Liany and Maria Villacis, 22-year-old twins with active Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, are dangerously close to losing both of their parents to Donald Trump’s immoral mass deportation force. In 2001, the family sought political asylum in the U.S. after they started receiving death threats in Colombia and “unsettling snapshots of the girls at play.” While they arrived to the U.S. with valid visas, they eventually had their political asylum applications denied. Still, they were allowed to stay here, so long as they continued checking in regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But “after this year’s meeting, they came home one short”:
On Nov. 15, Juan was detained and sent to the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey to await deportation to his native Ecuador in the coming weeks. His wife was allowed to go home, but under supervision and with orders to return this week to prove she has purchased a one-way ticket back to Colombia for mid-January. Their lawyer, Jillian Hopman, was stunned by what she saw as a heartless bureaucracy going after low-hanging fruit rather than the “bad hombres” of legend.
“For a family that does everything together, this is heartbreaking,” [family attorney Jillian] Hopman said. “Juan’s mother’s health has seriously deteriorated, and he is the one who cares for her. His wife has all kinds of medical problems, including complex cysts in her breasts. ICE did not care about any of this. Juan could have won the Nobel Prize and taken a bullet for Mike Pence. All he has become is a statistic.”
A statistic from what advocates have termed a “silent raid,” when undocumented immigrants, just trying to follow the rules by checking in with immigration officials, instead get arrested. Despite the administration saying that “bad hombres” would be the priority, these kinds of sweeps have surged since Trump’s inauguration, because they’re the easiest for immigration officials to prey on. And they’re among the most cruel and heartless kinds of arrests. According to Hopman, Juan wasn’t even allowed to give his girls and wife, also Liany, a hug good bye before being taken away. “They told us they no longer provide that courtesy,” the attorney told the New York Times, “because they don’t like emotional scenes.”