Yesterday, protesters gathered at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to voice their opposition towards the deportation of Jesus Lara. After living in the United States for the last 17 years as an undocumented immigrant, Lara is being sent back to Mexico despite the fact that he works, pays taxes, and even owns his own home. Lara is also a father, and was forced to say an emotional goodbye to his four kids, all of whom are living in America legally.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Lara said at the airport through a translator. “The government is breaking up families.”
Lara’s immigration troubles started all the way back in 2008 when he was pulled over for a minor traffic violation and ended up being given a deportation order. Lara fought the order and was eventually permitted to stay and work in the country. But in May, Lara’s deportation order was reactivated unexpectedly, with ICE demanding that he wear an ankle bracelet before heading back to Mexico.
Arrests of undocumented immigrants by federal officers have increased in the past year, with almost 14,000 arrests in June. That’s a marked increase over Obama’s steady average of 9,000. However, the Trump administration has been unable to turn these arrests into deportations, as the current deportation rate is actually lower than it was with Obama. The Trump administration is confident, however, that they can increase deportations over the next few months by allocating proper resources for immigration courts.
Immigration continues to be one of the most divisive issues in American politics and stories like Lara’s show why. Families too often end up at the heart of this issues because many of the children of undocumented immigrants are born in America and become citizens.
But instead of being protected by our government, it seems to be actively working against immigrant families. This isn’t simply a liberal issue. Even extreme conservatives like Glenn Beck will suddenly soften their stance when it comes to having children and parents callously separated. But with the Trump administration desperate to find anything to point to as an indicator of their success, these types of stories could become much more common than they already are.