Various immigration activist groups have accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of deliberately targetting them, according to reports.
The body of groups, which included the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told NPR that they had identified more than 20 events in which immigration activists or volunteers were harassed by ICE agents. The harassment ranged from arrests to fines. The activists also claimed that the agency only became aware of them because of their advocacy for immigration reform.
“We're always at the marches and giving interviews, without fear of what could happen,” Zully Palacios Rodriguez, one activist caught by ICE, told NPR. “So to go against us is a way to intimidate the community.”
However, ICE has denied taking such actions and purposefully targetting activists. They defended their borderline-harassing overwatch by saying that all people who are violating immigration laws “may be subject to arrest, detention and … removal from the United States.”
“ICE does not target unlawfully present aliens for arrest based on advocacy positions they hold or in retaliation for critical comments they make,” Matthew Albence, executive associate director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, said in a statement to NPR. “Any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible, speculative and inaccurate.”
Relations between proponents and opponents of free immigration have become increasingly strained after the Trump administration announced its crackdown on immigration.
Even before his presidency, Donald Trump was a strong supporter of more strict immigration policy. Since taking office, he has tried staying true to his word. While the Obama administration had issued guidelines for deporting unauthorized immigrants by placing priority on criminals, Trump's new directives all the government to no longer “exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
The president has also made other moves against immigration. He has reviewed plans for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is an immigration policy that allows some individuals who entered the country illegally as minors to remain, and he has even tried to establish travel bans from Muslim-majority countries.
Due to his strict anti-immigration sentiment and his hateful rhetoric towards immigrants, Trump has been labeled a racist by many.
Of course, Democrats and activist groups have pushed back on the policy through legal means and advocacy.
Immigration groups sued ICE earlier this year for allegedly targeting immigration activists for possible deportation
Left-leaning politicians have used their power to stop some of Trump's immigration policies, such as the attempt by judges to ban enforcement against sanctuary cities and for the travel ban.
H/T: The Hill