Updated on February 21, 2017.
In the wake of President Trump’s executive order that broadened the scope of undocumented immigrants subject to arrest and deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), several media outlets have jumped on the human emotion side of the story, including what this means for many immigrants living in the United States.
From these headlines alone, one might think that immigration raids have hit unprecedented levels in the first few weeks of Trump’s presidency. However, according to ICE, this may not be true. In fact, the agency tweeted out a #TBT (Throwback Thursday) about a nationwide raid that took place in April 2012, during which 3,100 immigrants were detained in cities across the U.S.
ICE reported Monday on a 5-day nationwide operation last week, in which it made over 680 arrests. The agency’s fact sheet also highlights 6 operations in the last 6 years:
- February 2017 – Fugitive enforcement operations began Monday, Feb. 6 in the Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and San Antonio areas of responsibility, which resulted in more than 680 arrests of convicted criminal aliens and other immigration enforcement priorities;
- March 2015 – National Cross Check operation that resulted in 2,059 arrests nationwide;
- August 2013 – National fugitive enforcement operation resulting in 1,660 arrests including 1,517 convicted criminals;
- April 2012 – National Cross Check operation that resulted in more than 3,100 arrests;
- September 2011 – National Cross Check operation resulting in the arrest of more than 2,900 convicted criminal aliens;
- June 2011 – National Cross Check operation that resulted in more than 2,400 arrests across all 50 states.
ICE is probably one of the most active government agencies (outside the White House) on Twitter. In response to elevated media attention, the agency also pointed out reports it says are “false, dangerous, and irresponsible” on Wednesday.
A Google search of the raid from April 2012 — the largest in the history of the agency — curiously doesn’t bring up results from major media outlets like The Washington Post, Politico, VOX, CNN, MSNBC, etc. Conservative-leaning news groups like Fox News and the Washington Examiner, however, do pop up.
Search “immigration raids” now and every major news outlet is talking about them.
Prior to taking office, President Trump said he would continue the immigration policy of President Obama and President Bush. Since the mid-90s, arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants and criminal aliens have been on the rise. Yet, the mass media has mostly been silent until now.
For some, though, it is not about the number of people ICE is detaining, but who they are detaining.
According to a report from The Washington Post, a student in Chicago told her teacher about an ICE raid on her home, during which her father was arrested. Her father is an undocumented immigrant whose criminal record reportedly only included a traffic ticket. The same report says a barber and business owner with no criminal record (according to advocates) was arrested in Baltimore.
One story in particular has garnered a significant amount of attention due to the stated position of the Trump administration.
President Trump has signed executive orders on immigration enforcement, expanding the scope of who is subject to possible deportation, but the White House has maintained that the roughly 750,000 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients have nothing to worry about. House Speaker Paul Ryan has also suggested that GOP policy on immigration would not target “DREAMers.”
Daniel Ramirez Medina is the subject of a nationwide story about an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the states as a child and had DACA status. Ramirez was arrested in Seattle during ICE’s 5-day nationwide operation, his DACA protections were stripped, and he now faces deportation.
As previously reported on IVN, DACA-eligible immigrants and recipients have looked to the Trump administration with trepidation, fearing that they may be deported to countries they have never known and separated from their families.
Daniel Ramirez’s case is not a simple, cut and dry one. He was arrested during a raid targeted at his father, who ICE says is a convicted felon and a re-entrant. If true, his arrest would be in line with similar raids conducted under previous administrations. ICE also says that Ramirez admitted at the scene to being in the country illegally and he had previously been arrested.
According to the federal government, ICE agents questioned Ramirez about gang affiliations, including a “gang tattoo” on his arm. Ramirez answered that he wasn’t involved in gang activity “no more,” and had “fled California to escape from the gangs,” but that he “still hangs out with the Paizas in Washington State.” – VOX
Ramirez’s lawyer, however, says his client never admitted to being in a gang and that the government’s claims “are unequivocally false and irresponsible.”
“The Department of Justice alleges that while in custody, Mr. Ramirez acknowledged that he ‘used to hang out with’ and ‘still hangs out with’ members of two gangs. This is false. Mr. Ramirez did not say these things because they are not true. And while utterly implausible and wholly fabricated, these claims still would not be sufficient evidence that Mr. Ramirez is a threat to the public safety or national security.” – Attorney Mark Rosenbaum
For some of these cases, especially those that involve immigrants with reportedly no criminal record or non-violent / non-felony records, there are discrepancies between what federal agents and officials claim and what advocates for those arrested are saying. This is why it is important not only for the media to educate people on what is going on, but to not take anything at face value.
The knee jerk reaction may be to report the claims of one side over the other, but there are at least two sides to these stories and both need to be treated fairly, and given the proper due diligence. This is one step the media can take to earn back the people’s trust.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons