Immigrants who are doing all the right, legal things are now being arrested when they show up to do all the right, legal things. I think the Canadian backroad border crossings are going to get a lot busier.
Federal immigration officers arrested five people in Lawrence [Massachusetts] on Wednesday when they showed up for scheduled appointments at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.
WBUR has confirmed that at least three of those arrested were beginning the process to become legal permanent residents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says the agency had orders to detain each of the five individuals for deportation.
Brian Doyle, the attorney for one of the three people who were seeking green cards before they were arrested, says he knew there was a chance his client would be taken into custody at the appointment.
His client, a Brazilian national who had been ordered deported before she married a U.S. citizen, understood the risks as well, but ultimately decided that she wanted to keep the appointment and begin the green card process.
This, Doyle says, is an example of the difficult situation for many immigrants living in the country illegally, who are forced to weigh the costs and benefits of keeping an appointment with an immigration official in light of new deportation priorities set by President Trump.
“Now, they’re in a sort of catch-22 where, ‘All right, I’m being called in for this interview. I want to have this first step approved.’ If they don’t show up, it’s what’s called abandoned … USCIS just sort of assumes that they don’t want to go forward with it,” Doyle said. “But now, if they do show up, trying to take that first step and they’re detained, it can lead to them being removed.”
“What this means is that people who are eligible to obtain their green card in the United States, who are following the law, who are following the rules, who are doing what the government is instructing them to do, are going to be too terrified to show up and follow through with the process,” Church said. “And now a whole new category of people is going to go back into the shadow of immigration land and be living in fear.”
In a statement, ICE confirmed that officers were “responding to an investigative tip” when arresting the five foreign nationals at the USCIS office in Lawrence.
“All five individuals have final orders of removal issued by a federal immigration judge. All five will be held in custody pending removal from the United States,” the statement read.
When asked if the five people arrested had criminal records, an ICE spokesman said two of the people had no criminal record while the other three had “multiple traffic violations.”
Oh, traffic violations, the horror! Guess it’s a good thing these people are being ripped away from their families, and being punished for following the law, because traffic tickets, well, what could be worse?