Raid preparation increases immigrant anxiety
American immigration officials prepared for a “major sweep” in multiple Northern California cities as they plan to arrest over 1,500 undocumented citizens according to an unnamed source from an SF Chronicle article last week.
This will be the biggest deportation campaign under President Trump and seems to be a message in line with his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Trump has also expressed frustration with sanctuary laws –– legislation aimed at helping undocumented immigrants by providing a safeguard from local and federal law enforcement officials.
The source, who asked to remain unidentified as the action plans are not yet public, said the campaign could happen “within weeks.”
Ana Cruz, a 41-year-old undocumented Salvadoran living in the Bay Area said, “It’s very hard to say what I feel, but the only thing I know is that I’m not ready if something happened and someone sends me to my country because I have a little kid.”
Cruz’s extended family’s home in Oakland was raided by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Her young nephews are in process of being deported to El Salvador.
According to the anonymous source, the operation would focus on those who have received final deportation notices and those with a criminal record. ICE officials also have the power to make what are known as “collateral arrests,” if they encounter other undocumented people during their raids. ICE did not specify the definition of “collateral arrests.”
Salvadorans are the largest group of immigrants under the protected status. According to a 2015 Pew Research study, an estimated 2 million Hispanic people of Salvadoran origin resided in the United States in 2013.
Dr. Jose B. Cuellar, professor emeritus of anthropology at SF State, said immigration is now primarily handled by the Executive branch.
“Immigration policy is pretty much … within the purview of the president,” he said. “If the president decides you are a subversive individual that needs to be deported.”
Cuellar said while discussing Trump’s policy, “I don’t want to use racist anymore, because that’s too generic. It’s a white supremacist move. And, you know, this is a country based on that.”
Cuellar hypothesized, in strong and direct opposition to President Trump’s assertions, that periods of high undocumented immigration in the U.S. and times of high Gross National Product correlate. He theorized that as the labor population aged,there were fewer and fewer young workers that the U.S. might face a similar age problem as countries like Japan and Cuba.
“Before, when we had high undocumented employment, [a lot of] money going to Social Security [were] from people that were never going to get the money,” Cuellar said. “So that little extra cushion of extra security is going to be gone.”
They voiced concerns that the raids “could result in the deportation of individuals who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time,” rather than “violent criminals.”
“This is wrong,” said U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Freemont). “The administration is targeting immigrants to make a political statement.”
Immigrants share Khanna’s sentiments, Ana Cruz said.
“We are scared,” she said. “Everytime I hear a knock on the door, I don’t know if it’s [ICE] or not. We are living in fear.”