Today, Sen. Dick Durbin introduced the DREAM Act, which would give undocumented young people of good moral character who came to the U.S. as children an earned path to citizenship if they enroll in college or enlist in the military. The following is a statement from Marissa Graciosa, director of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement:
“We applaud Sen. Durbin for moving this crucial piece of legislation and being a long-time champion of our youth. Many of the bill’s cosponsors also have a history of supporting America’s young people.
“Passing the DREAM Act should be easy. It is one of those rare pieces of legislation that enjoys broad support from the American public. And the benefits to our economy and military would be immediate and profound, which is why business and military leaders support it. It is also morally right. The young people who would benefit from the DREAM Act were brought to this country and consider America home. The DREAM Act would allow them to fulfill their potential and contribute fully.
Community organizers renew call for executive action to heal communities
President Obama today gave an important speech on border security and the need for comprehensive immigration reform in El Paso. The following is a statement by Marissa Graciosa, director of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement:
“We are glad to see the President devote so much time to reviving immigration reform, and bringing together Americans of diverse backgrounds to build consensus and find a way forward.
“Today, in El Paso he spoke of immigration reform as an economic imperative, and we concur. Immigrants contribute substantially, and our country is stronger because of their presence.
All too frequently, the world looks bleak for those of us advocating for immigrants and immigration reform. But this week was a good week.
The best news emerged from Illinois where yesterday Gov. Pat Quinn ended the so-called Secure Communities program because too many immigrants were getting caught up in its dragnet. The program has a stated purpose of detaining and deporting immigrants “who have been convicted of serious criminal offenses,” yet only 20 percent of the people deported from Illinois met that criteria, according to the Quinn’s letter.
Yesterday, too, in a bipartisan vote the Illinois Senate passed their version of the DREAM Act, which would create a scholarship account funded entirely by private dollars for scholarships for undocumented students seeking higher education. The bill now goes to the House where it is strongly supported.
By Mary Moreno
The Florida legislature is currently considering two anti-immigrant bills that would encourage racial profiling by authorizing local law enforcement to investigate the legal status of people charged with offenses as minor as a traffic violations or who are part of an investigation. Neither version has been heard on the floor, so it’s unclear which has a better chance of passing.
Of course, we don’t support racial profiling, and therefore, either bill. Today, FIRM issued a statement saying it would join the national movement to stop vacationing in Florida if either bill becomes law. Florida of all states should be the most welcoming of all immigrants; it was immigrants who made Florida the prosperous, thriving state it is today. People flock to Florida not only for its beaches but because of its cultural diversity, worldly music and international cuisine.
By Mary Moreno
One of the major reasons deportations have surged under the Obama administration is the expansion of the so-called Secure Communities program. Under Secure Communities, everyone who’s picked up by the police, be it for traffic, minor or major violations, has their fingerprints sent to DHS by the FBI to be checked for legal status. This program has led to the deportations of people who were never charged with a crime or who were accused, but not convicted, of offenses.
DHS used to insist that the program was voluntary. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano even asserted this “fact” to members of Congress. One congressional member to hear this from Napolitano, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, is calling for an investigation of the program after documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request showed that the program, in fact, is not voluntary, opting out is not an option.
Lofgren told the LA Times:
“It is inescapable that the [Department of Homeland Security] was not honest with the local governments or with me” about whether local jurisdictions must participate, said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). “You can’t have a government department essentially lying to local government and to members of Congress. This is not OK.”
by Mary Moreno
President Obama today met with stakeholders to discuss a way forward on immigration reform. Getting the President’s time on immigration is great, especially when so many other pressing issues are competing for his attention. We’re glad the long overdue meeting happened. However, critical voices were absent from this meeting, voices that echo the experience of so many immigrants who make up our community and are directly impacted by our broken immigration laws.
Missing from the meeting were people like Victor Reyes, a father of 5 whose wife was deported because she missed an appointment. Also absent was Freddy Gutierrez, who lost his wife and 2 young children to deportation. He only stayed in the U.S. because this is where he has a good job that allows him to provide for his family.
People rally against SB 590 in Indianapolis
When Indiana state Sen. Michael Delph wrote his immigration enforcement bill, he fully intended it to be a carbon copy of the bill that thrust Arizona into the national spotlight, made it the target of boycotts and further solidified the state’s reputation as one the least tolerant. Delph wanted that for Indiana.
Rogelio Perez Vazquez tells his story of ICE illegally searching his home in Detroit at a press conference
ICE Director John Morton today told AIR Michigan and other immigrant activists that his agency will conduct a full review of recent incidents in Detroit involving ICE agents and the agency’s policies, and deliver results of that assessment within 30 days.
In a press release, the director of AIR Michigan, Ryan Bates said they will continue pressing for accountability:
“The community thanks Director Morton for taking the time to meet with us on these critical issues. We maintain our demand for accountability for those responsible for the pervasive pattern of abuse exhibited by the Detroit Field Office. We look forward to the result of the review. Director Morton said he wants to build trust. Trust starts with accountability.”
The Change Takes Courage Campaign today got a push from an invaluable ally: Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Conyers has called for an independent investigation into ICE’s abhorrent behavior in Detroit, calling for accountability and real consequences.
Conyers is asking that an independent entity such as the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General investigate the allegations against the ICE Detroit office.
ICE in Detroit has been out of control as of late, including terrorizing parents in schools and searching people’s homes without warrants or consent. Today, immigration activists are meeting with John Morton, Assistant Secretary for ICE, to demand accountability and an end to the terror.
Leaders from the Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Reform, the Archdiocese of Detroit, the SEIU, the AFL-CIO, the UAW, and other organizations will present Morton with several demands to ensure accountability: