By Sergio Bustos
May 19, 2017
MIRAMAR, Fla. — Pro-immigration activists rallied in front of federal immigration offices here late Friday to protest what they call the Trump administration’s “silent raids” to deport immigrants who appear for routine appointments with immigration officers.
The demonstration at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Miramar near Fort Lauderdale comes the same week ICE reported that arrests are up 37.6 percent compared to the previous year.
According to the agency, ICE deportation officers arrested 41,318 people between Jan. 22 and April 29, 2017, compared to 30,028 between Jan. 24 and April 30, 2016.
The agency said that close to 75 percent of those arrested in 2017 “are convicted criminals, with offenses ranging from homicide and assault to sexual abuse and drug-related charges.” It estimated that deportation officers have arrested more than 400 people a day since President Donald Trump’s immigration executive orders in January.
“These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,” ICE acting Director Thomas Homan said in a statement.
Maria Asuncion-Bilbao, a Miami organizer with United We Dream, a national pro-immigrant group with affiliates in 26 states, including Florida, described the actions of ICE as “silent raids, the new form of the deportation machine of the Trump administration.”
“With Trump’s arrival to the White House, arrests of undocumented immigrants have become way too frequent during court appearances and when they show up to immigration offices to renew temporary permits to stay in the country,” she said. “We will not tolerate these deportations, anymore.”
Asuncion-Bilbao said her group is ramping up its efforts in Florida, home to more than 4 million foreign-born residents who comprise about one in five Floridians. An estimated 610,000 are undocumented immigrants.
At Friday’s rally, Asuncion-Bilbao said she and other activists came to support a Mexican immigrant who arrived for an immigration appointment and was worried about being deported. The immigrant was not deported but given a June 23 date to appear before an immigration judge.
Asuncion-Bilbao said other immigrants who appeared at the Miramar office have been deported, noting the recent cases of two Nicaraguan immigrants: Espilvio Sánchez-Benavidez, who was seeking asylum, and Charles Rodríguez, who had a valid work visa and had a “stay of removal.”
POLITICO reporter Marianne LeVine contributed to this story.
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