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ICE raids by the thousands are not the American way

Before launching the raids, which will rip families apart, the Trump administration might want to rethink things.

An agreement between the Chicago Police Department and federal immigration authorities draw questions about the city’s “sanctuary status.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents make an arrest in February, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Photo by Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Before swooping down on immigrants whose only offense was to enter the United States illegally, federal agents, with their guns and handcuffs, might first want to arrest all those who have committed serious crimes.

Most Americans would be good with that.

Before breaking up immigrant families in Pilsen and Little Village, hauling off mothers and fathers while children cry, the Trump administration might first want to grant citizenship to some 700,000 undocumented young men and women who were brought to this country as small children.

They grew up watching “Sesame Street” in English and attended American schools and colleges. They are true nieces and nephews of Uncle Sam in every way, except in how they got here.

Most Americans would be good with that, too.

Before hauling away men and women who came here illegally but get up every day to do the menial jobs that make the American economy hum, the Trump administration might want to consult with the tens of thousands of businesses that rely on those workers.

According to a study by New American Economy, a bipartisan research group, a fifth of the country’s cooks and 24 percent of maids and housecleaners are undocumented. Thirty-six percent of all agricultural workers are undocumented.

Not for nothing have business groups all but begged the Trump administration and Congress to end the harassment and come up with a more comprehensive solution to the problem of illegal immigration. In May, the National Restaurant Association and other groups sued the administration over a rule that employers must verify employees’ Social Security numbers.

Beginning Sunday, unless President Donald Trump again changes his mind, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is scheduled to conduct raids in major cities across the country, including Chicago, arresting thousands of members of undocumented families.

The raids are to continue for several days and will include “collateral” apprehensions — the arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants who happen to be on the scene even if they are not a named target.

Before launching the raids, which will rip families apart and put more children in detention camps, the Trump administration might want to rethink any good this might do. ICE will never have enough manpower and detention facilities to deport even a significant fraction of our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

And most Americans will never have the heart.

Before embarking on a wave of raids that is un-American to its core, we would ask the Trump administration to dig deep and discover a virtue that has been in short supply — empathy.

The roots of our nation’s immigration problems are tangled and deep. They require a multi-pronged solution that balances border security and compassion, without the thuggery.

No matter what Trump says, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants ICE hopes to round up are not “rapists” or “killers.” They are ordinary men and women, like the waves of immigrants going back to our nation’s beginnings, looking to escape dead-end lives and ready to work for better lives.

Most Americans know that.

Trump knows it, too, or maybe not. Truth is not his thing and, either way, he doesn’t care.

As long as Trump thinks ICE raids might help him get reelected, we’re going to get ICE raids, no matter how pointless or cruel.

So resist.

Go to a rally protesting the raids. Support Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s refusal to allow the Chicago police, or any city agency, to work with ICE.

If you’re an undocumented immigrant, don’t answer the door. ICE agents can’t enter your home without a warrant from a judge.

Wholesale raids on immigrant families on a Sunday morning are not the American way.

As Americans, we know that.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.