On Wednesday, a 35-year-old mother of two named Guadalupe García de Rayos was arrested in Phoenix. Her original contact with police came eight years ago, when Sheriff Joe Arpaio raided the water park where she worked and charged her with using a fake Social Security number. Since then, de Rayos, who came to the United States as a teenager, checked in annually as required with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Each time they chose not to deport her—with no major crime on her record, she was not a priority.
That changed with Donald Trump’s election. Though Trump’s Muslim-travel ban has gotten the lion’s share of press attention, there’s another group of immigrants he’s moved to target: people like de Ravos who have come into contact with the criminal-justice system. After her arrest on Wednesday, a group of protesters (including her two American-born teenage children) managed to block the van as it carried de Rayos out of the ICE facility. The halt was dramatic but temporary: De Rayos was deported on Thursday. By Friday, immigration agents had staged raids in at least six states, marking the beginning of a crackdown.
Trump calls people like de Rayos “criminal illegal immigrants,” or, simply, “bad dudes.” As president-elect, he claimed they number “2 million…even 3 million.” But such a number is possible only through a dramatic expansion of the term “criminal.” Executive Order 13768, which Trump signed January 25, specifies that the group being targeted for detention and deportation includes immigrants who have been convicted, charged, or suspected of any criminal offense, however minor. The extraordinarily wide net includes both undocumented immigrants and legal residents. It also includes anyone who “in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose[s] a risk to public safety or national security.”
The executive order’s nearly boundless discretion, coupled with Trump’s full-throated commitment to mass deportations, will likely result in intrusive police tactics that violate the Fourth Amendment’s limitations on searches and seizures. This comes at a moment when litigation and Black Lives Matter protests are challenging many cities to move away from invasive, aggressive policing. Now Trump’s agenda forces local authorities to make a choice: uphold the protections guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment, or be co-opted into a mass deportation project?
The Fourth Amendment was key to the litigation that forced New York City to end its stop-and-frisk practices. Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights—the group that brought the lawsuit—anticipates more will be required in the age of Trump. “The Fourth Amendment,” Warren says, “will likely be a battleground over the next four years, particularly with respect to Black and Brown communities.” With Trump rallying his troops to “aggressively profile and surveil our communities,” Warren believes that “mayors, governors and local legislatures should be publicly positioning themselves between the federal profiling and surveillance initiatives and their residents.”