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    ‘New Normal’: ICE Raid Threats Are ‘Collective Psychological Terror’ on US Immigrants

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    US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will start raids on Sunday against thousands of undocumented migrants who have existing deportation orders, a move described by Juan Jose Gutierrez, executive director of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, as “psychological terror” unleashed by US President Donald Trump.

    According to a report by the New York Times, ICE agents are expected to arrest thousands of migrants in 10 major US cities, beginning this weekend. The operation will last for several days and will likely include collateral deportations of undocumented migrants who are not the targets of the raids, but who happen to be caught up in them. 

    “This is an intensification of what has become the new normal,” Gutierrez told Sputnik’s Loud & Clear hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker Thursday. “I would like to say this latest anti-immigrant presidential announcement that there will be raids represents the worst type of extreme right-wing politics, because it … inflames the ongoing debate about how best to advance toward comprehensive immigration reform to fix or acknowledge our broken immigration system.”

    “Just imagine the impact that [the raids will have] on millions of tax-paying immigrants across the country. This is collective psychological terror unleashed by Trump, who wants to get re-elected no matter what. So we can expect this type of politics to be upon us for the duration of the next 18 months to election day in November 2020. So, we must say it clearly: This is unbearable to the undocumented immigrant community and demands a massive response on the part of our progressive forces in the country. This is outrageous,” Gutierrez added.

    Last year, Libby Schaaf, the Democratic mayor of Oakland, California, helped undocumented immigrants evade an ICE raid in the Bay Area by warning of it ahead of time. 

    "I know that Oakland is a city of law-abiding immigrants and families who deserve to live free from the constant threat of arrest and deportation," Schaaf wrote at the time in the warning tweet. "I believe it is my duty and moral obligation as mayor to give those families fair warning when that threat appears imminent."

    Following the raid, then-Acting ICE Director Thomas D. Homan released a statement in February 2018 stating that Schaaf’s public warning had allowed “864 criminal aliens and public safety threats” to evade law enforcement. A month later, James Schwab, who worked for ICE’s San Francisco division, resigned, stating he could no longer “bear the burden” of spreading lies perpetuated by the Trump administration.

    “I asked them to change the information,” Schwab told the San Francisco Chronicle at the time, referring to the 864-person figure. “I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn’t agree with that. Then I took some time and I quit.”

    According to Schwab, ICE would not have been able to capture the approximately 1,000 undocumented immigrants in the Bay Area and was therefore incorrectly pointing fingers at Schaaf.

    “We were never going to pick up that many people,” he said. “To say that 100% are dangerous criminals on the street, or that those people weren’t picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong.”

    According to Gutierrez, Schwab’s story is just one example of government officials perpetuating lies about immigration under the Trump administration.

    “They are being told to do outrageous things like lie, and this is on the record now. The American people need to wake up and do something about it,” Gutierrez told Sputnik.

    In June 2018, CBS News reported that during an interview with Schwab in his home about his decision to resign, agents from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) showed up at his front door and interrupted the interview.

    “If the US government is willing to do something like we just heard, send DHS agents to the home of a former employee of theirs who refused to lie and intimidate him while one of the mainstream networks is there interviewing him, can we begin to imagine what is going on when agents show up unannounced to the homes of low-wage, undocumented worker families?” Gutierrez asked.

    An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote by Gutierrez to Schwab.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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