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Posts tagged ‘National Day Laborer Organizing Network’

Immigrant Activists Push to Stop Deportations.


President Barack Obama’s surprise announcement last week that his administration would change its deportation policy to become more “humane” shows how the immigration battle has narrowed after months of congressional deadlock.

As recently as last year, immigrant rights activists, along with an unusually broad coalition of business, labor and religious groups, were united in their demand that Congress pass a sweeping bill to both remove the threat of deportation from many of the 11 million people here illegally and eventually make them citizens. But now activists just want to stop deportations.

They have pressured Obama to limit the number of people sent back overseas, which led to his administration’s announcement Thursday of a review of deportation policies after a meeting with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. Activists also are pushing state legislatures to end participation in a program to help federal immigration authorities deport people and chaining themselves across entrances to local jails or immigration detention centers.

“We need relief and we need it soon,” said Reyna Montoya, 23, of Phoenix, whose father is fighting deportation and who co-wrote an open letter with dozens of other young activists urging immigrant rights groups to stand down on the citizenship issue. “People who are directly affected just want peace. Later on they’ll worry about becoming citizens.”

Immigrant rights groups still want to win citizenship for many who are in the U.S. without legal permission. But the shift to deportation relief shows the desperation felt by immigrant communities as deportations have continued, even as the president and many in Congress say they support changing the law to allow some of those people to stay in the U.S.

It also represents the possible splintering of the diverse coalition for an immigration bill that would overhaul the system by expanding citizenship. And the more aggressive, confrontational tactics also raise the risk of a public backlash.

“One picture of a cop with a bloody nose and it’s all over for these people,” Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors greater restrictions on immigration, said of the activists.

The change comes after many expected Congress to pass a sweeping immigration overhaul last year. Republicans have been torn between some in their base who want to step up deportations and others alarmed at how Hispanics, Asians and other fast-growing communities are increasingly leaning Democratic.

The Senate in June passed a bipartisan bill to legalize, and eventually grant citizenship to, many of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. But the bill died in the Republican-controlled House. Republican leaders there floated a proposal that could stop short of citizenship for many people here illegally. But Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, acknowledged it stood little chance of passing.

Meanwhile, Obama’s administration is on track to having deported 2 million people during the past six years. Critics say that’s more than President George W. Bush’s administration deported, though some who push for a tougher immigration policy argue the Obama administration’s numbers are inflated.

Obama already has eased some deportations. In 2012, as he was trying to generate enthusiasm among Hispanic voters for his re-election, Obama granted people who were brought to the country illegally as children the right to work in the United States and protection from deportation if they had graduated high school or served in the military. Advocates are pressuring the president to expand that to other people here illegally. The administration has said it cannot make sweeping changes without Congress, and it is unclear what steps it will take after its review is completed to limit deportations.

Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said it’s inevitable that Obama makes changes. “This is a White House that has told the immigrant rights community that they had to build up enforcement massively to create the political climate for comprehensive immigration reform,” Newman said. “Well, that gambit failed.”

Roy Beck of Numbers USA, which pushes for a more restrictive immigration policy, said expanding deportation relief could also fail. “It looks radical,” he said of the notion of sharply limiting removals.

Activists are willing to take that risk and have grown tired of waiting for Washington.

Late last year the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition’s members acknowledged there were no hopes of a big immigration bill anytime soon. They began pushing the local sheriff’s office to end its participation in the Secure Communities program, which checks the immigration status of anyone booked into local jail and refers people here illegally to federal authorities. Last month, six coalition members were arrested after locking themselves together to block entrance to the county jail.

“We decided we needed to change our focus because this is a more winnable campaign,” Executive Director Alejandro Laceres said. Of Congress, he added, “We don’t have the luxury of moving at their pace.”

In Arizona, activists have launched a series of protests, including blocking buses transporting immigrants to courts. “We just realized we are losing too many people in our community,” Carlos Garcia of the group Puente Arizona said in a telephone interview minutes before he was arrested outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix. Worries about whether their tactics could cause a backlash “go out the window,” he added. “Our heads hurt from thinking about the politics around it.”

At the state level, activists have had notable successes. The biggest victory came last year in California when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act, barring California police from participating in Secure Communities. Immigrant rights groups are trying to replicate that legislation in Illinois and Massachusetts.

Driving the efforts are cases like that of Abel Bautista, who was stopped for traveling 8 miles per hour over the speed limit on a Colorado interstate in 2012 and has been fighting deportation ever since. At first he was not too worried, because he expected an immigration overhaul last year to make the case moot. Now he worries about the lack of legislative action and the trauma inflicted on his three U.S. citizen children as his case drags on.

“We’re just left hanging at loose ends,” Bautista said in an interview, recounting how his children’s performance at school has deteriorated and how they sob when he leaves for court hearings. “If the community unifies and has more demonstrations, maybe they will listen to us.”

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

US Illegal Immigrant Deportations Fall to 1% in 2013.


Image: US Illegal Immigrant Deportations Fall to 1% in 2013An activist protesting deportations blocks the front gate of a building that houses federal immigration authorities in Atlanta on Nov. 19.

By Courtney Coren

Just 1 percent of  illegal immigrants living in the United States last year were deported  — a dramatic 25 percent drop from the previous year — a change the Obama Administration says is on purpose due to a shift in focus.

The administration cites putting more focus on border security, those that have just recently crossed and illegal immigrants with steep criminal records as opposed to those who are living in the United States peacefully.

As a result, in fiscal 2013 ended Sept. 30, only 133,551 illegal immigrants living in the country were deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs EnforcementThe Washington Times reported.

“Increasing border security is a top priority, and the results you see today clearly illustrate our ongoing commitment to this goal,” said John Sandweg, the acting director of ICE.

There also has been a 10 percent drop in deportations when border and interior deportations are combined. In 2013, a total of 368,644 interior and border illegal immigrants were deported, compared with almost 410,000 in 2012.

It is the lowest number of deportations since President Barack Obama took office.

However, neither side of the immigration debate is happy with these numbers.

Immigration rights advocates say that over 2 million illegal immigrants have been deported since Obama became president — many of which they allege were inhumane since many of those deported are parents of young children.

“How much longer do we have to stand by and watch our families get torn apart by unscrupulous immigration agents?” asked Eddie Carmona of the Campaign for Citizenship.

Activists take issue with Sandweg’s claim that a large majority of those deported were criminals.

Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said that “this White House has practically made sneezing a criminal act for immigrants.”

Those who want more enforcement of immigration laws question why the deportations are so low since Homeland Security actually had a 10 percent increase in its deportation budget last year.

Sandweg said that not all illegal immigrants are from Mexico, and they are expensive to deport.

“This information further reveals that the administration has been manipulating its figures to mislead the public,” said Stephen Miller, spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. “The administration’s catch-and-release policy not only needlessly jeopardizes public safety but undermines the wages and employment of struggling workers.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Court backs block on Arizona law aimed at day laborers.


  • Workers labor at a romaine lettuce farm outside San Luis, Arizona November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

    View PhotoReuters/Reuters – Workers labor at a romaine lettuce farm outside San Luis, Arizona November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court ruled on Monday on the side of day laborers seeking work in Arizona, upholding an injunction that bars the state from enforcing part of its immigration law that prohibits motorists from stopping traffic to pick up workers.

In the unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the state law, by criminalizing certain interactions between drivers and day laborers, went too far in restricting commercial free speech rights.

The court’s decision is another blow to a tough 2010 Arizona law that sought to clamp down on illegal immigrants. The U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down key provisions of that law in a case brought by the Obama administration on grounds that the law clashed with the federal government’s power to enforce U.S. laws on immigration.

The case before the appeals court stemmed from a civil rights lawsuit filed by immigrant and union groups, with help from attorneys from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The sections of the law in question made it a crime for a motorist to solicit or hire a day laborer if the car blocks traffic, and also prohibited any day laborer from entering a car that is obstructing traffic.

While attorneys for Arizona argued the state’s intention was to promote traffic safety, Ninth Circuit Judge Raymond Fisher wrote in his opinion that the state could take other measures to achieve the same end.

The provisions of the immigration law dealing with day laborers and motorists appear to be “motivated by a desire to eliminate the livelihoods of undocumented immigrants,” Fisher wrote.

“Laws that limit commercial speech must not be more extensive than necessary to serve a substantial government interest,” he added.

GOVERNOR WEIGHING OPTIONS

The appeals court ruling upheld a February 2012 decision by a district judge in Arizona who granted a preliminary injunction against the provision.

Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer touted the state’s 2010 law cracking down on illegal immigration as a necessary response to what she described as the federal government’s failure to control the border with Mexico. The border state of Arizona has seen a large influx of illegal immigrants.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said the governor is conferring with her legal team to decide whether to appeal. “The governor thinks this is an important tool to give law enforcement,” Benson said.

Omar Jadwat, supervising attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, called the ruling “another nail in the coffin” Arizona’s tough immigration law.

The June 2012 decision by the Supreme Court struck down much that law as unconstitutional, including provisions that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.

A section of the law that has so far survived court challenges requires police in the state to check the immigration status of people they stop and suspect are in the country illegally, even if officers have stopped a person for minor offenses such as jay-walking.

In 2011, the Ninth Circuit struck down an ordinance by the California city of Redondo Beach that barred day laborers from gathering curbside to seek work.

“It is fundamentally wrong to criminalize work, to criminalize people who are looking for work to feed their loved ones,” said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

His group was a co-counsel on the civil rights case challenging the Arizona law on day laborers. A 2004 survey by the group and university researchers found the nation had about 120,000 day laborers.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Tim Dobbyn)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Alex Dobuzinskis | Reuters

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