Committee Hearing on Immigration (Part 1)

Yesterday the House Judiciary Committee met to discuss the increasingly frequent immigration and customs raids – specifically the largest raid in history, which occurred in Postville, Iowa this past May.

Committee members heard from a number of panels and the hearing lasted virtually all day. I attended the first half of the hearing, which was standing room only; a testament to the high interest in the immigration debate, that seems to be approaching a critical mass.

The committee hearing was spurred by the tell-all report, released by Dr. Erik Camayd-Frexais earlier this month and featured in a recent front-page NY Times article. Dr. Camayd-Frexais, a federally contracted interpreter with years of experience, denounced the “fast-tracking” of the legal proceedings following the raid, the excessive use of force by ICE agents and the denial of the “bill of rights and democractic values threatened by the breakdown of checks and balances”.

Representatives from the Department of Justice defended the legal process following the raids, stating that the choice to “fast-track” detainees was somehow a humanitarian show of compassion.

Committee member Luis Gutierrez (IL-4) strongly disagreed with this version of the Postville legal proceedings. He pointed out, various times, that immigrants, many of whom did not understand the charges against them, were pressured and intimidated into signing plea agreements, without adequate legal counsel.

Representatives from other districts across the country testified to the effects of the SWAT team style raids on their communities.

Especially poignant was Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (CA) describing the traumatic affects the raids in San Rafael, CA had on the children in the community. Teachers rode buses home with students, to ensure they didn’t go home to empty houses. Hundreds of children missed school for weeks at a time. She told the story of one small child, who was instructed by her mother to pack a backpack of essentials to leave by the front door of the house at all times and was told if she came home and nobody was there, she should take the backpack and go to her aunt’s house. “Can you imagine?” asked Woolsey, “Can you imagine what that small child must have felt?”

Despite the passionate testimony of various panelists, many committee members seemed un-moved on their position that undocumented workers are “illegal aliens” who are “displacing Americans” who might otherwise be employed in the same positions the immigrants occupy.

Specifically telling was the minority committee members’ insistence that undocumented immigrants were taking the jobs of “African American males ages 18 to 35”. This statistic, rattled off various times, seemed so disconnected from the reality of what’s happening in our country that I became angrier each time it was spoken out loud.

Do I think these Representatives actually care of the communities of people of color? The honest answer is no. I think they care about somehow supporting their “enforcement only” policy in order to continue with what they see as “legal” law enforcement efforts. Meanwhile, families continue to be torn assunder, communities devastated and children abandoned.

As Gutierrez (IL) pointed out, undocumented immigrants, unlike the big businesses that continue to employ them, have no power, they have no Political Action Committees or well-paid lobbyists who can influence lawmakers. So working people, people who are struggling to survive, continue to be raided, arrested and shuffled through our “justice” system, so that our administration can tell people they are “doing something” about immigration.

The truth is, they are doing something that will be looked back upon with shame. They are doing something that contradicts the founding principles of liberty and justice for all.

2 responses to “Committee Hearing on Immigration (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: ALIPAC.US - Thanks For Supporting Migrants: Pro-Migrant SanctuarySphere « American Humanity

  2. Thomas Jordan

    May.12th 2009


    To Whom it may Interest

    Here is a little story I must tell. About someone that came to this country legally on a none Immigrant visa ,to Employ people, pay here Taxes and be a good citizen, and above all to contribute to the wealth and greatness of America. And this is how we treat them. I’m sure it will not spark anyone’s Interest or that anyone will really care but it needs to come off of my chest. I’m disgusted with the way good people are treated by our Government, in this great Country of mine the good old USA built by Immigrants…
    We seam to let everyone come here illegally and give them Medical. Driver’s licenses, Welfare and god know what else. it pays to be an undocumented person .because see what happens if you try it legally.

    Here we go.

    My Sister owns some Hair salons in Germany. She is well educated, has a Business masters degree in the Hair industry. This is not recognized here because we don’t have this kind of Educational System. If you don’t go to a College in the US you are nothing but we expect other Countries to accept our Degrees, who figures?
    Well she and I have decided that she would do well to open a German hair salon here In San Antonio so she could be near me because my health was not that great at the time. So trough her Corporation she looked into the possibilities. There was no easy way at first she could have come over on an Immigrant visa trough me. Which the waiting list is at about 10 years now even though I am a citizen and would of taken care that she wouldn’t become a burden on this country. So we contacted a lawyer. But she suggested coming over on a L1 visa as a manager of her salon here. So we started the Process with the Immigration service and it was not hard to do we met all the criteria. They told us we will get the visa for one year and then file for an extension. .it shouldn’t be a problem. so we did, she bought a salon and invested a lot of time and money not to count what the legal fees and INS fees came up to. After everything was done she moved here with Husband and daughter. And got things started.
    Getting the Business up and running was a challenge especially after we found that it was run in the red for some time. But she did it then comes the time for an extension. .DENIED.. Wow tears and fear. What now…They denied it under the grounds that A hair dresser is not considered a Professional. Took them this long to come up with that why even let here come in the first place as a hair dresser…this decision cost her dearly . Some Employees decided to leave because the job didn’t seam secure no more, and her and the Husband separated the stress got to much he was not allowed to work during this time. he went back to Germany . poor her. Guess it’s the Filing fees that they make there money with..So now another big chunk of money to file ……an appeal……because she would have to leave in 30 days..Now how can you sell a business in 30 days??
    So we put in for the appeal …… the waiting game begins again..She is worried sick as you can imagine. She is such a good person and we don’t want her, well 7 months later another Denied. Called another Lawyer and we were told she can file one more Appeal before an immigration Judge but she has to leave within 30 days and will have an automatic 10 year ban. So now she has all her Belongings here including the Horse. her daughter loves it here I have never seen them so happy. by now she spend at around
    $180,000 dollars on all this The Lawyer also told us that she cant change her Status to an Immigrant vise to where I can sponsor her she HAS to go back to Germany!! To reapply. with the 10 year Bann. And the waiting list is 12 years now. This is so wrong.. I’m wondering what makes it so hard to just change her status and let her stay till the Visa application is done trough me is it such a big deal. But we would rather close her down and loose some Jobs. .doesn’t matter in this political climate and in this economy. Just maybe we don’t want educated people in our Country maybe that’s why we don’t mind immigrants legal or not as migrant workers they are so much easier to control.

    All this cost a lot of money, time and her Marriage and leaves her with not many choices. She needs to leave without selling her Business; her Daughter will be torn out of School and have wasted two a half years of her life. She has no idea how to pay for her things to get shipped back or was left the time to take care of things she is technically illegal…Or become an Illegal alien. She is forced to break the Law as to not loose everything and no one is willing to stand up and fight for her. She is finally out of money to fight it.
    So I’m asking for any help that we can get to keep this good person here as an asset to our Nation which we all so Love, as hard as it is mad sometimes.
    I hope someone will be human and look at this case. I don’t know where else to go.
    And as you can, see I’m not too good at putting words on Paper. I apologize.

    This is it in short there is so much more to this . hope you ask

    Thomas Jordan

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