Obama's Letter Defending the Deportations of Over 1 Million People

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When Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4) got arrested last week to protest Barack Obama's one millionth deportation, little attention was paid to the letter Obama wrote to Gutierrez in defense of the increasing hardship Obama has forced on migrant communities. I was able to get a copy of the original letters from Gutierrez's office after the White House leaked it to media outlets seemingly in retaliation for Gutierrez's act of defiance.

I will embed the letter Gutierrez originally sent along with Obama's response, below, but they are linked to in this sentence in case people want to read them before I continue. I will provide a little background, first, but I think Obama's defense shows just how extraordinarily out of touch this administration with the immigrant community.
First, notice that the original letter to Obama was sent by four congressman, including, Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-7), Mike Honda (D-CA-15), and John Lewis (D-GA-5), in addition to Gutierrez, saying that they were planning "to join other leaders in an act of non-violent action next week to bear witness to the moral and humanitarian crisis in communities around the country." CASA De Maryland organized the action against Obama and originally listed them in press releases as Congress people willing to get arrested to protest Obama's 1 millionth deportation. I haven't confirmed this with anyone but it's not hard to imagine the amount of pressure the Obama administration put on Grijalva, Honda, and Lewis not to get arrested, illustrating once again just how much Gutierrez is putting on the line for migrant communities.

I'll put in press requests with each office as well as with Casa de Maryland to confirm this to give them a chance to respond to the charge that they backed out from the arrest due to pressure from the White House. It's difficult for me to pass judgement on whether or not it was the right move for Grijalva, Honda, and Lewis to back off getting arrested since they are among the most pro-migrant politicians in Congress. I will say, though, that I've written positively about Lewis before.

I know Lewis has offered to get arrested for migrant communities in the past. I also know that while this was going on, one of the Obama administration's most brazen deportations, yet, was occuring, that of Andy Mathe, who's family happens to be from Georgia and is still fighting their deportations. The Obama administration is putting the entire Mathe family at risk of death back in South Africa, and last week would have been the perfect time for Lewis to fulfill his promise of getting arrested for the migrant community.

Either way, four congressman sent a letter to Obama threatening to get arrested for the inhumane way in which he's enforcing immigration law, and Obama only sent a response to the one person who did get arrested, Gutierrez, and leaked it to the media to make a point. With that background, finally, I can address Obama's letter itself.

Obama's letter is the first time I've seen his strategy of doublespeak laid bare. He admits that his "administration is vigorously enforcing our immigration laws," but then tries to absolve himself from the devastation wrought by that enforcement by blaming Congress. Here's the key passage of his letter to Gutierrez:

You are right to be concerned that immigration enforcement can have devastating effects on families and communities. As long as we are implementing a system of laws which is widely understood to be broken, we will face these challenges. That is why I will continue to insist that Congress act to reform our immigration system.
Barack Obama (25 July 2011)
Forget the fact that insisting Congress do something will have little practical effect for migrant communities. Congress did not tell the Obama administration to deport over 1 million people, more than any other time in history that I know of. Ramped up enforcement was something the Obama administration did of its own volition. This doublespeak translates into a deliberate political strategy of appealing to independents with unprecedented enforcement, while appealing to Latinos by blaming Republicans (or in this case Congress) for having to do it. Obama can't have it both ways.

Even worse is how Obama's letter justifies the increased deportations by essentially portraying everyone the Obama administration is deporting as a "threat to the safety and security of the public." Obama proudly points to the increasing deportations of criminals while forgetting to mention that the vast majority of those "criminals" are people who guilty of traffic violations or immigration violations like illegal reentry. Try as Obama might, these migrants aren't the threat to security that he'd like to portray them as, but the same nannies, gardeners, farmworkers, and students only seeking to better their lives and the lives of those around them that the pro-migrant movement has long sought to protect.

I could go on about how he characterizes the non-criminals he's deporting, but I'll end by saying that it's time that the Obama administration tell the truth to migrant communities. Obama is using our communities as a talking point to look tough and get re-elected all while lying to our faces about the fact that he has to do it. If the Obama administration refuses to tell the truth, then we'll have to follow him far into his re-election campaign making sure that people know the truth. Below are the letters.

From Grijalva, Gutierrez, Honda, and Lewis:


Grijalva, Gutierrez, Honda, and Lewis Letter to Barack Obama on Deportations -

Barack Obama's response:


11-07-25 Barack Obama Letter to Luis Gutierrez on Deportations -

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on August 5, 2011 7:30 AM.

Going On Nightside With Dan Rea Tonight at 9 p.m. To Talk About S-Comm was the previous entry in this blog.

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