Recently in ICE raids Category
[Undocumented activists occupy Obama campaign office in Oakland, CA / Image: Krsna Avila]
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today issued instructions to federal immigration agencies not to deport undocumented youth who meet certain criteria. The criteria are based on the provisions of the proposed DREAM Act. President Obama announced the policy change at the White House soon afterward.
The new policy, if implemented, would provide temporary relief to many undocumented youth in the United States. Undocumented organizers who fought for their rights and their communities deserve the credit for today's policy change.
But I worry that this announcement, like those before it, is intended to improve poll numbers more than to benefit undocumented families. I am skeptical because DHS is institutionally oriented towards deporting people and because this administration has made deportations its number one immigration policy priority. Serious questions about the new policy remain unanswered.
Update 6/22/12: Click through for a Spanish translation of this post.
Here are some pros and cons of the new policy guidance:
... 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.
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.
I've seen two general reactions from pro-migrant bloggers, Tweeters, Dreamers, and politicos online since the DREAM Act was blocked in the Senate last week by anti-immigrant politicians.
One group believes the vote highlighted the fundamental divide between Democrats and Republicans on immigration policy. On this reading, Democrats are good and fight for the immigrant community, while Republicans are bad and fight to deport immigrants. Democrats want to enact legislation to bring immigrants out of the shadows, while Republicans prefer the status quo of early morning home raids, photos of Latinos in shackles and orange jumpsuits, and small children crying because their parents have been hauled off to the deportation gulag. President Obama, as the leader of the Democratic Party, wants immigrants to succeed and wants to legalize undocumented immigrants. Proponents of this view believe any attempt to add complexity to this narrative risks muddying the political calculus. You need more Democrats in office in order to pass immigration reform, and to do that, voters must reward Democrats and punish Republicans. Keep it simple or risk defeat.
The second group believes that both major parties share blame for terrorizing immigrant communities and keeping families in a legal twilight. True, the Republican party has been taken over by nativists and has turned its back on the growing Latino electorate. But Democrats never made any significant push to pass pro-migrant legislation while they held large majorities in both houses of Congress; instead, they snuck in votes on the DREAM Act only as the legislative session wound down. Meanwhile, a $600 million border enforcement bill breezed through Congress with strong support from both parties. Democrats in Congress never even introduced the comprehensive immigration reform bill they had long promised the community, instead engaging in a drawn-out procedural sleight of hand designed to fool constituents into thinking something was happening. Key Democrats voted against the DREAM Act in the Senate, dooming it for the foreseeable future. Democratic leadership never made passage of the bill a priority, never engaging in the armtwisting and horsetrading that led to success on other bills. President Obama directed ICE to deport immigrants in record numbers in what was either a futile effort to win Republican support for comprehensive immigration reform or a cynical strategy to keep nativists off his back so other policy priorities could move forward.
I am glad that Dreamers, through tough organizing and advocacy, were able to push Congress to at least vote on an immigration bill so individual politicians could be held accountable to voters. But I fall into the second school of thought on the partisan question. If Democrats want to be known as the pro-migrant political party, they have to actually be the pro-migrant party. Words matter less than actions.
True allies wouldn't target immigrant communities the way Democrats in Congress and the White House have done since Obama came into office. Another reason to make sure Democrats are real allies is because otherwise, they act as a massive clog to action.
When Democrats get the same credit for not doing anything to change the status quo as they would for actually passing laws, they are likely to do nothing because of:
From my inbox yesterday comes news of a recent raid of undocumented tenants living in substandard housing in Tennessee. Instead of prosecuting the landlords for violations of housing code, ICE arrested and detained the tenants. In the process, they broke doors and windows and yelled racial epithets at the families inside.
President Obama has made persecution and prosecution of immigrants one of his signature domestic priorities during his first two years of office. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of his commitment to immigration reform.
Local ICE Raid Raises Humanitarian and Civil Rights Violation Concerns
TIRRC and ACLU-TN Denounce Government Action and Management Response to Tenants
For Immediate Release
October 28, 2010
David Morales, TIRRC, 615-833-0384 x 201, 615-775-1069 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director, 615-320-7142, email@example.com
NASHVILLE--The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) today held a joint press conference condemning the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid at the Clairmont Apartments off of Murfreesboro Pike. At the time of the raid, the apartment complex was already under investigation for deplorable living conditions and the raid raised numerous additional humanitarian and civil rights violation concerns.
Residents reported that ICE conducted the October 20 raid in the manner of a SWAT team, breaking doors and windows to force their way into apartments. They shouted racial epithets at women and children, interrogated a 13-year-old child, and detained an elder diabetic. No warrants were ever presented, and to advocates' knowledge no criminal charges have been filed against any of the detainees.
"Our nation has the authority to control its borders and to regulate immigration, but the power to deport people must be exercised fairly and humanely. The constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection apply to all persons in this country - citizens and non-citizens alike," said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director. "The Fourth Amendment prohibits warrantless intrusions into private homes, even the homes of undocumented immigrants. In the absence of a judicially-authorized warrant, there must be voluntary and knowing consent. ICE officers forcing themselves inside homes does not constitute consent."
The ICE raid followed a long period of neglect and deterioration in the living conditions at the complex, which have worsened markedly since Tritex Realty Advisors purchased the property in July, Greystar Real Estate Partners assumed management responsibilities, and Crime Suppression Services took charge of armed surveillance.
Management has routinely ignored tenants' complaints about chronic maintenance problems, water leaks, lack of essential services, mold problems and widespread pest infestation. Several buildings have had limited or no water supply and no heat for months. Three weeks ago, Greystar abandoned the onsite management office, posting a sign to call a number that, when dialed, rang inside the empty office. Calls placed weeks ago remain unreturned.
"Government actions such as raids that make life miserable for immigrants will not fix the problems with our broken immigration system. They only create more problems for society such as the public health concerns at Clairmont Apartments, where people are afraid to report appalling living conditions for fear of retaliation," said Stephen Fotopulos, TIRRC Executive Director. "We need to decide which America we want to live in--one that makes life intolerable for millions of people who live here, or one that brings immigrants out of the shadows and enables them to be taxpaying, contributing citizens."
ACLU-TN has developed an Immigrant Resource Center in English and Spanish that provides information to help people better understand the justice system and the safeguards it offers to ensure fair treatment. Resources cover obtaining visas in cases of abuse or human trafficking, encounters with law enforcement, the detention system, safety planning and raids. The Resource Center can be found at http://www.aclu-tn.org/immigrantresourcecenter.htm
TIRRC's Know Your Rights and Raid Toolkits can be found at http://www.tnimmigrant.org/community-resources/2009/6/26/toolkits.html
TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.
ACLU-TN is making Tennessee more open and forward-looking. We are a watchdog against government abuse of rights, fighting for fairness in our laws & their enforcement through public education, advocacy, legislative lobbying and litigation.
What Luis said:
"It is open season on the Latino community in Arizona. In Phoenix, Tucson, and across the state, people in Latino neighborhoods are afraid to leave their houses, afraid to be apart from their children for even a minute, and afraid to walk the streets because they feel their arrest on suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant could happen at any moment. It is a horrifying glimpse at what our future holds across the country if we continue down the path the Obama administration is leading us on immigration.
This week, we saw how destructive things are getting. The combination of a harsh piece of anti-immigrant legislation advancing in the Arizona legislature and a massive, well-publicized federal enforcement action against a broad human smuggling network has sent the unmistakable message to Arizona's one million immigrants and two million Hispanics: there is a target on your backs and authorities are coming after you.
President Obama, who promised immigration reform but has failed to make it a priority or use his office to make good on his campaign promises, is now able to see what lies ahead. The Obama administration has escalated mass deportation as our singular approach to immigrants and this has combined in Arizona with anti-immigrant hysteria that is festering to the point that state and local elected opportunists are taking matters into their own hands - with complete federal acquiescence.
We are now deporting people at a rate of 1,000 per day . . .
. . .
And we have heard nothing from the President.
A man who told the Latino electorate that he saw undocumented immigrants as future citizens, not criminals or deportees, has not lifted a finger. It isn't as if his administration doesn't have a clear immigration policy; they do. It's called deportation only. And they are removing immigrants, mostly Latino, at a faster pace than the Bush administration ever did. All of the rhetoric that a new enforcement strategy targeting serious violent criminals was being adopted has been revealed as empty rhetoric.
When the Washington Post published internal memos from Homeland Security headquarters to their field agents instructing them that their job performance would be judged by filling deportation quotas for simple visa and immigration violations, all of the President's lofty promises about a new approach went out the window. Either the President, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, and ICE Assistant Secretary Morton have been misleading the American people and Congress about their enforcement priorities or they have no control over what their agencies are doing."
Yes, this is a sad attempt at photoshop--consider it a request for a better version from you, dear Reader. Direct me to your ICE Agent Obama in comments.
The Bush Administration continues to abuse immigration law to trump up the stories of security threats it wishes immigrants posed--voters are much more compliant when they believe they are facing imminent external threats. George Bush looks wistfully back at his post-9/11 approval ratings and dreams of a populace permanently under siege.
First, Lyglenson Lemorin, the Haitian-born bumbler who threatened national security with ninja stars (not joking), to whom the feds couldn't get any criminal charges to stick, was recently ordered deported by Immigration Judge Kenneth Hurewitz in Miami. No such thing as double jeopardy for immigrants!
Judge Hurewitz's asylum denial rate, incidentally: 89.4%. The national rate: 59.8%. Interesting that Hurewitz was the one selected to hear the case. Did I mention that Immigration Judges and DHS prosecuting attorneys are both part of the executive branch?
Please visit change.gov and let President Elect Obama know what you want done. Even though I don't agree with many of Obama's stances on immigration I've always seen his presidency as a first step towards taking back the government. Bush and Cheney have hijacked so much of the it that we've got a lot to get back.
Hopefully letting your voice be heard at change.gov will be more than a cathartic exercise. I believe the first thing we need to do is ask that the raids be stopped and then I'd like to see the DREAM Act passed.
If you're a pro-migrant reader of this blog let us know what you'd like to see.
Multiply that by 12 million and the U.S. is going to have to spend $160 billion to deport every unauthorized migrant in the U.S. the Postville way. And that assumes they're all neatly working together in a factory like in Postville.
You see, nativists would have you believe that it helps the economy to pursue this deportation-only policy. You see how much U.S. taxpayers are spending for the Postville raid, or you you look at a place like Riverside, New Jersey, and it's pretty clear that's not the case.