Tag Archives: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Advocates to DHS: Fire John Morton

Today, during a telephonic press conference FIRM and partner groups called on the Obama administration and Secretary Janet Napolitano to dismiss John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The reality is that ICE has gone rogue and needs to be reined in with dramatic action,” said one of the speakers, Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change. “We call on President Obama to take control of the agency in order to ensure that public assurances from the top are reflected in the behaviors and practices of the enforcement agents on the ground.”

While the Obama administration and Secretary Napolitano have made clear their stance on targeting only undocumented immigrants with criminal records, recent memos from ICE and public statements made by Morton have directly contradicted those priorities.

“This department is under the control of our president, and we expect the president to hold it accountable,” said Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “We are not going to be victims to politics. We are demanding they stop the criminalization of immigrant families.”

You can check out an audio recording of the event

Today: Calling out Obama and ICE

Late notice, y’all, but today there is a telephonic press conference calling President Obama out for the inconsistencies in his message about supporting immigration reform and recent news that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is increasing quotas to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants.

Check it out and join if you can:

WHAT: Telephonic press conference to demand President Obama take control of rogue agency

WHO: Organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM)
Speakers include Deepak Bhargava, executive director, Center for Community Change
Maria Rodriguez, executive director, Florida Immigrant Coalition
Ramon Ramirez, executive director, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (Oregon)
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director, Voces de la Frontera (Wisconsin)
Brent A. Wilkes, national executive director, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Angela Sanbrano, board president, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC)

WHEN: TODAY 1 p.m., Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CALL-IN NUMBER: (866) 861-4868, Conference ID 1446669

WHY: Nearly 15 months into President Obama’s administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) remains an agency without a clear direction. The latest evidence of ICE’s missing leadership was revealed last week in the form of an email written by a senior official setting out specific quotas for deportations, which deviated from publicly made statements by other senior officials and also veers drastically away from ICE’s stated commitment to focus on dangerous and violent criminals.

On the heels of organizing the largest protest of the Obama presidency, a march that brought more than 200,000 people to the National Mall on March 21 to call for comprehensive immigration reform, grassroots leaders intend to demand President Obama take responsibility and control of this agency run amok. Leaders from some of the country’s most prominent immigrant rights organizations will call for drastic changes at ICE, and insist the agency stop targeting hard working immigrants and stop separating families.

Home Raids Violate the Constitution (tell us something we didn’t already know)

This week, Cardozo School of Law released a report asserting that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not only violated their own rules during home raids in New York and New Jersey, but also violated the U.S. Constitution. For those of you who have followed the story of ICE’s unchecked power under the Bush administration, this comes as no surprise. From the New York Times:

The raids were supposed to focus on dangerous criminals, but overwhelmingly netted Latinos with civil immigration violations who happened to be present, the study said. Raiders mistakenly held legal residents and citizens by force in their own homes while agents rummaged through drawers seeking incriminating documents, the report said.

Some of the most egregious portions of the report include emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showing that ICE agents saw the rounding up of immigrants and Latinos as nothing more than a glorified game of cops and robbers.

…A federal immigration agent in Connecticut invited a state trooper to join a scheduled set of raids in New Haven, writing: “We have 18 addresses — so it should be a fun time! Let me know if you guys can play!

These are not games and they should not be treated as such. The conduct of ICE and therefore of DHS has been in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution and the rules that the agency itself purports to follow.

Despite all of this and OVERWHELMING evidence that the so-called 287(g) program, which gives local law enforcement agencies the ability to enforce federal immigration law, is rampant with abuse and racial profiling, the Department of Homeland Security recently signed 11 new 287(g) agreements across the country.Keep in mind, this is the same program that keeps Joe Arpaio in power for his reign of terror in Arizona.

While DHS claims that much has changed under the new administration, I don’t think they are going far enough. Janet Napolitano needs to step up as the head of DHS and stop the racialized attack on Latinos and immigrants. This isn’t just about immigration, this is about the character of our country and our values. Do we want to endorse a program that violates the rights of those the Constitution supposedly protects? Do we want to create communities teeming with fear and distrust of law enforcement agencies who are their to “serve and protect”?

I think you know the answer.

U.S. Citizens Arrested as Undocumented Immigrants

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Yesterday, the Associated Press published a lengthy article revealing just how broken our current immigration system is. Not only, they report, have at least a dozen U.S. Citizens been deported, but hundreds are unlawfully arrested and detained each month.

…citizens still end up in detention because the system is overwhelmed, acknowledged Victor Cerda, who left Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2005 after overseeing the system.

The result is the detention of citizens with the fewest resources: the mentally ill, minorities, the poor, children and those with outstanding criminal warrants, ranging from unpaid traffic tickets to failure to show up for probation hearings. Most at risk are Hispanics, who made up the majority of the cases the AP found.

“The more the system becomes confused, the more U.S. citizens will be wrongfully detained and wrongfully removed,” said Bruce Einhorn, a retired immigration judge who now teaches at Pepperdine Law School. “They are the symptom of a larger problem in the detention system. … Nothing could be more regrettable than the removal of our fellow citizens.”

The full article is pretty shocking and worth the read. Like I have said time and time again, the broken immigration system does not just effect immigrants, it effects all of us.

ICE Agent Sues ICE for Violation of Rights

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Oh, the irony. We have all heard the countless stories of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers invading houses. There are stories of parents arrested in front of children, doors being broken in, kids left alone for hours at a time, and the list could go on. Well now, in what I find a slightly amusing twist, ICE is being sued by one of their own for violating constitutional rights:

From KWST News in Yuma, Arizona:

Jim Slaughter and his wife Sheila were doing laundry last July when, they say, a group of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up on their doorstep looking for a fugitive.

“My wife said is this candid camera and that kind of ticked him off a little bit and he says no mam you need to step back,” says Jim. The couple claims they were ordered to stand in the middle of their living room as agents were about to search their home.

“I said do you realize i’m a U.S. Customs K-9 officer at San Luis, Arizona and they all just froze. The lead agent, his eyes got real big, and he’s like what? You are?” In fact Jim has worked for CBP for seven years. He says the agents immediately retreated.

In March, Jim’s attorney filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security citing a violation of the fourth amendment for protection against unreasonable searches.

“You must have probable cause or a warrant to enter a home in America,” explains attorney Robert Cook. “He had five armed cops and he understood and respected the firepower that was in his living room.”

The Slaughters are seeking $500,000 from each defendant… Jim says he filed the suit because ICE officials have refused to explain or apologize for the mix-up.

Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon. However, most people do not have the advantage of being a Border Patrol agent, and are therefore left with no options to fight the injustice.

Update: Napolitano Calls for Investigation of WA Raid!

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Late yesterday, Janet Napolitano called for an investigation into the first worksite ICE raid of the Obama administration. This is a great victory and the first step to winning Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

From the AP:

Napolitano told lawmakers during a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that she did not know about the raid before it happened and was briefed on it early Wednesday morning. She has asked U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested 28 illegal immigrants in the raid, for answers.

“I want to get to the bottom of this as well,” she said. She said work-site enforcement needs to be focused on the employers.

Thanks to everyone who made calls and faxed into the White House to demand an end to the raids . I’ve heard so many people called in that it was difficult to even get through. FIRM and other National groups also had immigrant rights advocates on the Hill meeting with members of Congress in order to make our outrage heard. And it was!

If you would like to call the White House or Napolitano again today, please do so.

WHITE HOUSE – 202-456-1414

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY –

  • Operator Number: 202-282-8000
  • Comment Line: 202-282-8495

Thank Obama and Napolitano  for their attention to the raid and the call for an investigation and continue to urge them to end the raids and pass Just and Humane Immigration Reform NOW.

Enforcement Gone Bad

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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.

Mentally Ill Man Deported; Family Fears for his Life

On January 22nd, Harvey Sachdev was deported to India, despite the fact that his case was still open on appeal in the Fourth Circuit court in Washington, DC. Sachdev has lived in the United States for almost 40 years and is the son, brother and father of U.S. Citizens – he is also schizophrenic.

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Mr. Sachdev is mentally ill and requires care, which his family is able and willing to provide. He has no one in India and does not have the ability to survive on his own.

Greg Pleasants, JD/MSW, an Equal Justice Works Fellow and Staff Attorney at Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc. states that “People with mental and developmental disabilities who are deported can also face a grave risk of harassment and even persecution in their home countries – harassment and persecution based solely on their disabilities.”

“Without family or medical support, deportation can become a death sentence. Suicide and attempted suicide are not uncommon among deported people with mental illnesses. Access to medicine can be limited and people are often deported without any information on their medical background.  Deportation of the mentally ill is cruel and unusual punishment,” says Dimple Rana of Deported Diaspora, an organization working with people deported from the U.S.

His family fears for his life, as he is now lost in New Delhi, a city of 11 million people, with no contacts, no help and no access to medicine or treatment for his mental illness.  According to his brother and sisters, “Our brother’s deportation is likely a death sentence for him, and we also fear our mother’s life. The stress and the worry has put her life in peril.”

This is another example of ICE acting inhumanely when conditions and circumstances demand a more humanitarian approach to immigration policy.

Finally, Some Steps to Hold ICE Accountable

ICE RAIDOn Tuesday, the NY Times published an article about complaints that are being filed against ICE for excessive use of force and brutality during raids conducted in Florida in Novemeber.

“There is a way that these operations should be conducted,” said Jose Rodriguez, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Miami-Dade County. “And this is not it.”

At a news conference, Mr. Rodriguez and others said agents had relied on vaguely worded warrants to invade people’s homes and arrest nearly anyone who looked Hispanic. In all, according to the federal agency, 77 illegal immigrants were detained in the operation, and only a handful appear to have been charged with a crime.

In the case involving the accusations of beatings, none of the men have been charged with sex trafficking. Lawyers working with the men said the agents used excessive force: bursting into their home in Homestead about 8:30 p.m., pulling their guns in front of a 4-year-old girl, then forcing all 10 or 11 men inside onto the floor in handcuffs.

This scenario sound eerily familiar to anyone else? Not only are raids systematically denying due process and tearing apart families and communities, they are excessive displays of force and police brutality. Remember my posts about the raid in Annapolis, Maryland earlier this year? This excessive use of SWAT-style force is something that happens over and over when ICE is involved.

Its good to see ICE being held accountable for their actions. The Agency has gone unchecked for too long. Let’s hope this marks a beginning of the end of their absolute power and free reign to bend the rules.

RAID in Indiana

Earlier today, the BP Whiting Oil refinery in Northwest Indiana was raided by Immigration and Customs Enforecement agents.

Eleven suspected unauthorized immigrants were arrested and charged with administrative immigration charges.

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ICE has said that the raid was especially important because it was an example of anauthorized immigrants working in areas of concern for terrorist attacks; namely one of the country’s largest oil refineries.

“While there is no reason to believe that these individuals had ill intent against our country, their illegal status represents a significant vulnerability in our national security. ICE will continue to partner with critical infrastructure facilities and ensure they have a legal workforce.”

But that’s JUST IT – these people posed no serious threat to our national security. And yet, ICE is diverting tons of resources into the symbolic arrest of 11 women and  4 men, who are working hard to make ends meet. They are tearing apart communities, all the while claiming they are making our country safer. Safer for whom? Certainly not for the scores of families separated by these policies.

Its time for a sensible approach to our immigration system. One that doesn’t compromise our values in order to look as though we are “doing something”.