As the dispute over DACA simmers in Congress, an immigration crisis of a different kind rages unabated, as federal agents have quietly begun stepping up immigration enforcement by targeting businesses believed to hire undocumented immigrants, according to Newsweek.
In addition to heightened efforts by the Trump administration to round up undocumented immigrants across the country, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched raids on more than 100 7-Eleven stores nationwide. According to Newsweek, this is the largest immigration enforcement activity undertaken since Trump became president, and ICE has signaled that this is just the beginning of an even larger operation.
This comes on the heels of a Congress that is unable to reach an agreement on DACA, whose nearly 800,000 participants are facing deportation as Trump’s six-month extension ticks down to its final moments.
The administration has also given law enforcement its blessing to target anyone believed to be an illegal migrant. The move has caused many in areas with high concentrations of migrants to fear for their safety if authorities begin sweeping these neighborhoods.
Trump’s directives also raised concerns among civil rights proponents that such actions amount to racial profiling. Trump’s orders shadow those of disgraced Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio was convicted for failing to obey a court order forbidding the controversial sheriff from arbitrarily targeting individuals as possible illegal immigrants. Arpaio was recently pardoned by Trump.
While most of the focus is on the fate of DACA recipients, there is a much larger group of people who will be adversely affected by Trump-era immigration policies. The so-called DREAMers are individuals who were illegally brought into the United States as infants or young minors by their parents. DREAMer is the name given to those who would have had protection under the now-defunct Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The bill would have provided protection from deportation similar to DACA, but it died in Congress back in 2001.
Although DREAMers are technically considered to be an illegal presence under federal law, they have spent most of their lives in the U.S. and know little or nothing about their countries of origin. Conversely, while DACA recipients still enjoy at least a temporary respite from deportation, DREAMers face deportation by authorities at any moment.
Many DREAMers have been in the U.S. for several years and now have spouses and children who are U.S. citizens. Consequently, any action against these individuals would not only separate families, but also put the deportee in potential danger by sending them into an unfamiliar country.
DACA would have been a possible path to citizenship for DREAMers, however, that door was slammed shut when the Trump administration declared this year that no new DACA requests will be accepted, leaving millions facing the prospect of immediate deportation.
There are an estimated 3.6 million DREAMers in the United States, according to USA Today.
Since the Trump administration began its war on illegal immigration, the crackdown has left many migrant communities paralyzed with fear. One notable incident occurred when ICE agents descended upon Las Cruces, New Mexico, on February 15, 2017. The New Yorker reported that just a few weeks after Trump authorized ICE to begin arresting undocumented migrants, federal agents raided a trailer park near the small town.
The raid led to more than 2,000 students missing school for two days, in fear that they would be detained.
Another casualty of Trump’s immigration policies are the so-called “safe zones.” Prior to the Trump administration, areas such as hospitals and places of worship were considered off-limits to enforcement actions. All of that changed when ICE agents arrested a 10-year-old girl, suffering from cerebral palsy, following surgery at a Texas hospital, as reported by the Inquisitr.
ICE agents reportedly followed the girl to the hospital and then waited until she was out of surgery. The agents then detained the ailing child and transported her to a detention facility located more than 150 miles away from her family.