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Tue Apr 17, 2018, 07:18 AM


Whether criminal or non-criminal, 'everyone's a target' of ICE arrests these days

Here's a poster child of why "non-criminal" undocumented immigrants need to be arrested and deported, authorities say: Eswin Mejia of Honduras, who unlawfully entered America at age 17. In 2016, Mejia was arrested for drunken driving after his truck struck a vehicle, killing a young Iowa woman. Before his case was adjudicated, Mejia vanished while out on bond. He remains at large today and is on Immigration and Customs Enforcement's "most-wanted" list.

Yet as ICE points out, with no convictions, Mejia is currently a "non-criminal" a classification that's been swelling on the agency's arrest docket since President Donald Trump took office.

But it's not swelling because of fugitives such as Mejia.

"Non-criminal" arrests are happening more often, according to immigration experts, because of an acknowledged shift in ICE policy that lets the agency detain and deport more longtime, taxpaying community members, often without warning and often when they check in at ICE offices.

A sampling:

Syed A. Jamal of Lawrence, for three decades a science student, researcher and educator with only a speeding ticket to his name, arrested in his front yard in January. The Bangladeshi father of three whose siblings are U.S. citizens is fighting for a stay of deportation.

Amer Othman Adi, an Ohio businessman for nearly 40 years whose American ex-wife claimed their marriage was a ruse. Though he had been remarried to a wife of 30 years, he was charged with "marriage fraud" and ICE arrested him when he reported for a meeting with them on Jan. 16. He's been deported to Jordan.

Letica Stegall, popular manager of The Blue Line hockey bar in Kansas City. Born in Mexico, the married mother of one admittedly entered the country illegally 20 years ago and came under ICE's radar after a 2011 DWI arrest. She was arrested in March while driving to the gym and deported to Mexico four days later.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos from Arizona, a married mother of two who authorities knew was undocumented. She was arrested in February 2017, checking into ICE offices as she had done since 2008, after being caught using a fake Social Security number. She was deported to Mexico within 24 hours.

Crecensio Mendez Ramirez, a Kansas City, Kan., construction worker and father of four. ICE nabbed him Feb. 7 at his regular check-in to pick up a work permit that had just been updated. He's been employed in the U.S. for 12 years.

If it feels as if in the Trump era deportations of the non-criminal variety are making headlines on a weekly basis, it's true.

While former President Barack Obama's administrators told immigration officers to save on resources when dealing with undocumented persons contributing to society and lacking criminal histories, Trump's directive is different.

Link to entire article: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article207946969.html

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