February 14, 2017

Hispanic lawmakers ask why ICE canceled meeting to discuss immigration raids

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement canceled a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, including chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, hours before it was scheduled to take place Tuesday.

The Albuquerque Journal first reported the cancellation.

CHC, which is made up of Democratic members, has been critical of ICE’s actions and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric towards those in the country illegally, both during his campaign and since becoming president.

After the cancellation of the meeting, several members, including Lujan Grisham, held a press conference.

Lujan Grisham said she spoke to ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, who canceled the meeting after reaching out to Republican leadership.

“He confirmed that they reached out to Republican leadership in the House for a bipartisan meeting,” Lujan Grisham said.

According to The Hill, the meeting was canceled because more members wished to attend.

An ICE representative speaking on background said the CHC added attendants to the meeting last minute, forcing the agency to reschedule to comply with House rules.

The attendees of the press conference, including House Minority Vice Chair Joe Crowley of New York, all said there was no such rule that meetings of a certain size had to be bipartisan.

Lujan Grisham said the CHC wanted the meeting to get answers.

“The request to have the meeting, of course, was to get real information, data, about who was apprehended, who was the target, where and to confirm that information without constituents for several reasons,” Lujan Grisham said. “Not the least of which is to make sure we’re following the law, that we’re clear people are getting their due process, that they know their rights, and that in fact we are not causing —which we are—fear and panic in our communities.”

This week, the media reported raids by ICE in several states throughout the country. None have been reported in New Mexico.

According to the Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, 680 people were arrested by ICE last week, and three-quarters of them were those with prior criminal convictions. ICE highlighted that some had committed serious crimes, such as homicide or sexual abuse.

According to NPR, the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for ICE, would not say how many convictions were for serious crimes.

Lujan Grisham said it isn’t clear if all ICE offices are acting under the same orders.

“The discretion looks like it is not effectively administered so that it is uniform for one,” she said. “There is broad discretion from region to region, state to state, which is very problematic.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois had harsh words for the recent actions.

“It seems to me, they came for the Muslims and we went to court, so now it’s the Mexicans,” he said. “And I say that in the broadest sense of the immigrant Latinos—but let’s face it, that’s where the bullseye is at.”

Agents have also detained people who were not the stated targets of the raids. The Texas Tribune reported that Miguel Angel Torres was arrested in “an apparent case of mistaken identity.” ICE agents were reportedly seeking Torres’ brother-in-law.