No one in Kentucky would argue that U.S. policy on deportation of undocumented immigrants hasn’t undergone a change. Raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency across the country resulted in the arrests of nearly 700 individuals. Many are calling it a mass enforcement operation.
Some hail the actions as necessary, while immigration advocates are critical. One group under the umbrella of the group United We Dream says, “It is time to sound the national alarm bell.” For anyone fighting deportation efforts, that may well ring true, but some say a more reasoned examination of conditions is called for.
This is something that one media outlet appears to be trying for. The source is somewhat surprising – it’s Voice of America, the government funded global broadcast operation. What makes the story particularly interesting is that it doesn’t sweep the issue under the rug. Rather, it tries to explain that the reality of things is more nuanced.
VOA notes how President Obama’s administration deported some 2.5 million people during his two terms. Policy at the border meant unauthorized immigrants faced a greater likelihood of formal removal or arrest on criminal charges. One big focus of ICE action starting in 2014 was undocumented individuals with criminal records. President Obama directed officers to limit their focus and not worry about individuals caught in raids whose only crime was being undocumented.
That’s where the Trump policy seems different. Before, officers steered clear of collateral arrests beyond those being targeted. Now, ICE officials are saying determinations of those caught up as part of the recent sweeps will be made case by case.
The VOA report says it’s still too early to say how significantly Trump’s policies will change compared to Obama’s. Meanwhile, a Syracuse University operation that tracks enforcement trends says it is beginning to collect data that will provide a clearer picture of how things play out.
At the same time, saying there’s a need to address fears rising immigrant communities, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wants ICE to provide data on the recent operations. Members say they want to help protect immigrants’ rights. Consulting with an attorney is another way to allay possible concerns.