ICE raids shatter communities across the country during pope's visit

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The widescale ICE raids in several states on Wednesday surfaced briefly in the news, only to be subsumed by discussion of the presidential primary debate, recession, and the papal visit. 


The coverage these raids have gotten is problematic, to say the least, especially when you consider that the raids are implicated in each of these other three stories.

The candidates have wobbled and waffled on the topic of immigration--did anyone ask the candidates about the raids in the debate Wednesday night?  Surely a timely topic--I ask genuinely, since I didn't see the debate.

Pro-migrant commentators have pointed out the dire fiscal situation many states that have adopted restrictionist policies have found themselves in--Arizona and Oklahoma, to name two.  I would like to think the looming recession would lead states to rethink these hardline positions, but I am afraid the opposite may happen.  Bad economic times usually call for a scapegoat, and immigrants have proven to be a useful one for too many politicians.

And finally, did no one in the press consider connecting the fact that Bush was discussing immigration with the Pope at the exact same time as ICE agents were rounding up hardworking immigrants to be deported?  This seems to me a grave oversight, and I've been waiting to see this angle reported in the mainstream press. 

From MIRA today: 

Pope Visits With President While Bush Sends Agents Across America to Raid
Immigrant Workers

Boston, MA - Today, President George W. Bush hosted Pope Benedict XVI,
celebrated his 81st birthday at the White House, and in a private meeting
with the President, asked for the humane treatment of immigrants in the
United States. At the same time this conversation was happening, immigrant
workers were being subjected to detention and interrogation in workplaces
across eight states, TX, FL, WV, TN, NY, PA, OH, and GA, by Federal ICE
agents.

"Today, President Bush welcomed Pope Benedict to the White House and spoke
about freedom in a 'spirit of mutual support.'," said Sister Lena Deevy,
Executive Director of the Irish Immigration Center. "Yet, in my eyes,
President Bush fails to live up to his words by continuing to increase harsh
enforcement measures and refusing to help immigrants become citizens.
Today's immigration raids across America are yet another example of
political scapegoating at its worst."

Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee
Advocacy Coalition, said, "There is a fundamental disconnect between our
nation's moral belief that all human beings should be treated with dignity
and the implementation of our nation's broken immigration system. For the
President to put at risk the sanctity and safety of immigrant families by
conducting yet another round of harsh immigration raids flies in the face of
the Pope's call for humane treatment of all people."

###
MIRA works to advocate for the rights and opportunities of immigrants and
refugees. In partnership with its members, MIRA advances this mission
through education, training, leadership development, organizing, policy
analysis and advocacy.

ICE head Julie Myers has claimed the raids were all about stopping and punishing identity theft.  I have some concerns about this claim.  The identity theft angle is a useful way of painting detainees as dangerous criminals instead of hardworking people with families to support.  I find it hard to believe all the people they arrested were guilty of this--especially since, due to the tactics used, there is a high probability they arrested and detained some permanent residents or even U.S. citizens.  I know from experience that when ICE says they are going after "criminal aliens" or "fugitive aliens," more often than not that means the target had a simple marijuana possession charge 20 years ago or got caught shoplifting as a kid or even swiped two people through a subway turnstile without paying both fares.  (This last is charged in NY state as "theft of services," which an ICE agent once upgraded to "financial fraud" in order to detain a client of mine, even though the charge had been dismissed and my client had no criminal record.)  So I am skeptical about the emphasis placed on identity theft claims, though I acknowledge social security number misuse is a problem that should be addressed.  Calling it identity theft, though, lumps it in with people who steal credit card numbers and use them to put people into bankruptcy, which is not the same thing at all.

And I'm wondering about the timing of the raids, which happened just after the Julie Myers ICE Halloween party blackface photo story resurfaced in the press and just before the upcoming May Day rallies.  Were the raids intended to suppress turnout on May 1?  Or were they intended to increase turnout with the expectation that this would fuel another backlash, as the massive marches in 2006 did?  I've heard both theories mooted.  I never thought of myself as a conspiracy theorist, but then that was before I started working in immigration law. 

One thing is clear: if anyone thought widespread criticism of the inhumane tactics used in these family-shattering raids or even a simultaneous visit from as famous an advocate for immigrants as the Pope would deter George Bush from doing what he'd set his mind to, they've got another think coming.  The raids will continue and likely intensify all the way until 1/20/09.  


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2 Comments

howard said:

Your stand on immigration..no incorrect word...illegal aliens is correct..is wrong. These people are taking jobs away from citizens especially young adults. My 17 year oldgranson cannot get a job at a carwash or a McDonalds because they are all taken by adult illegal aliens who happen to be Mexican. What is wrong with the people in this country? Supporting people that do not belong here. 12 million or more. Most construction jobs are filled by them, farm workers and on and on. I don;t want to hear from anyone who says I am prejudiced because my financee is Spanish and from Mexico and a legal citizen of the US.. Wake up America....

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Howard,

First of all welcome to Citizen Orange. I'm interested to know how you came across this blog, and why this issue matters to you. I'm also interested to know if we can come to some common ground on this issue, since there is always a lot of animosity here. For instance, can you agree that we have to work harder to stop U.S. policies that hurt the countries these migrants are coming from so they don't have to migrate in the first place?

If you answer those questions, perhaps we can come to some common ground, but your comment above is just typical of the misinformation and distortion that we are trying to shine the light on here on Citizen Orange. You start off by seeking to dehumanize undocumented migrants by calling them illegal aliens. Aren't we all people? I know we are all migrants.

You also spread the myth that migrants are responsible for the lack of jobs in the U.S., which is a lie. There is always economic displacement but to blame migrants for the inability of your 17 year-old grandson to get a job, is to seek to blame someone else for the U.S.'s own problems. How about the war in Iraq and the money being spent on that? Why not blame that for the inability of your son to get a job. You also neglect to mention all that you save because of cheap migrant labor, on the fruits you buy, the restaurants you eat at, and the home live in. Migrants put money in your pocket, whether you want to believe it or not.

Lastly, the most offensive suggestion you can make is that because you have a spanish speaking wife that you are somehow objective. Let your wife speak for herself and stop using her as a political pawn that you use to make your points. Our personal relationships say nothing about the systemic things we support. I can have black friends and be racist, just like I can hang around all white people and be anti-racist. Tokenizing your wife is just suggest to me that you are even more discriminatory than if you had not written that comment.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on April 18, 2008 12:28 AM.

Pilgrim's Pride, and Prejudice: Pro-Migrant Sanctuarysphere was the previous entry in this blog.

terrorizing immigrant communities: perspectives on the ICE raids is the next entry in this blog.

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