Migrants live in fear as US braces to arrest thousands

July 14, 2019
Donald Trump

NEW YORK (AFP) — Thousands of undocumented immigrants were waiting in fear and uncertainty ahead of nationwide raids yesterday President Donald Trump said would lead to a wave of expulsions.

Demonstrators in dozens of cities protested the planned raids, and local and state officials called for restraint, but to no effect.

Before dawn yesterday, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are expected to hit the streets of at least 10 major American cities with plans to arrest some 2,000 undocumented migrants who entered the United States recently.

The scope of the operation appears far more modest than the “millions” Trump had promised would be detained and expelled when he first mentioned the raids — and subsequently postponed — last month.

But that has not eased the anguish felt by those who fear they might be targeted.

Adding to their concerns are media reports ICE agents are prepared to scoop up not just those targeted by removal orders but also other undocumented migrants that agents may come upon incidentally.

That, potentially, could include some migrants who have been in the country for years, with homes, jobs and children who are US citizens.

“This uncertainty, this fear, is wreaking havoc,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on CNN. “It’s traumatizing people.”

Trump insisted on Friday that “most mayors” want the raids.

“Most mayors do. You know why? They don’t want to have crimes in their cities,” he said, repeating his frequent — and incorrect — assertion that migrants are more likely to be criminals than native-born Americans.

Several mayors have expressed concern about the federal operation.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez pointed out that in 2018, his first year in office, his Florida city experienced its “lowest homicide rate in 51 years — so I don’t understand the rationale for choosing Miami.”