U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have stepped up arrests of people with no criminal backgrounds according to a report released recently. The figures reflect the current administration’s commitment to throw out a wider net and worry less about who may be captured.
Community Projects as Social Activism, by Benjamin Shepard, says ICE reported 65% of arrests between October and December were criminals. Arrests of criminals jumped 14% to over 25,000 from 22,000 while arrests of non-criminals tripled to more than 13,000 from under 5,000.
Deportations went up compared to the final full three months of the Obama administration as well. There was over 39,000 deportation between October and December 2017. Those figures reflect an increase of 43% from Obama to Trump.
The current administration claims people with criminal records are a priority, but no one is immune. Individuals with longstanding ties to the country were permitted to stay under the Obama administration but now are ordered to leave.
Food Vendors Lose Sales And Income
In a cramped alley in Queens, Hernan’s Kitchen makes over 4,000 churros daily. The dough is shaped by a dispenser which drips it into the hot oil. Similar to long, straight doughnuts, the churros are finished with a hand sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon before being stacked on baking trays.
The churro makers work quickly and grab dough from the mixer. The churros must be ready when his vendors come in at 3 am to pick up their orders. Hernan’s churros are time sensitive. He can’t risk losing any more buyers.
Hernan has taken 14-years to build his wholesale churro business. In just one week, he lost half of his customers. That was the week following Trump’s election. His market has not recovered.
“My business is affected this year. My vendors are scared they will get deported,” said Hernan. “They have left.”
Just during the first three-months of Trump’s presidency, ICE has spurred a drop not only in vendors but the number of street vendors’ customers.
“During the first months of Trump, there was no one on the street in Queens. No vendors and no vendor customers,” said Sean Basinski, The Street Vendor Project Director.
In the Queens neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Corona, and Jamaica, where street sales of food is common, some vendors report losing a significant part of their business and income.
In 2016 Hernan thought he had reached a turning point. He had earned enough to afford a larger facility with industrial equipment and possibly hire an additional baker. Now his income is sliced in half, and he has returned to the streets. Weekends are reserved for a drive to suburban Westchester to sell his churros to churches with large Latino congregations.
Glady, a street vendor on Queens’ Roosevelt Avenue has lost over half of her income selling shish kebabs.
“I haven’t even made $50,” Glady says as she heats the grill.” The change in Washington has made people hang on to their money since they don’t know when they may be arrested and deported.”
A vendor operating across the road from Glady says people aren’t buying as they don’t want to be obvious and risk their, or family members, being deported.
“Many people don’t come like they used to,” she said. “People don’t have the same liberty as before.”
Any contact undocumented immigrants have with law enforcement is seen as raising the risk of being detained by ICE and eventually deported,” said Matthew Shapiro, the senior lawyer at The Street Vendor Project.
Shapiro and immigration lawyers are concerned over the bump in ICE arrests around courthouses. The Immigrant Defense Project says arrests, in and around courthouses in New York City, have jumped by over 900%.
The Street Vendor Project knows how a significant decline in street vendors and their incomes will have a cultural and economic impact for the city.
“Who could imagine New York City without street vendors,” asks Basinski. “If we lose the streets as a home for small business to start and thrive, eventually the economy of New York City will be impacted.”