The bad old days are back, and they're going to be worse than ever before.
The recent deportation to Mexico of Guadalupe García de Rayos, a Mesa mother whose worst crime was working at a local waterpark and getting scooped up in one of former sheriff Joe Arpaio's now-notorious immigration raids, has sent shock waves through the pro-immigrant community in Arizona and nationally.
But for anyone who paid attention to President Donald Trump's executive order on interior enforcement of immigration laws, it was no surprise.
In my column this week, I wrote about Trump's plans for the 11 million undocumented persons here in the United States, making the point that Trump's recent executive order goes much further than anything local nativist politicians are dreaming up.
Or ever have dreamed up. In the past, local immigrant-hating pols such as Arpaio, then-Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas, and state legislator Russell Pearce, with the consent of the voters who elected them, had created the legal framework for a state immigration crackdown.
Pearce's immigration law Senate Bill 1070 required local cops to act as immigration agents. Arpaio already had turned his agency into a mini-version of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, raiding workplaces and snatching up anyone who might be working illegally, such as Guadalupe Garcia.
Mothers were torn from their children, thrown in jail, and held nonbondable under the dictates of Prop 100, which denied bail to immigrants charged with a Class 4 felony or above. After 90 days in jail, Thomas' minions would allow them plead down to a Class 6 felony, which made them deportable.
That system was effectively dismantled by the federal courts, and those politicians have been tossed aside by the public. Slowly, the nauseating wave of nativism that swept over Arizona subsided.
President Obama deported more illegal aliens that any president in history — 2.5 million total — but his Department of Homeland Security also prioritized the deportation of serious criminals. Moms like Garcia were low priorities, and were allowed to remain in the U.S.
During the general election, Trump talked of deporting the "bad hombres." In his second presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, he stated that the U.S. has "many criminal aliens," who are "murderers and drug lords." He made it sound like those were the folks he would target if he became POTUS.
Trump has promised to cancel Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, which allows law abiding DREAMers to remain in the country. But he told Time magazine after the election that his administration would "work something out" that would "make people happy and proud."
So far, there has been no movement on the DACA kids by the Trump regime.
But Trump's January 25 executive order, titled "Public Safety in the Interior of the Unites States," did away with the Obama administration's policy of prioritizing dangerous criminals for removal. And in its place, he rolled out a Kafkaesque nightmare where just about anyone in the country illegally could be snatched up and booted out.
The order reads that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall prioritize for removal undocumented immigrants who have "committed any criminal offense," as well as those who have been charged but not convicted of a crime.
Moreover, if an illegal alien has "committed acts" that could constitute a criminal offense, they also are a priority for removal.
Ditto those who "are subject to a final order of removal," such as Garcia, who in 2013 was issued such an order. However, under Obama, ICE was allowing her to stay.
Pro-immigrant attorneys and activists charge that Garcia's arrest and deportation to Mexico is the first example of what life will be like for illegal immigrants under the Trump regime. And if one is to judge from Trump's EO on interior enforcement, they probably are right.
The Los Angeles Times has estimated that as many as 8 million people in the U.S. illegally could be subject to deportation under Trump's new dictates.
The vast majority of those people are not "bad hombres." They are our neighbors and friends. They may be the people cutting your lawn, cleaning the office you work at, or picking or preparing the food you eat.
In short, they are not a danger to us. They should be allowed to stay, and their immigration status should be normalized.
However, I fear that we are entering another era in American history that future inhabitants of this country will look back on with shame, like the Japanese internment or the failure to accept Jews fleeing the Nazi regime during World War II.
And while we are going through this time, those of us sympathetic to the plight of the undocumented will be tested. Not all of us have the stones that members of the Puente movement have, to block the busses carting away the Guadalupe Garcias of the world.
Still, we must each do our part, so that when another generation asks us what we did to stop the terror now roiling through immigrant communities, we will have an answer.
An answer we will not be ashamed of.
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