Panic is palpable and no one feels safe, according to one student in Texas who spoke with High Times on condition of anonymity.
Since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a series of raids this month among immigrant communities around the country, hundreds of undocumented immigrants have been rounded up.
According to the Homeland Security webpage, last week’s ICE raids had netted at least 683 “criminal aliens.” And they continue.
But activists, lawyers and lawmakers have pointed to a sharp discrepancy between what ICE says their intentions are and what they are actually doing.
“Supposedly they are targeting people who pose a threat to public safety or have criminal records but they are going after people who looks like us,” said the law student who was born in the United States to legal Guatemalan parents.
Many other immigrant families are seeing and reporting in cities across the country that innocent people, without criminal records are being scooped up.
While ICE officials insist the operations are routine, many wonder who, exactly, is ICE is targeting for detention and deportation.
Take the case of Josue Romero, a 19-year-old college student from Honduras who was taken into custody last week by ICE after being charged with small-time pot possession.
Romero, an art student with a scholarship to Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, is a so-called DACA student (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an Obama-era program for young immigrants like Josue, meaning he is here legally and should not have been a priority for ICE’s raids.
But he was.
Thankfully, lawyers with RAICES, a Texas-based, non-profit that represents refugees and other immigrants, reported on Friday that they had secured Josue’s release from ICE custody.
While Romero’s release is welcome, some DACA recipients now feel like they’re fair game as far as ICE is concerned, even though their presence in the U.S. is totally legal.
Just last week, another DACA program participant, with no criminal record, was arrested in Seattle. According to a lawsuit filed on his behalf in federal court in Seattle, Daniel Ramirez Medina—who has a 3-year-old child, had a valid work permit and was working to save money to continue his education—now faces deportation.
Or maybe ICE, under Trump, considers possession of less than two ounces of weed to be a “significant misdemeanor offense” and justifies detention.
This would certainly be a bizarre position, among the already countless Trump dysfunctions, considering that more than half of the United States has legalized pot in some form.
And, in Houston and Harris County, officials are poised to decriminalize low-level pot possession, which puts the state’s largest city at the forefront of efforts in Texas to stop minor drug arrests which clog jails and courts.