Adventures of a Forced Migrant Contact Me
“There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
Ju Hong’s “yelling” to issue an executive order to stop deportations echoed across the country, and has sparked a series of actions mostly calling on the President to use his executive authority to stop deportations. Over 500 national organizations (and growing), including the Mexican American Legal and Education Defense Fund, United We DREAM, the National Day Labor Organizing Network and AFL-CIO, have signed on to a letter asking the President to exercise discretion in stopping his deportations. Even House Democrats joined the chorus yesterday, with 29 House Democrats signing a letter to the President to suspend deportations and expand DACA:
If your child has received DACA, you should not be deported. If you qualify for legalization under the Senate bill — a bill the President and the rest of the country supports — you should not be deported. We cannot continue to witness potential citizens in our districts go through the anguish of deportation when legalization could be just around the corner for them. We look to you to firmly contribute to advancing inclusion for immigrants by suspending deportations and expanding DACA.
President Barack Obama said during a trip to New Orleans, “We should be fighting to make sure everybody who works hard in America, and hard right here in New Orleans, that they have a chance to get ahead.” However, instead of trying to reduce deportations, the Obama Administration is piloting a new, unprecedented and extraordinarily harsh effort to hunt down and deport thousands of hardworking undocumented immigrants in New Orleans.
The Obama Administration’s hypocrisy on immigration knows no limits. Instead of taking action, the President would rather hide behind the “rule of law” discourse, and pretend that he doesn’t have power to do anything. Invoking the “rule of law” is not only disingenuous but dangerous because it is used to quell the demands of the lesser privileged for real, tangible, social change. President Obama says he can’t stop deportations because it isn’t within his powers. Yet, he finds it within his power to carry out mass surveillance, drone attacks, topple regimes, and order extra-judicial killings.
However, short of placing a moratorium on deportations, there are many things the Administration can do to relief the pressure on immigrant families across the country that are well within executive powers. These include:
- Detention: Redefine “in custody” as inclusive of ankle-monitoring programs, in order to let people–62 percent of whom have no criminal records–out of detention;
- Enforce existing memos that allow for parole of asylum seekers who have passed their credible fear interviews;
- Stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) assault against undocumented law school graduates such as Sergio Garcia, Caesar Vargas, and so on;
- Issue “Notice to Appear in Removal Proceedings” only in the most severe criminal cases, which would reduce the immigration court docket over time by more than 60 percent;
- Work on crafting a narrower definition of “aggravated felon” — a catch-all phrase that now includes both serial rapists and lawful permanent residents who have committed non-violent crimes in the past;
- Put an end to Secure Communities (S-COMM), an administrative deportation program that targets persons with minor criminal records, and has led to the ICE detention of over 3000 U.S. citizens;
- Roll back new harsh effort “Criminal Alien Removal Initiative”;
- Pardon prior re-entry;
- Expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to cover all childhood arrivals rather than place an arbitrary age cap;
- Stop assault on lawful permanent resident parents by giving full meaning to the Child Status Protection Act so that thousands of young people, including many Dreamers, can finally reunite with their parents.
And the list goes on. This week, a judge ruled that the President’s uncle, Omar Obama, could stay in the U.S.
But justice is nowhere in sight for those of us with no ties to the President, our deporter-in-chief.
This one should outrage every American taxpayer.
She served jail time for a conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. She had a detainer placed on her by ICE, so after she was done serving this time, ICE came to the jail and took her to Fairfax, VA to fill out paper-work on September 18, 2008. She insisted that she wanted to leave as soon as possible and ICE happily agreed to expedite her paperwork to make sure she would be home by her birthday on November 15. They released her with an ankle monitoring bracelet and all was well. Or so they thought …
Her husband reports:
Almost immediately (the next Monday), we hand-delivered my wife’s passport to ICE, as they told us the lack of this document is the only thing that could prevent her from leaving quickly. And then we waited. After a couple weeks we became a little worried that we’re still here, and so I started calling ICE. Every day, I called and left messages and even started begging for someone to please do something, as we want to leave. And we did want to leave. I had quit my job, and we were coasting on whatever money I saved up for our new life. The longer we wait, the less money we had. But wait we did. And then we waited some more.
Why all the waiting? Oops, looks like ICE changed its mind and wanted her back in jail. Why? Well, she certainly was not a flight risk anywhere but back to Europe. They came to get her and put her in detention, not that they knew what they were doing.
None of the ICE people that came to my house really knew what was going on, they didn’t know why they were taking her, nor did they really know who she or me were but they knew they were there to take her. We knew that she was finally flying to Europe, with me right behind her.
Next day she called me up from River Road jail. She said they told her nothing. The day after that she calls me again. They told her nothing. Same thing the next day, and the day following. But eventually, ICE came and took her again to Hampton Roads Regional Jail. Again, they told her nothing. Next day, nothing, and eventually the next week: nothing. Through this whole time, I was calling ICE every day and the only information I could get was “we’re getting her flight together”. When I asked why they took her to jail, I was calmly explained to that it doesn’t really matter, because she is supposed to be in jail anyway.
Interesting evasion of the questions. Why release her into his custody when she is supposed to be in jail? So her husband buys and delivers an actual airline ticket on December 1, 2008 to the Fairfax, Virginia office and the real truth comes out.
The flight was for Nataliya Chorna, on Dec 18. I also asked to speak to her case officer. He wasn’t there, but “he’ll call you”. They also took the ticket and said “it should be fine”.
Two silent days went by and so I drove to the ICE office again, and asked them what’s going on. They checked the computers, and told me that on Dec.1, they sent the application for my wife’s travel documents to her jail. “Why does she need travel documents? You have her passport…”
“It says here it was misplaced.”
Misplaced seems to be an euphemism for lost when it comes to ICE, as the husband later realized. Still, he worked hard and got the Ukrainian consulate to provide travel documents granted that ICE sent in the application. What happened next?
An opinion from the Blue Mass Group:
This is an aging country. Only the illegal immigrants with their young families were consuming enough housing, food, clothing, and transportation resources over the past several years to keep the economy growing. Then the Oppression started. Record numbers of immigrants were deported last year. The number of illegals crossing over the border dropped sharply. Thousands of Brazilians went home. Thousands of Irish left for a more welcoming Australia. All because of harrassment. Then the economy started to sink. A great example is Rhode Island. Their economy was humming until the governor turned up the heat on illegals. Now they have the worst economy in the country. The U.S is out of money and can’t borrow enough to turn this recession around. The whole world depends on U.S. consumption to drive their economies.
While the argument does little to present evidence and treats correlation as causation, it raises some valid points.
Targeting and rounding up undocumented immigrants for deportation has undoubtedly led to the creation of ‘ghost-towns’ like Postville. Resources that could be better spent on social services are nonetheless poured into criminalizing illegal work and presence. For example, Prince William County is suffering budget shortfalls due to foreclosures in additon to a rabidly anti-illegal ‘nab-n-jail’ program. Law Professor Richard Delgado wrote an excellent piece on the direct economic impact of the crackdowns on food prices:
Many farmers are plowing their crops into the ground, realizing that without immigrant workers to pick them, harvesting is simply uneconomical. Still others are shifting to crops that are less labor intensive, even if this means cutting down mature orchards and starting over. The lower supply of food inevitably results in higher prices as consumer dollars chase a dwindling or shifting market.
A new study by the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Advocacy reports that immigrant-owned businesses contribute positively to the economy. While it did not concerntrate particularly on undocumented immigrants, the CPS found:
* Immigrant business owners are concentrated in certain states, including California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Hawaii.
In light of these facts, immigrant crackdowns might not help (and most likely hurts) the economy.
If the United States was to legalize 12 million undocumented immigrants, would they not pay fines, back taxes and acquire property–in other words, increase consumption–which in turn would stimulate the economy? Workers who are not part of an underground (informal) economy and don’t live in the shadows due to fear of deportation could acquire new job skills and move up the career ladder. That translates into higher wages, more money paid in taxes, and more money for consumption.
This morning I woke up completely weak and feeling faint. I suppose going to the gym and continuing to work is not a brilliant idea while fasting. Unfortunately, I have to break my fast tonight since I cannot afford to miss another tennis class (already missed 3 due to exams)!
As a result of this experience, I have renewed admiration for political leaders and activists that have used fasting as a means to achieve their goals.
So we had some nativist hate spam. Check this one out:
Fast til you die. Who cares. Not sure what your not eating really proves. So you don’t eat. Then what. The rest of us are supposed to take notice of you and your “cause” because you stupidly chose not to put food in your mouth? fail to see what this proves of resolves. Are your really helping anything or anyone by not eating? Let me answer…NO. Find a REAL solution…….help people that actually respect and abide by the laws of the land!
Performative contradiction anyone? I might also suggest spell check…
I want to see the Minutemen and other nativists fasting for their cause but my wish may go unfulfilled in this lifetime. So what is their REAL solution? Rounding up 12 million undocumented immigrants, putting them in detention centers and deporting them? Yes, I wonder how the economy will handle that net loss of productivity and spending. On this note, Richard Delgado, a law professor at Seattle University, has stated that the recent ICE raids and crackdowns have contributed to the soaring costs of basic food items. It may be a case of correlation does not equal causation error but does merit further investigation.
I hope more people–bloggers, activists, students–can fast at least a day to show their solidarity and support with the Encampment in Los Angeles.
Here are some videos from the actual camp:
If you are on facebook, consider joining the group and spreading word:
Please sign the Pledge today. Be 1 of 1,000,000 to vote and take action for immigrant rights.
You can also send supportive messages and media:
The Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held hearings this past week concerning “ICE Workplace Raids: Their Impact on U.S. Children, Families, and Communities.” Witnesses explored how immigration enforcement could be improved in order to protect children, most of whom are American citizens.
Subcommittee Chairwoman Lynn Woolsey opened the hearing with a long list of ICE raids in immigrant communities, highlighting that 12 children arrested at the raids in Postville were children between the ages of 15-17, working at the plant in violation of child labor laws and that as of last Thursday, they were still in detention. (Why is the employer–Agriprocessors–still in business?)
We have 4.7 million children in households where at least one parent is undocumented. 3.1 million of these children are American citizens while many of the rest are our fellow DREAMers.
One example given was that of Kebin Reyes, a U.S. citizen who saw his father being led away by the ICE at the age of 6 and himself spent 10 hours in detention. Imagine a 6-year old American citizen in detention for 10 hours without his family for a civil violation commited by his undocumented father. Is that really necessary? Kebin suffered from severe emotional trauma as a result of this experience.
Separating families, traumatizing children, detaining them and disrupting their education serves no compelling state interest. We need more accountability and humanitarian procedures from the ICE in dealing with undocumented workers and their families.
Another video of the hearing is here featuring Simon Romo, Chief Counsel for New Mexico Child Protective Services.