Category Archives: Change Takes Courage

“Immigrant” does not mean “criminal”

Guest blog by Julia Clunn

One major problem when talking about the treatment of undocumented immigrants in this country is that they are often branded as “law-breakers” or “illegals.” Instead of looking at these people as individuals with different backgrounds and situations, they are clumped together and treated like criminals. This is how Saad Nabeel’s case was handled, despite the fact that he had lived in the US since he was 3 and never committed a crime. He and his family came here as political refugees and were deported while their green card renewals were being processed.  This kind of treatment of honest people as delinquents is unfair, and sadly Washington is only taking baby steps to remedy the problem.

The pressure exerted through the “Change Takes Courage” campaign has brought a tiny glimmer of sunshine in an otherwise bleak outlook for immigration reform.  In a memo recently sent by John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it was advised that the agency use “prosecutorial discretion” when detaining and deporting immigrants. Continue reading

Families Affected by Broken Immigration System Request Meeting with President Obama

Community Leaders and Congressional Representatives Cite Family Stories in Emphasizing Call for Administrative Action on Immigration

Watch video of the press conference

Download the FIRM letter to President Obama requesting a meeting with affected families

Washington – At a press conference this morning, leaders of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) stood with Members of Congress in calling on the Obama Administration to take administrative action to deal with the immigration crisis.  Affected families took center stage as they told their stories of separation, deportation and living in constant fear of family members being taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Brittney Babo, whose husband Serge was deported last August, told her story: “On May 12, 2010 Serge was picked up by ICE officials while doing dishes at our home. He was put in immigration detention and after three long months, deported to his native Cameroon.”  Babo also laid out their family’s extreme hardship: “You can’t imagine how devastating this was for me and for our family.  Since he was deported I have struggled to care for my two sons.  I work 10-hour night shifts with a lot of overtime just to make enough money to support my family.”

Deepak Bhargava, the Executive Director of the Center for Community Change, represented FIRM at the press conference and spoke about the president’s recent push for immigration reform.  “He has had many important meetings… with many key stakeholders.  But there’s been a notable absence, which is hearing directly from the families that have been separated and destroyed because of the enforcement-only policies that this Administration is pursuing.” Continue reading

Rep. Lofgren Calls for Investigation of Secure Communities

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.”

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President Talks with CEOs on Immigration; Activists Ask for Action

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.

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