This Heartbreaking Latino USA Episode Looks at Increased Detention of Immigrants Under Trump

Lead Photo: This image is in the public domain.
This image is in the public domain.
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In the last seven months, the Trump Administration has enacted several changes to immigration policy. This includes expanding the number of people who can be deported, threatening to take away funds from sanctuary cities (those that won’t hold undocumented immigrants for Immigration and Custom Enforcement), and upping the number of immigration arrests. In the latest Latino USA episode, titled Detained, Maria Hinojosa and company focused on immigration arrests to explore how these harmful protocols have increasingly separated families and struck fear into immigrant communities.

Back in May, ICE announced that immigration arrests had risen nearly 40 percent compared to the same period in 2016. With ICE agents emboldened like never before, the undocumented community is under constant threat. With Detained, Latino USA highlighted the ways in which this affects those the Trump Administration is trying to paint as criminals.

One of the most heartbreaking stories is that of Martin Martinez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who arrived 30 years ago. Latino USA followed at his last ICE check in. After years of checking in, ICE told him to buy himself a one-way ticket to Mexico or July 1. “You think deportation means taking someone and putting them on a plane,” Camille J. Mackler, director of immigration legal policy at the New York Immigrant Coalition, told Latino USA. “Oh no, that is the last resort. Most people who are deported are buying their own plane tickets to leave the country.”

Two weeks before that date, he headed to the appointment with his daughter, Maria, and wife. Though they hoped the office would allow him to stay in the country for more time, officers detained him immediately. Because the ticket his daughter had bought for him had a layover, they held him, despite the family buying a new ticket immediately.

Maria immediately jumped into action and got her father released with the help of politicians. He was able to spend his last two weeks in the United States with his family. His daughter traveled with him to Mexico, so that he wouldn’t be alone. And as tragic as it was to have him ripped away from his family and the life he built, his daughter was able to sit beside him and offer him some comfort and help him as he settled back into a country he hadn’t known for decades. In many ways, his deportation looked like an ordinary flight. But as the episode notes, when you’re on an international flight, you may be sitting next to someone who’s being deported and you wouldn’t even know it.

The rest of the episode looked at the relationship between El Paso and Juarez, and he new Victim of Immigration Crime Engagement office, and how despite immigrant detention centers act functionally as jails how undocumented immigrants do not have the right to a lawyer to navigate a complicated immigration system.

Check it out below: