One Month Into the Trump Presidency, More Immigration Raids and Deportations

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February 22, 2017
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This article was co-authored by Carmina Ocampo, Staff Attorney and Immigrant Rights Program Strategist, and Richard Saenz, Staff Attorney and Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct Program Strategist.

In Lambda Legal’s national community survey Protected and Served? we asked, “Are government institutions properly protecting and serving LGBT people and people living with HIV?”

Our survey, like others, found that people who are LGBT or living with HIV experience significant discrimination at the hands of the very government institutions that are supposed to protect them and ensure their civil rights.

Today, almost one month into the Trump presidency, we must ask, “What happens when the actions of those government institutions could mean the difference between life and death?”

This is not a new question. People who are LGBT or living with HIV — including immigrants and people of color — have experienced violence and misconduct by government institutions throughout our country’s history.

Now more than ever, we must stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter and immigrants’ rights movements. Lambda Legal will remain vigilant in holding law enforcement officers and departments accountable.

Lambda Legal will remain vigilant in holding law enforcement officers and departments accountable.

In his first weeks in office, President Trump signed several executive orders on crime, immigration and border security. These executive orders are a likely roadmap for increasing policing of black and brown communities and vastly expanding arrest, detention and deportation of immigrants. They fail to address the all-too-real threat of police abuse, profiling and misconduct against our communities. 

On February 21, the Department of Homeland Security released the implementation memos for “Protecting the Homeland.” According to the New York Times, these documents reveal the broad scope of the President’s plans to “publicize crimes by immigrants; enlist local police officers as enforcers; strip immigrants of privacy rights; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations.”

Trump’s sweeping executive orders on immigration and border security also expand the definition of who is considered a criminal and a priority for deportation, and would focus on anyone who has been charged with a criminal offense, even if the charge has not led to a conviction.

The orders would include as a priority for deportation anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” The immigration executive orders encourage local police to become de facto immigration agents and authorize the expansion of Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

We are discovering how the Trump administration will expand the power of federal law and immigration enforcement. In recent weeks, ICE has dramatically increased its enforcement actions and conducted raids in major cities across the country — including Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Atlanta and Chicago. 

Make sure that you are getting your information from a trusted source.

According to the National Immigration Law Center, ICE arrested immigrants without criminal records and immigrants in workplaces. Immigrant bystanders who were not the initial targets of an ICE enforcement action were also picked up in collateral arrests  if they happened to be in the same place as a person that ICE targeted. These raids have created a climate of fear among immigrants and have split families and communities.

To our community members: Make sure that you are getting your information from a trusted source, and do not share information about raids unless it has been verified by a trusted source such as a local immigrant rights organization or local elected officials.

Last week, a 23-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient with no criminal record was arrested and detained by ICE in Seattle.

In El Paso, Texas, an undocumented Latina, who is transgender, was arrested by ICE at a courthouse, after a judge granted her request for a protective order against her abuser. She had been driven to the courthouse by a victim’s advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse, where she had been living. Reports state that her abuser may have tipped off ICE. 

These aggressive and cruel ICE enforcement actions will likely cause fear and panic among immigrant communities.

DACA applicants who submitted their personal information to the government, passed background checks and received work permits had been living with the security that they would be able to live and work in the United States without being detained and deported. DACA recipients, including many LGBT youth, should not have to fear for their safety.  

Under the new regime, undocumented LGBT immigrants — especially transgender women — who are survivors of domestic violence will likely avoid contacting law enforcement or going to court for safety and protection against their abusers, and will fear being arrested and deported.

The specter of detention and deportation will only exacerbate the fear and distrust that dissuades marginalized LGBT people — including transgender women and sex workers — from coming forward to report crimes, to serve as witnesses, or to help law enforcement resolve crimes. 

These recent ICE enforcement actions will erode relationships between vulnerable communities and law enforcement, and will ultimately make people less safe. This is incredibly troubling, given that transgender women of color already face high levels of violence, and are even more vulnerable to violence and arrest if they are sex workers. 

See, for example, our friend-of-the-court brief in ESPLERP v. Gascón, where we showed that when the government criminalizes sex work, people involved in the sex trade fear law enforcement, arrests and penalties — which can lead to more violence against them.

We continue to stand with immigrants, especially LGBT immigrants and people living with HIV, and call for an end to draconian immigration enforcement practices that devastate our communities and tear our families apart.

We will continue to work with our allies and partners to fight for the safety, dignity and protection of LGBT immigrants and ensure that LGBT immigrant survivors of domestic violence and other crimes are able to go to court for legal protections and access services without fear of being arrested and deported. 

For more than 40 years, Lambda Legal has advocated for individuals who have fled countries where they were persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. As persecution of LGBTQ individuals continues abroad, like persecution based on one’s ethnic or racial background or religious or political views, the United States must act with compassion and welcome refugees fleeing prejudice-based violence in their homelands.

Resources

  • Lambda Legal’s Help Desk provides information and resources regarding discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status.
  • Immigration Equality: The nation’s leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization. Get Legal Help and FAQs
  • National Lawyers Guild’s National Immigration Project: Learn How to Protect You and Your Family During Immigration Raids in English and Spanish.

Emergency Raid Hotlines

  • Immigration Equality: 212-714-2904
  • United We Dream: 844-363-1423
  • Southern Poverty Law Center: 800-591-3656
  • Asian American Advancing Justice (Atlanta): 404-890-5655
  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA): 888-6-CHIRLA
  • CASA Raid Responses (Maryland, Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania): 301-431-4185
  • Community Defense Line (Travis County, Texas): 512-270-1515
  • Houston: 713-862-8222
  • Georgia Latino Alliance For Human Rights: 770-454-5232
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (Chicago): 855-435-7693
  • Immigrant Defense Project (New York): 212-725-6422
  • Long Island Dream Act Coalition: 516-387-2043
  • New Jersey Rapid Response Hotline: 800-308-0878
  • New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia: 267-333-9530 (Spanish), 267-345-5248 (Indonesian)
  • Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition: 888-622-1510
  • San Juan County Immigrant Protection Group: 360-376-7101, 206-365-2225 
Immigration