By Alan Bean
Two Latino parents were arrested in Detroit on Tuesday morning as they dropped their children off at school. Immigrant rights groups are outraged. Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) say they were simply following procedures.
Although Latino voters gave Barack Obama his margin of victory in 2012, more undocumented residents have been deported under his watch than under any previous administration. Obama won because Latino voters perceived, correctly, that the situation would have deteriorated even further had Mitt Romney become president.
Were the ICE officials who arrested two men in front of their children following standard procedures? Probably. The Obama administration is ostensibly focusing on deporting criminals while going easy on undocumented residents with close family ties in America. Unfortunately, as the article below makes clear, entering the country without documentation is now a federal crime even, as is often the case, the primary reason for entering the United States was to be re-united with young children.
If you were deported as an “illegal alien” while your citizen child remained in the United States, what would you do?
Nothing? Perhaps, but if you didn’t do everything in your power to get back with your child you would lose my respect (and Jesus wouldn’t be impressed either).
Yet this was precisely the crime that transformed one of the arrested fathers into a “criminal alien”.
The other man had been arrested for driving under the influence. A serious crime, right? But would an arrest have taken place if the man’s physical characteristics hadn’t placed him in the “suspicious” category?
On the basis of this brief article, it’s impossible to know. Was he apprehended because he was swerving all over the road; or was he stopped because he fit the “criminal alien” profile and when they ran a routine test it turned out he had consumed one too many?
How many times have you slid behind the wheel in a state of mild inebriation? Perhaps never, but most of us will drive if we don’t “feel drunk”, not realizing that we are probably a hair over the legal limit. Should we do this? Of course we shouldn’t. Should we be deported for doing it? Well, that’s not a question most of us will never have to worry about.
Immigrant rights activists say they were outraged by the arrests because watching your father arrested by ICE agents might traumatize young children. I’m sure it does. But would the children have been less traumatized if the immigration people had waited for a more opportune moment to make their move?
What the immigrant rights people really mean is that separating families in this way is immoral and ungodly under any circumstances. But they can’t say that because the nations’ right to control its borders by any means necessary cannot be questioned. So we say the ICE guys were being tacky and insensitive. And they were. But they were also just doing their jobs. Firing a couple of people for doing what we pay them to do will solve nothing. We need to rethink the immigration issue from the perspective of the child who watches daddy disappear into a police car never to be seen again.
If the Bible is anything to go by, that is God’s perspective.
Groups Protest Operation by Immigration Agents
By JULIA PRESTON
Published: October 17, 2012
An operation by federal immigration agents in Detroit set off protests from Latino and church groups on Wednesday after the officers stopped two illegal immigrants as they were dropping off their children at school.
Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement followed both immigrants, who are from Mexico, as they left their homes in southwest Detroit on Tuesday morning, officials from the agency said. Both men had children in their vehicles.
One man, Jorge Hernandez, said he was pulled over by agents in unmarked cars across the street from his 4-year-old daughter’s school, the Manuel Reyes Vistas Nuevas Head Start center in southwest Detroit. Mr. Hernandez was questioned but eventually released.
The other man, Hector Orozco Villa, told immigrant advocates that he had been detained by agents near the elementary school of two of his children, Cesar Chavez Academy, a few blocks from the Head Start center. Mr. Orozco remains in the custody of the agency, which is known as ICE.
The presence of the agents spread alarm among arriving parents and children in the Latino neighborhood, school officials said. More than 100 people rallied on Wednesday to protest, according to a report in The Detroit News, saying the immigration agency had broken an earlier promise to avoid arrests near schools and other community gathering points.
“It is very alarming to me to have this happen during the rush hour of people taking their children to school,” said Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic state representative who attended the rally. “We are really worried about the impact on these United States citizen children.” Several of Mr. Hernandez’s and Mr. Orozco’s children were born in the United States.
The incident revealed the raw sensitivities in some immigrant communities as federal agents carry out the increasingly complex deportation policy of the Obama administration. Agents have been instructed to focus on capturing illegal immigrants who are convicted criminals or repeat immigration violators, and to avoid detaining those who have committed no serious crimes and have strong family ties to the United States.
After investigating, immigration officials said that the officers’ actions were consistent with agency policies.
“After a thorough review of facts, the arrest of a priority target today in the Detroit metro area adhered to, and was in full compliance of, the stated policies and procedures of the agency,” said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the agency. “This includes ICE policy regarding enforcement actions at or near sensitive locations.”
Immigration officials said agents had moved to arrest Mr. Orozco because he had a criminal conviction in 2008 for driving under the influence and had also returned to the United States after being formally deported, which is a felony. The officials said that Mr. Orozco had been detained four blocks from the Chavez Academy.
The officials said that Mr. Hernandez was not a primary target of their operation, but that he had two convictions for driving with an expired license.
In an interview, Mr. Hernandez said his 7-year-old son had also been in his vehicle, along with his wife, when he was stopped. He said his son had become distraught and said, in English, to the officers: “Please don’t take my dad. We want to go to school.”
The episode was reminiscent of a similar confrontation last year when immigrant rights organizations accused immigration agents in Detroit of patrolling near schools and, in at least one instance, setting off a panic. The agency determined that agents had violated no policies but clarified its guidelines for operations near schools.