Deportation: January 2011 Archives

ICE is at it again. Even as Barack Obama asks the nation why we are deporting talented youth, his agencies lock up and deport college students like Jonathan Chavez.

Sign the petition asking ICE to halt the deportation of Jonathan Chavez.

If Obama wants the support of pro-migrant voters in 2012, he should place a moratorium on deportation of DREAM-eligible youth. This wouldn't constitute passing the DREAM Act on the sly, such a moratorium would only benefit Dreamers in removal proceedings. There would be no path to citizenship, only limbo for Dreamers who would otherwise be deported.

If pro-migrant voters want immigration reform to move forward, we should not accept anything less from President Obama than a written policy of granting deferred action to Dreamers in removal proceedings. His actions thus far demonstrate that he will only move on immigration policy when pushed. So far, conservatives have pushed him a lot harder than the pro-migrant community has, and he has responded by deporting record numbers of people. This represents a strategic failure by advocates, one which occurred in part because D.C. immigrant advocacy organizations have represented the interests of Democratic politicians instead of the interests of immigrant communities.

How many young people like Jonathan Chavez will be deported before groups like RI4A, AILA, SEIU, and the National Immigration Forum confront President Obama for destroying immigrant communities?

How long will supporters of these groups continue to allow organizational leadership to disrespect immigrant communities in this way? Only as long as we let them ...

In case you missed it, Barack Obama had this to say about immigration during his State of the Union address last night:

One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.
Barack Obama (25 January 2011)

Former U.S.-supported Haitian dictator and thief "Baby Doc" Duvalier returned to Haiti this week after 25 years in exile, and President Obama resumed U.S. deportations to Haiti. The deportees will be detained upon arrival in life-threatening conditions in violation of U.S. human rights obligations.

One of the deportees was Lyglenson Lemorin, a lawful permanent resident and Haitian citizen who the federal government had charged with forming a terrorist plot. Lemorin was acquitted by a jury of all criminal charges, but ICE took a second bite at the apple and kept him jailed on immigration charges. Charles Kuck, past AILA president, represented Lemorin:

"Mr. Lemorin's removal is a high water mark in the injustice inherent in our broken immigration system," Charles H. Kuck, his attorney, said. "Deporting an innocent man should never be condoned."

But deporting innocent people is a bipartisan endeavor, one that President Obama has endorsed each day of his administration.

Via Vivirlatino comes news that Dreamer Pedro Gutierrez, who was due to present himself to ICE today to be deported, was granted a 30-day extension. Pedro's statement:

I now realize that the only way for me to be able to stay in Arizona, my home, is for President Obama to allow for me to stay. It is his choice whether I am deported to a country I do not know or if I am allowed to stay in Arizona and give back to my community. I ask President Obama to please let me serve this nation.

This is exactly right. At this point, it is President Obama's choice whether to deport Pedro and other Dreamers in removal proceedings, or to stand with the immigrant community on the side of justice.

Which will he choose?

MLK march Broad Street

An interfaith, multiethnic group of Philadelphians rallied and marched today to protest the detention and deportation of Cambodian refugees who came to the U.S. as children escaping genocide in their homeland.

About 300 supporters rallied at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Center City, Philadelphia, before marching to the ICE District Office several blocks away. Speakers throughout the event referenced the words and life of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday was celebrated today.

Several Cambodian men now in their thirties were resettled as child refugees in some of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. Raised by traumatized parents, in families that had been decimated by the Khmer Rouge, some strayed in their youth and were convicted of crimes in their teens and early twenties. They served their time and reintegrated into their communities, raising families and starting businesses. Many had become permanent residents but not citizens, not understanding the distinction or the consequences of not naturalizing.

A pair of laws passed in 1996 with bipartisan support are now tearing apart Philadelphia's Cambodian community. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) expanded the types of crimes which could result in permanent exile. They removed the ability of immigration judges to consider discretionary factors, such as length of time in the U.S. or family ties, in individual cases. Now, years after these men served their sentences, ICE has locked them up and begun deporting them. They will never be able to live with their U.S. citizen wives and children in this country again. They will be banished from their adopted country and sent back to the place where their families were slaughtered.

Via America's Voice, Pedro Gutierrez speaks about his difficult childhood and his dream to join the Marines.

[Take action here to help stop Pedro's deportation.]

Unfortunately, until President Obama takes targeted administrative action to defer the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible youth in removal proceedings, ICE will continue to deport Dreamers like Pedro. And for every Dreamer that we see in the papers, there are hundreds who are deported quietly, under the radar.

Pedro Gutierrez.png
Via, please take action to stop ICE from deporting Dreamer Pedro Gutierrez:

1. Send a fax asking for his deportation to be delayed! (Thanks to America's Voice for their staunch support of Dreamers.)

2. Sign the petition urging members to step in and stop his deportation.

3. Make 5 calls for Pedro

Despite President Obama's expressions of support for Dreamers, under his supervision, ICE continues to deport Dreamers every single day. Until President Obama takes administrative action to defer the deportation of Dreamers in removal proceedings, his words of support remain just that: words.

At this moment, President Obama is the single person whose actions most directly negatively affect Dreamers, and he is also the single person with the most power to stop these deportations. He can only continue to say one thing and do another as long as he is not called out on this hypocrisy.

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.

I don't have much to write, today.  I'm up early preparing for a trip to see the family of Selvin ArĂ©valo, today.  For those of you that haven't been following, I put everything I had into getting Selvin out of detention in Maine.  Right after we got him out, we learned that his appeal for asylum was denied, and while we were able to file another appeal, he is still very much at risk of detention and deportation every day. 

I don't plan on letting him get deported any time soon, though, so I thought it would be good for me to visit his family while I was here in Guatemala.  I'm bringing a video of him for his family to watch and will try to bring a video back to Selvin.  If you're all lucky, and Selvin says it's okay, I'll be able to edit out something of the whole experience for all of you to see. 

Wish me luck in the meantime.  I'll be back in Boston on Friday and back to pushing full force to empower migrants. 

The Obama administration announced last month its intention to resume deportations in mid-January of certain Haitian immigrants convicted of crimes in the U.S. Some of those likely to deported have lived in the U.S. for decades and will be permanently separated from U.S. citizen family members. Some had been permanent residents themselves. All will face indefinite imprisonment as criminal deportees by the Haitian government in jails where they may contract cholera or tuberculosis and where the government relies on family members to bring prisoners food and safe drinking water. Furthermore, prisoners in Haiti are at risk of being killed by their own prison guards. A week after the earthquake last year, prison guards in Les Cayes summarily executed prisoners and then tried to cover up the crime.

The U.S. government will be deporting people to their deaths in Haiti--some of these deportees will not survive under these harsh conditions.

Via Jaya Ramji-Nogales, I learned that a group of human rights advocates filed a petition (pdf) last week with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asking that it prevent the United States from resuming deportations to Haiti. The Commission is an organ of the Organization of American States that can be petitioned to make recommendations to member states to resolve cases of violations of human rights. While the Commission and the associated Inter-American Court of Human Rights lack significant enforcement authority, litigation in these bodies can be a way to pressure member states to more faithfully observe human rights.

For a country like the U.S. which has historically used the rhetoric of human rights both to define its national identity and as a foreign policy tool, being publicly called out for violating human rights should be a source of embarrassment. Ramji-Nogales outlines the specific human rights violations alleged in the petition:

The petition alleges violations of five provisions of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (sic). The deportation of these Haitians abrogates their right to life given the inhumane prison conditions they will face at home, particularly during the cholera epidemic, which has hit prisons particularly hard. Their removal also breaches their right to freedom from cruel, infamous, or unusual punishments due to the severe lack of medical care and social services in post-earthquake Haiti. The arbitrary detention these criminal deportees will face upon return violates their right to security of person. The petition also argues that the failure of the U.S. immigration system to offer a humanitarian defense to deportation, either by measuring the impact of removal on U.S. citizen family members or assessing the gravity of conditions in their home country violates the Haitians' right to family life and their right to due process and a fair trial.

Ramji-Nogales points out that U.S. petitioners to the Commission must reference the Declaration since the U.S. has refused to ratify the American Convention on Human Rights, a legally binding treaty. The U.S. is joined by Cuba and a handful of other states in refusing to ratify the treaty, again showing the U.S. to be an outlier in its faltering dedication to the protection of human rights. As demonstrated by its resumption of deportations to Haiti, the U.S.'s commitment to observing human rights in practice does not match its rhetoric.

If you disagree with the Obama administration's decision to send these Haitians to their death, please sign this petition at asking ICE to suspend these deportations.

See updates and suggestion below.

Another year has passed and guess what?  People still hate migrants.  People have hated migrants for millenia, and they probably will hate migrants for millenia more (if society lasts that long).  It's cynical to write that out, but at the same time, when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, it helps to ease my anxiety when I meditate on this.  To understand that the struggle will always go on forces you to hold fast to the things that matter, today, and to keep yourself healthy for the struggle, tomorrow. 

I hope everyone was able to rest, relax, and spend time with loved ones over the holidays.  I want to express gratitude to my co-blogger Dave for sacrificing his time during the holidays to keep content fresh, here.  I continue to be privileged with the opportunity to escape the harsh New England winter to bask in the Land of Eternal Spring here in Central America.  I'll be returning to Boston late next week.  I have yet to find or know a more beautiful country on this earth than Guatemala, and I fight for the day when, emancipated from inhumane and unjust immigration laws, my undocumented brothers and sisters in the U.S. can witness this beauty alongside of me.  You never leave my thoughts and prayers. 

What follows is an outline of the pro-migrant strategy I'm going to try and pursue in the coming year.  These are just initial thoughts, subject to change, and input is always welcome, here.  I've discussed this over the phone with several people already, and I thought it would be good to write it out for reference.'s Immigrant Rights page is a good source of information and a portal for taking action through targeted online petitions. (Disclosure: I used to blog there.) Petitions are no substitute for other types of offline action, but I have seen their effectiveness in leveraging other forms of support in deportation defense cases. Targeted petitions can bring visibility to individual cases that otherwise would be swept under the rug by the Obama administration. I speculate that they might also be a type of "gateway" activism, informing and engaging participants who are then more likely to pick up the phone to call legislators, attend rallies, and meet like-minded people offline.

With that in mind, here are three recent immigrant rights petitions on If you would like to add your voice to those who have already signed, jump on in:

Ask President Obama to save Florinda and halt ICE's "Secure Communities" program.
Florinda is the mother of U.S. citizen children, and is at risk of deportation because of the notorious "Secure Communities" program. "Secure Communities" puts local police at work enforcing immigration law - misusing local resources and undermining of community/police relations. U.S. citizens, babies and kids are separated from their parents and family members because of "Secure Communities."


My boyfriend was brought to the U.S at 3months old by his father, he is now 19yrs old and has been here all his life, his dad was going to help get his legal status but his dad passed away when he was 4years old and his grandma who had legal status had a petiton set up for him and other grand kids to get their legal status but during the process she died and they canceled everything. He was currently attending school to get his diploma, he was riding his bike home to get clothes to go camping with us and got stopped for riding without a light, now hes been in jail for almost 2 months on no charges, hes never been in trouble. In a second his life changed, he didnt ask to be brought here. Everyday he is calling us crying so scared that he will get deported to a country hes never been to and has no family or place to live.

Don't Hold Tucson's School District Hostage For Teaching Hispanic Heritage

The Tucson school board, student activists, Ethnic Studies teachers and educators agree -- the Ethnic Studies program is a great asset to students in Arizona. Tell the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education to overturn Horne's ruling and keep this valuable program running.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Deportation category from January 2011.

Deportation: December 2010 is the previous archive.

Deportation: April 2011 is the next archive.

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