When Sandra Perez hears President Donald Trump’s tough talk about deporting illegal immigrants, she thinks of the morning six years ago when immigration officers raided her West Palm Beach, Florida, home and seized her father.
Hearing a commotion, Perez walked in her family’s living room and saw her younger brother bleeding from a cut near his eye. An officer had bashed him with a rifle butt so forcefully that the boy, a freshman in high school, briefly lost consciousness.
Officers were there to seize Perez’s father, Hector Perez Mazariegos. An amiable Guatemalan with no history of violence or property crimes, Perez had lived in the United States illegally for two decades. He later died while attempting to illegally re-enter the country to visit his five children, who are U.S. citizens, and his wife, who is a legal permanent resident.
The Perez family’s plight illustrates the complexity of the immigration debate. It highlights the haphazard and dangerous nature of border crossings, which only have grown more treacherous as violent traffickers have seized control of the southern frontier. And it questions what is gained in separating families when undocumented but non-violent migrants are sent home.
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