Tag Archives: immigration raids

DHS Signals Policy Changes Ahead for Immigration Raids


Today the Washington Post published an article about an impending policy shift in the way the Department of Homeland Security does business. Immigration raids, which were the Bush administration’s pride and joy, are being restructured under Obama and new DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. The raids, which target workers and destroy communities, are now shifting focus.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said.

A senior department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute — increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers.

“There will be a change in policy, but in the interim, you’ve got to scrutinize the cases coming up,” the senior DHS official said, noting Napolitano’s expectations as a former federal prosecutor and state attorney general.

These delays are a good sign that immigration enforcement policy will be changing. In recent weeks there have been many prominent leaders (both political and faith) calling for a change in immigration policy and an end to the destructive raids.

While a policy is still under development, Napolitano has said she intends to focus more on prosecuting criminal cases of wrongdoing by companies. Analysts say they also think ICE may conduct fewer raids, focusing routine enforcement on civil infractions of worker eligibility verification rules.

This is good news since it signals an end to scapegoating the most vulnerable while letting the powerful off the hook. However, just a shift in enforcement policy will not be enough to right the course. This must come along with comprehensive reform in order to truly begin to fix the broken system.

Chicago Cardinal: “Stop the Raids”


On Saturday the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for an end to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement worksite raids. From the AP.

“I stand with other faith leaders and all of you gathered here today and with every immigrant family in this nation to call on our government to end immigration raids and the separation of families,” said Cardinal Francis George at an immigrants-rights rally at a northwest Chicago church.

Without naming President Barack Obama, George said the current administration can fulfill its promises of change by working toward immigration reform. The rally was one in a 17-city series of meetings organized by advocates of changes to U.S. immigration policy, including U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.

Faith leaders, political leaders and community leaders are all calling for an end to the enforcement-only approach to immigration that thrived under the Bush administration. Let’s hope that these demands for change are met head on in the new administration.

To help create this change, join our Mobile Action Network. Text “justice” to 69866 to receive action alerts and updates in your area. Help us end the raids and stand up for immigrant rights in our country.

A Year Without a Mexican: A Postville Retrospective

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the devastating Postville raid, Marcelo Balve writes a poignant and insightful retrospective on the past year and the current state of immigration policy in our country at Mother Jones.

Indeed, the 389 arrests eliminated more than one-third of the meatpacker’s workforce and nearly one-fifth of the town’s population. It also prompted an exodus of hundreds more Hispanic residents who were either afraid of being targeted or simply opted to escape the town’s inevitable tailspin. Postville’s businesses began to suffer almost immediately. Even the Wal-Mart in Decorah, a half-hour away, called Postville mayor Robert Penrod with concerns about the economic impact. Penrod, who stepped down as mayor this month, can recall an eerie calm settling over the town, as though it were part of some Twilight Zone episode. “Before, it was all hustle bustle, and you’d see people walking up and down the streets and driving and listening to music,” he told me. “Then all of a sudden, boom! I mean nobody was walking the streets.”

Harder to quantify, but no less real, was the damage to an unusual multicultural experiment in America’s heartland. It had begun back in 1987 when ultra-Orthodox Jews came to Postville to turn the defunct Hygrade plant into the nation’s largest kosher meatpacker, which promptly became a beacon for immigrant labor. Postville proudly dubbed itself “Hometown to the World,” and despite the company’s recent attempts to recruit legal replacement workers from as far away as Palau, the motto has acquired an ironic ring. Ten months after the raid, the meatpacker, having declared bankruptcy, was operating at half-steam with a ragtag assembly of workers, and the town’s economy remains a shambles. Back in October, Mayor Penrod told CNN that Postville was living a “freaky nightmare.” And it still isn’t over.

You absolutely must read the entire piece – I promise it is worth fifteen minutes of your time. Postville has become the symbol for just how destructive and costly immigration raids can be – not just for the undocumented immigrants ICE targets, but for entire communities and even regions.

ACTION: Defend Nancy Pelosi’s Courageous Words


Earlier this week, I posted on Nancy Pelosi and her brave call to end the immigration raids.

At a stop on the Family Unity tour, the top leader in Congrees called for reform of our country’s most inhumane immigration tactics. She said our immigration laws are tearing families apart. She also said that knocking down doors in the middle of the night to hunt undocumented workers is un-American.

Anti-immigrant radio hosts and TV commentators have launched a full-scale attack on Speaker Pelosi, calling her un-American for demanding reform to laws that tear husbands away from wives and mothers away from children.

Our friends at America’s Voice have started a campaign to thank Pelosi for her brave comments and to send a resounding message to the anti’s: Raids are un-American and Pelosi should be commended for her bravery.


The goal is to send 1000 letters – we are already at 365 – will you help?

Pelosi Calls for an End to Immigration Raids

Last Sunday, the Family Unity Tour, headed by Congressman Luis Gutierrez, stopped in San Francisco in its effort to  keep families together in the face of destructive immigration enforcement policies. During the San Francisco event, leaders were joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who gave a powerful speech calling for an end to immigration raids.


“Our future is about our children,” Pelosi told a crowd of mostly Latino families at St. Anthony’s Church.

No matter if those families arrived two days ago or centuries ago, Pelosi said “that opportunity, that determination, that hope has made American more American.”

She said, “Taking parents from their children … that’s un-American.”

It is about time that a Washington leaders take a stand and call for an end to the raids. They are destructive, costly and tear apart not just families, but entire communities. Click here to find a full schedule of events on the Family Unity Tour.

Raids at What Cost?

Its not as though we need more reasons to condemn the immigration raids that have been tearing apart communities, denying due process and separating families. But, Frank Sharry has written a very enlightening article at the Huffington Post about the financial costs of the raids.

Remember the immigration raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, back in May? According to today’s Des Moines Register, the raid set taxpayers back $5.2 million. According to the newspaper, “That means it has cost taxpayers an average of $13,396 for each of the 389 illegal immigrants taken into custody.”

Keep in mind that the $5.2 million – disclosed through a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ‑ is only what ICE spent. That doesn’t include the cost of criminal trials against the workers charged with ID crimes, indigent defense, and prison. According to an accompanying editorial in the Des Moines Register, “Prison costs alone ran $590,000 a month as of mid-summer.”

So let’s do the math, shall we? If it cost $13,396 to arrest each undocumented worker in the United States, and estimates are that there are at least 11.5 million people who fit that definition, then you, I, and the rest of American taxpayers could be looking at forking over $154 billion to ICE alone.

How much more of this are we going to have to endure? Without Just and Humane immigration reform, our government will not only continue its militant tactics against immigrants, but it will continue to fund its terror with our taxpayer money. And at this point in our history, we can afford either of the two.

Postville: 5 Months Later

Today, CNN ran its first of two articles discussing immigration in “Middle America”. Today’s installment catches up with the town of Postville, Iowa, five months after what was the largest immigration raid in history.

It’s a town that’s been turned “topsy turvy,” Mayor Bob Penrod says, since hundreds of heavily armed federal immigration agents swooped in a few months ago and raided its main employer, Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant.

“It makes a person feel kind of angry,” Penrod says. “It’s been nothing but a freaky nightmare since May.”

Since the raid in Postville, large-scale ICE raids have become more frequent. In August more than 600 immigrants were arrested in Laurel, Mississippi and just last week more than 300 were arrested in Greenville, South Carolina.

In Postville, CNN visited St. Bridget’s Catholic Church:

 …whose pastor, Father Lloyd Paul Ouderkirk, is both soft-spoken and outspoken. It is his church that became a refuge for the town’s immigrants the day of the raid and the weeks afterward.

“They had attacked this town with a military-style raid — brought in 900 immigration police to arrest 389 people. I mean, what is that other than a military raid on this town?” he says.

Ouderkirk scans his church now, the sun beaming through stained-glass windows. “Can you just imagine all these pews here full of people, sleeping 300-400 people a night?”

Many residents in Postville are still reeling from the affects of the raid. The town’s crime rate has gone up, local businesses are hurting and tensions are running high.

Residents feel like the town was “made an example of”. One resident, Brian Gravel, the principal of Postville High School noted that, “Picking on a town of 2,500 people in northeast Iowa is not my idea of a naturalization or immigration policy.” Postville, like so many other communities torn apart by ICE have become symbolic sacrifices, a way for the current administration to seem like it is “doing something” about immigration. But if Postville is any indication, the raids are acheiving little except the destruction of communities, families and businesses.

ACTION: Vote Yes to Protect Our Rights!

On Thursday, Senators Menedez (D-NJ) and Kennedy (D-MA) introduced legislation aimed at protecting citizens and legal permanent residents who are unlawfully detained and deported by the Department of Homeland Security during immigration raids.

Amidst the chaos of ever-increasing immigration raids across the country, the bill is a long overdue call for regulation of the gestapo tacitcs of DHS and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Though both presidential candidates have been avoiding the issue of immigration during their campaigns, raids have been occuring with an alarming frequency everywhere from Hawaii to Maryland. ICE is out of control and has been conducting these raids without any Congressional oversight or regulation. Due process has been consistently denied to all people detained during these raids, as witnessed by countless testimonies – for more on this check out a previous post on  May’s raid in Postville, Iowa and this one covering the shocking violence used during a raid in Annapolis, Maryland.

With the raids out of control, this bill is not only welcome, but long overdue. It is time that be regulated, it is time they stop being above the law and it is time that Congressional oversight is implemented.

The bill will:

* Create due process protections, such as notification of immigration charges and access to counsel and phones, during immigration enforcement efforts;
* Require DHS to implement regulations to ensure that immigration detainees are treated humanely;
* Promote “alternatives to detention” programs that are more humane and cost-effective than traditional penal-style detention;
* Establish an ICE ombudsman to investigate complaints and to create DHS accountability; and
* Provide labor protections to ensure that ICE worksite raids do not undermine labor or employment law investigations.

Call your Senator and ask them to vote YES on S. 3594: Protect Citizens and Residents From Unlawful Raids and Detention Act!

Here is a quick video about how to call your Senator and ask for a YES vote!

Catholic Bishops Call for an End to the Raids

Yesterday, US Catholic Bishops called on the Department of Homeland Security and President Bush to stop the immigration raids that are tearing apart families and communities across the country.

US Roman Catholic bishops on Wednesday charged that immigration raids on US workplaces break up families and disrupt communities, without addressing the flawed US immigration system.

“The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society,” Bishop John Wester, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committee on migration, said in a statement.

“I call upon the Department of Homeland Security and President (George W.) Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool,” he added.

Bishop Wester also rightfully noted that the raids” reveal the failure of a seriously flawed immigration system.”

I couldn’t agree with him more.

Message to DHS: Its the Economy, Stupid

There is a great article at the Huffington Post today, further dispelling last week’s report released by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Aside from the absence of any hard data, CIS provides no real solutions to the nation’s immigration problems. Instead, CIS implies that the illegal immigration population could drop to half of what it is now within the next five years if only presidential candidates keep silent about the details of comprehensive immigration reform, taxpayers continue to pour money into enforcement, and the U.S. economic recession persists. Essentially, CIS is telling anyone who wants to talk about realistic solutions to shut up while encouraging the government to continue spending billions on ICE’s political theater in the midst of an economic recession.

Sounds sensible, right?

You should definitely read the full article if you have time.