Recently in Migrant Detention Category

Hector Lopez.jpgDreamer Hector Lopez was deported earlier this year to Mexico. He'd been brought to the U.S. as an infant and hadn't known he had no legal status until he was arrested this year by immigration agents. He came back across the border in an act of desperation and was detained upon reentry. He applied for asylum, but was only released recently through the efforts of advocate Ralph Isenberg. He was reunited with his family in Portland yesterday.

I keep watching for evidence of a policy shift from DHS on their current practice of locking up and deporting DREAM Act-eligible youth, and wondering when President Obama's actions will catch up to his words of support for Dreamers. Hector was arrested in August, after Julia Preston reported in the New York Times that the administration had stopped deporting Dreamers. John Morton, head of ICE, claimed in the article:

In a world of limited resources, our time is better spent on someone who is here unlawfully and is committing crimes in the neighborhood . . . As opposed to someone who came to this country as a juvenile and spent the vast majority of their life here.

Evidently ICE has decided that Morton's statement represented a vague aspirational observation that wasn't translatable into concrete policy or practice. Or, less charitably, it was a lie.

While it's true that, in limited cases, ICE has exercised favorable discretion to allow Dreamers to stay in the U.S., in the majority of cases, Dreamers in removal proceedings have been treated no differently than anyone else. Even in those few instances where the agency has chosen not to deport, ICE has only been swayed after intense organizing from supporters and activists has resulted in national media attention and support from politicians. It's unfortunate that Preston's story from this summer seems to have become the conventional wisdom--it was even cited in a recent decision (pdf, FN38) by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a legal argument--because it simply isn't the case that ICE has adopted a policy to stop deporting Dreamers.

Hector was a Dreamer and he was deported just like thousands of other undocumented youth this year who didn't have access to the network of Dreamers and allies that have held off ICE in a handful of cases. President Obama's words in support of Dreamers ring hollow in the face of his agencies' coordinated efforts to deport as many DREAM-eligible youth as possible. I hope that Hector's release from detention represents a change in policy in how DHS processes Dreamers, but I fear otherwise.

Hector's story as told in the Oregonian represents one happy (and possibly temporary) outcome out of thousands of stories of heartbreak and family separation this Christmas:

Hector Lopez of Milwaukie walked off a Southwest Airlines flight Christmas Eve into his mother's arms at Portland International Airport, returning from a four-month deportation odyssey to Mexico even though he did not know until he was arrested that he is not a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

His mother, Sara Flores, and his 15-year-old brother, Luis, grabbed Lopez and hugged him tightly as they cried together; still and video photographers captured the scene as dozens of arriving passengers swirled around the reunion. Friends brought signs and balloons.

Migration is a fact of life for millions of people all over the world.  The simple notion of moving from one place to another in search of economic prosperity, freedom from violence, or hope for a better future for one's children, is fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is discrimination and mistreatment.

One of the best ways to combat xenophobia and suspicion is to put a human face on the whole issue of migration and immigration. In honor of International Migrants Day, the American Friends Service Committee and the Center for Digital Storytelling, with help from allies at the Newark Immigrant Rights Program and Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, and Amnesty International have each produced a series of migrants' stories.

Their stories are poignant and universal. Hearing their accounts of leaving & loss, and adaptation & survival, brings their experiences out of the shadows and into the human experience that we all share. 

Janet Napolitano, Enough!

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I'm very happy to report that America's Voice, in partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, have finally had enough of Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) continued abuse of migrants in the United States.

I recognize that the Obama administration has a lot on its plate with health care reform, climate change, education, and many other issues I'm anxiously awaiting action on.  That, however, does not give the Obama administration the excuse to continue to allow the DHS to terrorize migrants with the remains Bush-era migrant enforcement apparatus.  The people voted for change on U.S. migration policy and Obama has only given us much of the same. 
I'm a little late to this, but I wanted to write a short tribute to the former Tennessean columnist, Tim Chavez.  I'm sad to say that I never met Tim Chavez in person, 'but I followed his blogging closely over at Political Salsa.  Hearing of his death truly saddened me.  I didn't know his struggle with cancer was that serious. 

What saddened me the most about Tim's death is that the world lost one of the few truly pro-migrant bloggers that I know of.  Pro-migrant blogging is more of a struggle than people realize.  You're constantly hammered by both nativists with their hate, and allies that want you to get in line.  Tim Chavez was one of the few bloggers I knew that wasn't afraid to do what was unpopular to advocate for migrants, the mark of a true pro-migrant blogger.

Some of Tim's most excellent work was done breaking the news of a pregnant mother in Tennessee who was shackled in handcuffs while she was giving birth, drawing attention to the inhumanity of ICE's 287g program, which Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security still has yet to do anything about.  I'll let Tim explain how outrageous this was in his own words:
(sombrero tip to the MIRA Coalition Blog for the video)

It was great to see Keith Olbermann speaking out on migrant detention issues following the release of a recent Amnesty International report.  

In support of the migrants who were chained together and marched through Phoenix by America's most out-of-control sheriff, hip-hop artists from Chicago, Detroit, and New York are coming together with local artists to perform on Tuesday, February 10 at the Stray Cat 2433 E. University Drive, Tempe, AZ at 8pm.

Performers will include One Be Lo, Wordsworth, Verbal Kent, G-Owens, Fiyah Station, Nobuddie, and Bliss!

Come out and lift your voices with these artists as they call for an end to the racially-motivated attacks being carried out by Sheriff Arpaio against residents of Maricopa County. Show the world that his latest spectacle of public humiliation against latinos will not be tolerated in our country, where all people are to be treated as equals. We will not stand silent while this fascist little man treats people like animals, with our federal government's blessing!
"Parading shackled detainees for public viewing is disgusting. The dire situation in Arizona is a shameful insult to the democratic freedoms of this country, and should draw cries of outrage from anyone who values the sacrifices our nation has made in the face of oppression." -Verbal Kent; Gravel Records Recording Artist
For more information, contact Jill Garvey (, Center for New Community 312-266-0319 or 773-787-6353 (mobile).
I hope everyone enjoys Halloween, today.  As a child in Guatemala there were only a few places that I could celebrate Halloween.  We'd usually have to go to the Gringo, or "Americanized", walled in colonias to go trick or treating.  If not you'd run the risk of ringing the doorbell of a religious family that believed celebrating Halloween was the equivalent of devil worship.  How do you say trick or treat in Spanish?  This is what we used in Guatemala:

Tricko! Tricko! Halloween!
Dame dulces para mi!
(Give me candy for me!)
For the first time, I'm heading out to Salem, Massachusetts, for Halloween, tonight.  I imagine that it's going to be a completely different experience than the one I'm used to in Guatemala. 

Tangentially, I typed in "immigration" and "halloween" into Google, and what I came up with is a not so happy reminder of Halloween.  It brought up the Julie Myers controversy.

Homeland Gitmos

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Breakthrough continues to produce excellent media to get the word out about the horrific conditions migrants are living in in the U.S. today.  Check out their new website, Homeland Guantanamos, for a vivid portrayal of migrant detention in the U.S. today.
It seems I'm always one of the last to act on these happenings.  The truth is I hate reading about them, so I always put it off.  I knew another person had died in detention, but I didn't want to learn the details. 

I didn't want to get to know another person who's only sin was the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, and have them die before my eyes.  I finally did it, but I honestly don't want to write about it.  Instead I'll point you to the people that already have.

The Unapologetic Mexican
American Humanity
Vivir Latino
Latino Politico
Problem Chylde

Read these and more to learn of another tragedy, another disgrace to the human condition.  Most importantly though, sign this petition to ask for answers.  Go to for more information.

The Sanctuary has already endorsed the petition.

A Call For Help

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Many of us get an extra day off to celebrate labor day. Sadly though the injustices against workers around the world continue.  Even within these United States we see working people being arrested for simply seeking employment and working hard. 

While ICE claims to be heavily involved in the "war on terror" they're really only involved in creating terror.  The only "war on terror" I see needing to take place is the one that changes the abhorrent policies of ICE.  (As if being arrested and detained is not enough of a Labor Day present for hard working people please read about the gift to farm workers this Labor Day in A Labor Day Attack on Farmworkers.)

Just last Monday as the Democratic Convention was getting underway the largest immigration raid ever took place.  595 people were arrested.  This post is a call for help.  

Please ad any information you have to the comments section of this post.  

Father Ken Ramon-Landry
313 Walnut St
Hattiesburg, MS. 39401

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Migrant Detention category.

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