A friend of mine was at a restaurant in a normally busy Latino community in the tri-state area. The restaurant was empty and the normally vibrant street activity was down to almost zero. He asked the manager what was up. “There is a rumor that there is a raid going on here,” was the reply. In fact, ICE was not in the area, no raid was occurring, but the damage to the economy in that town was being done as effectively as if there had been raids.
I spoke yesterday at a Long Island college. A member of the staff told me that a number of promising students had dropped out because they feared being arrested on campus. I made sure to tell her that schools, day care providers, and college campuses are classified as “sensitive locations” by ICE and are not supposed to be the scenes of raids. She said that she would try to get the word out, but she wondered if these students were now lost to higher education.
A local social service agency called me a few weeks ago to let me know that mothers were not enrolling their children in a nutrition assistance program because they were afraid it might lead to their deportation. This experience was echoed by a church that said that people were afraid to come to their food pantry. The church is also classified as a “sensitive location” and therefore a protected place, but how many people will go hungry because they don’t know that?
As far as I can tell, since Donald Trump became president fewer than two-dozen Long Islanders have been arrested in ICE raids. These raids have not been at workplaces, or churches, or schools. Most have been at people’s homes.
The raids have not led to an uptick in deportations, but that does not mean that they have not been damaging. They are already hurting the educations of children, the earnings of families, and the receipts of businesses.
The fear is not a byproduct of the new Trump policies. Fear is the weapon of choice. By creating a constant sense of uncertainty, Donald Trump is destroying our communities.