You wouldn’t know it from watching cable news or listening to the conversation in Washington, DC., but the immigrants being mistreated in detention facilities or targeted by ICE raids have a powerful ally: the American people. And that’s important to remember this weekend.
Beginning Sunday morning, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), by order of President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE, will begin a series of cruel, unnecessary raids aimed at rounding up, detaining and deporting thousands of people. Many of those immigrants detained will have had the removal orders against them filed in absentia — meaning they will have never been informed of the orders’ existence.
Among those specifically targeted will be families who had enrolled in the now-terminated Family Case Management Program — an effective, cost-efficient program that saw almost 100 percent compliance rates with immigration hearings and check-ins. Also targeted will be young immigrants who had previously been protected from deportation as unaccompanied minors, but who aged out of such protections when they turned 18.
By devoting resources to inflicting fear and hardship on immigrant communities at a time when children are being denied soap, toothpaste, blankets and other necessities in dangerously overcrowded Border Patrol facilities on the southern border, the administration is making the inhumanity of its policies plain for all to see.
Apart from their inhumanity, however, these immigration policies are also utterly ineffective at achieving their stated objective of discouraging migration. The administration came into office promising to block all irregular migration, but 30 months in, border crossings are at the highest level in more than a decade. And extensive evidence suggests that the acceleration of migration from Central America is a direct response to the administration’s threat to close the border.
The truth is, whether it is harmful treatment in detention facilities or this weekend’s expected raids, these flawed policies are profoundly out of step with the wishes of the American people.
Poll after poll shows majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents all view immigration as a good thing for this country. And new research from Global Strategy Group and the Immigration Hub exposes vulnerabilities for Trump on immigration — with less than half of all swing state general election voters supporting his immigration policies.
But this vulnerability will not automatically translate into an opportunity for Democrats unless they — as a party — do more than simply oppose the administration’s policies. This research suggest that Democrats must present realistic reforms to an immigration system that the vast majority of Americans believe needs to be changed.
The American people may not agree with Trump on immigration, but they know what he wants to do about it. The same cannot be said for the Democrats.
The good news, for all of us who want to see immigrants treated with respect and dignity and the foundational ideals of this country upheld, is that the American people are — on this issue as on so many others — way ahead of Washington, DC.
They want their leaders to stop playing politics and instead put forward common sense and humane solutions to fix our broken immigration system including: creating an earned pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, keeping families together and addressing the root causes of why families are fleeing to our southern border in the first place. They want greater accountability at ICE, not an ever expanding ICE presence that terrorizes families and communities.
As many Americans prepare for a typical summer weekend with family and friends, let’s not allow ourselves to turn a blind eye to the crisis in our midst. Let’s speak out against these raids and support the immigrant communities who will be targeted. Let’s oppose this administration’s cruel, unnecessary and ineffective policies.
But let’s also do more than that. Let’s articulate a better way forward that allows us to fix the real problems in our immigration system in a way that reflects the commands of our conscience and our highest ideals as Americans.
Marshall Fitz is the managing director of immigration at social change organization Emerson Collective. Fitz was previously vice president of immigration policy at American Progress and a former adviser to the Obama White House.