A project of the Center for Community Change

ICE raids

ICE Raids Shift Focus: Policy Bends to Politics

Before I even woke up today, at least 5 people had sent me a link to a current article in the New York Times by Nina Bernstein. In the article, she explores the dramatic shift in ICE raids that has occurred in the past 4 years. As we all know, ICE raids have been symbolic gestures by the Bush administration to look as though they are “doing something” about immigration since facing a failed reform push in 2006.

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Well now, thanks to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, we know that these policy shifts were internal directives by immigration officials that changed ICE’s policies, directly contradicting the programs that Congress had approved.

But in fact, beginning in 2006, the program was no longer what was being advertised. Federal immigration officials had repeatedly told Congress that among more than half a million immigrants with outstanding deportation orders, they would concentrate on rounding up the most threatening — criminals and terrorism suspects.

Instead, newly available documents show, the agency changed the rules, and the program increasingly went after easier targets. A vast majority of those arrested had no criminal record, and many had no deportation orders against them, either.

Internal directives by immigration officials in 2006 raised arrest quotas for each team in the National Fugitive Operations Program, eliminated a requirement that 75 percent of those arrested be criminals, and then allowed the teams to include nonfugitives in their count.

In the article, the list of changes continues. It becomes increasingly clear that this is an example of policy bending to the will of politics – in other words, despite the humanitarian and civil rights concerns of what ICE was doing, the agency had an agenda to follow and would do so no matter what.

“It looks like what happened here is that the law enforcement strategy was hijacked by the political agenda of the administration.”

Let’s hope that this new administration, along with Janet Napolitano at the helm of DHS, can produce policies that are realistic, humane and inflexible to the political agendas of the last 8 years.

Click here to read the full NY Times article.

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ACTION: Vote for Bob Hildreth, Bostonian of the Year!

hildrethThis past August, I had the privilege of seeing Robert Hildreth speak at the press launch of the National Immigrant Bond Fund. The NIBF was founded by Hildreth after the terrorizing ICE raids in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Hildreth saw the injustice of these raids as immigrants were shuffled through the legal system, denied due process and never saw a fair trial or got their day in court. The NIBF is a matching fund, that helps detainees make bond, in order to protect due process of the law.

Because of his efforts, Hildreth is a contender for “Bostonian of the Year”. Click here to cast your vote for Hildreth – a vote for justice and ensuring civil and constitutional rights. You only have until Friday, so vote NOW!

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Raids at What Cost?

Its not as though we need more reasons to condemn the immigration raids that have been tearing apart communities, denying due process and separating families. But, Frank Sharry has written a very enlightening article at the Huffington Post about the financial costs of the raids.

Remember the immigration raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, back in May? According to today’s Des Moines Register, the raid set taxpayers back $5.2 million. According to the newspaper, “That means it has cost taxpayers an average of $13,396 for each of the 389 illegal immigrants taken into custody.”

Keep in mind that the $5.2 million – disclosed through a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ‑ is only what ICE spent. That doesn’t include the cost of criminal trials against the workers charged with ID crimes, indigent defense, and prison. According to an accompanying editorial in the Des Moines Register, “Prison costs alone ran $590,000 a month as of mid-summer.”

So let’s do the math, shall we? If it cost $13,396 to arrest each undocumented worker in the United States, and estimates are that there are at least 11.5 million people who fit that definition, then you, I, and the rest of American taxpayers could be looking at forking over $154 billion to ICE alone.

How much more of this are we going to have to endure? Without Just and Humane immigration reform, our government will not only continue its militant tactics against immigrants, but it will continue to fund its terror with our taxpayer money. And at this point in our history, we can afford either of the two.

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