This is what mass deportation looks like. In Atlanta, unshackled Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are terrorizing immigrant communities, making “nearly 80 percent more arrests in the first half of this year than it did in the same period last year,” the New York Times reports, “the largest increase of any field office in the country.” In the state, local law enforcement collude with ICE through a program known as 287(g), handing over undocumented moms and dads for even the most minor of traffic offenses. A broken taillight should never merit being torn from your family. But it could happen to parents like Gabriela Martinez, a single mom of three U.S. citizens:
She knew the risks. The father of her 5-, 7- and 10-year-old daughters, was deported after being pulled over in 2012. Ever since, she had taught the girls to be extra diligent about wearing seatbelts. Once Mr. Trump took office, she rode with friends and took Ubers as often as possible.
But she said she had no choice but to drive to her daughters’ school, to the doctor or to the houses she cleans. As rapidly as the Atlanta area has grown, public transit is practically absent outside Atlanta itself.
“Every time I pull out of here, I think, ‘Please, God, please, God, don’t let me get stopped,’” she said.
But last April, she was. Martinez was moving items to the family’s new home when she was pulled over for a broken taillight and held in the county jail for four days before being transferred to an immigration detention center. While Martinez was allowed to return home to her young children, she was fitted with an ankle bracelet and still faces possible deportation. But, her story isn’t unique. In the Gwinnett County area this past summer, “almost two-thirds of those detained for ICE had been charged with a traffic infraction such as failing to stay in their lane, speeding or driving without a license.”
Since Donald Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, ruthless ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have targeted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, undocumented immigrant parents with no criminal record, and even a 10-year-old special needs child following emergency gallbladder surgery. The girl, Rosamaria Hernandez, was kept in detention for over a week and denied two follow-up visits with her doctors.