Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Immigration and the DREAM Act

I normally do not pay attention to what politicans say in their scripted speeches and any other simulation for mass consumption, but something Barack Obama said struck a personal chord.

He brought up the theme of ‘Two Americas’ while talking about how he wanted to make the DREAM Act a priority. “I do not want two classes of citizens in this country,” he said. “I want everybody to prosper.” What current immigration policy is doing is creating multitudes of classes but lets try to follow Obama’s dichotomy. He obviously cannot break out on national television and speak about “multitudes” of anything — Most of America would go “huh?” As undocumented students, we are another class of our own. We are honest, educated and cultured Americans who are denied the right to work, drive and face obstacles to higher education. Our daily lives are full of subtle difficulties like not having proper identification to cash cheques, travelling 6 hours by bus to get to a location that is only 2 hours away by car, not being able to take out loans for school or home or even having proper credit. If that does not qualify as creation of a separate class of people, I don’t know what does.

It seems like both Democratic candidates for President are pro-immigration and pro-DREAM, or they know their voter base and are courting the Latino voters. Either way, it looks good for DREAMers but we cannot rest on these hopes. For the DREAM Act to come up for debate in 2009 and win, the Democrats need to pick up more seats in the Senate or CHANGE the minds of the anti-DREAMers. We also need to have organization support and do massive campaigning to make our voices head. MAYBE we need to make additional concessions and have tougher requirements. Having a Pro-DREAM declaring President does not make the task at hand any easier.

What Does the United States Achieve by holding Innocent Teenagers in Detention?

Ever wonder what happens to illegal immigrants after they are apprehended? The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds over 30,000 illegal immigrations in detention centers while they await removal proceedings. How long is the wait? Well, someone called me on our hotline yesterday, telling me about his 4-5 years in detention (WHAT ever happened to the right to a quick and fair trial?) and how the ICE could not send him back to his country since the country could not prove that he was born there. What happened? Well, he was released and told to report back from time to time, but he just stopped bothering with it after a while.

Sarjina Emy might not be that lucky. She is just 19 and has been in detention for over 7 months, along with her brothers. Her family has been broken up; her parents have been deported and she hardly gets to see her siblings as they await the outcome of their case in Federal Court. What did she do to warrant this? Oh, nothing. Her parents brought her here illegally when she was four years old. And now she faces deportation to a country that she does not know. Is there something wrong with this picture? Why are we punishing innocent children and young adults for the alleged transgressions of their parents? What sort of justice is this?

The Human Rights Watch recently reported egregrious health and human rights violations and desperate living conditions in detention centers around the United States. Others who have been released from detention have noted far more disturbing details: People have been held in detention for over 10 years, gay and transgender detainees beaten and raped, legal residents with green cards not understanding what crime they commited, and most of the detainees had no idea what rights they held, let alone assert those rights. You do not need to revisit pictures from Abu Ghraib in Iraq to see the United States carrying out gross human rights violations, prisoner abuse and torture. You can see at at one of your local detention centers.

Here is the action alert on Sarjina Emy and what you can do about it

The video in this post is from the Stewart County Detention Center, to serve as an example of the plight of immigrants in detention centers. I hope we can get some videos and other multimedia content for Sarjina Emy.