Kenneth Roth writes: Twenty-year-old Alexis G. was deported in June to Mexico, a country he barely knows. He told Human Rights Watch researchers who interviewed him at a migrant reception center, “My parents brought me [to the United States], and I grew up in [there]. If I were to sing an anthem right now, it would be ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ I don’t know the Mexican anthem.” He is one of millions of people deeply integrated into American life whom President Donald Trump has turned into “priority targets” for deportation, even though they cannot be removed without devastating their American families, businesses, and communities. With Trump due to name a new secretary of Homeland Security to replace John Kelly, these cruel policies should face renewed scrutiny during his successor’s confirmation hearings.
Alexis, whose wife Maryjo was born in the US, had temporary protection from deportation under President Barack Obama’s program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but he said he couldn’t afford the $500 fee to renew it when it expired in 2016. After a scuffle involving his brothers at a small-town carnival in June, Alexis was arrested, handed over to immigration agents, and quickly deported. He told Human Rights Watch, “You feel like you don’t belong anywhere, you’re stuck in the middle… It hurts. Do I not count?”
Alexis isn’t a rapist or a killer, but President Donald Trump speaks as if he, along with the rest of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, is a threat to public safety. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants—an estimated 92.5 percent—have no criminal records, and studies have shown a correlation between higher levels of immigration and safer neighborhoods. Yet Trump and his supporters continue to argue that most unauthorized immigrants are actual or potential criminals. [Continue reading…]