A project of the Center for Community Change


Newborn Baby abducted: Attacker dressed as ICE Agent

On Tuesday, Maria Gurrolla of Nashville Tennessee went through every mother’s worst nightmare. Not only was she brutally attacked and stabbed multiple times, but her attacker kidnapped Gurrolla’s four day old baby, Yair Anthony Carrillo.

Before I jump into the details of why this story is showing up on an immigration blog, just take a moment to think about this. A four day old child has been taken away from his mother. How many of you have seen a newborn when they are only hours old? Terrifying that this child has been torn away from his only lifeline (and chance for survival) only days into his life. Can you imagine?

The twist here is that Gurrolla’s attacker was a woman disguised as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent. This woman preyed on the fear facing many Latinos in the United States at the moment because she knew she could. I think that Nezua, at the Unapologetic Mexican encapsulates this best on his post from yesterday:

THE PROBLEM with instituting a terror program such as the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE has done—wherein violence, raids, SWAT team-like tactics or routine demands for “Your Papers” are normalized—is that it not only models gross behavior as a moral compass for the rest of the nation, but it also sends a message to Latinos and immigrants that they should expect and submit to this type of behavior whenever it comes their way.

I think that this connection must be made.

In an AP article about the kidnapping of baby Yair, this quote stood out to me:

Immigrants must be taught to trust U.S. law enforcement and criminals can take advantage of their fears of deportation or police, said Yuri Cunza, president of Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and publisher of La Noticia, a Spanish language newspaper in Nashville.

Why, exactly, would immigrants “learn” to trust law enforcement after they’ve seen stories like the one from last summer, where a woman in Nashville named Juana Villegas de la Paz was shackled to her hospital bed while giving birth due to suspicions about her immigration status.

The continued dehumanization of immigrants and the continued conflation of [Latino = immigrant] in the minds of Americans will foster more and more incidents like this. A precedent has been set and it is up to us and the current administration to break that precedent. It is not up to immigrants to “learn” to trust law enforcement as Mr. Cunza has stated above. It is up to law enforcement to gain that trust.

In the mean time, I’ll be praying for baby Yair’s safe return.

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Immigrant Rights and Community Groups call for an end to the 287g program

A large and diverse group of immigrant rights, civil rights and community organizations have signed onto a letter to President Obama, calling for an end to the so-called 287(g) agreement program. As many of our readers know, the 287(g) program allows local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. The program has an extensive record of civil and human rights violations and is the same program that allows Sheriff Joe Arpaio to continue his reign of terror in Maricopa County, Arizona.

The National Immigration Law Center, in partnership with NDLON and the Detention Watch Network, have gathered more than 521 organizational sign-ons to the letter. Here is an excerpt:

We applaud your recent remarks acknowledging, that “there is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.” However, DHS’s continued use of 287(g) program exacerbates exactly this type of racial profiling. In light of well-documented evidence that local law enforcement agencies are using 287(g) powers to justify and intensify racial profiling, Secretary Napolitano’s July 10, 2009 announcement that DHS has expanded the 287(g) program to include 11 new jurisdictions is deeply alarming.

This quote gets to the heart of the issue with these agreements. We strongly hope that the administration heeds this call to terminate this destructive program. For a full list of organizations signed on, keep reading. And for the full text of the letter, click here.

The letter will be delivered this Thursday, August 27th alongside a series of local actions from groups around the country.

Continue Reading…

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The grassroots asks Sec. Napolitano the tough questions

In an effort to truly represent the country’s concerns at today’s meeting with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Reform Immigratin FOR America Campaign asked YOU to submit questions you wanted Napolitano to address. The response: you sent in more than 4,000 questions in less than 24 hours.

Marissa Graciosa, immigration coordinate with FIRM said:

“Most of the questions and concerns centered around timing, on wanting immigration reform done this year, not 2010. The questions came from all over the country. This reflects the widespread effects of our enforcement-heavy approach to immigration.”

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, and a partner of the Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America, was able to ask Napolitano two representative questions selected from the 4,000-plus entries. The first was submitted by a person in Pickerington, Ohio who wanted to know why Napolitano has focused too intently on border security and stopped advocating for comprehensive reform. Napolitano said she has been working on immigration reform, and would do more to communicate with people on her efforts on both fronts.

Noorani’s other question concerned the 287g program, which gives local law enforcement the authority to enforce immigration law. Noorani asked Napolitano to revoke the authority of agencies who have clearly violated the spirit of the agreement, and that the immigration reform community looked forward to seeing that happen. Napolitano responded, “Me, too.”

It’s amazing to see the voices of the grassroots communities speaking directly to lawmakers and the White House. FIRM has always tried to amplify the voices of communities who don’t always have a space at the table.  In 2006 and 2007, millions marched in the streets for immigrants’ rights and reform. Now, those millions are moving beyond the streets to swamp switchboards, email accounts, fax machines and the halls of Congress.

FIRM and RI4A was there to tell Secretary Napolitano that she must to take a leadership role in building support for comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill and with the American public.  She told said that she understands that she has do a better job communicating and a more consistent job of leading, but we need to see action to be sure she got the message.

The President is clear that he wants immigration reform to move forward this year so that we can pass a bill early next year.  To do that, we need to see more motion from Congress and more push from Secretary Napolitano.  We hope to see detailed congressional proposals shortly after recess.

Tomorrow, the FOR America campaign will deliver the more than 4,000 questions that you asked to the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Janet Napolitano. The administration is hearing your voices and they know they must respond. We continue to build momentum and we will work with you to keep pressure on the administration.

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