly what the government is asking of them, bringing family heartache in the process. In Cincinnati, Ohio, Julian and Alexis Motino recently celebrated their two-year wedding anniversary and had begun the process of obtaining legal permanent residency for Julian. The couple was meeting with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which approved their marriage petition, but immediately after ICE agents detained Julian in the hallway. Julian pays taxes and supports his two U.S. citizen children, has no criminal record, and was trying to fix his status. Now, he awaits deportation.
As the Motinos’ lawyer, Matthew Benson, said: “This is a very troubling case and illustrates how, despite Trump’s promise to target the bad ones and criminals first, virtually everyone here without status is now a target for ICE. ICE clearly should have much more important priorities than this man,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
In Southern California, a U.S. citizen is suing the government after being detained by immigration authorities in March. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, ICE issued a detainer on U.S. citizen Guadalupe Plascencia and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department facilitated her being taken into federal custody. Despite repeatedly telling them that she is a U.S. citizen, she was held in detention by ICE and told by agents: “You’re no one, until your situation is cleared up.” Plascencia was finally released when her daughter was able to bring her passport and convince ICE they were wrong. Now, Plascencia and the ACLU are taking initial steps to sue both ICE and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for the violation of her rights.
“Secretary Kelly has a lot to answer to. He cannot continue to get away with lying about who his agents are detaining and deporting,” concluded Tramonte.