Media: August 2010 Archives

Grassley.jpgLate last week, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released a draft internal immigration policy memo (pdf) that one or more anonymous anti-immigrant Department of Homeland Security employees had leaked to his office. Shortly before the leak of the draft memo from USCIS, the federal immigration agency which is part of DHS, Senator Grassley, along with seven other Republican Senators, had sent a letter to President Obama warning him against taking the kinds of actions outlined in the draft memo that would ameliorate some of the current unreasonably harsh immigration policies that separate families and punish children.

The policy changes would have:

  • Given DHS greater latitude to defer the deportation of undocumented youth brought here as children by their parents.
  • Eased interpretation of the current strict standard for showing that deportation of a parent, child, or spouse has caused "extreme hardship" to the remaining U.S. citizen family member. Currently, forced long-term (10 years or more) separation from one's spouse or child cannot be used as a factor in deciding whether "extreme hardship" exists.
  • Finalized the rules dealing with children who come to the U.S. alone, and for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and other criminal activities.
  • Permitted USCIS to exercise discretion to target criminals for deportation proceedings in line with ICE's stated enforcement priorities.

To me and others, these seem like common sense measures that should have been adopted long ago. To the anti-immigrant groups behind this manufactured scandal, the draft policy memo is the greatest outrage the world has ever known.

Senator Grassley is working closely with the nativist group NumbersUSA, a member of eugenicist John Tanton's network of anti-immigrant organizations, in an effort to use the leak of this draft policy memo to destroy any chance of immigration reform that remains this legislative session. The leak came just as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) proposed a constitutional amendment to revoke birthright citizenship, which could lead to the deportation of citizen children of undocumented parents.

The leak of the draft memo, which was written in April, followed a letter in June from the same group of GOP Senators warning President Obama not to enact administrative reforms in lieu of comprehensive immigration reform. The release of the June letter shows that Grassley and NumbersUSA had the draft memo then and were holding on to it until its release would have maximum political impact.

The timing of the release, coming in the same week that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met to discuss moving the DREAM Act forward separate from comprehensive immigration reform [Update: Reid's office is now denying that he discussed the DREAM Act with Pelosi at their meeting last week], the same week that communities around the country mobilized in opposition to SB1070, was no coincidence in my view. The leak was timed to derail the momentum the DREAM Act had gotten over months and years of organizing efforts by DREAMers, including a civil disobedience action in D.C. on July 20 where 21 undocumented youth risked deportation by being arrested in the Senate office buildings and an ongoing hunger strike now in its 12th day in California. The leak was designed to increase pressure on Obama to maintain existing federal SB1070-style programs like 287g that promote collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE and lead to racial profiling of brown-skinned people.

If this is the best attack the nativists can muster, if this is their "secret weapon" against the DREAM Act or any other legislative action on immigration, then I think the pro-migrant community is in good shape.