Houston’s chief of police has come out swinging against the White House’s immigration policies, and he’s not mincing his words in the slightest. He is even going so far as to draw comparisons between the U.S. deportation regime and the policies of Nazi Germany.
In a series of tweets, Chief Art Acevedo blasted an immigration judge’s order to deport 11-year-old Laura Mariadaga to El Salvador without her family as “heart-wrenching” and an inhumane example of the Trump administration’s family separation policy, using language one wouldn’t often expect from high-ranking members of law enforcement.
Chief Acevedo tweeted:
“The Nazi’s enforced their laws as well. You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! You’d have to kill me to take my child from me simply because I was trying to get them to a better place for a better tomorrow. I am glad to be on the right side of history.”
Yep. The Nazi’s enforced their laws as well. You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! You’d have to kill me to take my child from me simply because I was trying to get them to a better place for a better tomorrow. I am glad to be on the right side of history.
— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) April 12, 2019
Last Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reported that the young girl was given a deportation order following her family’s appearance in immigration court, where she had been left off the docket. Whether her absence was a result of a bureaucratic error or some other mishap on the part of the court remained unclear.
It is feared that now, in the absence of any family and in the high-danger environment of El Salvador, Laura Mariadaga faces imminent danger.
Her mother, Dora Alvarado, crossed the southern border along with her two daughters last October to seek asylum in the United States after relatives testified against a lethal gang in El Salvador. Since then, the gang has sought retaliation and issued threats against the family.
The family is among the historic exodus of Central American families who are escaping the brutal crime and surging gang violence enveloping their home countries, but their own experience in the ham-fisted, over-stretched and underfunded immigration court system has posed its own dangers.
In a press conference, the 11-year-old said:
“I don’t want to leave my mom… I want to stay with her.”
The young girl received little mercy from the courts, however, who are overseen by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an office of the Department of Justice responsible for conducting removal proceedings of individuals deemed to be in the country unlawfully–including in cases where asylum claims are made.
Family attorney Silvia Mintz blasted the body for dodging responsibility. Mintz said:
“This mistake done by the immigration court has put this family in jeopardy … They will be separated if this is not stopped.”
The broader community in Houston has also been outraged–a sentiment echoed by Chief Acevedo.
The chief tweeted:
“Keep them together and if they don’t meet asylum requirements deport them as a family unit.”
Keep them together and if they don’t meet asylum requirements deport them as a family unit. We need comprehensive immigration reform but both major political parties have failed to address this problem because it gives tnem an issue to pander to their respective base.
— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) April 12, 2019
Like other countries in Central America, El Salvador has long been a source of migrants and asylum-seekers hoping to escape the dire poverty and extreme violence of their home countries.
In the 1980s, the country experienced extreme death-squad and paramilitary violence as Washington backed a right-wing military government which committed atrocities against civilians suspected of supporting or sympathizing with the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).
The U.S.-backed violence pushed Salvadorans toward the United States while groups of dispossessed migrant youth formed street groups that eventually evolved into transnational criminal syndicates such as Mara Salvatrucha, widely known as MS-13. President Donald Trump has long cited MS-13 as a justification for draconian “tough on crime” and immigrant-scapegoating measures.
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