Following reports that US immigration officials had launched countrywide raids and arrested hundreds of illegal aliens across the nation as a result of Donald Trump's recent immigration executive order, this morning the President weighed in on Twitter, stating that "the crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!"
The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2017
Trump pushed back against criticism of the crackdown which as reported last night spread "panic" among the Hispanic community after 161 people were arrested in six counties around Los Angeles alone (of whom at least 151 had criminal histories). Meanwhile, immigration officials said the raids were routine, and that Trump wasn't behind them.
"This operation was in the planning stages before the administration came out with their current executive orders," ICE official David Marin said.
Meanwhile, following yesterday's report that Mexicans are planning on "jamming US courts" as deportations are set to surge, today the WSJ writes that all but one of about 50 undocumented Mexican migrants at a meeting Saturday indicated they would rather risk detention and long court battles in the U.S. than return to Mexico voluntarily. The majority of migrants at the meeting in Phoenix, which included Mexican officials, signaled in a show of hands that they were ready to fight deportation in U.S. courts.
“Even if that means detention for weeks?” asked former foreign minister Jorge Castaneda.
“Even if it takes months,” shouted one woman. “Even if it takes years,” another yelled. “We are here to fight.”
Continuing the story from yesterday according to which immigrants are willing to drown the US court system with thousands of deportation cases, Castaneda and others have said they want Mexico’s government to endorse a strategy to battle an expected increase in deportations of their undocumented compatriots in the U.S. by underwriting the migrants’ legal struggle in the U.S. court system. By overwhelming already heavily burdened immigration courts, Mr. Castaneda hopes the legal system would break down, bringing deportations to a halt.
At the Phoenix meeting, Armando Ríos Piter, a senator of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, drew cheers when he called on the Mexican government to take a harder line with the Trump administration on its treatment of the migrants and other issues. “Mexico’s government was silent when Trump started to threaten Mexicans, and that’s where things stand,” he said. He called for Mexico to cease antinarcotics and antiterrorism cooperation with the U.S.
Others were just as vocal in their desire to engage the US government and corporations head on: Ríos Piter also urged Mexico to pressure the U.S. by buying food such as yellow corn from other suppliers. “We should be very clear that we won’t buy not one ton of corn from the U.S.,” he said. “The whole Corn Belt voted for Trump, and we bought $1.6 billion of corn last year. Let’s stop it.”
Graco Ramírez, the president of the Mexican governors’ association, said the governors planned to lobby their U.S. counterparts to let them know “just how much they will hurt their own economies if they support Donald Trump’s policies.”
For now, Mexico’s government hasn’t endorsed the strategy, but President Enrique Peña Nieto recently budgeted about $50 million to the country’s 50 consulates to help pay the costs of defending migrants who are in the U.S. illegally and facing deportation. Some are worried that President Donald Trump has decided to expand the type of undocumented migrants who are at risk of being deported, from the violent or dangerous people that the Obama administration targeted to migrants who have had minor brushes with law enforcement.
The Phoenix meeting took place two days after the deportation of a Guadalupe García, a 36-year-old Mexican who lived in the U.S. for 22 years and has two U.S.-born children. Ms. García’s removal stoked panic and protests in immigrant communities.
Ms. García was convicted of identity theft, a felony, after being arrested in 2009 with a false Social Security card. She had been released into the community with the requirement of checking in with immigration agents every six months. This week, when she reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, she was detained and deported to Mexico.
Heightening fears in Hispanic communities across the country, immigration agents made raids and arrested hundreds of migrants last week in a five-day enforcement “surge” in cities which included Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, ICE said.
An ICE official said the raids were on par with similar operations the agency has done in the past in southern California.
Immigration attorneys attending the meeting were clearly troubled by the development. Quoted by the WSJ, Ruben Reyes, a Phoenix immigration lawyer who took part in the meeting said “We are in an emergency” adding “this is a real threat."
The Phoenix meeting, to raise awareness about the situation of illegal immigrants in the U.S., was hosted by activists, business groups and journalists, mostly from Mexico. Margarita Acosta, an illegal immigrant who attended the meeting, said she and her family lived in fear since Mr. Trump’s victory. “We live in the shadows,” she said. “It seems as if we are happy, but we live in terror about what will become of us.”
Not all those present at the meeting were eager to launch a war with Trump: but not all legislators were on board with those calling for a tough negotiating posture. “If we bet on confrontation without first trying to convince, then we are making a big mistake,” said Gabriela Cuevas Barron, from the opposition conservative National Action Party, who heads the Mexican Senate’s foreign relations committee. About 80% of Mexico’s exports go to the U.S., she said. “We should negotiate more forcefully, but we don’t have a blank check,” she said.
Meanwhile, as the world waits to see how Mexico will react to this latest mass deportation threat by the Administration, anti-Trump demonstrations were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico City and more than two dozen other cities across the country. Also Sunday, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leftist populist who leads in the polls for Mexico’s 2018 presidential race, is kicking off a tour of U.S. cities with a rally in Los Angeles. Mr. López Obrador has urged the Mexican government to denounce the U.S. treatment of migrants in the United Nations.
Ironically, only a few pointed out the real reason for ongoing immigration standoff - Mexico's own economic troubled. According to the WSJ, some migrants at the meeting urged the Mexican legislators to make deep reforms at home, which they said they were forced to leave because its widespread corruption, violence and terrible education system killed economic opportunity.
“In Mexico, we don’t have any opportunity, we don’t have any education, and you can’t get a job unless you have connections,” said Maria, a woman who wouldn’t give her last name. “Here my son graduated from university. If I lived in Mexico, I would be selling chewing gum in the street.”
Alas, the probability of deep, economic reform inside Mexico, a nation whose economy has been reeling in recent months, and where consumer confidence just plunged to an all time low...
... is nil, especially with inflation surging following the recent 20% price hike on gasoline.
Which is why we expect the jawboning, sloganeering and populism on both sides to accelerate, leading to another diplomatic showdown between President Trump and President Enrique Peña Nieto.