Door-to-door raids by immigration officials are being carried out in predominantly Hispanic neighbourhoods in major American cities, operations that have raised concerned about racial profiling of minority groups by the Donald Trump administration. According to news reports, hundreds of arrests through mostly southern American states of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California and Texas have been made, most of the arrested believed to be from Mexico, or having Latin American background.
The Los Angeles Times quoted officials from US’ Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as billing the recent raids as “targeted enforcement operations” and “routine,” saying that they were focussed on detaining people with criminal backgrounds.
In what best describes the trauma that the affected immigrant communities are living through, a poster surfaced on social media which advised the community to “fight back” and don’t open doors” to government officials. The poster bears the name of United We Dream, which on its website calls itself an immigrant based group headquartered in Washington DC.
— Joe Brundidge (@Element615) February 11, 2017
(Source: Twitter/Joe Brundidge)
Reactions of immigration lawyers and from social media users to these raids indicate that entire communities are “living in fear” in the wake of these operations that have led to detentions and arrests.
@AnandWrites I can confirm from Austin, Texas. Our community is at a frenzy, families are in fear.
— Danny (@DannyRMunoz) February 11, 2017
(Source: Twitter/Danny R Munoz)
According to news reports, 200 people have been arrested across the states of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina in recent days, on top of another 150 who have been detained around the city of Los Angeles in California. Hispanic communities in the Republican Party stronghold of Texas are believed to be hit particularly hard by the ICE raids, with LA Times reporting a Mexican consulate official as saying that at least three arrests a day had been reported a day since Thursday.
Immigration rights groups are reportedly leading the resistance to the government’s policies, mobilising the community and organising protests.
A New York-based activist was quoted by Washington Post as addressing immigration advocates on a conference call,“We cannot understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities.”
Donald Trump has been seen as being critical of Mexicans right from the start of his campaign trail, even generalising them as “rapists” and “drug-dealers” several times during his speeches made during the successful presidential bid. The Washington Post reports that most of the Mexicans detained were men.
Deporting illegal immigrants had been one of the more controversial yet hugely popular of his campaign promises.
However, the Mexican community formed the largest foreign-born immigrant group in the US, as of 2014. At 11-million strong, Mexicans are spread across major American cities and are found in large numbers in the south which is next to the Mexican border. Any crackdown on illegal Mexican immigrants was, therefore, always going to reverberate in the broader Hispanic-American community and be politically controversial.
There have been reports of Mexican-Americans who have been American citizens being hassled by ICE officials, in a sign that the whole operation may have a racial undertone.