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Mass deportation scare keeps immigrants on edge

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By Dayo Benson, New York

Today (Wednesday), Americans are regaled with the testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller before the Congress Judiciary and Intelligence Committees over Russia interference in 2016 election. Many, especially immigrants communities, are however not oblivious of mass deportation threats hanging in the air. Most of them have remained indoors in the last couple of days. Those who dare to go out do so with trepidations. They look behind their shoulders. Their fears are not unfounded.

President Donald Trump on Friday July 12, in a tweet threatened that Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE), would begin removal of illegal immigrants from the US effective Sunday July 14. New arrivals in southern borders and those ordered to be removed by the courts are the main targets. ICE however hinted of collateral removal during raids on residences and workplaces. This implies that other illegal immigrants found during the raid would be picked up.

Earlier, Trump had in his usual tweet June 16, stated that the US Immigration officials would begin the process of removal of illegal aliens. The tweet came a day before Trump officially flagged off his 2020 re-election campaign in Orlando, Florida.

In the tweet was the central issue at the campaign rally.

“ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in”, Trump stated.

The President however gave a two -week reprieve June 22, for the Congress to find a bi-partisan solution to the loopholes at the US southern borders.

Democrats favour open border security which Trump described as “morally reprehensible.” Republicans are for tight borders. This ideological difference made bi-partisan deal unworkable.

Penultimate Friday, Trump tweeted that the deportations would start July 14. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Miami, New Orleans, Baltimore, Atlanta are the target Sanctuary Cities.

Buoyed by condemnations from Congress members and the media, Immigration Rights activists embarked on sensitization and enlightenment campaigns at immigrants communities. Mobile emergency volunteers made up of lawyers and activists were put on standby across the cities. Immigrants were instructed not to open their doors to ICE agents who are without court order duly signed by a judge. Surveillance cameras were installed outside some houses to monitor movements. Others sought shelters inside churches.

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Major streets and public places like shopping malls, stores, bus / train stations including subways were devoid of their bustling last week.

Ten days down the line, the number of removal made was a distance from the 2000 targeted. At a press briefing yesterday, ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence said “the number of individuals arrested pursuant to that operation was 35 individuals.” The agency blamed Congress members, Immigration rights activists and the press for overdramatizing the operation. Many fingers are however pointed at President Trump who gave an advance notice of the planned raid apparently to score political points.

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