The guidelines issued by the Trump administration on Tuesday laying out a blueprint for greatly expanded deportations of residents living in the United States without legal documents constitute a chilling and vindictive plan that violates all the values we as Americans and as Jews hold dear.
The effect of the memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security is to greatly expand the number of people who must now fear immediate and expedited deportation. Instead of focusing on violent criminals who constitute a threat to our society, the administration will now go after anyone accused of any infraction, even before their innocence or guilt is determined and even if it was a nonviolent misdemeanor many years ago.
Millions of people who were leading constructive, peaceful, productive lives, contributing to the American economy and paying taxes, will now be living in fear. Many have children who are US citizens – but they too must fear that their families will be broken apart.
The guidelines also include a provision allowing border officers, ICE agents or even local police to detain and then deport any undocumented individual whom they consider might be a risk to public safety. This is an open invitation to racial profiling. As the Washington Post states, “The document sends a message of fear through many of America’s immigrant communities — not just the estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants, but also their spouses, children and other relatives living legally in the United States.”
There are many other frightening aspects to the memos, including the fast-tracked legal proceedings that will give people caught in the administration’s dragnet little opportunity to receive a fair legal hearing before they are summarily deported. The administration says it is not planning on a mass deportation – but its intention to add 5,000 more Border Patrol agents and 10,000 additional ICE officers suggests otherwise.
As an organization that believes in justice and recognizes the crucial role that immigration has played and still plays in the life of our nation, J Street is committed to joining the fight against these policies. We will lend our political strength and expertise to the opposition and will join coalitions of like-minded groups in the fight against these measures. As a movement, many of whose family members have themselves been targeted and persecuted in living memory and throughout history, we feel a profound moral duty to stand up against such tyranny – and we will do so.