What People Are Saying About Homeland Security's Plan to Crack Down on Immigrants

Scene from a travel ban protest at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Scene from a travel ban protest at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Melissa Fossum
This morning, the Department of Homeland Security announced its new plans to enforce President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

Among the changes: tripling the number of agents who work in ICE’s Enforcement and Removal division, and deporting immigrants before their cases have been heard in immigration court.

In addition, anyone who’s been charged with a crime or has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” is now considered a priority for deportation.

That includes people like Guadalupe Garcia who are guilty of nonviolent (and typically victimless) crimes like driving without a license or applying for a job with a fake social security number.

That’s just bad policy, David Leopold, the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, argues.

“The immigration enforcement priorities are what keep us safe,” he explained in a question-and-answer session for America’s Voice, a group that advocates for immigration reform.

“If they’re spending resources on getting the bad people, then we’re safer. They’re spending resources on the people who are easier to find — the law-abiding folks. Who’s easier to find: a woman who’s tired after a day washing dishes, or a hardened criminal?”

“The priority of the Trump administration is to instill fear and panic,” he added.

We'll be updating this post throughout the day as Arizonans react to the new executive orders. In the meantime, here's a sampling of the initial response on Twitter.  Update 12:11 p.m.: Activists from LUCHA, Living United For Change in Arizona, will be at the State Capitol today at 4:30 p.m. to provide an update about what the new policies will mean and inform community members of their legal rights. More information here.

Update 1:31 p.m.: The Arizona Democratic Party is asking anyone who disagrees with Trump's new deportation plan to sign a petition voicing their opposition.

Update 2:06 p.m.: James Garcia, communications director for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says that the new immigration policies will have “a tangible real world effect” in Arizona.

There’s an estimated 350,000 undocumented immigrants living in the state, all of whom contribute to the local economy in various different ways.

“That’s a substantial number of people — that’s a city,” he says. “Those are people who spend money, fuel this economy, do jobs that most people don’t want to do.”

And many of those people have family members who are legal United States citizens, meaning there’s likely to be a ripple effect.

“When undocumented people leave, they don’t just leave by themselves,” Garcia points out. “They leave with children, they leave with spouses. When they leave, they take all of their economic impact with them. These are people who were pumping money into the tax system.”

Roughly a fourth to a third of the small businesses in Arizona are owned by Hispanic immigrants — including some who are undocumented or have DACA. They’re likely to be hit hard by the new policies.

Anecdotally, Garcia heard that some businesses have already seen their customer base drop because undocumented immigrants are scared to be out and on the streets.

“People are limiting their movements, they’re changing their patterns in life to avoid getting into a situation if they can,” he says.

Arizona has been through this before thanks to SB 1070, Garcia points out.

“When you go out and talk to major construction firms, you here that it is a lot of harder to find enough workers,” he says. “They’re still feeling the consequences of SB 1070.”

Update 3:40 p.m.: Rep. Ruben Gallego has issued the following statement condemning the new policies:

“These new guidelines tell us one thing: the Trump administration is willing to go after just about any member of the immigrant community. Last week, ICE arrested a DACA recipient and continues to hold him in custody without showing sufficient cause for his detention. Now the administration releases guidelines that lay the groundwork for mass deportation and tries to sell it to the American people as business-as-usual. This is far from the truth.

“Under these new rules, ICE can go after people who have not been found guilty of committing a crime and remove them from the country within days of their arrest. It also strips anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of many due process protections. These are not the values our country was founded on.

“I am dedicated to holding the Trump administration accountable and will continue to call out these policies for what they are: un-American.”

Update 4:39 p.m.: Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, has released the following statement:

“These directives lay out a blueprint for mass deportation. They bring to life some of the worst of Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and threaten to tear apart families and leave U.S. citizens without parents, children, husbands and wives. It’s not who we are as a country to rule by fear, confusion and cruelty.”

“The ACLU is also concerned about the Trump administration’s prioritization of immigrant detention. Asylum seekers, families and others who pose no risk to the public do not belong in jails, lining the pockets of for-profit prison corporations.”

“Furthermore, rushing to incorporate a massive number of new federal agents into an undertrained and inexperienced deportation force, which may be cooperating with state and local police, is a perfect formula for large-scale racial profiling and other constitutional violations, including unlawful searches and detentions.”
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Antonia Noori Farzan is a staff writer at New Times and an honors graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Before moving to Arizona, she worked for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach.