A project of the Center for Community Change


Catching up: Arpaio, detention reform and veterans facing deportation

I have been in San Francisco (thus the picture) for the past few days at a training with the New Organizing Institute. The training was a wonderful experience and I met some amazing people doing very exciting and important work (more on this later). But being away from the blogosphere for even a few days always stresses me out. So much has happened while I’ve been gone. There are a couple of things I want to write full-length posts on, but in the mean time, I’m going to do a quick round up of updates and news.


First things first, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, long time Latino terrorize in Maricopa County, has lost some of his swagger! It was decided that Arpaio is to be stripped of his power to arrest undocumented immigrants in the county. What this actually means is that he can no longer racially profile and target people of a certain skin color. Though Arpaio says that he will continue to conduct raids, this is at least a step in the right direction coming from the Department of Homeland Security. Read more about it here and here.

Next up, this week the Department of Homeland Security announced its plans for reform of the nation’s immigrant detention system. DHS announced its outlines for reform this past Tuesday. And, like I’ve said before, they are certainly a step in the right direction. However, they will not be effective unless they are incorporated into a comprehensive reform of the full immigration system in this country. Kevin Johnson from NILC sums it up nicely here:

The DHS announcement today identifies several of the steps the agency must make to create a “truly civil system” and correctly notes that our current immigration enforcement programs “identify large volumes of aliens with low level convictions or no convictions” who should not be the focus of immigration enforcement efforts. The detention system can’t be viewed in isolation from how immigration enforcement is conducted.

Read more about proposed detention reform here and here.

In other news, Marisa Treviño from Latina Lista reports on the over 3,000 veterans who have fought for a country that won’t even make them citizens. And to repay them? They are now battling deportation. Read her full post here. And also check out the Reform Immigration FOR America blog’s write-up of  a new documentary on military families being torn apart of the broken immigration system. Those who risk their lives for our country deserve better – and as Marisa points out they even  “deserve extra kudos because their volunteerism runs much deeper than someone who is a citizen.”

Last on the list (which is by no means exhaustive) is a report that was released by the U.N. on Monday. The report’s main finding is simple: migrants contribute much more to their new countries than they take. For more on this check out CAUSA Oregon’s blog and listen to their podcast. So for all of the folks out there who continue to shout about immigrants who are “draining” our country, listen up!

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Big-City Police Chiefs Urge Overhaul of Immigration Policy

police car

Yesterday, I noted that law enforcement officials from across the country were gathering in Miami to add their voices to the growing call for comprehensive immigration reform. Today, the New York Times has a detailed write-up of the panel discussion yesterday.

Chief Timoney, Chief Art Acevedo of the Austin Police Department in Texas and former Chief Art Venegas of the Sacramento Police Department said local law enforcement had been undermined by the blurred line between crimes and violations of immigration law, which are civil.

Those who call illegal immigrants “criminals,” they said at a news conference here, are misreading the law and hurting their own communities by scaring neighbors who could identify criminals.

“When you remove the emotion from the debate,” Chief Acevedo said, “no one can argue that it is in the best interest of public safety to keep these people living in the shadows.”

The police chiefs here, having spent most of their careers in cities with large immigrant communities, said it would be impossible to send the nation’s 10 million to 15 million illegal residents home. They criticized last year’s roundups of illegal immigrants at workplaces, and the federal 287(g) program that has given at least 63 police departments a role in deporting illegal immigrants.

I have been writing about the 287(g) program and its negative effects for the past year, and its extremely encouraging to see law enforcement officials stand up for public safety in their own communities.

So, to re-cap, police chiefs from across the country believe that the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country should be brought out of the shadows in order to make our communities safer. I think it is also worth highlighting that even law enforcement agents believe the criminalization of undocumented immigrants is detrimental to communities.

Faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement leaders, community organizations, leadership of the House and Senate, the President of the United States and the majority of the American public believe that the time is now for immigration reform. I’m not sure how to make a more convincing argument for why this legislation urgently needs to happen this year.

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Police Officers Speak out for Immigration Reform


This morning, leading law enforcement officials from across the country are voicing their opinions about immigration reform. A panel discussion took place in Miami, FL that included: Chief John Timoney, of Miami; Chief Art Acevedo, of Austin, Texas; and former Chief Art Venegas, of Sacramento, Calif. Acevedo is also head of the National Latino Peace Officers Association.

It seems as though even law enforcement agrees that the current immigration system is broken and must be reformed. The panel comes on the heels of  the Washington State Sheriff’s Association issuing an urgent call for changes to the immigration system. Our partner group One America reports that the Sherriff’s Association released a letter to the Department of Homeland Security detailing their support of reform. Below is an excerpt:

For years, the federal government has failed to deal with the broken immigration system and left our communities to deal with the effects:  illegal drug trade; smugglers who take advantage of immigrant workers and families; criminals who prey on immigrants because they believe they won’t be reported; the expense on local courts and local jails… The time is now to fix the broken immigration system and its safe-guards.

It is clear that even law enforcement officials understand the toll our broken immigration system is having on the country. It is time to reform immigration, for public safety.

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