Recently in Attrition Through Enforcement Category
I greatly value the work that Immigrants' List does, and encourage folks to donate to them. We need more pro-migrant PACs like Immigrants' List, and we need more money for them if we ever hope to have a pro-migrant impact. Of the ten heroes Immigrants' List cites, I agree with their selection of the other nine heroes. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), however, has to be one of the worst pro-migrant politicians in the country. That is to be distinguished, of course, from some of the worst nativists in the country, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, nailed it on the Colbert Report, last night not only diction but also in tone, as he made his case against Alabama's HB 56, the most harmful and dangerous immigration law in the nation. Sometimes people try to go on Colbert and be funny, but it's hard to outfunny Colbert. It's better to just play it serious and let Colbert be the comedian, and Scott Douglas did that just as he said he would. More important, were his profound words which were almost always applauded by Colbert's audience.
For the first time I can remember, as long as I've been a resident of Massachusetts, local Republican leadership has been silent on the issue of unauthorized migration. It appears State Representative Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton), has finally crossed a line too far by suggesting that undocumented rape victims "should be afraid to come forward" in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Over 100 people have signed my petition asking that Mass. GOP Leadership clarify their position on undocumented rape victims, and almost 500 people have signed a petition started by local women's rights group, New Hope, Inc., asking the Mass. State Assembly to censure Rep. Fattman. If you haven't signed my petition, yet, please do so:
Massachusetts Republicans love to beat up on the pro-migrant community. The entire Republican infrastructure, along with local conservative newspapers like the Boston Herald, and talk radio like WRKO AM 680, beat up on us so much it's hard to know which punches to defend. Folks who follow me know that I don't say that as a partisan. In fact, I think it's partly the pro-migrant community's fault that we've allowed ourselves to be punching bags for Republicans, and the first ones to be sold out by a state that is run almost entirely by Democrats. We're not as well organized as we should be, but you can help us start to build the power we need to take on this nativist infrastructure.
As the pro-migrant community tries to build power here in Massachusetts, we have the gift of a rare misstep by the miniscule Republican caucus, through Rep. Fattman's remarks, to shine the light of truth on the horrific anti-migrant policies that local Republicans advocate for and local Democrats enable. I wouldn't be pushing this if Rep. Fattman had apologized. However, it's clear from his "clarifying" statement (which doesn't do much clarifying),and the silence of Republican leaders, that they are refusing to take responsibility for his statements. Rep. Fattman's statements discourage undocumented rape victims from coming forward, and encourage rapists to focus on undocumented women.
As I stated in my first post about this, this isn't an attempt to play political games, nor is this a hypothetical situation. Unauthorized migrants are frequently preyed on by people who know they're too afraid to go to the police. Furthermore, this situation gets to the heart of the debate that advocates are having over what I think is currently the greatest threat that migrant communities face across the nation, the [In]Secure Communities program (S-Comm).
The narrative is turning on the backlash to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's decision to stand up to [In]Secure Communities (S-Comm), easily one of the greatest threats to migrant communities around the nation. There's been a national outcry against the comments of State Representative Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton), who in a statement to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, suggested that undocumented rape victims "should be afraid to come forward" and report the crime committed against them. Care2, Daily Kos, Firedoglake, Mother Jones, and Think Progress have all covered Rep. Fattman's remarks. Fattman's attempts to clarify his comments did not contain an apology, nor did they clear up what an undocumented woman should do if she's raped.
Proponents enforcement-only migration policy solutions are likely to see the uproar over Fatmann's comments as much ado about nothing, or worse as some sort of cynical political attack. In truth, this uproar gets right to the heart of the matter of the debate over U.S. immigration policy, which is really a debate over what type of country the U.S. should be. Does the U.S. want to be a country that does nothing when a migrant is raped for the simple act of trying to seek a better life for herself and her family?
This isn't a hypothetical situation. Unauthorized migrants, some of the most vulnerable people among us, are routinely raped as they attempt to seek a better life in the U.S. It was Maria Bolaños, a undocumented victim of domestic violence, who most dramatically brought the problems with S-Comm to light when she confronted the director of the program, David Venturella, with her story. In Massachusetts, people regularly impersonate ICE agents in order to assault and rob unauthorized migrants. What does do Massachusetts Republicans think unauthorized migrants should do in these situations? Should we allow this violence to go unchecked in a quixotic attempt to enforce the broken laws of our outdated immigration system? Do Massachusetts Republicans want to live in a country where we make conditions so miserable for migrants, that they are forced to return to the majority world countries they're fleeing from?
The petition is addressed to the leaders of the Massachusetts Republican Party: Chairman Jennifer Nassour, Executive Director Nate Little, and Communications Director Tim Buckley. Sen. Scott Brown, who endorsed Fattman, should also be forced to clarify his position on this issue.
Rep. Fattman, who refused to apologize in his clarifying statements, or even do much clarifying for that matter, should unequivocally apologize immediately or resign. Public officials have to use their words responsibly and the fact of the matter is that his statements effectively encourage sexual predators to prey on undocumented women, and discourage undocumented women from reporting rapists. If he can't take responsibility for that then he has no business being a public official.
... therefore, the #1 goal of the immigrant rights movement should be to unelect Obama in 2012.
The defendant faces the following charges:
- Assault: Obama has ushered in a reign of terror against immigrant families in the U.S., with almost 400,000 deportations in 2010, a new record. A generation of children in immigrant families, many of them U.S. citizens, experience the ongoing trauma (pdf) of knowing that their parents could be stolen away from them in the night, any night.
- Fraud: Obama claims to oppose entangling local law enforcement in federal immigration matters while foisting the national racial profiling program called Secure Communities on localities around the country which does exactly that. He claims to oppose deporting Dreamers while his agencies deport more of them than ever before.
- Theft: The Social Security Administration collects payroll taxes from millions of immigrant workers who never see a dime in retirement benefits and who are not eligible for SSI disability payments. Increasing numbers of undocumented workers are applying for Temporary Tax ID (ITIN) numbers to pay federal income taxes, yet they are excluded from all public benefits programs and instead are targeted for imprisonment and deportation by federal agencies funded by those same tax dollars.
- Absence of remorse or rehabilitation. Instead of recognizing the immigration Policy and Political Traps into which he has fallen (or jumped), at every opportunity, Obama boasts of his record as Deporter in Chief. Feeling politically vulnerable as the child of an immigrant himself whose American bona fides have been challenged, he has responded by out-persecuting the persecutors. Like a schoolyard bully, he targets others to avoid being targeted himself.
The evidence is now before the jury, who will deliver the verdict on November 6, 2012. The jurors will not be as easily fooled this time around with promises the defendant doesn't intend to keep. He should hope he has a skillful defense attorney.
I don't believe he can pin these crimes on subordinates or co-conspirators. In the end, responsibility for terrorizing immigrant families rests with the Perpetrator-in-Chief. Unlike the detainees who've died in his jails or in the countries to which he's sent them, Obama's only punishment will be carried out at the ballot box, his only sentence a comfortable and lucrative retirement.
Of the more than 3,000 Latin Americans who embark upon this journey every day, less than 300 make it to their destination.
I bring this up, now, because Renata Avila, a human rights lawyer and one of my favorite Guatemalan activists, tweeted me this link a few days ago:
As has become a near daily addiction for me, I was getting my daily political news from Memeorandum, yesterday, when I noticed, to my horror, that the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) website had made the headlines. Even worse was that Tim Murphy of Mother Jones, and Adam Serwer of The American Prospect, both of which are supposed to be "progressive" magazines, had helped to get it there by linking to it.
For those who are not familiar with the venerable work of pro-migrant organizations like the Center for New Community or the Southern Poverty Law Center, CIS is a spin-off of the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform, and was founded by the white supremacist John Tanton.
If these connections aren't reason enough to make the organization illegitimate, any studious observer of CIS can ascertain through their actions, the horrific policies they advocate for, and their shoddy scholarship, that the sole purpose of the organization is to provide a facade of statistics to legitimize the ethnic cleansing of the U.S. through deportation, detention, and spreading fear and misery in migrant communities.
I don't like to publicly attack anyone that has even the most remote chance of identifying with my interests and the interests of migrants. On the substance of these posts, at least, Serwer and Murphy are right on. Still, driving traffic to and legitimizing a hateful organization like the Center for Immigration Studies was enough to bring back waves of feelings regarding progressives betraying migrants. As such, I started reaching out to different progressive bloggers whom I believe have recently enabled nativism in the last few months in order to give them the benefit of the doubt. I like to reach out to people privately before I write about them publicly.
This article from Julie Shaw in the Philadelphia Daily News examines the heavy caseload that Philadelphia's immigration judges face, and ways that long court delays impact the people caught up in the immigration enforcement system.
The influx of cases into the court system is a direct result of escalated action by ICE under the Obama and Bush administrations. Obama's ICE is openly pursuing target deportation numbers, not for any coherent security or political goal, but simply because that is the logical endpoint of the enforcement-first narrative this government has embraced. This is reminiscent of the criminal justice system's turn in the 1970s towards locking people up en masse, abandoning crime prevention and rehabilitation for a more destructive, reactive, punitive approach. This response comes from fear, not from strength, and it feeds on itself, making what once would have been abhorrent seem commonplace.
[Image: Choo Youn Kong / AFP-Getty Images]
Sometimes I wonder what people who get riled up about immigration would do if they actually knew how the laws worked, instead of relying on the lies that have been spun into conventional wisdom.
Utah State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom wants Utah to pass a SB1070-style law that would drive undocumented immigrants further into the shadows. He told the LA Times one of the reasons he has become Utah's leading anti-immigrant politician is that it is so hard for immigrants to come through legal channels.
Sandstrom became fluent in Spanish and sponsored one family that wanted to immigrate to the United States. He was shocked at the hurdles they had to surmount. They had to sign a form pledging to refuse all U.S. government benefits for five years. Sandstrom thought of the people here illegally who accessed those benefits. It didn't sit right with him.
There are a couple of inaccuracies repeated in this short paragraph. First, the passage suggests that all it takes to immigrate to the U.S. is a financial sponsor like Sandstrom and a pledge not to access benefits. This is incorrect. It's true that each applicant for permanent residence must locate a U.S. citizen or permanent resident financial sponsor to sign an "affidavit of support," a requirement derived from the long-standing prohibition on accepting immigrants who will become a "public charge." But to apply for permanent residence in the first place, applicants must have an employer or close family member in the U.S. able and willing to file the underlying petition for them.
Most people who want to emigrate to the U.S. can't because they lack such a petitioner. A financial sponsor alone gets you nowhere. Yet most Americans believe that the U.S. takes all who wish to come, as long as they wait in the famous "line." This line is a fantasy. It only exists for the small number of people who have close family members in the U.S. or an employer willing to wade through the red tape and expense of an employment petition. And some of those fortunate enough to be able to wait in the line must wait 10, 15, even 20 years for a visa.
But the other myth that Sandstrom repeats to this reporter is perhaps even more pernicious, the myth that undocumented immigrants are on the dole, stealing money from taxpayers.