President Trump is inviting Evelyn Rodridguez, the mother of a 16-year-old girl murdered by MS-13, to his State of the Union address, just days after ICE targeted three New Jersey fathers dropping their kids off at school for deportation.
Hes trying to pull a bait-and-switch, fellow Americans. Much like he vowed to drain the swamp, then pumped it full of even more bottom-dwellers of the Washington establishment, hes been pushing a tall tale on immigration.
To peddle his lie that immigrants are an existential threat, Trump points to the most violent offenders - while using our scarce federal enforcement resources to go after decent people.
Thats whats actually new about his approach to deportations; his prioritization of people who have lived here for years and committed no crimes, other than being here without permission.
Arrests of unauthorized immigrants with no criminal record increased by 42 percent in 2017, compared with 2016. His latest targets in New Jersey are members of a persecuted Christian minority in Indonesia who have lived here for decades, and whose community has rallied around them.
It was standing room only in a Metuchen church built to hold 500 people on Sunday, as people linked arms to oppose their deportation. Gov. Phil Murphy and Congressman Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist., also rushed to show solidarity.
Of course MS-13 thugs should be put on the next plane.
But these hard-working, tax-paying New Jersey dads are guilty of nothing but missing a one-year deadline to apply for asylum, because they didnt know about it; then trusting the government enough to come forward and register anyway.
One of them, Harry Pangemanan, won a public service award named for Martin Luther King, for helping to rebuild hundreds of homes after Hurricane Sandy. Unlike the other dads, he narrowly escaped ICE last week while getting ready to take his 15-year-old daughter - an American citizen - to school.
Now hes seeking sanctuary at a Highland Park church to avoid deportation.
If sent back, all would face not only religious persecution in a country where Christians are imprisoned for perceived slights against Islam; they would be uprooted from their childrens lives, unable to return for at least a decade. How does tearing one American teenager from her father protect another from MS-13? It doesnt.
And as if that werent cruel enough, within 24 hours of shaking hands on camera with Gov. Murphy, Pangemanan and another immigrant in sanctuary found their homes ransacked - even their childrens bedrooms. ICE says it had nothing to do with it.
But if vigilantes were looking to send a message, Trump helped inspire them. The church has also been vandalized, with sayings like "build the wall," its pastor, Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, said.
Trump purports to be a defender of Americans and persecuted Christians. Imagine what that sounds like to kids like Joel Massie, a Metuchen 7th grader and American citizen whose Indonesian Christian father was deported in May.
More recently, Trumps agents targeted immigrant activists, like an Arizona man whose aid group "No More Deaths" filmed border patrol agents kicking over water jugs left in the desert for border-crossers.
But he uses MS-13 as the public face of his broadening sweep because most Americans - 68 percent in a recent Quinnipiac poll - think immigrants who are already here should have the opportunity to apply for citizenship. Most believe the people we should deport are serious criminals.
To call attention to Trumps guise, Pallone, Sen. Cory Booker and others have invited Dreamers to his speech. Because those most affected by his presidency arent MS-13 gangbangers, already prioritized for deportation; they are young people who grew up American, whose lives are being ripped apart.