Last month, on opposite ends of the country, two immigration raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency resulted in more than 100 people detained. The first, in Ellensburg, Washington, resulted in the detention of 30 individuals, and in the second, which took place Grand Rapids, Michigan, 77 were detained.
Over the past two years, raids have been largely replaced with employer audits, a method of enforcement that punishes employers for hiring undocumented immigrants, systematically removing incentives to hire undocumented immigrants in the first place. Workplace and home raids disrupt families, and devastate communities. We are very concerned for the families of those detained in the recent raids, and the human rights of all immigrants if the raids continue.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC), a group or faith-based organization to which FCNL belongs, acts as a voice for just and humane immigration reform for the faith community. Our interfaith platform calls for “Border protection policies that are consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect, while allowing the authorities to carry out the critical task of identifying and preventing entry of terrorists and dangerous criminals, as well as pursuing the legitimate task of implementing American immigration policy.” Raids that leave children stranded at the bus stop, waiting for their parents, are not consistent with humanitarian values.
In a letter delivered this week, the IIC implores President Obama to stop the raids. At one point, the letter appeals, “Mr. President, in your State of the Union Speech last Tuesday night, you rightly called on our nation to “stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation." ... There is something terribly wrong with vowing to work for immigration reform while at the same time rending parents from children and spouses from each other. Effective and humane reform can only be achieved through providing a path to legal status for all undocumented immigrants currently in the country, providing legal and safe avenues for workers and their families to migrate to this country, and eliminating the backlog for families who are separated so that they can be reunited.”
Unfortunately, Republicans in the House have stated that they are interested in conducting more raids. FCNL is strongly opposed to this change in enforcement policy. The likelihood of it changing is not probable because Republicans don't hold the majority in the Senate, but we will have to remain vigilant and block any enforcement legislation introduced that infringes on immigrants' human rights.