A project of the Center for Community Change


Enforcement Gone Bad


There has been so much published recently about the wrong turn taken by the Bush administration’s approach to immigration enforcement. Reports from the Pew Hispanic Center and the Migration Policy Institute have been especially damning. On Sunday, the NY Times ran an editorial reiterating that our immigration system is broken and that comprehensive reform is needed now more than ever. Here is an excerpt:

A report last week from the Pew Hispanic Center laid bare some striking results of that campaign. It found that Latinos now make up 40 percent of those sentenced in federal courts, even though they are only about 13 percent of the adult population. They accounted for one-third of federal prison inmates in 2007.

The numbers might suggest we are besieged by immigrant criminals. But of all the noncitizen Latinos sentenced last year, the vast majority — 81 percent — were convicted for unlawfully entering or remaining in the country, neither of which is a criminal offense.

The country is filling the federal courts and prisons with nonviolent offenders. It is diverting immense law-enforcement resources from pursuing serious criminals — violent thugs, financial scammers — to an immense, self-defeating campaign to hunt down … workers.

The Pew report follows news this month that even as a federal program to hunt immigrant fugitives saw its budget soar — to $218 million last year from $9 million in 2003 — its mission went astray. According to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, of the 72,000 people arrested through last February, 73 percent had no criminal record. Border Patrol agents in California and Maryland, meanwhile, tell of pressure to arrest workers at day-labor corners and convenience stores to meet quotas.

The country needs to control its borders. It needs to rebuild an effective immigration system and thwart employers who cheat it. It needs to bring the undocumented forward and make citizen taxpayers of them.

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Report Makes Clear the Dysfunction of DHS

dhsYesterday, the New York Times featured a report recently released by the Migration Policy Institute. The report finds that the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration policy is, well, broken. (Tell us something we don’t know!)

An immigration policy group said Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration mission has been undermined by wasteful spending along the southern border, law enforcement efforts that focused on snaring illegal workers rather than high-risk criminals, and an often hostile bureaucracy that discourages people eligible for legal entry from playing by the rules.

The report also discusses 36 steps that President Obama can take to improve immigration policy, without enacting legslation.  While things like Presidential directives, such as stopping raids on workplaces and homes, would be a welcome change in policy, they should only serve as interim measures until fully Comphrehensive Reform is reached. As Paco Fabian at America’s Voice posted today,

To not do so would mean taking a portrait of dysfunction and turning it into a legacy.

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ACTION: Vigil in NYC for Victims of ICE

From VivirLatino:

Tonite in NYC there is a vigil scheduled for those imprisoned by ICE. People are needed to show the incoming administration that the community is watching and ready to fight for the rights of all people.


Vigil: for immigration detainees – TODAY from 7 -8pm
At ICE detention center, 201 Varick St
(at W Houston St, 1 to Houston St, C/E to Spring St, A, B/D/F/V to W 4th St)
Info: Juan Carlos Ruiz-de-Dios, 718-328-5622

Come out in solidarity with those detained by ICE! Let’s show the new administration that we will not tolerate the separation of families, the violation of communities and the terror tactics currently used by the agency. Its time for a new day for immigrants in this country.

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