President Obama has promised over and over again how immigration reform is a priority for his administration. Pero there have also been signs that Obama, who out of political necessity is playing cautious, is willing to follow in the enforcement first policy footsteps of his predecessors.
According to the Washington Post:
The Obama administration is expanding a program initiated by President George W. Bush aimed at checking the immigration status of virtually every person booked into local jails. In four years, the measure could result in a tenfold increase in illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and identified for deportation, current and former U.S. officials said.
The fact that President Obama has moved forward on this first and not a moratorium on ICE raids that break up families, is very telling.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has made it “very clear” that her top priority is deporting illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, said David J. Venturella, program director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The line being fed to the U.S. public is that the priority is on deporting immigrants who commit crimes. Pero let us look at what defines criminality on a local level. Here in NYC, I witness immigrants being harassed daily for working in underground economies because there is no access to other work for them. I witness immigrant youth being rounded up for hanging out in front of the barber shop across the street, because now hanging out can be interpreted as gang activity. Undercover officers wait at 74th Street/ Roosevelt Avenue for someone to jump the turnstyle or use their student child’s Metrocard, and this is before the fare hike. Sometimes these people can plead out, other times they are put through the system. So is this new/old enforcement policy going to target “dangerous” criminals or those caught up in quality of life sweeps used to boost arrest stats and fill quotas?
The program began as a pilot effort in October and operates in 48 counties across the country, including Fairfax County. This year, fingerprints from 1 million local jail bookings will be screened under the program. It also operates in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Boston and Phoenix, according to ICE, and will expand to nearly all local jails by the end of 2012.
This move to enforcement first over human rights and the lives of people cannot and should not be separated from the growing wave of violence against immigrants. If we are already not human and worthy of having our lives defended what does it matter if we sweep jails from sea to shining sea?
Oh and wait till you hear the name of the program……..”Secure Communities”.
The program, known as Secure Communities, “presents an historic opportunity to transform immigration enforcement,” said Julie Myers Wood, who launched it last year while head of ICE.
In his proposed 2010 budget, President Obama asked Congress last week for $200 million for the program, a 30 percent increase that puts it on track to receive $1.1 billion by 2013.
I just took a walk in my immigrant community and didn’t feel more secure. I felt more fear and concern, wondering whose mother or father is going to get caught up.
Can someone tell me why change is smelling like bs?
We need to push back hard on this.