Misguided policy is the order of the day — every day —under President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in their immigration crackdown.
They talk about deporting violent and dangerous criminals but manage to cast all undocumented immigrants as scary fugitives. They succeed at fueling hostility toward immigrants. It’s a dangerous way to carry out the law.
The latest: In an effort to get more sheriffs to use their jails as immigration detention centers, the president’s administration is moving to reduce basic protections immigrants receive while in detention, the New York Times reported Friday.
Current requirements for detention centers include language assistance for immigrants, consistent monitoring of those who are suicidal and communication with federal immigration officials when detainees spend two weeks or longer in solitary confinement.
Scaling back the rules would make it less burdensome to sheriffs and others who run jails. And the Trump administration needs more jails as it ramps up deportations.
But it contradicts long-held U.S. policy, the Times points out, that undocumented immigrants should be treated as “civil” detainees, not criminals. Protections for them had been put in place over several years as news accounts documented deaths and mistreatment of immigrants during detention.
While Trump has softened on some parts of his reckless America First agenda, it’s full steam ahead on expelling undocumented immigrants, a Trump campaign promise.
Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration is moving to put together the deportation force he promised during the campaign. The agency has found 33,000 beds to handle more deportations. To speed up the hiring of Customs and Border Patrol officers, the Department of Homeland Security is considering ending polygraph and physical fitness tests in some cases, the Post reported. How is that a good idea?
Tuesday, at the U.S.-Mexico border, Sessions told border agents the crackdown was aimed at drug and human traffickers as well as cartels to “take our stand against this filth.” In the same breath, he vowed to prosecute those who have fraudulent documents. They’re hardly in the same league with killers and rapists.
Here’s what Sessions leaves out: Immigrants who have committed no crime, except to cross into the United States for a better life, are being caught in his net. He should also mention that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are law-abiding. Studies have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the U.S.
But Sessions paints all undocumented immigrants “as a national security threat — when all evidence suggests that they are not,” Miranda Hallett, a professor of sociology at the University of Dayton, told the Christian Science Monitor.
Trump and Sessions love to stoke fear. Sometimes they do it clumsily. Following through on a Trump promise, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rolled out a Declined Detainer Outcome Report, a weekly list of law enforcement agencies that supposedly do not cooperate with requests to detain undocumented immigrants. The report was suspended after several municipalities pointed out they were wrongly included in the list.
Law enforcement agencies in Florida, Washington, Minnesota, New York, New Mexico and Pennsylvania were among those who complained about inaccuracies.
These reports were meant to shame sanctuary cities that put limits on cooperating with ICE to hold immigrants for the agency in local jails, a measure many have taken because of legal liability and economic issues. But the Trump administration ended up with egg on its face. If you try to link to the ICE report, you’ll see a note that says the agency is analyzing and refining reporting methodologies. It would be funny if it weren’t so irresponsible.
One thing we know about this administration: It has little regard for facts as it upends immigrants’ lives.
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