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AILA: Another Organ of Obama’s Propaganda Machine on Immigration

Yesterday, the American Immigration Lawyers Association–a powerful voice on immigration issues–heaped praise upon the Department of Homeland Security for refusing to act as partners in the de jure civil rights violations perpetrated by Joe Arpaio and his brethren at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

The press release was nauseating, as it conflicts with the facts: DHS, under Obama, has acted quite similarly to MCSO in its disregard for the civil rights of Latinos and other immigrants. These similarities will be outlined below, but first a few choice excerpts from AILA’s press release to highlight just how much of a lapdog to Obama they are.

The title reads: “DHS, DOJ Do Right by Maricopa County” and begins as such:

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) applauds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for its response to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in Arizona.

“The immediate response by DHS is consistent with the agency’s recent moves toward smart law enforcement.” said AILA President Eleanor Pelta.

To slam the point home, the release ended with Pelta stating: “The careful investigation by DOJ and DHS’ appropriate reaction is an example of government at its best,” continued Pelta. “Kudos to both departments for standing up for what is right.” (emphasis added)

The DOJ began its initial investigations into Arpaio in 2008. The sheriff’s actions did not go unnoticed by DHS: in October of 2009, DHS changed its 287g agreement with Arpaio, prohibiting him from exercising immigration authority in the field, limiting it to the MCSO jail.

Unlike Arpaio, DHS is always careful to conceal the rationale behind its actions. DHS refused to comment on their 2009 decision. What is clear is this: up until yesterday, DHS maintained a 287g agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Given the profundity of the civil rights violations that DOJ found MCSO to be engaging in, an inquiry must be initiated to determine what DHS knew of MCSO’s civil rights violations. And DHS had to have had at least a reasonable suspicion that MCSO was rotten to the core.

Despite this obvious question, it remains a mystery as to why AILA commended rather than condemned DHS. The decision to terminate the 287g agreement was not bold. It was not courageous. It was a political necessity. DHS may be able to get away with being an accomplice to de facto civil rights violations, but not the de jure variety.

Recent events–AILA’s lack of concern for the revelation in the NY Times that Obama was illegally detaining and deporting U.S. citizens and for the clear lies that DHS has been peddling to the public regarding its deportation statistiscs–leave us with one conclusion to be drawn: AILA is an organ of the Obama Propaganda Machine, which is quite potent. Remember all that hope?

AILA’S BAFFLING SILENCE IN THE FACE OF EGREGIOUS CRIMES COMMITTED AND LIES  TOLD BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION 

During the Department of Justice’s investigation into the MCSO, the latter refused to give the former access to its records. Currently, the Department of Homeland security is following MCSO’s lead: time and time again, it has unlawfully refused to release its deportation data pursuant to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made by Transactional Records Clearinghouse (TRAC).

Unfortunately for DHS, TRAC circumvented DHS’s obfuscation attempts  and obtained some of the data sought via a DOJ FOIA request: on December 5, 2011, TRAC released a report which revealed that the Obama Administration is lying to the public about whom it is focusing its immigration enforcement resources on. Specifically:

In deportation proceedings initiated during July-September 2011 by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the nation’s 50 plus Immigration Courts, only 7,378 individuals–just 13.8 % of the total–were charged with having engaged in criminal activities. Of those targeted, the proportion of alleged “criminals” is down significantly from the already low level of 16.5 percent during FY 2010.

 Yet the Obama administration continues to push the narrative of how ICE is focusing its resources on deporting criminals, which is flatly not true.

Another startling development was aired to the public on December 14, 2011 when Julia Preston of the New York Times wrote an article titled : “Immigration Crackdown Also Snares Americans.” In essence, Preston showed that the Obama administration has and still continues to illegally detain and sometimes deport American citizens. These “mistakes” almost invariably affect Latinos, or other non-whites.

In other words, ICE also violates the  civil rights (constitutional, too) of Latinos. In fact, let’s be clear about what to call it when ICE illegally detains or deports an American: kidnapping. A crime for which anyone but the federal government as the perpetrator would do jail time for.

Did AILA stand up for what is right by condemning these egregious actions committed by the Obama administration? No. To the best of my knowledge, AILA did not even acknowledge the TRAC report and offered no commentary on the Times article.

Yet a quick gander at AILAnational’s twitter feed is telling, as fellow immigration attorney Matthew Kolken has pointed out: AILA does not hesitate to rail against Republicans for their usual anti-immigration antics. Since December 1, 2o11, AILA wrote 7 tweets critical of various Republicans, whether it be the Alabamans or Michelle Bachmann. David Leopold, a former AILA president, even took the time to write a whole blog criticizing Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich.

Leslie Hoffman, writing for AILA, bemoaned the fact that Republicans speak only about immigration enforcement. Please. Republicans talk tough. Obama is acting tough and has ratcheted up immigration enforcement to record levels. No wonder immigration reform has been such a pipe dream under the current administration: many of the powerful groups in favor of it are nothing more than lapdogs of this Democratic president.

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