ICE agents
Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/flickr

I think it’s safe to say that if white Americans were being subjected to the current practices this administration has implemented against brown and black immigrants, the entire country would be in an uproar. But would-be dictators have long known that you can get away with a lot when your targets are those “others.”

We now know that the regular practice of DHS is to prosecute any undocumented immigrant as a criminal and separate them from their children, detaining both in facilities where even a United States senator was denied entrance. We also know that this country will no longer provide the possibility of asylum to women who are attempting to escape domestic violence.

As people all over the country are rounded up in numbers that have the Trump administration considering tent cities to house their children, and over 1,600 adults have been transferred to federal prisons, it is important to note that no immigrant, no matter their legal status, is safe. The stories continue to be told, but this one stood out to me:

Jose Luis Garcia, 62, was watering his lawn and having his morning coffee outside his Arleta home when ICE agents put him in handcuffs and detained him, according to his daughter, Natalie Garcia.

The arrest came as a shock to the 32-year-old Garcia, who said that her father is a law-abiding, legal permanent resident who came to the United States nearly 50 years ago when he was 13-years-old.

As a legal permanent resident, you might wonder why was Garcia arrested?

Garcia said her father has a conviction for a misdemeanor stemming from a domestic violence dispute with her mother that occurred 18 years ago. Her father completed his sentence for that conviction, which was anger management classes and reporting to probation, she said.

ICE officials confirmed in a statement that Garcia, who is a citizen of Mexico, was arrested by deportation officers on Sunday.

“Databases reveal that Mr. Garcia has past criminal convictions that make him amenable to removal from the United States,” the statement said.

Mr. Garcia is neither a criminal nor undocumented. An 18-year-old conviction for which he completed his sentence is the reason Garcia is sitting in detention today awaiting possible deportation.

Perhaps you assume that becoming a naturalized citizen would protect immigrants from arrest. For many, it might not. In an interview with the Associated Press this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna said that his agency is in the midst of hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to investigate people who might have used fake identities to obtain green cards and apply for citizenship. Given that the president constantly claims that ICE is only targeting criminal gang members for deportation, and DHS Secretary Nielsen’s statement that separating children from their parents is only done to protect the children, these kinds of assurances can’t be trusted.

Cissna said there are valid reasons why immigrants might be listed under multiple names, noting many Latin American immigrants have more than one surname. He said the U.S. government is not interested in that kind of minor discrepancy but wants to target people who deliberately changed their identities to dupe officials into granting immigration benefits.

No immigrant in this country, legal or otherwise, is safe. That is because this administration’s immigration policies aren’t based on justice…they are based on lies.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.