Congress This Week to Hold Hearing on Immigration, Deportations

ICE Agents Detain Suspected Undocumented Immigrants In Raids

Instead of rubber-stamping the president's budget request, Congress this week is holding a hearing to investigate how the billions proposed for immigration enforcement will be used.

The head of Immigration Customs Enforcement will be joined by the Border Patrol Chief, in the meeting before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

The President is asking for $300 million to recruit, hire, and train 1,500 new immigration agents. 

South Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar wants to know who they'll be targeting.

"Are they picking up only criminals, or are they picking up people without records? Are they picking up Dreamers," he asked, referring to young migrants allowed to stay in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, signed during the Obama Presidency.

The concerns over targeted enforcement of non-criminal aliens have sent shockwaves through the migrant community in the San Antonio area.  

Amy Fischer with the San Antonio-based immigrant rights group RAICES says they've seen a change in tone under the current administration.

"What we have found is that, the Trump administration has expanded their enforcement priorities to pretty much anyone," she tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.

She says they have seen ICE agents increasingly target migrants who have been charged with a crime but not convicted.  One example?  The much publicized case of Josue Romero, a 19-year-old from Honduras who had received a work permit.  He was arrested in February for possession of two ounces or less of marijuana.  From the Bexar County Jail, he was transferred to the custody of ICE before being released, thanks to his lawyers.

"He fit into new enforcement priority," Fischer explains.

She feels this violates due process.  The proposed budget, which also includes more than $1 billion to expand the nation's immigration detention capacity, they feel is the gas that's fueling the machine of this anti-immigrant administration.

"They are refusing to make a distinction.  In the mind of the Trump administration, and those enforcing these laws, they're trying to equate immigration with criminality."

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