Tag Archives: immigration enforcement

NY Times: Local immigration enforcement is a bad idea and Dallas can prove it

I recently wrote about the Dallas, TX police officer who wrote a ticket to a woman for being “a non-English speaking driver”, and then the subsequent discovery that the agency has written 39 such tickets in the past few years. Check out the video above for more on this.

Today, the New York Times picked up on the story and had this  say:

This is a country that has repeatedly gone overboard in its reaction to immigrants who don’t speak the common tongue, but the mind still reels at this one. Where were these officers’ supervisors, who presumably reviewed and approved each of these tickets after they were filed? Where were the judges who must have encountered these language offenders in traffic court? The noxious practice was exposed and stopped only last month after one driver, Ernestina Mondragon, responded to her ticket with defiance and a lawyer.

The embarrassment is not just a problem for the Dallas Police Department. The country is in the middle of a fierce debate over how local police departments should deal with recent immigrants. Many but not all of them are here illegally but have otherwise committed no crimes.

On one side are the Obama administration and the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, who firmly believe in outsourcing immigration enforcement to local police departments. On the other side are the considerable ranks of police chiefs and law-enforcement experts across the country who say there is no good reason for turning cops into immigration agents.

There is no question that the efforts to do so have been marred by poor training, racial profiling and other abuses — and widespread fear in the communities that the police are sworn to protect. If there is any remaining doubt, just take a look at what happened in Dallas.

Translation: immigration enforcement at the local level (287g) is a bad idea. Comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level is a good idea.

Its really quite simple, guys.

FBI Investigation: The beginning of the end for Sheriff Joe?

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There has been a video circulating the web in the past week that features the story of an FBI investigation that is gathering momentum against our friend Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona.

We’ve tracked the long list of allegations leveled at Sheriff Joe; racial profiling, civil rights violations, a proven disregard for Federal law. But now, Arpaio is being investigated for yet another wrongdoing. From ThinkProgress:

This weekend, news reports revealed that the FBI is investigating whether Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been “using his position to settle political vendettas” against those who have been critical of his controversial tactics, namely his bullish pursuit of undocumented immigrants.

It seems as though Arpaio has decided the same scare tactics and bullying that he uses against undocumented immigrants, could also work against any of his critics or enemies: including those investigating Arpaio’s many alleged abuses.

Check out the video here:

Its worth nothing that Sheriff Arpaio refused to be interviewed on camera for this piece, a remarkable change in attitude from a man who was once gunning (pun intended) for his own reality show and who executes his own press conferences and legal maneuvers with all the pageantry of an actors on stage.

Earlier this week, Nezua at the Unapologetic Mexican summarized it quite nicely:

Watch this video above, and marvel at how the rogue cop can scoff off two major concurrent investigations by both the USDOJ and the FBI! Methinks hethinks he is his own lil country. And maybe he is. For now. Then again, I bet there was a day the T-Rex thought he’d walk the planet forever.

This man thinks he is invincible and that’s not only what makes him terrifying, its also what will eventually bring him down.

ICE ignores the facts, deports US-born citizen

In April, the story of Mark Lyttle broke. Mark is a US-born citizen, with a long history of mental illness – most specifically Mark suffers from bi-polar disorder. In late 2008, Mark was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers and questioned about his citizenship. Because of Mark’s brown skin, agents assumed he was Mexican. Do you know where I’m going with this?

In December of 2008, Mark was loaded onto a plane and deported to Mexico. Thus began his four month journey from Mexico to Hondura (where he was imprisoned) to Guatemala, where he finally found the US Embassy and was granted a passport to come home.

The most shocking aspect of Mark’s case is this: ICE had evidence of his US citizenship. Agents were able to find Mark’s Social Security number, the names of his parents, a record check indicating he was US born and his own testimony that he was a native of Rowan County, North Carolina.

So what happened? Mark was the victim of the broken enforcement and judicial systems currently in place under Federal immigration policy. ICE agents focused on brown skin as the main indicator of documentation did not do their jobs, but rather swept evidence under the rug so as not to exert more effort than need be while deporting yet another “illegal” – for some, this is synonymous with “Mexican”. Need more evidence? Yesterday an AP story ran, reporting that “anti-Mexican discrimination in the US” was growing.

Jacqueline Stevens, a professor at the University of California, has followed Mark’s case closely and cites that it sets an extremely dangerous enforcement precedent. In short, Mark’s case is not singular, but rather the part of a much bigger pattern of neglect, racial profiling and fast-track justice that lead to the erosion of basic rights for everyone, not just immigrants.

Even more shocking are the several thousand of US citizens each year who are not only detained, but also deported. This occurs either because of ICE bullying, a fear of indefinite detention, or because the US government gave their US citizen parents, mostly of Mexican ancestry, incorrect information about their legal status and issued them green cards instead of telling them they were US citizens at birth.

When I told Mark’s attorney, Neil Rambana, that ICE had Mark’s FBI record indicating he was a US citizen, Rambana was furious, “That is the most dangerous precedent I have ever heard. Someone swept a whole heap of dust under a carpet because they didn’t want to do their job. These things are easily identifiable by those who have superior resources, but they failed to exercise an iota of effort.”

As the current administration continues failed enforcement policies and is slow to begin the fight for immigration reform, people should remember cases like Mark’s. People should be outraged.

Napolitano and the enforcement problem

I feel like starting this post with a frustrated sigh, but since you guys can’t actually hear me, I’m going to start by letting you know that I just sighed in frustration.

Today, the New York times is running a story on Janet Napolitano’s continued focus on immigration enforcement. Her speech, at a conference on border security in El Paso, TX, was on the heels of Obama’s announcement that immigration reform will have to wait until 2010. [insert another frustrated sigh here] Napolitano defended the administration’s policies as “different” than those of the Bush administration:

But Ms. Napolitano argued that the Obama administration had changed Mr. Bush’s programs in critical ways, such as putting an emphasis on deporting criminals and holding more employers responsible for hiring illegal workers.

“Make no mistake, our overall approach is very, very different. It is more strategic, more cooperative, more multilateral and, in the long run, more effective.”

I really wanted to believe that this could be true and that this administration understood what was at stake in this debate, but patience is really wearing thin. It is PAST time that this administration delivered on their promise of fixing our broken system. More enforcement, I don’t care how much the strategy has shifted, is not contributing to a solution to the many, many issues plaguing our immigrant population.

“How many more millions if not billions of dollars are we going to put into the border without fixing the immigration system?” asked Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum.Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said of Ms. Napolitano, “She’s increasing enforcement of laws that President Obama and she have both said are broken, and the result is going to be a lot of human misery.”

I’ve been trying to defend the administration, in hopes that each somewhat disappointing move has been political posturing that is setting up for the big CIR push to come. But, there is only so many times they can dangle the carrot, just out of our reach, and promise that we will get it eventually, before people start to lose trust. I am offically pissed off – and I know I’m not the only one.

ACTION: Tell Secretary Napolitano that Enough is Enough

So, this is a bit late, but since I was out last week, I didn’t get to blog on it.

Our partners at America’s Voice launched a great campaign to get the Department of Homeland Security to stop the current abuses carried out by our immigration enforcement policies.

Check out the video:

Some of you may have read my recent post about how DHS raids violate not only the Constitution but also the regulations that the Department has created for itself.

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”?

Its finally time to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Tell Secretary Janet Napolitano that we need real, comprehensive immigration reform. SIGN THE PETITION HERE.

Even the Police Foundation knows 287(g) is a bad idea

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I have been posting for at least a year about the negative impacts of the so-called 287(g) program that allows local police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws.  The most notable case of 287(g)’s negative impact on communities is that of Maricopa County and our food friend Joe Arpaio. 287(g) is the program that gives Arpaio the authority to continue  his reign of terror in Arizona.

Recently the Police Foundation, a non-partisan Think Tank whose stated goal is “Supporting innovation and improvements in policing“, released a study on local enforcement of federal immigration laws. The result? To be brief: Federal Immigration laws should not be enforced by local police agencies. Period. (Tell us something we don’t already know…)

Some interesting conclusions from the report:

  • The costs of participating in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 287(g) program outweigh the benefits.
  • Police officers should be prohibited from arresting and detaining persons to solely investigate immigration status in the absence of probable cause of an independent state criminal law violation.

And my own personal favorite:

  • Local law enforcement leaders and policing organizations should place pressure on the federal government to comprehensively improve border security and reform the immigration system, because the federal government’s failure on both issues has had serious consequences in cities and towns throughout the country.

So, let’s go back through the list. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Alan Greenspan, Rahm Emanuel, the two biggsest Labor Unions in the country, the Faith community, Latino and New American Voters and a majority of the American Public all want immigration reform.

And as for 287(g), none of the conclusions of the report are surprising. Let’s hope the administration listens up, instead of pouring even more money into enforcement.

State and Local Roundup

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NJ: Cresitello Defends Immigration Enforcement Plan – Mayor Donald Cresitello defended his proposal to have local police enforce federal immigration laws during a forum Saturday that included a panel of immigration lawyers and advocates.

UT: Some Agencies Resist Role Enforcing ICE Laws – Some law-enforcement leaders in Salt Lake County have been outspoken about their reservations to cross-deputize their officers, but others are waiting before making a decision.

TX: Backlash Grows over Screenings for ICE At Jail – Mayor Bill White is facing increasing hostility over his decision to have the city participate in a federal program that trains local jailers to act as immigration agents.

State and Local Round-up

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NATIONAL: Obama, Congress to Revisit Program on Security Standards for Driver’s Licenses Congress and the Obama administration are considering ceding key ground in a long-running battle between the federal government and the states over Real ID, the four-year-old federal program that requires all states to start issuing more secure driver’s licenses by the end of the year.

NJ: Morristown Residents Attend Immigration Rally Where Sen. Menendez Says 287(g) Won’t Be Necessary – Comprehensive immigration reform will “ultimately nullify the need for a 287(g),” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said Saturday at a press conference following a Familias Unidas rally at the Iglesia Jesucristo Es El Senor church in Elizabeth.

SC: Immigration Rules May Lack Funds – The director of the state agency responsible for enforcing South Carolina’s mammoth new immigration law says her department doesn’t have the money needed to fully enforce it.

CA: Immigration: Rep. Hunter Introduces Border Bill – A group of Republican lawmakers introduced a bill in Congress on Thursday they say would strengthen border security and increase penalties for gun smuggling.

IA: 2 Iowa Towns, 2 Perspectives On Immigration Raids – For immigrant advocates, the raid on a meatpacking plant in Postville last May was evidence of all that is wrong with large-scale arrests of illegal workers.

State and Local Roundup

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NC: Protesters Rally Against Immigration Enforcement Program – Activists marching across the state for immigrants’ rights rallied on the steps of the state Capitol on Friday in support of abolishing 287(g), a federal program that allows local law enforcement officers to act as immigration officials.

UT: More Law Enforcers Declining to Follow State Immigration Statute – Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter will not cross-deputize his officers as immigration agents.

MD: Assembly Closes the Door on Licenses – The Maryland General Assembly last night passed a hard-fought compromise that would end the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, capping a 90-day session in which lawmakers were greatly constrained by the state’s financial challenges but passed numerous low-cost bills affecting residents’ daily lives.

ACTION: Sheriff Joe Must GO!

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From our friends at Rights Working Group:

Actions Speak Louder Than Words:  Terminate Arpaio’s 287(g) Contract

Support the National Day Laborers Organizing Network’s action to call on Secretary Napolitano to terminate Arpaio’s 287(g) contract.

To call on Secretary Napolitano to terminate Arpaio’s 287(g) agreement, click here.

In recent months, the hard work of many has raised the profile of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the most infamous Sheriff since Bull Connor, as the ugliest face of the failed national 287(g) program.  The Sheriff’s march of migrant  inmates in a chain gang the New York Times described as “ritual humiliation” revealed the racial profiling and terror he’s carried out on Maricopa County, and made urgent the need for federal intervention.

40,000 people recently signed petitions condemning his actions.  5,000 people marched peacefully in Phoenix on February 28 demanding federal intervention.  Our voices have been heard.  The Department of Justice formally launched an investigation of Sheriff Arpaio.  The GAO has declared the 287(g) program a disaster.  And on April 2, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Congressman Conyers, held hearings revealing the 287(g) program has endangered communities and led to racial profiling on a scale this country has not seen in a generation.

Yet, Sheriff Joe continues to terrorize Maricopa County, taunting the federal government, and daring them to act.  We say, “Enough is enough!”  President Obama and his Secretary of Homeland Security, former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, need to sever Arpaio’s 287(g) agreement now and restore safety and the rule of law to Maricopa County.

To call on Secretary Napolitano to terminate Arpaio’s 287(g) agreement, click here.