The Trump administration continued its indiscriminate crackdown on immigrants after reportedly detaining a longtime resident over a decade-old conviction.
A Filipino-born father of four, Cloyd Edralin, who married a U.S. citizen and held a green card, was leaving for work in Highland Park, New Jersey, when he was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
So, what was the 47-year-old’s crime that might get him deported from a country in which he had lived for over three decades?
According to the ICE officials, he was being detained over an 11-year-old firearms conviction.
"Cloyd Tolentino Edralin, a citizen and national of the Philippines, is removable based on his felony conviction for possession of a handgun. He is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings," the agency stated.
The Filipino immigrant was being held in the privately operated Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility.
"Out of nowhere for this to come up and for him to be held in detention while it is sorted out is unconscionable,” said Edralin's wife Davison.
According to the New Jersey criminal court database, Edralin was convicted in January 2007, of an unlawful possession of an airsoft pistol for which he was sentenced to probation.
Apart from observing the probationary period, Davison said her husband also paid several fines.
After his father died in 2005, Edralin developed an addiction for methamphetamine which cost him his jobs and the financial well-being of his family.
However, after seeking medical help, spending time at hospitals and rehabilitation institutes, the 47-year-old finally got better. In fact, just last month he was hired as a full-time machinist, a position he got after working several odd jobs – and the family could finally see things getting back together.
But, little did they know, just out of nowhere, ICE would dug up on Edralin’s past and bring him back to square one.
"He felt really good that he was back into normal life, that he was bringing in a sizable income that could help his family and he got picked up on his second week of work," said the 45-year-old Davison.
"What bothers me more than anything is how ICE appears to be handling it. They are going for the easy pickings," she added. "It's like, 'We're deporting criminal immigrants, we're deporting people here illegally,' but they're not going after the ones who most people are concerned with.'"
However, it wasn’t just Edralin’s family who was concerned about his potential deportation, his community and fellow church members also denounced the agency’s move.
Just days after his arrest, over 60 people, including his family, friends, activists and students, gathered at the Reformed Church of Highland Park to rally around the father who might be deported.
Pastor Seth Kaper Dale who put together the rally said ICE is punishing "people for past mistakes that have already been paid in full."
"I'm horrified to think this is a country that doesn't recognize when people make changes in their life and then lead a wonderful life with a family," said an attendee Kaper-Dale, who was an immigrant rights advocate in Central New Jersey. "This kind of feels like it's a thoughtless action by ICE."
Moreover, it was not the first time ICE officials came after a green card holder for a criminal conviction that happened years ago.
In the beginning of this year, a Polish doctor who had lived in the country for 40 years, was arrested on the basis of misdemeanor arrests that took place when he was 17.
All of this goes to show how immigration enforcement under Trump has become a reckless force that refuses to acknowledge the difference between law-abiding citizens and those with active criminal records.
Banner Image Credits: REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon