End the nightmare of pointless ICE arrests 

Voice of Reason

Growing up in Texas, Oscar Guerrero-Olivares believed he was an American citizen. He was in his mid-teens when he found out otherwise. So years later, he seized the opportunity that the Obama Administration gave people like him: amnesty to those who were brought into the country illegally by their parents and knew no other home. (See “Dreams and nightmares”)

But signing on to Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) made him a target for the Trump administration. And after he was sentenced for a serious driving offense, it took only a few days for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to act.

Last Friday, ICE teams made a point to arrest him publicly where he was working: Poor Richard’s in downtown Colorado Springs, co-owned by City Council President Richard Skorman. In the days since, he’s disappeared into an ICE detention facility in Aurora. He’s not been booked into the facility nor has he officially been charged. The government shutdown allows immigration officials to arrest people, but there’s no money for courts or processing. He’s just — waiting.

For Oscar, and others like him, due process is one more part of the American dream denied to him. In 2018, ICE made 158,581 administrative arrests and deported 256,085 undocumented immigrants. The Trump administration boasts that initial detention bookings are 22.5 percent higher in 2018 than the year prior. And as the president ratchets up the rhetoric, unnecessary arrests increase.

We’ve all seen the headlines: people living in churches indefinitely because deportation officials lurk on the other side of the door; business people deported with no thought to their contributions in the U.S.; families ripped apart as fathers or mothers or grandparents are deported, but their American-born children are not. 
While it makes sense to deport gang members and drug dealers, most people ICE arrests aren’t criminals. In fact, undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than American citizens. They are here searching for a better life. They have jobs, families, children. America, a land of immigrants, is stronger because they are here. They need a path to citizenship — not a one-way trip to expensive detention facilities, with no access to their families, no ways to contribute to their communities.

The clampdown by immigration officials has chilling consequences. One study reports the number of Hispanics reporting rapes dropped by 43 percent last year in Houston alone: No one wants to attract unnecessary attention. And criminals are preying on the undocumented because they know they won’t be reported, and if they are, they know no one will care.

President Trump’s olive branch extending temporary protections to DACA recipients falls far short of helping people who are afraid to ask for any kind of official assistance. The policy is both shortsighted and racist. A criminal who will prey on an undocumented immigrant will prey on American citizens. Predators are predators. They look for easy marks, and they’ve found them — both in the administration’s courthouse policy and in its apathy toward the plight of families.

Deporting someone like Oscar — who was in an accident that killed his best friend but did not receive jail time as part of his sentence — makes no sense. He’s married to an American; he has a job; he’s started his college work. It doesn’t make us safer and it doesn’t act as a deterrent to migrants seeking refuge from violence, drug gangs, starvation and death.

Politics aside, it’s inhumane and it’s un-American.

Call on your congressman to act to end these unnecessary arrests, and the useless expense of holding people in detention facilities as the case backlog increases daily. It’s time to take our country back from the racist, fear-mongering politicians.


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