Atlanta is one of the few cities in the United States that has both welcomed immigrants in the past is now punishing them for coming. The conservative, anti-immigrant sentiment that pervades the city’s politics makes living there for undocumented workers, a dangerous prospect.
Since President Trump was elected one of his principal areas of focus has been immigration, declaring that anyone present in the country who is undocumented is a target for arrest and subsequent deportation. His words are more than mere threats, with the number of immigration arrests at more than a 40 percent increase this year.
During President Obama’s tenure, a record number of undocumented immigrants were deported, however the focus of arrests and deportations were directed on serious criminals and recent arrivals. Trump’s administration has removed any previous guidelines, encouraging Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest and detain any undocumented individual encountered.
Given the new freedom to arrest and deport, the regional ICE office in Atlanta made more than 80 percent more arrests this year than it did last resulting in the largest arrest increase in the country, with the exception of Dallas, Texas. The ICE Atlanta filed office made 7,753 arrests throughout Georgia and the Carolinas from January to June alone. To affect this dramatic increase in enforcement ICE has had tremendous help. Local law enforcement, police, and sheriff’s offices have cooperated with ICE to profile, identify and detain undocumented immigrants. This example of cooperation among law enforcement is one the Trump administration is striving to replicate throughout the country.
When an undocumented individual is encountered in Atlanta for even the smallest infraction, such as failing to use a turn signal, the person is taken to county jail where ICE is alerted and turned over to the federal authorities. Once the individual is in ICE custody, there is little that can be done before the case is expedited and the individual deported.
Atlanta is the opposite of a sanctuary city, which have been the topic of much controversy and have been denounced by Trump, do not turn over such individuals, except for very serious criminals
Atlanta’s immigrants are at the mercy of ICE and they can do little stay out of sight. Businesses such as fruit stands, and Latin food kiosks have all but closed. The community, through the help of social media and neighborhood watch groups have set up an early warning system to alert each other about where ICE officers are stationed and where they are making stops and arrests. All around Atlanta and the outlying suburbs, Uber cars and cabs are being utilized by immigrants who realize that driving their own car is an elevated risk that might get them arrested and deported.
ICE officials deny that they are randomly arresting people, but instead are targeting immigrants whose whereabouts are known to Homeland Security. Rumor however, is unlikely to be quelled with hundreds of immigrants being arrested and detained monthly. Travel to work is risky and trips to the Latin grocer, once a necessity have become rare. One item however in the Latin markets has been selling better than ever. The white Holy Spirit candle, used to protect and cleanse is being burned to keep ICE away!