Leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, including New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, are meeting with the acting U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement director on Tuesday after a series of raids last week put many people on edge.
Lujan Grisham, the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District representative in the U.S. House, and other Democrats sent a letter to acting ICE Director Thomas D. Homan on Friday demanding the meeting. Lujan Grisham chairs the group, and the letter was also signed by U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Judy Chu and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California; John Conyers of Michigan; and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.
The meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. MST.
ICE agents arrested hundreds of immigrants without legal status in at least six states last week, sparking fear of large-scale deportations and a policy shift under new U.S. President Donald Trump. ICE, meanwhile, insisted the raids were “routine,” pointing to raids in 2015 and 2016 when Barack Obama was president.
But the concern is that under Obama ICE focused on people with records that included convictions for violent crimes, while ICE under Trump may be going more generally after any immigrants without legal status.
“These raids have struck fear in the hearts of the immigrant community as many fear that President Trump’s promised ‘deportation force’ is now in full-swing,” the letter to Homan states. It states that, without guidance and clarification, “our communities will be paralyzed as students will remain home from school, parents will be afraid to leave children alone and our local economies will be irreparably damaged.”
Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 26 that expanded the definition of which immigrants without legal status are criminals to be targeted for deportation. And he has said he may deport as many as 3 million immigrants without legal status.
The Los Angeles Times estimated that Trump’s executive orders could target as many as 8 million of the 11 million people living in the United States without legal status.
She said there is “panic” in New Mexico and advocates for immigrants “are getting a flood of phone calls.”
“We’re going to have to assess all of the shift in the climate about where people can be really protected until we sort things out,” Lujan Grisham said. “And the Hispanic Caucus, the Minority Caucus, the Democratic Caucus, moderate Republicans are going to have to stand up for their constituents.”