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USA Today Columnist: ICE Should Stop Taking Parents from Children

Courtesy of ICE

Courtesy of ICE

Janet Murguia
USA Today 

The immigration debate in America is the place where conservative principles — fiscal responsibility, federalism and the “preservation of the family unit” — go to die.

As we’ve seen over the past two months, a country that has for centuries been a beacon for the world’s immigrants is now pursuing policies that will surely leave her on the wrong side of history. President Trump’s immigration agenda — one fitfully symbolized by a yet-to-be-built wall — threatens to tear apart American families while leaving a trail of misery across the United States.

As the president’s budget moves from bluster to blueprint, we can clearly see that the campaign rhetoric used to rile racists was not a cynical appeal waiting to be washed away by reason. His funding requests to Congress have set in motion an attempt to massively expand detention camps and escalate an already large deportation force. To put these dollars in perspective, the United States already spends about $18 billion on immigration enforcement. That’s more than on all the other federal law enforcement agencies combined: the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the Federal Marshals Service and the Secret Service.

What confronts us now is scorched-earth immigration enforcement that will separate as many as 5.7 million American children from their parents. Some of them already have watched as newly emboldened Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have set upon their families. As White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer put it this past month, The president wants to “take the shackles off individuals in these agencies.”

This practice will have devastating consequences on our nation’s families, as illustrated by the story of 13-year-old Fatima Avelica, whose life was devastated in February by the president’s first nationwide immigration sweep. One month ago, she witnessed and captured on film the ICE arrest of her father Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez after they dropped her younger sister off at school. Agents were acting on a deportation order issued in 2014. Fatima sobbed from the back seat as her father, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has lived in the United States for more than 25 years, was put in handcuffs and taken away.

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