Monday, April 5, 2010

In Our Community: Immigration News

Welcome back to your local source of up-to-date immigration news. Here is the news on immigration from Monday, March 29 to Monday, April 5. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Did you know that 383,000 people were detained in immigration jails in 2009? And that ICE plans to detain more than 400,000 people in 2010? The Washington Post leaked a memo from high-ranking officials within ICE, indicating that ICE is trying to arrest and detain as many people as possible - not just dangerous criminals - in order to meet quotas. This memo caused an uproar in the civil rights advocacy community. ICE has a serious and urgent question to answer: Who does the agency focus on - "dangerous criminals" or simply people who look "foreign"?

ICE's enforcement programs cast an extremely wide net, dragging in not only undocumented immigrants who have not committed any crimes but also green card holders and even US citizens. These programs, often implemented by police officers, lack critical oversight measures and often lead to discrimination. The DHS Inspector General just released a report revealing the fundamental flaws of the 287(g) program, which deputizes state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws. Federal immigration law should only be enforced by federal agents, so that the police can focus on protecting their communities. FCNL maintains that the 287(g) program should be immediately terminated.

Immigration detention facilities are terrifying places to be detained, and all the more so if you are coping with a disability or a history of trauma. A recent report from the New York Times reveals that immigrants with disabilities are routinely mistreated - denied medication, transferred to detention facilities far away from their families, and deported without proper arrangements for care. In other news, we recently learned that 30 Haitian survivors of the earthquake were shuffled onto planes, taken to the US, then detained in Florida even though deportations to Haiti have been suspended indefinitely. Advocates rushed to the cause and half of this group has been released; the fate of the others remains to be seen.

But enough about detention - what's happening on the border? Even though DHS Secretary Napolitano recently halted any further construction of a virtual fence on the border, some politicians still think that militarizing the border is the right answer. On March 29, Senator McCain (AZ) called for the National Guard to be sent to the border to protect US citizens. Such a deployment would set a dangerous precedent. The US is not at war with Mexico and militarizing the border is no substitute for the creation of a workable immigration policy that allows people to migrate in a legal, orderly manner. Senator McCain should push for immigration reform, not troops.

The search continues for a second Republican to introduce an immigration reform bill in the Senate, with Senators Schumer (NY) and Graham (SC). Meanwhile, FCNL has created new talking points and a revised statement of principles on immigration reform. You can share these with your members of Congress and urge them to support just, humane immigration reform.

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