More raids is not the solution

The enforcement methods being used by ICE disregard the underlying reasons why Central American families are entering the United States

Immigrants are trying to keep their families together.
Immigrants are trying to keep their families together.
Foto: Shawn Thew / EFE

We are a country of immigrants. New York City is a city of immigrants. And many of our communities are fueled by immigrants’ hard work and strong values. That’s why I am so deeply troubled and disappointed by the reports of impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions targeting hundreds of Central American mothers and children for deportation.

To immigrants in New York City, and across the country, I want to say: I understand your fear, and I stand with you. These raids are not the answer to any of our problems.

Instead of fulfilling their stated goals of removing dangerous targets and deterring future dangerous border crossings, these raids only serve to create widespread fear and distress in immigrant communities. They infuse terror and anxiety in families who already live in the shadows. As word spread of ICE actions earlier this year, parents made difficult decisions to stay home from work and keep their children home from school, as they feared possible detainment and deportation. Those who stand in the way of thoughtful, humane immigration reform should try to imagine living in fear of hearing a thunderous knock at your door that could spell the difference between working to give your family a better life and potentially never seeing them again.

We need to treat this crisis as the international humanitarian situation it is, instead of tearing families apart and returning refugees to face not just strife, but potentially death. The enforcement methods being used by ICE disregard the underlying reasons why Central American families are entering the United States. They are seeking refuge from the violence and persecution that afflicts them in their home countries, and will continue to seek safety – whether or not these raids occur. We need regional solutions that respond to the violence and conditions that are driving women and children to leave their homes, even as we honor our tradition of welcoming refugees. Turning our back on families who need assistance, and creating an environment of fear, are not values I stand for — and not values we stand for as a country.

I often say that immigrants are the bravest people I know – because they choose to leave behind everything that’s familiar and face the unknown. They too deserve the opportunity to live freely and to pursue the promise that is America. As the son and grandson of immigrants, I know firsthand the noble values and dreams embodied by hardworking immigrant families, and I will continue to support our communities through these difficult times.

Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx)