USA Editor's Picks Politics The World Policy

Trump isn’t satisfied with abusing undocumented immigrants. Now he’s deporting U.S. citizens.

Among all the news about migrants being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, it can be easy to lose track of how Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is cracking down on immigrants already in the U.S. And many of the immigrants being targeted are legally documented and have been in the U.S. for years.

Trump and his cronies like to claim that they are only trying to deport “criminals” to keep Americans safer.

But ICE has swept up green card holders (under American immigration law, having a green card indicates that an immigrant is a lawful permanent resident) in their raids. Some of the targeted immigrants have been in the U.S. for more than 20 years. They thought that their legal status would protect them from detention and the threat of deportation.

However, under President Trump, ICE is combing through documented immigrants’ records for decades-old misdemeanor charges as an excuse to target them for detention and possible deportation away from their families, homes, and communities.

In fact, for some immigrants, their legal status may put them more at risk: an ICE agent reportedly told his team as they set out for their raid that since some of the immigrants they were targeting had green cards, “we should have a good address on them.”

It turns out even citizenship can’t always protect immigrants to the U.S. these days.

An independent investigative media outlet called Unicorn Riot got hold of a handbook from the Department of Homeland Security’s secretive investigative arm, Homeland Security Investigations, and found it to be a guide to stripping citizenship from foreign-born naturalized Americans.  Stripping people of citizenship like this used to be considered a drastic measure taken only in extreme situations, but a new policy memo from the current head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services means more naturalized citizens than ever before are being investigated for potential denaturalization and deportation. In the past, some of the people denaturalized were former Nazis. However, that particular demographic seems pretty safe in the U.S. these days. Instead, current denaturalization proceedings seem, unsurprisingly, to be focused on nonwhite naturalized citizens.

Meanwhile, border agents are turning back asylum seekers at official U.S. ports of entry, in violation of the international and national law. Border patrol agents have been accused of lying to asylum seekers trying to enter the U.S. in order to keep them out.

In 1993, the United Nations defined ethnic cleansing as “the planned deliberate removal from a specific territory, persons of a particular ethnic group, by force or intimidation, in order to render that area ethnically homogenous.”

As Trump calls for deportations to be accelerated by denying migrants due process rights and ICE and the border patrol grow increasingly aggressive, multiple writers and analysts have begun to use the term ethnic cleansing to describe this administration’s approach to immigrants.

Trump’s language and actions set the stage for violence against immigrants and anyone his supporters believe don’t belong in their idealized version of a white America.

In my home city of Portland, Oregon, activists occupied the area around an ICE office and successfully shut it down for nearly two weeks before law enforcement cleared the entrance enough to allow ICE agents to return to work.

The occupiers remain on nearby land, and the protest continues.

And the movement has spread: there are occupations of ICE locations in 11 cities now. If you live in the U.S., see if there’s one near you and stop by for a few minutes, hours, or days to show your support. And take up the call with your lawmakers to abolish ICE, to end this draconian crackdown on immigrants, and to support the most vulnerable members of your community.

By Laura Muth

Laura Muth is a writer and researcher with a BA in political science from Johns Hopkins and an MA in international affairs from Boston University. They write at the intersection of security and human rights issues, with a special interest in gender, nationalism, racism, and religious identity. Laura loves connecting specific current events with larger trends in global politics.