As the battle over DACA continues, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department have begun carrying out the Trump administration’s orders to locate and detain illegal immigrants for deportation. However, the new directive also gives ICE the authority to arrest legal Green Card holders who have been convicted of minor offenses.
The latest story involves a Michigan doctor who was arrested by immigration authorities and now faces possible deportation. According to CBS News, Lukasz Niec has been in the U.S. since he was three years old, and now, due to a technicality in immigration law, Niec has been detained and could end up being sent to a country he knows absolutely nothing about.
On Tuesday, Niec, who is a legal permanent resident, was removed from his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan and taken to the county jail on an immigration warrant believed to stem from an incident that took place while he was still a minor. According to reports, Niec was convicted on a misdemeanor property damage charge in 1992, when he was 17.
Although the record was sealed, as is the case with many youthful offenders, immigration authorities can still use the conviction as grounds for arrest and deportation under federal law.
Niec went on to overcome his rocky start in life and became a respected and well-liked physician of internal medicine at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. However, no amount of good standing in his community spared the doctor from being taken from his home and family.
Niec’s friends and family are now fighting to prevent him from being deported to Poland; a country Niec does not remember and has no ties to, other than the fact that his mother and father brought him to the U.S. as a child, ironically, to escape an authoritarian government and make better lives for themselves.
“He cannot be deported back to Poland, a country he doesn’t know, a country he has no family at,”
Since taking office, Trump has made good on his promise to revamp immigration, but the form it is taking has raised much concern among civil rights activists. One thing that has activists concerned is the fact that Trump has authorized immigration enforcement authorities to detain anyone suspected to be an illegal immigrant. Additionally, because there is no coherent policy on how agents are supposed to decide who may be in the country illegally, the fear is that it could lead to overly aggressive policing in neighborhoods with large concentrations of migrants.
As the extent of the Trump administration’s immigration policy continues to be revealed, it is apparent that more than the estimated 3.6 million DREAMers are in danger of deportation. Others like Lukasz Niec are also in the crosshairs of immigration authorities and could face arrest at any time.
According to Department of Homeland Security statistics, there are more than 13.3 million legal permanent residents in the United States. It is unclear how many in that number are youthful offenders or have been convicted of minor offenses and are now at risk of deportation.