It started in this southeast neighborhood last fall, not long after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers raided Baltimore and other “sanctuary cities.”
Earlier this month, as outrage continued over the Trump administration’s family separation policies, another immigration agency quietly introduced several changes that could threaten even more immigrants, many of them here legally, with deportation.
In reality, the government is working to harden the system on multiple fronts to curb immigration, carving a path around various court rulings to do so. The administration is seeking to lock up families indefinitely, expand detention space and tighten asylum rules and apply more scrutiny to green card applications.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded 24 Department of Justice guidance documents covering everything from affirmative action to disproportionate police contact with minority communities. Among the rescinded guidances were policies clarifying asylum-seekers’ right to apply for a work permit while their asylum case is pending and one encouraging businesses not to mandate U.S. citizenship as a job requirement.
The data, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, offer the first detailed look at ICE’s shifting arrest strategy since President Donald Trump took office and scrapped his predecessor’s system of prioritizing the removal of people with serious criminal records or prior deportations.
Concepcion and Margarita Silva, both Mexican-born Brooklyn residents, drove up to the Army base at Fort Drum, near the Canadian border, to spend the Fourth of July with their son-in-law before he was deployed to Afghanistan for a third time.
An immigration officer looking for someone else spotted him and asked an innocuous question: “Cómo estás?” How are you? Then he asked whether Tomas had papers. In a flash, the 33-year-old Guatemalan was in handcuffs, in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, headed to jail and probable deportation.
‘I was doing my work and nothing more, like any other journalist does,’ Manuel Duran told The Daily Beast of his April arrest by local police and then ICE officials.
It’s not the first time a federal immigration agency has faced demands to disband and undergo a massive transformation. Throughout U.S. history, critics of federal immigration authorities, especially Latinos, have sought reforms or abolition in response to new laws and changing federal policies some deemed discriminatory.
It’s Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, but any barbecues died down hours ago, and the rural back roads of this southern Napa County neighborhood are a dark and silent maze.