Last week, a series of before-dawn raids by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) were launched in a number of American cities in at least six States. Immigrant rights advocates and the Mexican government are redoubling efforts to support Mexican citizens in the States.
Where ICE once only targeted undocumented people who had been convicted of criminal activity, now they are detaining those without criminal records, according to a number of activists who deal with undocumented peoples’ legal cases.
Activists explain that many undocumented people do not know that they don’t need – by law – to open the door. If the undocumented person opens their door, that is where the trouble starts, explains Francisco Moreno, COFEM community director, who works with people affected by raids. “If the person opens the door, [the ICE officers] can register everyone that’s inside – even non-criminals.” Detainees are removed from their homes in handcuffs, taken to a vehicle outside, and asked questions, said Moreno.
“It’s hard to overstate how disruptive this is, how wrenching this can be – people picked up in a raid might be the only source of income for a whole family, dressed their kids for school in the morning, cooks for their family, they might be a person supporting an elder parent or young baby. To imagine that person would be ripped away – imagine how it could affect everyone around them is extremely serious,” a representative of activist group KIWA said.
In recent weeks, Mexico has hastily established a program called Somos Mexicanos – We are Mexicans – designed to inform freshly deported or otherwise returned citizens from the US of programs available to reintegrate them into Mexican society.
Mexico has been struggling in recent weeks to cope with a sudden influx of refugees from across the country and around the world – from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and countries in Africa – to its northern border towns, hoping to cross over into the US before the Trump administration further tightens border controls. Despite the sudden added pressure on its resources, Mexico has also managed to offer Haitian refugees and others papers where the US has made it clear it will not.