While President Donald Trump’s immigration policies are seemingly ever changing, there is one thing that seems to be a constant since he came into office: targeting activists who fight for immigration rights.
In an opinion piece for USA Today, immigrant rights organizer Tania Unzueta Carrasco tells all about her personal experience and how she’s seen her peers targeted by the federal government.
Several of her peers, including Daniela Vargas, Enrique Balcazar, Zully Palacios, Claudia Rueda, and Maru Mora-Villalpando, were detained by Border Patrol agents in 2017 after speaking out about different facets of immigration rights. Thus far in 2018, she said that two immigration activists from New York were detained by ICE, one deported and the other released, but still facing deportation.
While many have referenced former President Barack Obama’s past as “Deporter-in-Chief,” Unzueta Carrasco makes the argument that Trump is more dangerous.
“Former President Barack Obama’s administration deported millions of undocumented people and I sharply criticized him for it, as is my right,” Unzueta Carrasco wrote. “However, he did not systematically target those of us leading campaigns against his policies for our political views, dissent, or actions.”
As she pointed out, while the Trump administration started with penalizing immigration activists, a similar pushback could very easily shift towards other activists.
“This work is not just about what happens to immigrant communities,” she wrote. “The constitutional rights to gather, organize, and advocate are at stake for all of us.”
While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed fewer undocumented immigrants from the country in 2017 than any year in the Obama administration, ICE officers arrested more suspected undocumented immigrants in the months after Trump took office than in the same period the previous year.