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Home Featured A ‘nationwide dragnet’ targets millions of immigrants

A ‘nationwide dragnet’ targets millions of immigrants

Human Rights Watch says deportations that shatter families are going to increase, putting millions at risk

Huge protests against Trump's Immigration Executive Order -- Photo by Sana Saleem.

On the morning of February 28th, 2017, Fatima Avelica was getting ready to say goodbye to her father as he dropped her off at school. Instead, the 13-year-old picked up her cell phone and began recording her father’s arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

The shaky footage shows ICE agents detaining Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, a 48-year-old father of four,  who has lived in the United States for the past 25 years, as Avelicia can be heard sobbing uncontrollably. 

Avelicia-Gonzalez was arrested outside Academia Avance, a mall charter academy in Highland Park, CA, as ICE agents cited a 2014 deportation order. The arrest sent shockwaves through the largely immigrant community north of downtown Los Angeles.

Avelica-Gonzalez had a DUI charge from eight years ago and he was once charged with driving without a license. He also purchased a used car nearly 20 years ago, without knowing it bore a registration sticker that had been stolen from another car, The Intercept reported.

Under the Trump administration, Avelica-Gonzalez is among the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are “priority” targets for deportation — setting the stage for what the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called  “a nationwide dragnet” that would harm millions of people.

According to a report released by the HRW on Monday, more than 10,000 parents of US citizens are detained in California each year with reportedly half of the detainees having no criminal histories. Among those with a criminal history, the HRW found that: “those convicted of relatively minor nonviolent offenses (such as immigration offenses, drug use or possession, or DUI) outnumbered those convicted of violent felonies by nearly three to one.”

The data analyzed by HRW is from January 1, 2011, to June 30th, 2015, providing an insight into the detention of undocumented immigrants prior to the Trump administration: “Given the Trump administration’s stated intention to ramp up enforcement efforts, this data provides a grim baseline, demonstrating the imperative of efforts to ensure fair deportation procedures and humane and dignified conditions for people held in immigration detention in California.” the report says.

February 10th, 2017: Lorena Melgarejo, San Francisco Archdiocesem speaks to the audience at rapid response information and training on how to respond to ICE raids. Photo by Sana Saleem.
February 10th, 2017: Lorena Melgarejo, San Francisco Archdiocese, speaks to the audience at rapid response information and training on how to respond to ICE raids. Photo by Sana Saleem.

The data covers nearly 300,000 federal detentions of immigrants in facilities in California over a four-and-a-half-year span. Citing that “an average of about 65,000 immigrants a year were detained in California in 15 facilities,” the report also looked at the impact on their families: “Analyzing the records for that nine-month span, Human Rights Watch found that nearly half – 42 percent – of detainees had US citizen children.”

“The rights of immigrants in the United States, including the parents of US citizens, are under greater threat than ever, especially people held in the immigration detention system,” said Clara Long, a researcher in the US program at Human Rights Watch. “With 15 percent of all US immigration detainees held in California, state legislation aimed at enforcing humane detention standards and addressing fundamental due process failures is crucial.”

There are currently two bills under consideration by the California State Legislature. One would allocate $15 million in state funds to provide lawyers for people in immigration detention in California. SB 29 would require California jails to meet specific civil detention standards when holding immigrants, including access to legal services, medical care, freedom from harm or harassment, and privacy.

As immigrant communities brace themselves to resist increased raids human rights organizations are calling for greater transparency within the detention centers and for the rights of undocumented immigrants to be upheld: “The consequence of immigration authorities’ failure to enforce applicable standards can quite literally be death,” Long said. “California should take this opportunity to ensure that no immigrant is held in substandard and undignified conditions within its borders.”



  1. Trump might not even be in office long enough to do any real damage. He has no concept of the structure and function of the federal government he is trying to lead. It’s the equivalent of a doctor who has no concept of basic human physiology.

  2. That has been the federal classification for many decades. Alien is the dictionary definition of foreigner.

  3. “…most unAmerican state we have…”

    And to think that stupid fucking idiots like you can buy firearms and are allowed to vote and breed.

  4. Do the people in California understand Brown et al are in the process of leveling the playing field? The end result will be law-abiding tax-paying citizens will be reduced to the same status as the illegal aliens from third world countries who have invaded the state and roam it with impunity.

  5. Yes I’ll be sure to do that and you be sure to chase down the aliens from other planets committing crimes in this country

  6. Don’t kid yourself . Without California and New York the US dollar would be nearly worthless, there would be no military to speak of and below third world standards of living in the states with Trump voters. The red states live largely off the welfare provided by the blue states.

    Aliens using our educational and health care systems? We don’t even have a public health care or educational system for natural law abiding American citizens in most areas.

    The immigration freak out occurs when the populations of countries reaches a certain density. Canada welcomes more immigrants because they only have approximately 30 million people. The same is true everywhere. Germany has an open door policy to Syrian refugees not just for humanitarian purposes but because they have an aging population and a low birth rate. They actually need younger people.

    the US is reaching population saturation levels, so it is becoming harder to emigrate here. The INS under Mr. Sessions is trying to use gestapo-like tactics to act more important than they really are,, the truth is they should be doing something more productive with their time.

  7. If a US citizen is convicted of a crime he can’t take is family with him to jail. I agree the separation families thing is an emotional appeal, not a sound argument.

  8. The cultural impacts are a separate issue but the economics are debatable. The balance of the evidence seems to come down on the side that immigration is an economic benefit. The middle-class enjoys a higher standard of living because of immigrants both legal and illegal. However, if my wages were suppressed because of immigrants, I might have a different view. In any case, we don’t have the stomach to deport millions. Even Trump has suggested a path to legalization (not citizenship).

  9. Trump’s executive order provides the same prosecutorial discretion of illegal aliens with US born children as Obama’s did. The policy has not changed.

  10. Illegal aliens, not immigrants, are being detained and deported in compliance with duly enacted federal law. Despite the propaganda of the Obama administration (thankfully now gone) and other purveyors of lawlessness, ALL illegal aliens are removable, not just those who have been convicted of violent crimes. No nation needs drug addicts, drunks, shoplifters, petty thieves, etc. But every nation has them and must deal with them. No nation should have to put up with other nations’ undesirables. Deport them!
    Additionally, it is the violation of our laws, not the laws themselves or the enforcement of them, that can cause family separation IF the deportee *chooses* to abandon his family. Deportees, in most cases, can arrange to have their families join them in their own countries. It is their choice.
    Illegal aliens who attempt to use their American born children as shields against the just consequences of their unlawful acts, and then abandon them when their exploitation fails, are simply despicable.

  11. Balderdash! Propaganda from the most unAmerican state we have! Try looking at the GNP instead if the GDP. The latter includes governments spending, the biggest “growth” factor, and thus is not a true indicator of economic health. Without illegal aliens, we may have to pay more for food (but not as much as propagandists claim, as labor is, on average, about 15% of the cost of food) and hospitality services, but we will be far and away better off from the savings we will realize when we no longer have to pay for illegal aliens’ and their children’s education, health care, food and housing subsidies, interpreter and translation services, social services and other benefits they accrue from the welfare state.
    I strongly support the repatriation of ALL illegal aliens, and neither I nor millions of other who share my views do not fit your stereotype of the persons who oppose the unlawful presence of illegal aliens in this country. I believe in our national sovereignty, Rule of Law, all our fundamental American principles, and economic prudence. I believe every nation has the right to enact and vigorously enforce immigration laws, which are rightfully designed to benefit the host nation.
    Illegal aliens defy our sovereignty and laws, dishonoring and degrading the nation with a culture of lawlessness and exploitation.
    Deporting 20 million+ illegal aliens in one mass initiative is certainly unrealistic. But a long-term plan combining a variety of tactics, including but not limited to universal e-verify, strong punishments for those who employ illegal aliens, repealing birthright citizenship for children born to illegal aliens, tamper-proof national ID cards, and a host of other attrition by enforcement measures, combined with a streamlined deportation program will accomplish the much needed goal.

  12. California has a $2.5 trillion economy. The production of California dwarfs that of any other state in the US, and is greater than the combined GDP of all the red states minus Texas. Broke? Not even close. The state might not be spending revenues on the projects you want, but to say that the state is broke is not accurate. $15 million for illegals? That is a drop in the bucket and hardly worth mentioning.
    The United States has a population of over 321 million and an approximately 8 to 10 million people living here without legal immigration status. Even if all the illegal residents were deported it would not improve the standards of living of anyone else. In fact it would probably be a net deterrent. The inflation in food prices would cause more problems than any net jobs created.
    The immigration freakout is a displaced angst of primarily white working class men who feel demoralized because they are increasingly unable to make a living and be providers. It is easier to focus on immigration than to solve the problem of income inequality and gross deviations in standards of living.
    I really wonder why people want to come here anyway the way things are going in this country.

  13. A ‘nationwide dragnet’ targets millions of immigrants


    A ‘nationwide dragnet’ targets millions of Illegal Aliens

    Ain’t it Great!!!

  14. It’s so nice that our state is broke, our roads are horrible/unfixed/potholed/dangerous, the Oroville Dam still doesn’t have enough $ to be fixed, our state parks are fallling apart, the middle class scholarships to UCs were completely cut by Brown but the illegal scholarships STAYED & he found $15m for illegals in the budget! Oh and that extra $ we’ll have to pay at the gas pump in Nov is also great!

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