Tag Archives: janet napolitano

VIDEO: How We Will Make Real Immigration Reform a Reality!

On Wednesday night, 60,000 people joined what was an incredible call to action on overhauling our nation’s broken immigration laws.

Today, we’re releasing a new video that features Congressman Luis Gutierrez unveiling his principles for reform in October, and which calls on all of us to help build the movement for real immigration reform:

We all know our immigration system needs fixing.

Immigration has been used as a wedge to obstruct progress on everything from the Stimulus to health care reformeven the 2010 Census. There are many skeptics out there who believe Congress doesn’t have what it takes to pass reform in 2010 – or that even if they have what it takes, they don’t have the nerve to do it.

But just last week, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reinforced the administration’s commitment to reform, laying out the details for why this push is different, and why we need to get it done.

What’s more, the national movement for real immigration reform is growing—and we are only getting bigger.

On Wednesday night, there were over 1,000 house parties in 45 states, with supporters gathered together anxiously to hear what they could do to help make reform a reality. All across the country, people are primed and ready to do whatever it takes to win this battle, and if you are not one of those people, now is the time to join the fight.

Watch our new video, sign up for the text message network, and help spread the word today.

In 2007, opponents of immigration reform took credit for stopping legislation in its tracks, overwhelming Congressional offices with a flood of angry phone calls and faxes. They took control of the debate and scared the pants off of vulnerable members of Congress.

This time around will be different, but it will take all of us to make real immigration reform a reality.

Napolitano: Hopeful for immigration reform in 2010

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This morning Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (or as I lovingly call her – J Nap) spoke about immigration reform at the Center for American Progress. While I wasn’t able to attend, I followed along via Twitter thanks to America’s Voice and Voto Latino.

Though much of Sec. Napolitano’s perspective emphasized enforcement – no shock there – she also stated that she is hopeful about immigration reform in early 201o. This is welcome news amidst a lot of speculation and pessimism as to whether reform will even come up for debate early next year. Sec. Napolitano noted that much has changed this time around in the debate. Perhaps the most notable is the new allies joining in the fight for reform.

Here’s the other thing that has shifted in this debate: a larger segment of the American public has embraced the need to engage this debate and arrive at a sensible solution to this problem.

There are leaders of the law enforcement community speaking out, saying that immigration reform is vital to their ability to do their jobs keeping Americans safe. Faith leaders, including the National Association of Evangelicals, have announced their support for immigration reform as a moral and practical issue. We are seeing more business leaders and more labor leaders engaged in this debate in a constructive way than we have ever seen before.

These constituencies have all arrived at the same conclusion that prevails among the American people: this is a problem that needs to be fixed—and the best way to ensure that we can uphold our laws is to make sure our laws are rational and enforceable.

This is a huge point of strength that shows hope for immigration reform efforts in 2010. We have new communities and constituencies on our side and they aren’t just the same old familiar faces. The anti’s who have been screaming for years about law and order now have to answer to law enforcement officials who are chiming in to say that they can’t enforce the laws on the books because those laws are outdated. Business leaders and the Labor community, who before have had a tenuos relationship with immigration reform efforts are fully on board this time around, with a plan for how this reform will boost both the economy and the rights of workers across the board.

In short, its a different landscape for immigration reform in 2010. There is the support for this legislation, but we must keep pressure on Congress to act.

Sec. Napolitano reaffirmed President Obama’s committment to the issue, saying:

The President is committed to this issue because the need for immigration reform is so clear. This Administration does not shy away from taking on the big challenges of the 21st century, challenges that have been ignored too long and hurt our families and businesses. When Congress is ready to act, we will be ready to support them.

With Representative Luis Gutierrez hosting a National town hall on immigration reform next week – and thousands of people participating across the country – its clear that there are champions in Congress who are ready to move on this issue.

So, Chuck Schumer, where you at? Who wants to start sending him calendars  as per suggestions last week? You promised us a bill and we’re ready to see it.

H/T to Erin Rosa at the CampusProgress Blog and Jackie Mahendra at America’s Voice.

More than 1,000 hold vigil for immigration reform in Santa Clara

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Again, this is cross-posted from the Reform Immigration FOR America blog. It looks like an incredible action, especially the spontaneous peaceful civil disobedience from the crowd as they were blocked from making their message heard. I never cease to be inspired by this movement.

Yesterday’s Family Unity event in Santa Clara was a major success. While I couldn’t be there marching alongside our leaders and advocates, I received the following email from one of the Reform Immigration FOR America organizers. I think his words capture the event better than I could, so I will re-post them here:

Four states and more than 1000 leaders united yesterday to organize the Western Rally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, part of the national effort of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign. The action aimed directly at Secretary Janet Napolitano as she returned to give a speech at her alma mater, Santa Clara University, yesterday in Santa Clara, California. Our message was stop tearing our families apart, pass immigration reform in 2010.

More than 1000 leaders from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho rallied for immigration reform at Lafayette Park before marching two miles around the University to the Mayer Theater where Secretary Napolitano delivered a talk. Leaders from immigrant rights organizations, community organizations, unions and social service organizations were present for a march that grew and grew as we approached Mayer Theater, the site of Secretary Napolitano’s talk. She definitely felt our presence as the march stretched for more than 30 minutes around the University. As our marchers reached the theater each took and lit a candle representing hope for immigration reform in 2010.

When we reached just past the Theater, the marchers tried to turn across Lafayette Street (the previously approved route march). The police refused to let us cross the street prompting an impromptu sit-in for 25 minutes whilst our leaders negotiated an agreement with the police. Our sit-in occurred from 7:30 to almost 8:00 pm, perfectly matching the timing of Napolitano’s talk which began indoors at the Mayer Theater at 7:30 pm. Our presence was felt yesterday in San Jose.

It sounds like the event and action were an amazing demonstration of our community’s commitment to passing immigration reform. The local Mercury News had this to say about the demonstration:

About 1,000 noisy but peaceful protesters greeted U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano when she returned to her alma mater Thursday night to speak on global security. The protesters’ message: Tell your boss, President Barack Obama, to keep his promise to work for the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill by Congress. Carrying signs that said, “Justice for Immigrants,” and “Keep Our Families Together,” the protesters were not allowed near the campus theater, where Napolitano spoke. Instead, they gathered several hundred yards from the building, at Homestead Road and Lafayette Street, many carrying candles.

It sounds like although the main draw was hearing Secretary Napolitano, our action ended up being the real story. This week we have shown our power, our commitment and the sheer force of our movement.This is just the beginning. [photo via @CAUSAOregon]

Below is the first round-up of media clips covering the event. More to come…

KTVU – Santa Clara – Hundreds of protestors demand immigration reform.

CBS5 – Homeland Security chief speaks in Santa Clara

CBS5 – Janet Napolitano to speak at Santa Clara University

The grassroots asks Sec. Napolitano the tough questions

In an effort to truly represent the country’s concerns at today’s meeting with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Reform Immigratin FOR America Campaign asked YOU to submit questions you wanted Napolitano to address. The response: you sent in more than 4,000 questions in less than 24 hours.

Marissa Graciosa, immigration coordinate with FIRM said:

“Most of the questions and concerns centered around timing, on wanting immigration reform done this year, not 2010. The questions came from all over the country. This reflects the widespread effects of our enforcement-heavy approach to immigration.”

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, and a partner of the Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America, was able to ask Napolitano two representative questions selected from the 4,000-plus entries. The first was submitted by a person in Pickerington, Ohio who wanted to know why Napolitano has focused too intently on border security and stopped advocating for comprehensive reform. Napolitano said she has been working on immigration reform, and would do more to communicate with people on her efforts on both fronts.

Noorani’s other question concerned the 287g program, which gives local law enforcement the authority to enforce immigration law. Noorani asked Napolitano to revoke the authority of agencies who have clearly violated the spirit of the agreement, and that the immigration reform community looked forward to seeing that happen. Napolitano responded, “Me, too.”

It’s amazing to see the voices of the grassroots communities speaking directly to lawmakers and the White House. FIRM has always tried to amplify the voices of communities who don’t always have a space at the table.  In 2006 and 2007, millions marched in the streets for immigrants’ rights and reform. Now, those millions are moving beyond the streets to swamp switchboards, email accounts, fax machines and the halls of Congress.

FIRM and RI4A was there to tell Secretary Napolitano that she must to take a leadership role in building support for comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill and with the American public.  She told said that she understands that she has do a better job communicating and a more consistent job of leading, but we need to see action to be sure she got the message.

The President is clear that he wants immigration reform to move forward this year so that we can pass a bill early next year.  To do that, we need to see more motion from Congress and more push from Secretary Napolitano.  We hope to see detailed congressional proposals shortly after recess.

Tomorrow, the FOR America campaign will deliver the more than 4,000 questions that you asked to the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Janet Napolitano. The administration is hearing your voices and they know they must respond. We continue to build momentum and we will work with you to keep pressure on the administration.

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.

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.

ACTION: 3 ways to Help Stop Walter Lara’s Deportation

Walter Lara is a 23 year old Honor Student. He graduated from high school and college with honors. He has lived in the United States since he was 3 years old, when his family immigrated from Argentina.

Walter Lara will be deported in 5 days, unless Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano intervenes on his behalf.

Here are three ways you can help:

  1. Call Janet Napolitano, using SEIU’s “click-to-call” page by clicking here.
  2. Sign the letter to be delivered to DHS tomorrow by clicking here.
  3. If you are on Twitter, follow Walter here and then re-tweet this post: RT @WalterLaraUSA: This is my last chance,please call Secretary Napolitano right now.  http://www.seiu.org/callforwalter

Senator Bill Nelson has drafted a letter to Sec. Napolitano requesting that they defer action on Walter’s deportation because “he has earned the chance to live and work here and call America home.”

The provost of Miami Dade college, where Walter earned his degree had this to say about Walter’s impending deporation:

”Now that we have educated this individual with 15 years of public American education, we are going to send him back to a foreign country. I consider that a waste.”

I couldn’t agree more. Because of talented (and undocumented) youth like Walter, the United State MUST pass the DREAM Act.

Also, for coverage of the recent DREAM Act graduations across the country, check out DreamActivist – I have been wanting to do a round-up of this coverage but sadly have had little time to dedicate to blogging recently. This will change soon. I hope.

J-Nap Attack: Why Antis want Napolitano Out [and Why they are Wrong]

napolitanoOK, so first I must give credit to Jackie at America’s Voice for coining the term  “J-Nap attack”. Second, let me just say that this is exactly the type of ridiculous political power play that we are trying to do away with in the immigration debate.

Apparently, anti’s and conservatives are up in arms over comments made by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano during a recent appearance on John King’s State of the Union at CNN. Specifically, they are apoplectic over J Nap’s assertion that crossing the border is not a criminal offense, rather a civil one. Well guess what folks, she is RIGHT.

From Joshua Holland at Alternet:

But Napolitano had said that “crossing the border is not a crime per se,” and she’s 100% correct. She simply understands that around half of the “illegal immigrants” in this country (the exact number varies by study) entered legally and stayed when their visas expired. Being here without papers is a civil violation, not a criminal offense.

Napolitano, unlike many of the oh-so-enthusiastic anti-mmigrant advocates out there, understands that a simplistic approach to the current immigration debate is not based in reality. There is no cut-and-dry, right-and-wrong here.  For those who continually shout “illegal is illegal”, try doing a bit of research and you will see that its not so simple.

And while these folks were busy spouting out that Napolitano should be ousted from her post, J Nap was busy getting down to business in a sensible way, laying out how DHS should approach immigration under her watch.

As Seth at Immigration Impact put it:

Secretary Napolitano could have clarified her statement with an explanation about the difference between criminal and civil offenses as applies to immigration law, but the fact of the matter is that it’s intellectually dishonest to parse her words in order to tarnish her credibility. People are allowed to disagree with her politics and policies, but not fold her up into a rhetorical punching bag for something she didn’t say.

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.