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New deportation orders have immigrant advocates in Minnesota scrambling

MinnPost photo by Ibrahim Hirsi
About 100 people gathered at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office at Fort Snelling last November to protest against deportations of Cambodian-Americans.

The sweeping immigration enforcement plan the U.S. Department of Homeland Security unveiled this week to deport millions of undocumented immigrants has left community advocates in Minnesota reeling. 

“This has zero consideration for humanity,” said Vichet Chhuon, associate professor at the University of Minnesota and Cambodian-American community advocate. “It just feels like this administration is really moving in full force.”

The deportation memo calls for measures to expedite the removal of an estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the United States, including those charged with non-violent offenses, like shoplifting and traffic violations.

The plan also seeks to expand a federal program that allows qualified state or local law enforcement officers to receive training from Homeland Security, which then designates the officers as “immigration officers” to enforce immigration laws.

“It could be Minneapolis [or] it could be St. James,” said John Keller of the Immigration Center of Minnesota speaking Wednesday night at a community event in Minneapolis. “Any state or local unit will have the option to seek that training.”

Under the Obama administration, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — the agency that administers deportation orders — prioritized extraditing violent criminals who posed a threat to public safety and national security. The new order, however, targets all undocumented immigrants, except for people who came to the U.S. as children and parents of U.S. citizens.    

The order also expands the “expedited removal” protocol, which was created to immediately expel unauthorized immigrants without court involvement. Under the previous administration, this removal applied only to people caught within 100 miles of the border and 14 days of entry. The new rule, however, stretches that period to two years and makes expedited removal applicable across the country.

“So, proven advice from attorneys after reading this now is that … you should be carrying at least two years plus of proof you’ve been in the United States to not be subject to expedited removal,” Keller said. 

On top of that, as detailed in the memo, the administration plans to hire more than 15,000 additional immigration officials to implement deportations and help strengthen border protection.

“[Trump] wants to be fast and he wants to have a big expanse, and nobody is safe anywhere anymore,” said Tyler Moroles, co-chair of the Minnesota Latino DFL Caucus.

The plan is among several executive orders the president issued during his first weeks in the White House, plans that have also included building a wall along the Southern border, temporarily banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries and cutting federal funding to sanctuary cities.

The immigration ban triggered demonstrations in several U.S. airports, where hundreds of travelers lawfully entering the country were detained for hours. A week later, a federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked the ban.

Moroles said the plan announcing the mass deportations doesn’t come to him as a surprise: Trump, after all, has been saying this at campaign rallies for the past year and a half. “It’s clear that Donald Trump has come across a lot of institutional constraints,” he added. “Now he’s coming to the realization that it is not possible unless he starts to be creative with his executive branch.” 

Fear of deportations

The announcement comes days after federal immigration officials reportedly arrested more than 600 people in several states nationwide, including New York, North Carolina, Missouri and Wisconsin.

In Minnesota — home to an estimated 95,000 undocumented immigrants — there haven’t been official reports linking local incidents to the nationwide sweep, though Moroles noted several ICE raids that took place in some parts of the state. “There have been raids and there have been extractions of undocumented immigrants and separating families,” he said, adding that leaders in his community have put “rapid responses” in place for victims of deportation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detaining a suspect
Courtesy Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detaining a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles on February 7.

“We’re using social media and we’re making sure to show up to places where this is happening and where there will be legal proceedings for the abducted people,” he said. “For instance, if someone was taken, we’d say ‘Hey, make sure to show up to this event and make … a lot of noise.’”

Chhuon, the U of M professor, has long been involved in protests that were aimed at shedding light on the Cambodian-American community, some of whom face deportation. But the recent nationwide raids and the new plan to expatriate millions of undocumented residents, he said, have further accentuated the community’s fear.

Henry Jiménez, executive director of Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs, said the president’s rhetoric and actions paint immigrant communities in a criminal light, despite the fact that they have revived abandoned neighborhoods across the nation and make up a significant portion of the country’s workforce.

“The narrative at the national level seems to be persistent even here at the state level,” Jiménez said. “It’s important for us to keep this narrative positive. But when you have executive actions like this, it makes it more difficult to have conversations about the positive impacts that immigrants have on the state of Minnesota.”

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by David LaPorte on 02/23/2017 - 11:42 am.

    Trump needs Ryan, and Ryan said “no”

    Hiring over 15,000 new immigration agents will cost roughly $1 BILLION. It seems highly unlikely that ICE (of even Homeland Security) has that much loose change on hand. If not, then they’ll need the House to allocate that money and the Senate to approve it.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked about a deportation task force on a nationally televised CNN town hall forum and had this to say:

    “Everybody thinks that there’s some deportation force that’s being assembled. That’s not happening; that’s not true.” When Jake Tapper pointed out that Trump had said that it WAS happening, Ryan said: “And I’m here to tell you, in Congress, that’s not happening,”

    I guess that this is when we’ll find out if Ryan has the integrity to stand up to Trump.

    It’s also interesting the Trump doesn’t understand how budgeting works in the Federal Government. And this isn’t the first time that he’s thought that he could mandate that money be spent. This is part of the Checks and Balances that the Framers envisioned and which Trump would like to ignore.

  2. Submitted by Russell Booth on 02/23/2017 - 04:17 pm.

    if there are not enough domestic terror incidents,

    and the current presidential administration seems to believe that, making some up out of thin air to help promote their agenda, then tearing apart the families of 11 million people seems like a good plan to generate more.

  3. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/23/2017 - 08:57 pm.

    Wrong title

    Why does the title refer to “immigrant advocates” instead of “illegal immigrant advocates?” Don’t the titles have to be factually correct? All Trump’s executive orders are about only illegal immigrans…

  4. Submitted by John Appelen on 02/23/2017 - 10:41 pm.

    So Confusing

    “positive impacts that immigrants have on the state of Minnesota”

    Why is it that liberal writers keep describing these individuals as immigrants?

    Is it a conscience effort to confuse the issue and the readers? There are ~1 million legal immigrants who join our population every year. They file forms, submit to background checks and get permission to enter the USA and stay here. Now these are the people I identify as immigrants.

    Then there is the other group of people who illegally entered the USA or over stayed their legal authorization to be here. Now I feel for these folks but I certainly am not going to call them immigrants. Thoughts?

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/24/2017 - 10:18 am.

      The broader view

      The illegals could be given a path to be legal. If you take the (republican) run the Government like a business approach, the ROI would probably (that is an opinionated guess/but suspect it is reasonably true) be far greater that way, than spending the $Billions to round up vulnerable, desperate folks (human beings) and build walls to nowhere! But that is a 3rd option, not allowed in a black/white, good/evil, legal/illegal, thinking mentality.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/24/2017 - 12:58 pm.


        If a bunch of people snuck into a general admission concert with no tickets, therefore a bunch of valid ticket owners are stuck outside the full stadium…

        Now you can identify the “no ticket” attendees and remove them with some effort. Or you can let them stay and enjoy the concert.

        What would you recommend doing?
        What future behaviors do you promote by doing so?

        You know how the illegal attendees snuck in. You can block that access path or keep letting people without tickets sneak in.

        What would you recommend doing?
        What future behaviors do you promote by doing so?

        Often I would expend more time guiding my children than it was worth in that moment or for that one event, however by setting the correct precedent it greatly reduced future issues. My point is that providing pardons and leaving the gate open will just promote more illegal entry and continuing poor pay for many legal workers.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/24/2017 - 03:05 pm.

          Poor try!

          These are peoples lives not concert tickets, as noted (black/white, good/bad, enemy/friend) just can’t see that 3rd option as being a better financial as well as overall humanitarian option. These people must be punished for trying to stay alive or better their situation, we can only have winners/losers, win/win not in the lexicon, just like Trump!

          A. Promote doing, was clearly explained: A win/win, from a financial and humanitarian perspective we are all better off (do you want me to write the plan, seems all those smartest guys Trump hired are incapable of anything past,”round em up head em out”!
          B. Future behaviors: How about the ones we promote by not doing it? Inhumanity (these are human beings) or is it illegal to be human if you don’t speak the same language or you try to survive? In your version better off to tear families apart, throw them into vulnerable and desperate situations, that will teach them! What? To hate us for having no humanity, compassion, understanding? Hey, starting to feel like those WWII S/S folks already, that will teach you to have the wrong religion!
          C. Snuck in! Kind of like, you should have stayed where you were and suffered under the deplorable conditions, you are terrible people for wanting something better for your family, now you must pay, and pay dearly for wanting a better life. That will teach them more about our humanity.
          D. Already provided those recommendations (door number 3) but since its not a winner/loser but a financial and humanitarian winner/winner, it won’t work, Trump and gang have to bully someone, they must keep beating those (illegal) immigrants, they are the problem, back in the 30’s-40’s they just had different names!
          E. There is no perfect solution unless of course you want to try more of the Third Reich. A re-emphasis of the right wing (blind as a bat spot) can’t think in a 3rd dimension, (ironically the Bush’s were there, years ago, not right wing radical enough for today’s republican) a new possibility, a win:win scenario. Seems folks got to punish that bad behavior, not understand it. There is a why! We still have the death penalty and exercise it fairly regularly: Why then do we still have murders?
          Pardon’s? We give them to all kinds of people, how about a way to citizenship: “The horse is already out of the barn” again, what is the most financially and humanitarian way to deal with it? What message do you want to send to our kids? For me it sure as “H” isn’t kicking people when they are down!

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/24/2017 - 09:36 pm.

            Should we?

            Do you think we should let everyone in and have open borders?

            • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/26/2017 - 02:06 pm.


              Does that have to do with my response? Why are you even asking the question? Are you saying OK you are good with door #3?
              The answer is like this:In early America, many folks wanted the states to be basically like countries. Should America go back to States Rights and make all the state lines more like country borders, go to Wisconsin, bring your passport and go through immigration and customs, go to Iowa bring your passport and go through immigration and customs. Whats the point here? Another potential door # 3 somewhere down the road. But for so called free traders, this probably doesn’t work well with the Lexicon. Please no fear and panic, it isn’t going to happen tomorrow, and by the way, when the European Union opened its borders, everyone did not all at once move to Germany. Something as Warren Buffet said in his yearly stockholders letter. “Dream Big!”

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/26/2017 - 06:45 pm.


                My question is directly related to your last post (which is why Mr. Appelen had exactly the same question) where you said that “These people [illegal immigrants – IG] [are] punished for trying to stay alive or better their situation…” Obviously, a logical continuation for your thought is that all the people in the world who live worse than Americans (which is 90% of the world population) are punished by not being allowed to live in America and to avoid this, we should let all of them in and make all of them legal, just like you suggest for the ones who are already here…

                My point is that door #3 doesn’t work. Now, I am not a free trader and I can see that it doesn’t work in EU either. One of the problems the UK had was that it had too many people from the East coming in looking for better jobs; hence, Brexit. And they tried to make borders open to people from the Middle East in 2015… only to cry uncle and close them off. Remember, people didn’t want to stay in Italy or Greece; they wanted to go on to Germany and Sweden…

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/24/2017 - 11:18 pm.

            Come On In

            So it sounds like your solution is to open the border and let them all in. Is that correct?

            Please remember that there are ~7 Billion humans on Earth and that many of them would love to move here.

            Personally I would prefer to show compassion, humanity and empathy by helping people to make their home country better. Unfortunately many Americans prefer to spend domestically, even though our poor are doing great by comparison.

            So I understand that you are concerned about the welfare of the concert crashers, but what do you feel for the people standing outside and waiting in line? And all the low income Americans who could be making more if not for the 11 million illegal workers?

          • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 02/25/2017 - 12:50 am.

            Amen, Mr Wagner!

            Well put. It IS a matter of compassion for our fellow humans and there ARE much better ways of dealing with illegal immigration and undocumented residents.
            Republicans in Congress: President Obama is gone. Why don’t you pretend now that a path to legal residence and citizenship is all YOUR idea. You will gain a lot more constituent support that way than the way you’ve been going for decades. Take the credit! The important thing is to implement a good solution to this problem, and that is NOT walls and more ICE and other law enforcement agents.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/25/2017 - 10:34 am.

              How many undocumented no background check immigrants with little money, little education and few skills do you want crossing the border?

              Some complain that our wages and jobs are lacking for that group of citizens already, how do you want to provide for these folks?

              Please remember that I am happy to invite more legal immigrants in if the goal is to be compassionate, keep wages down and keep consumer costs down. I am just puzzled when people say they want to be compassionate by flooding the low end labor market. How about we get the poor legal workers into good jobs first.

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