5 Horrifying Ways America's Hunting Undocumented Immigrants
Being an undocumented immigrant is like playing the world's highest-stakes game of hide and seek. They're already been cut off from entire swaths of society, but under the, ahem, current political climate, things are getting worse. Authorities are now craftier than ever when it comes to nailing those disgusting criminals who dared to try to live a better life. For example ...
They Ambush People In Hospitals
ICE is back with a brand-new invention -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that is. Some branches have tried to visit hospitals to "develop potential sources of information," despite the fact that hospitals are considered "sensitive locations" that should be off-limits. Thankfully, hospital staff have been turning them away, but sometimes ICE officers actually need to go to the hospital when a detainee has a medical emergency, like when Sara Beltran-Hernandez got sick while detained in Praireland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas.
She was taken to the hospital, where her family couldn't seem to find her. According to her lawyer, she wasn't even listed as a patient. Once the attorney finally tracked Sara down -- alone, with possible brain damage, and only ICE agents and hospital staff to speak to (or for) her -- they still weren't allowed to contact her. This went beyond not having a phone; ICE employed Magneto-level security protocols for a 26-year-old mother of two.
Ultimately, Sara was diagnosed with a brain tumor, though a benign and operable one. That was the last of her good luck. After over a week in the hospital, her doctor told ICE agents that she was in stable condition, but still in need of surgery. They took that as a cue to bring her back to the detention center, where she was held in isolation. She claims that she was basically dumped directly out of her wheelchair, tied up by the hands and ankles, and refused treatment. ICE has denied all of it, but fortunately, she was later released on bond, and ICE learned their lesson.
Just kidding. They recently did the same thing to a ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who was on her to way to the hospital for surgery.
They'll Deport You Even If You're Trying To Report A Crime
Imagine you're minding your own business, walking home from your shift at the Fleshlight factory, when someone commits a heinous crime in front of you. What do you do? Hightail it the fuck to the police station, right? But what if you knew that by doing so, you would destroy your whole life? That's reality for people like Danny Sigui, who was rewarded for providing key testimony which put a murderer behind bars with ... an unceremonious deportation. Local law enforcement agencies have been trying to rebuild trust with the undocumented community, recognizing that murder is probably a more severe crime than existing, but ICE saw this and thought, "Wait guys, what if we posed as police? You know, the people they're supposed to trust?"
Technically, of course, ICE are police. You just might not expect to find them in a family courtroom, which is exactly where they've been hanging out, dressed in normal police garb that in no way identifies them as immigration agents. It's the perfect cover to catch dangerous scum like abused women who make the mistake of trying to get restraining orders. This has led to a death in at least one case. In September 2017, Juan Coronilla-Guerrero went to his local courthouse for what he thought would be a routine hearing, when he was detained and sent back to Mexico City -- which he left after a local gang put a price on his head. Guess what happened when he returned? Even his wife (with whom he was presumably not on the best terms, considering that the initial hearing was regarding a family violence charge against him) urged the judge not to deport him, because he very well might not survive the trip. And he didn't.
Sometimes they don't even wait for their targets to come to them. They've been caught knocking on people's doors in Los Angeles, pretending to be conducting an investigation. In Connecticut, they tried to lure a woman to a courthouse with a series of bizarre text messages. In each instance, ICE pretended to be local, ordinary police, like the shittiest kind of Decepticon.
They Target Human Trafficking Victims
Contrary to what your friendly neighborhood propagandist would have you believe, not everyone who comes to the U.S. is altogether thrilled about it. Exhibit A: the country's entire history.
It's not just history, though. The American slave trade is still alive and kicking, trafficking hundreds of thousands of victims who are forced to provide free labor (or worse). If they manage to escape, they face an entirely new trauma: being targeted by ICE.
Such was the case for "Ana," an anonymous Central American teenager. Her family had sold her to an American man for housekeeping and, um, other services. Fortunately, she escaped her captors, found a shelter, and began the process of applying for residency. It might seem like ICE arranging transportation back to the country she never asked to leave would be the most desirable outcome for everyone, but would you want to go back to a family that did that to you? Ana sure didn't, and as a human trafficking victim, she would most certainly qualify for asylum. A judge had already ruled that it didn't make sense to deport her. ICE didn't see it that way, though, and instead descended upon the shelter to arrest her, and throw her in a place that is prison in all but name. On her 18th birthday.
This isn't an isolated incident. In New York, ICE attempted to detain a Chinese woman charged with "working illegally as a masseuse" -- you know, something she obviously never wanted to do. Her lawyers managed to finagle her out of there and into a program for human trafficking victims, but it was a close call. Wanna guess where they tracked her down? Yep. In court.
They Can Impersonate Family Members
Like the witches in Hocus Pocus, ICE officials can't step foot on church grounds. No, seriously. Like hospitals, churches are considered "sensitive locations," which is legal speak for "Have some goddamn decency." Reynold Garcia might or might not have known that when he arrived at church at 4 a.m. one day, in incredibly urgent "Holy shit, it's 4 a.m., why am I doing anything right now" need of support. His wife and children had been arrested and taken to a detention center the previous day. And then, to make things worse, his phone started blowing up with texts from his wife's cousin, Noel Coria, frantically explaining that he'd been in a car accident. Garcia then received a call from the police, who told him that he needed to come down to the station to fill out paperwork as part owner of the car. They even offered Garcia a ride.
Well, you know how that went at this point. When Garcia left church, he saw a man in a police vest waiting for him (not in the sanctified church parking lot, but in the McDonald's parking lot next door -- the opposite of holy ground). After Garcia got into the unmarked vehicle, it didn't take Admiral Ackbar to realize it was a trap. It turned out Coria had been arrested on his way to church, and ICE used his phone to impersonate him. Garcia was taken to the detention center, and deported along with his family.
Given that ICE had all but played "I'm not touching you" with the church, the operation may have violated the Fourth Amendment, or the ICE policy about sensitive locations. Aside from treating the grounds like Highlander rules, they're not supposed to disrupt services at all, and luring a worshiper outside certainly seems like it should count. Busting up churches and dragging devout families across the border simply aren't good optics.
They Snag Hotel Guest Lists For Surprise Deportations
Nothing says "the good life" like a night at the Motel 6 -- eating complimentary packages of coffee creamer, watching complimentary network television, and trying not to get stabbed by renegade mattress springs. Such was the heaven in which Manuel Rodriguez Juarez found himself after a fight with his girlfriend. He was already having a rough time, but it got comically worse when ICE agents surprised and arrested him. When asked how they were able to identify him, ICE said they were "just following a lead" -- i.e. someone reported him. Man, you ever been so mad at your partner that you had them deported?
But it wasn't the girlfriend; it was the motel. Every morning at around 5 a.m., an employee turned over a complete list of guests to ICE. According to Motel 6, this was not their policy (it seems the employees of that specific motel had decided to go vigilante) and they would be prohibiting the practice company-wide. But it bears mentioning that it's not uncommon for roach motels to share their guest lists with law enforcement. After all, fugitives looking for a rest stop don't exactly have many options.
Abraham is a Mexican lawyer, so ICE can't arrest him, but you can deport him to your heart on Twitter here, or look at his art stuff here. Alex Perry is a freelancer who wrote a novel about a time-traveling stalker and a heartwarming kids' book about a boy and his genetically modified pig/organ donor. She wants an agent to help her sell those books, and for you to follow her on Twitter.
Immigrants and refugees have it incredibly difficult. Read the story of Imaculee Ilibagiza's survival of the Rwandan Genocide in her book Left To Tell.
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For more, check out 5 Things I Learned Sneaking Over the U.S.-Mexico Border and So You Want to Be an American: 5 Circles of Immigration Hell.
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