U.S. Should Divert Funding For ICE Raids To Efforts 'To Combat White Nationalist Terrorism,' Immigration Advocates Say

A network of immigration advocacy groups has called on the Trump administration to divert the funds being used to support the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency's raids on immigrant communities to efforts to combat "white nationalist terrorism" instead.

The call from Alianza Americas, a network of 50 immigrant-led organizations representing more than 150,000 families across the U.S., comes after an ICE targeted operation saw 680 immigrant workers arrested in food-processing plants across Mississippi just days after the country was rocked by a deadly mass shooting that appeared to target Latino and immigrant communities in El Paso, Texas.

On Wednesday, Alianza Americas noted in a statement sent to Newsweek,"an operation by ICE led to the arrest of 680 workers in food-processing plants in Mississippi. A few hours later, disturbing pictures of children in tears after being separated from their parents led to public outrage."

"These actions come only days after [a] mass shooting in El Paso, Texas driven by racist and xenophobic rhetoric from the Trump administration," the coalition said.

Calling ICE's operation an "act of terror committed against working families by the Trump administration," Óscar Chacón, the executive director of Alianza Americas said raids targeting workers and families "are a waste of public resources that should instead be used to combat white nationalist terrorism."

"Laws should not be used to criminalize migrant workers, nor raids seen as the solution to forced migration," he said.

Instead of criminalizing undocumented immigrants and focusing on efforts to arrest, detain and deport those found to be in the U.S. illegally, Chacón said Congress should focus on undoing "the damage done by our unjust immigration laws and replace them with a system that recognizes the positive contributions of all foreigners living in our country."

"Raids targeting workers who are fighting every day to care for their families are a waste of public resources that could otherwise be spent combating the white nationalist terrorism that has claimed the lives of so many over the years, including last week in Texas," Chacón said in a separate statement posted online.

ICE's raids came just four days after a suspected terrorist opened fire on shoppers at a WalMart in El Paso in a mass shooting that left 22 people dead. The suspect in the shooting, which is being investigated as a domestic terrorism case, is believed to have penned a manifesto on the website 8chan railing against the Hispanic and immigrant communities in Texas in the lead-up to the attack.

President Donald Trump has faced significant backlash over the shooting, with the U.S. leader being accused of stoking anti-immigrant and racist sentiments in the U.S. with his divisive rhetoric immigrants in the U.S. and those arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in search of asylum.

The author of the manifesto posted to 8chan ahead of Saturday's shooting sought to distance themselves from Trump, asserting that their beliefs had been formed long before the president started his 2016 election campaign.

However, some of the language used in the author's post appears to reflect that deployed by the U.S. leader, including his use of the word "invasion" to describe the influx of arrivals of asylum seekers at the southern border.

Despite that, Trump's 2020 re-election team has refused to back down from its use of the word, with a campaign spokesperson defending the term as an "accurate" way to describe asylum seekers' attempts to reach U.S. soil.

While the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration has shown no signs of slowing down, the number of asylum seekers apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has consistently been on the decline since May.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it had seen a more than 20 percent decrease in U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border for the second month in a row since May's record-breaking levels.

"Just two months ago, CBP apprehended or encountered 144,000 individuals crossing our border illegally or presenting without documents at Southwest border ports of entry—the highest monthly total in 13 years," DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement. "In July, that number was 82,000, a 43 percent decrease from May and a 21 percent decrease from the June numbers."

However, the DHS chief maintained that he wanted to be "very clear" that "we remain at and beyond crisis levels in illegal crossings, even as our initiatives to address irregular flows and mitigate humanitarian conditions are making an impact."

ICE protest
Wendy, Amy (3) and Kimberlin Bautista at the #CloseTheCamps United We Dream, American Friends Service Committee, and Families Belong Together led protests across the country at members of Congress's offices to demand the closure of immigrant detention centers. Tom Cooper/Getty