You’d think that deporting felons would get you a round of applause. Well, not if you’re in Houston.
Local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced last week that they returned almost 15,800 undocumented workers to their home countries during the last fiscal year. Of those, 48% had previous criminal convictions. ICE’s Director of Detention and Removal Operations in the Houston district confirmed that the agency’s increased are raids aimed at getting “criminal aliens” out of the country.
Applause, applause, right?
Associate Director of the University of Houston Center for Mexican American Lorenzo Cano says no. “We’re treating undocumented Mexican workers as if they were part of Al-Qaeda,” he tells Hair Balls. “If someone who is undocumented is engaged in a felony, it would be difficult to argue for them, yes. But the problem is that the vast majority of these raids have been committed against people who are hard working and basically just trying to provide for their families.”
So ICE’s plans to go after felons? “I think they’re just doing a public relations campaign,” says Cano. “They have been swept up in this growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. These raids are uncalled for. These are politically motivated attacks against the people that are the least powerful, the least able to protect themselves. I feel this is wrong and a violation of their human rights.
He goes on, “We’re calling on the new administration for a moratorium on the raids until the Senate and the House are able to put together an immigration reform bill that would not violate the civil rights of these workers and their families.”
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But how do we protect ourselves against criminal immigrants – the murderers, thieves, rapists that are among the 15,800 ICE just picked up – if human rights advocates want us to have a moratorium on all raids?
“We live in two Americas: One that is xenophobic, racist, and sexist. And then there’s another U.S., that’s compassionate and understanding. One that knows we need to respect human rights. That’s what Americans need to think about.”
Compassionate? Understanding? I don’t know … we’ve never been very good at that when it came to felons.
— Olivia Flores Alvarez