Donald Trump loves to talk about the bad immigrant hombres in the U.S. Listening to the dog whistle that was his State of the Union address, one would conclude that there are “thousands and thousands” of criminal immigrants, including MS 13 gang members, running amok, murdering and slaughtering U.S. nationals by the hundreds and U.S. ICE needed to be vigilant in rounding up and deporting these “bad hombres.”
The reality is that U.S. ICE is rounding up and deporting thousands of non-criminal immigrants, including immigrants who would overqualify under the Trump merit-based immigration plan and who have been living in the U.S. and making significant contributions for decades.
By the agency’s own count, 37,734 “non-criminal” arrests were made in the 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number of the previous year.
Among those arrested is Syed Ahmed Jamal, a Bangladeshi immigrant who has been living in the U.S. for 30 years and was teaching chemistry as an adjunct professor at Park University in Kansas City and conducting research at local hospitals.
Jamal was arrested as he was getting ready to take his daughter to school, even though he is on a temporary work permit and has graduate degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering. ICE claims that although Jamal entered the country legally, he twice overstayed a visa and in 2011 violated a judge’s order to leave the country.
In Kalamazoo, Mich., Lukasz Niec, a Polish doctor who has been living in the U.S. for 40 years, was arrested and is facing deportation because of a 1992 misdemeanor arrest for property damage when he was 17.
In Tukwila, Wash., a 32-year-old immigrant from Honduras called police because someone was attempting to break into his house. Instead, when police arrived, they ran Wilson Rodriguez’s name through the NCIC database and discovered he had a warrant issued by ICE. Rodriguez was transferred to ICE officials.
In New Jersey, three Indonesian Christian immigrants linger in jail while their requests to remain in the U.S. are pending. Gunawan Liem of Piscataway and Roby Sanger of Metuchen were arrested by ICE while dropping their kids off at school, and Parlindungan Sinaga of Woodbridge was arrested in October last year. All have been living in the U.S. for decades.
In Boston, a 30-year-old mother of two from El Salvador, Lilian Calderon, was detained last month by ICE after she went to an immigration interview, and in Houston, Andres-Elias is being detained after living in the U.S. for many years, with his only crime being entering the country “illegally.”
In Virginia, a mother was sent back to El Salvador in June after her 11 years in the United States unraveled because of a traffic stop, and in Connecticut, a man with an American-born wife and children and no criminal record was deported to Guatemala.
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a Jamaican immigrant who had overstayed her visa and was living in the U.S. for many years was arrested on board a Greyhound bus by U.S. Customs agents and is now facing deportation. And in Boston, Fabiano de Oliveira was arrested while applying for a green card at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Lawrence, Mass. Jan. 9.
The list goes on, as ICE and Customs officials, emboldened by their new powers under the Trump administration, are running amok, or as Slate recently screamed in a headline, “Unbound.”
Ironically, in a statement to The Washington Post, an ICE official said that the agency “continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”
Ask yourself which of these immigrants featured here are a threat to public safety and where exactly are the “bad hombres” that ICE is working so hard to protect us from?
The writer is CMO at Hard Beat Communications, Inc., which owns the brands NewsAmericasNow, CaribPRWire and InvestCaribbeanNow.