A project of the Center for Community Change

ICE

Today: Calling out Obama and ICE

Late notice, y’all, but today there is a telephonic press conference calling President Obama out for the inconsistencies in his message about supporting immigration reform and recent news that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is increasing quotas to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants.

Check it out and join if you can:

WHAT: Telephonic press conference to demand President Obama take control of rogue agency

WHO: Organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM)
Speakers include Deepak Bhargava, executive director, Center for Community Change
Maria Rodriguez, executive director, Florida Immigrant Coalition
Ramon Ramirez, executive director, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (Oregon)
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director, Voces de la Frontera (Wisconsin)
Brent A. Wilkes, national executive director, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Angela Sanbrano, board president, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC)

WHEN: TODAY 1 p.m., Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CALL-IN NUMBER: (866) 861-4868, Conference ID 1446669

WHY: Nearly 15 months into President Obama’s administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) remains an agency without a clear direction. The latest evidence of ICE’s missing leadership was revealed last week in the form of an email written by a senior official setting out specific quotas for deportations, which deviated from publicly made statements by other senior officials and also veers drastically away from ICE’s stated commitment to focus on dangerous and violent criminals.

On the heels of organizing the largest protest of the Obama presidency, a march that brought more than 200,000 people to the National Mall on March 21 to call for comprehensive immigration reform, grassroots leaders intend to demand President Obama take responsibility and control of this agency run amok. Leaders from some of the country’s most prominent immigrant rights organizations will call for drastic changes at ICE, and insist the agency stop targeting hard working immigrants and stop separating families.

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Home Raids Violate the Constitution (tell us something we didn’t already know)

This week, Cardozo School of Law released a report asserting that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not only violated their own rules during home raids in New York and New Jersey, but also violated the U.S. Constitution. For those of you who have followed the story of ICE’s unchecked power under the Bush administration, this comes as no surprise. From the New York Times:

The raids were supposed to focus on dangerous criminals, but overwhelmingly netted Latinos with civil immigration violations who happened to be present, the study said. Raiders mistakenly held legal residents and citizens by force in their own homes while agents rummaged through drawers seeking incriminating documents, the report said.

Some of the most egregious portions of the report include emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showing that ICE agents saw the rounding up of immigrants and Latinos as nothing more than a glorified game of cops and robbers.

…A federal immigration agent in Connecticut invited a state trooper to join a scheduled set of raids in New Haven, writing: “We have 18 addresses — so it should be a fun time! Let me know if you guys can play!

These are not games and they should not be treated as such. The conduct of ICE and therefore of DHS has been in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution and the rules that the agency itself purports to follow.

Despite all of this and OVERWHELMING evidence that the so-called 287(g) program, which gives local law enforcement agencies the ability to enforce federal immigration law, is rampant with abuse and racial profiling, the Department of Homeland Security recently signed 11 new 287(g) agreements across the country.Keep in mind, this is the same program that keeps Joe Arpaio in power for his reign of terror in Arizona.

While DHS claims that much has changed under the new administration, I don’t think they are going far enough. Janet Napolitano needs to step up as the head of DHS and stop the racialized attack on Latinos and immigrants. This isn’t just about immigration, this is about the character of our country and our values. Do we want to endorse a program that violates the rights of those the Constitution supposedly protects? Do we want to create communities teeming with fear and distrust of law enforcement agencies who are their to “serve and protect”?

I think you know the answer.

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Today Marks One Year since Postville

red ribbon

Today, people across the country are holding vigils, ringing bells, calling their Congressman and donning red ribbons in remembrance of the May 12th, 2008 ICE raid in Postville, Iowa.

I had big plans to write a long post about the raid, one year ago today, in Postville. I was new to the immigration debate at the time, and spent much of my first months as a pro-migrant blogger keeping up with the developments of the Postville aftermath. I interviewed people on the ground, wrote case studies on rapid response, attended a House Judiciary Hearing on raids and blogged about all of the outrageous injustices that came to light after the fact. However, as I sat down to write this morning, I realized that I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said.

From the NY Times last August:

The harsh prosecution at Postville is an odd and cruel shift for the Bush administration, which for years had voiced compassion for exploited workers and insisted that immigration had to be fixed comprehensively or not at all.

Now it has abandoned mercy and proportionality. It has devised new and harsher traps, as in Postville, to prosecute the weak and the poor. It has increased the fear and desperation of workers who are irresistible to bottom-feeding businesses precisely because they are fearful and desperate. By treating illegal low-wage workers as a de facto criminal class, the government is trying to inflate the menace they pose to a level that justifies its rabid efforts to capture and punish them. That is a fraudulent exercise, and a national disgrace.

When I read those last lines, I realized how far away I feel from that moment. So much has changed since then – our President, our allies and the tone of the debate itself. I feel much more hopeful about the direction we are moving. There are certainly things that I would change about the current approach – i.e. the massive amount of funding that just went to border and interior enforcement or the court system that allowed an all-white jury to acquit three teenagers of a brutal, racially motivated murder.

But, today, in remembrance of Postville and the families, lives and communities desroyed a year ago, I’m choosing to feel optimistic. I’m choosing to believe that we have too much momentum and too much strength to not win change this year.  So much has changed, but for the people of Postville, even more has changed. The town still suffers and some of the immigrants arrested that day are still caught in the limbo of the broken system. So today, in solidarity with Postville, I’m choosing to ACT in the belief that it is up to us to create the change we want. You can too.

  1. Call your Representative or Congressman and tell them that you support Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
  2. Attend a Remembrance Vigil in your area – for a map of vigils click here.
  3. Don a Red Ribbon in solidarity with the Postville community.

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