Cecilia Muñoz Gets Promoted, Another 1000 People Get Deported

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NOTE: This is a draft with typos and without links. I might refine it and cross-post it elsewhere, but since it's been so long since I blogged, I thought I'd just put it up as is, now, rather than let it sit into irrelevance as so many of my other drafts have.

Yesterday, Cecilia Muñoz got promoted, and another 1000 people got deported. The Obama administration deports over a thousand people, every day, more than any administration before by many counts. The Obama administration tells us most deportees are criminals, nativists say it's not enough, but the truth is the vast majority of those being deported are noble people, heroes even, who are seeking a better life for themselves and for their families, and who make those they live among better off.

If the idea of over a thousand deportations a day doesn't strike you as cruel, make no mistake, only a violent system can forcibly remove that many people a day. Economic, psychological, spiritual, and physical violence are all involved, from the terror migrant communities live in, to the moment ICE agents bust down the doors to peoples homes, to the horrific conditions in which people are imprisoned, to the shackles and drugs used to force people onto planes. If you've gotten to know just one person caught in our broken immigration system you'll know the violence that these laws are doing to the strangers among us. It's the law, nativists will say, but as the wise have said for as long as imperfect human laws have existed, an unjust law is no law at all.

Increasingly, the Obama administration has made Cecilia Muñoz the face of this violent and unjust system and I say that without condemnation.
If we eat at restaurants, buy fresh produce, enjoy clean, well-constructed buildings and manicured lawns, chances are we are all part of this violent and unjust system. Still, as the untruths of the election season come into full force, and Democrats point to nativism Republicans seem all to happy to embrace, it's important to remember that the Obama administration bares chief responsibility for the escalation in violence against migrants that has occured over these last three years.

The role that Cecilia Muñoz has played in this violence is more nuanced than you're likely to get through the media. Mainstream media are almost oblivious to the complex politics of her promotion to Domestic Policy Director of the White House, and pro-migrant media are publicly exposing a schism more clearly than I've ever known it to be shown.

At a superficial level, Ms. Muñoz probably doesn't make much sense as a pro-migrant target within the Obama administration. Janet Napolitano of DHS, John Morton of ICE, and political advisors like Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, David Plouffe, and Jim Messina, probably bear much more responsibility for the violence done against our communities than Cecilia Muñoz. Ms. Muñoz is probably one of the few voices within the Obama administration pushing back against people within the administration who would lay waste to our communities just to win a few independent votes. In the few Obama administration victories that exist, such as the prioritization of deportations and the waiver for the 3 and 10 year bars, I have no doubt that Ms. Muñoz played a big part, along with other pro-migrant bureaucrats like USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

If that were the only story, you likely wouldn't be hearing about Ms. Munoz, right now. The pro-migrant movement would be content to let her work her inside magic, while other people in the Obama administration were targeted. Sadly, Ms. Muñoz and her pro-migrant supporters bare more responsibility for the violence done to our communities than they have ever been publicly held accountable for.

Now, with her promotion to Domestic Policy Director, I don't think it's unfair to link Ms. Muñoz's rise with the increasing violence done to our communities. Ms. Muñoz had a chance to save face when I and other pro-migrant bloggers asked her to resign. Now, she's irrevocably tied to an immigration system that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest human tragedies of a newly globalized world.

Ms. Muñoz responsibility for this rise in violence against our communities begins before her tenure in the Obama administration, when she was vice president of the National Council of La Raza. As much as nativists like to malign NCLR (they like to scare racially unconscious white people by saying La Raza over and over again), NCLR is one of the most conservative pro-migrant organizations that exists, mostly because of it's strong ties to huge corporations and the military. NCLR along with almost everyone who is currently defending and chearleading Ms. Muñoz was one of the chief architects of a decades long failed strategy of "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" known as CIR by the pro-migrant movement.

I've been seduced by the CIR strategy at certain points. One of the reasons the immigration system is so broken is because of piecemeal efforts to reform a system which really hasn't been updated since 1965. It's resulted in an alphabet soup of visas and contradictory provisions that even highly trained immigration lawyers regularly make mistakes carrying out. With a mess like the immigration system we got, it's seductive to throw it all out and start all over. Not only that, it makes sense. One of the chief arguments of immigration reform obstructionists is that the U.S. has to be able to control who comes in and out of its borders, but the only way to do that, really, is to bring millions of undocumented people out of the shadows and reform the system so that people don't have to resort to unauthorized migration. Thus you get the three main elements of CIR: security, legalization, and reform.

While this makes logical sense, politics isn't about what makes sense, it's about power. If you give power an inch, power takes a mile. The inch given was on enforcement and security, and that's all we got. Instead of legalization and reform, we got border walls, ICE agents, and detention centers.

There might have been a time when immigration policy could have been written and decided by a small number of technocrats and MacArthur geniuses putting forth logical solutions, that time is long gone. CIR is a nice idea, born of good intentions, but in this world we don't get judged by our intentions, but by our results. By any objective measure, pro-migrant efforts to advance the CIR strategy have been a disaster, as evidence by the increased persecution, imprisonment, and deportation of good contributing members of our communities. Ms. Muñoz was a chief architect of the CIR disaster along with many of the people still supporting her.

The worst part of this disaster is that there were, and will be, other opportunities to provide relief while this CIR strategy was pursued and continues to be pursued. Both the DREAM Act and AgJOBS could have been passed long ago and together could have legalized millions of people. Instead of millions of people emancipated we got millions of people deported.

Ms. Muñoz and her supporters have never been held accountable for this horrific strategic failure. On the contrary, they continue to push the castle in the sky they see as CIR when they see no political chance of that ever happening in the near future. By receiving a promotion on the backs of over 1.2 million migrants deported Ms. Muñoz has made a choice that everyone in the pro-migrant movement is going to have to make. Are we in this because we want justice for migrants, or for something else?

Justice doesn't give an inch. If we want justice for migrants we don't concede criminalizing language, border walls, detention centers, and more deportations. Wanting justice doesn't mean being unrealistic, it just means we fight for every inch we can get, we don't give them away. That's how we get from the world we live in to the world we want to be in. Ms. Muñoz was given a promotion for the inches, which turned to miles, that she gave away, what are others getting for the inches they give away?

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on January 11, 2012 11:07 PM.

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