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Posts tagged ‘Immigration’

New York Times: “U.S. Setting Up Emergency Shelters in Texas as Youths Cross Border Alone.”

Though problematic because of its legally incorrect use of language to describe children migrants and other errors, Julia Preston of the NY Times wrote an important story today. The article is below, followed by our analysis:

With border authorities in South Texas overwhelmed by a surge of young illegal migrants traveling by themselves, the Department of Homeland Security declared a crisis this week and moved to set up an emergency shelter for the youths at an Air Force base in San Antonio, officials said Friday.

After seeing children packed in a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Tex., during a visit last Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday declared “a level-four condition of readiness” in the Rio Grande Valley. The alert was an official recognition that federal agencies overseeing borders, immigration enforcement and child welfare had been outstripped by a sudden increase in unaccompanied minors in recent weeks.

On Sunday, Department of Health and Human Services officials will open a shelter for up to 1,000 minors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, authorities said, and will begin transferring youths there by land and air. The level-four alert is the highest for agencies handling children crossing the border illegally, and allows Homeland Security officials to call on emergency resources from other agencies, officials said.

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Johnson said the influx of unaccompanied youths had “zoomed to the top of my agenda” after his encounters at the McAllen Border Patrol station with small children, one of whom was 3.

The children are coming primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, making the perilous journey north through Mexico to Texas without parents or close adult relatives. Last weekend alone, more than 1,000 unaccompanied youths were being held at overflowing border stations in South Texas, officials said.

The flow of child migrants has been building since 2011, when 4,059 unaccompanied youths were apprehended by border agents. Last year more than 21,000 minors were caught, and Border Patrol officials had said they were expecting more than 60,000 this year. But that projection has already been exceeded.

By law, unaccompanied children caught crossing illegally from countries other than Mexico are treated differently from other migrants. After being apprehended by the Border Patrol, they must be turned over within 72 hours to a refugee resettlement office that is part of the Health Department. Health officials must try to find relatives or other adults in the United States who can care for them while their immigration cases move through the courts, a search that can take several weeks or more.

The Health Department maintains shelters for the youths, most run by private contractors, in the border region. Health officials had begun several months ago to add beds in the shelters anticipating a seasonal increase. But the plans proved insufficient to handle a drastic increase of youths in recent weeks, a senior administration official said.

Mr. Johnson said Pentagon officials agreed this week to lend the space at Lackland, where health officials will run a shelter for up to four months. The base was also used as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied migrant youths in 2012. It became the focus of controversy when Gov. Rick Perry of Texas objected, accusing President Obama of encouraging illegal migration by sheltering the young people there.

Mr. Johnson said the young migrants became a more “vivid” issue for him after he persuaded his wife to spend Mother’s Day with him at the station in McAllen. He said he asked a 12-year-old girl where her mother was. She responded tearfully that she did not have a mother, and was hoping to find her father, who was living somewhere in the United States, Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson said he had spoken on Monday with the ambassadors from Mexico and the three Central American countries to seek their cooperation, and had begun a publicity campaign to dissuade youths from embarking for the United States.

“We have to discourage parents from sending or sending for their children to cross the Southwest border because of the risks involved,” Mr. Johnson said. “A South Texas processing center is no place for a child.”

Officials said many youths are fleeing gang violence at home, while some are seeking to reunite with parents in the United States. A majority of unaccompanied minors are not eligible to remain legally in the United States and are eventually returned home.

I am pleasantly surprised at Jeh Johnson’s swift action and his unequivocal message: The United States Government must not abuse children migrants regardless of the situation. Jeh Johnson is right that a South Texas Processing Center is no place for a child.

But his prior statement that parents of children must be discouraged from sending their children to cross the border because of the risks involved is not as straightforward as it sounds.

To be sure, the journey from Central America to the United States by land is extraordinarily dangerous. One minor client of ours was abducted right after crossing the U.S./Mexico border and held for ransom. Luckily, he was rescued after other victims escaped the house they were being imprisoned in and alerted authorities.

I could go on. But has Jeh  Johnson walked in the shoes of these children in their native countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, where the government is powerless to protect children from gangs and other predators?

The simple truth is this: There are often more risks for a child to stay in their native country than for them to take the journey to the United States.

More than half the children that walk through into our office did not live with their parents in their native countries. Without parents, children in Central America  are at an even higher risk of being exploited by powerful street gangs; sexual predators; and other bad actors.

The vast majority of Central American children who are brought to the U.S. unlawfully  have been abandoned by one  or both parent, or both, or their parents are residing in the U.S. to ensure their kids don’t go hungry.

PROBLEMATIC JOURNALISM

Minors do not have the sufficient intent to violate immigration law. Yet the first sentence in this article states:  “With border authorities in South Texas overwhelmed by a surge of young illegal migrants traveling by themselves…”(emphasis added.)

Minors are brought to the United States. They do not commit the act of violating the law. So why does the NY times permit this patently false description  of children fleeing their homelands? It’s frankly a bit perplexing.

Preston also uses the word “young”, which is itself problematic. An 18 year old is still young, yet they are clearly not a part of the class of individuals described in the article because they are not under 18.

The following example would be an accurate for the vast majority of children entering the U.S. at the border: “a surge in children brought to the United States unlawfully.”  Granted, some children flee with just the clothes on their back without telling any adult. Another alternative example would be this: ” a surge in minor children entering the United States without legal permission.”

The article concludes that  “the majority of unaccompanied minors are not eligible to remain legally in the United States and are eventually returned home.” Both of these conclusions are very problematic.

For example, the vast majority of Mexican unaccompanied minors are in fact deported  to Mexico within 48 hours of arriving in the U.S. Many deported Mexican minors are actually eligible for relief as special immigrant juveniles, refugees, victims of trafficking, or other means.

The fact that most Mexican children are deported does not mean that they were not eligible to remain legally in the United States.

Also, Jeh Johnson and Julia Preston seem to be ignorant of the fact that in 2012 DHS deported 14,000  unaccompanied Mexican children. U.S. authorities will claim that the children return to Mexico voluntarily but this is impossible given that they are minors. They did not come for a golf trip. They came to live in the United States.

However, the vast majority of Central American unaccompanied minors are not deported to their native country, regardless of whether they are eligible to remain in the U.S. legally. The reasoning is simple: DHS cannot deport children back to Central American countries within the 72 hours that they have to transfer the child to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In our experience, well over half of unaccompanied children from Central America are eligible for permanent residency in the U.S. through special immigrant juvenile status, asylum, or other means. Even if a child is not eligible to remain legally in the U.S., DHS cannot detain a minor under the age of 18. Therefore, once released, it would be near impossible for DHS to force a child to return to their native country.

Mayor Bill De Blasio: Another Fake Pro-Immigrant Politician

There has been a lot of talk about how Mayor Bill De Blasio is  more pro-immigrant than his predecessor. Reality tells a different tale.

In De Blasio’s State of the City address earlier this year, everyone applauded his warm words on undocumented immigrants. He promised that Municipal ID cards would be available to all residents of New York City regardless of their immigration status: “so that no daughter or son of our city goes without bank accounts, leases, library cards, simply because they lack identification.”

Veering away from the concrete, he concluded: “To all of my fellow New Yorkers who are undocumented, I say: New York City is your home, too, and we will not force any of our residents to live their lives in the shadows,”

Unless you are deported and ripped away from your family because of New York City’s voluntary cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”.)

New York City likes to pretend more than act as pro-immigrant.

In 2013, Christine Quinn announced the passage of two bills that purported to stop a significant amount of individuals from being handed over to ICE, saying that:

“We have seen too many families torn apart by current detention and deportation practices. Our legislation will ensure that the city does not enable such a harmful policy.”

With great dismay, I realized that this legislation was mostly just for show: New York City would still hand over immigrants with outstanding orders of deportations and of persons previously ordered deported who returned unlawfully afterwards. The two latter classes of individuals make up the vast majority of persons deported from the U.S. In other words, New York City’s 2013 legislation did almost nothing to stem the destruction of immigrant families living in its neighborhoods.

And the data backs this up. The Department of Correction granted 73 % of all requests submitted by ICE and transferred 3000 people to ICE between October 2012 and September of 2013, according to a Daily News Article. 

Two of those 3000 were our clients, Werner and Oscar.  Neither had ever been convicted of a crime.

Oscar was abruptly torn away from his two infant twin girls after being arrested for having an open beer can. Werner was forcefully separated from his U.S. citizen wife and stepdaughter after being arrested on bogus charges after a traffic stop. All charges were dismissed.

Bill De Blasio is still complicit in destroying families like that of Oscar and Werner.

A recent campaign called ICE-Free NYC is requesting that the city to “refuse to allow ICE into city jails to look for people to deport. Also, they say, it should stop holding people once they have finished serving time for their conviction and have paid their debt to society — with no exceptions.”

De Blasio’s response was to repeat that it was immigrant friendly while not addressing the fact that it still cooperates with ICE to separating families for no reason. 

Maybe De Blasio should give Barack Obama a call. He is, after all, the ultimate fake pro-immigrant.

 

 

Obama Administration: “We Only Pretend To Not Want To Deport Dreamers”

Dream 9

Lulu Martinez, Lizbeth Mateo, Marco Saavedra, Ceferino Santiago,  Maria Peniche, Luis Leon, Adriana Gil Diaz, Claudia Amaro, and Mario Felix are all immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and are for all intents and purposes as American as the proverbial apple pie. The 9 are known in the media as the “Dream 9.”

They are challenging the colossal and hypocritical immigration enforcement machine that the Obama administration has used to deport 1.7 million human beings from the United States.

This past Monday, on July 22, 2013, the Dream 9 applied for admission to the United States. Three of the nine left the United States recently, risking everything to illuminate the destruction that the Obama administration has wrought upon immigrant communities throughout the Nation.

Obama and his friends at DHS have repeated ad nauseam how important it is for Dreamers to be able to stay in the United States. They even created an unprecedented form of prosecutorial discretion in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect certain young people from being removed from the United States.

Obama recently described Dreamers as individuals who:  “study in our schools, play in our neighborhoods, befriend our kids, pledge allegiance to our flag,” and also that:, “it makes no sense to expel talented young people who are, for all intents and purposes, Americans.”

Yet Obama has done nothing to prevent the Dream 9 from being expelled and exiled from the country they call home since they attempted to re-enter on July 22, 2013. Instead, the Dream 9 have been locked up for 6 days like criminals who pose a danger to society.

If Obama considers the Dream 9 to be Americans, he is committing grave human rights violations against  them by refusing to allow their entry into the United States.

It is time Obama stands behind his purported convictions for once and order the Dream 9 released now! 

In the meantime, I urge anyone that reads this to sign the petition or call to bring these kids home. Here is the link: http://action.dreamactivist.org/bringthemhome/

Trey Gowdy, the Congressman behind the SAFE Act, is a Moron

Rep. Trey Gowdy, Certified Moron.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, Certified Moron.

Trey Gowdy is a Republican Congressman from South Carolina who wants to prioritize deportation over just about everything else.

He is the mastermind behind the or Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (“SAFE ACT”), which he introduced to the House on June 6, 2013.

If passed, the bill would allow any State or Locality to act as ICE agents. The most deleterious effect of this certifiably moronic bill would be to severely endanger the lives of vulnerable individuals, such as victims of domestic violence or other serious crimes.

On more than occasion we have seen victims of domestic violence not go to police for help because they are afraid that they or their children may be deported. In fact, the abusers often use the ever-present threat of deportation as a weapon to control and further the abuse of the victim. We have seen the same dynamic in cases involving sexual abuse of minor children.

Trey Gowdy offered up this gem of wisdom to justify the bill: “If you are good enough to solve homicide cases, then I trust you to solve immigration cases.”

The problem is that if local police are solving immigration cases they will not be good enough to solve homicide cases and other crimes. Communities with immigrant populations will cower–and justifiably so–at the sight of any police officer because they will be seen as arms of an agency that can literally destroy their family in one-fell-swoop.

Immigration enforcement is not synonymous with public safety. In fact, common sense dictates that immigration enforcement is  antonymous to public safety because it has and will continue to undermine the trust that communities have in police officers.

According to VOXXI, the SAFE ACT has 21 Republican Co-Sponsors and the support of Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who masks his support of the neanderthalish bill in good governance gobbledygook.

Goodlatte defends the piecemeal strategy, saying it allows more time to analyze proposed immigration legislations.

“For far too long, the standard operating procedure in Washington has been to rush large pieces of legislation through Congress with little opportunity for elected officials and the American people to scrutinize and understand them,”

The SAFE Act has nothing to do with a piecemeal approach. Rather, it is a nativist-inspired barb designed to derail serious debate on the serious issue of immigration reform.

Memo to Gowdy and similarly challenged minds in Congress: Stop hating and start thinking.

The New York Daily News Covers Tragic Abduction and Torture of Our Client

Erica Pearson of the NY Daily News wrote an excellent article today on the ordeal of our client, Zoila Figueroa. The story touches on how the U Visa legislation–designed to protect undocumented immigrants who have been victims of serious crimes–arbitrarily fails to protect thousands of immigrants.

Two excerpts below follow:

For three days, a pregnant Salvadoran woman was held captive in a mobile home in the Texas borderland, her dreams of reuniting with her family on Long Island replaced by fear of violent death.

“They were threatening me with a gun, pointed right to my stomach,” Zoila Figueroa said of the two men who abducted her after she sneaked across the U.S.-Mexico border near Hidalgo, Tex., in March 2012.

“They threatened me. They said if my husband didn’t pay ransom they were going to take out my baby. They were going to take out the baby alive and then they were going to kill me.”

 

But while Figueroa’s experience seems to make her a textbook example of a victim who would qualify for a “U” visa, her case has come to symbolize the arbitrary nature of the program, which requires police or prosecutors to sign a certificate proving that the victim has cooperated with investigators.

She has cooperated extensively with authorities in Hidalgo County, Tex., but they have refused to approve the needed paperwork — leaving her in danger of being deported. She must check in with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on Thursday .

“This is a perfect example of how someone is not being protected even though they need it,” said her lawyer, Bryan Johnson.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/pregnant-woman-kidnapped-tortured-immigrating-u-s-article-1.1312307#ixzz2Q49O8cqA

 

PRESS RELEASE: PROTEST AT 26 FEDERAL PLAZA IN NEW YORK TOMORROW TO KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER BY STOPPING LOW-PRIORITY DEPORTATIONS

At 11:30 am tomorrow at 26 Federal Plaza, our office will be hosting a protest on behalf of our clients and all immigrants who are detained and at risk of imminent removal from the United States even though their families will be destroyed and they are low priority as defined by the Obama administration.

The families of the three clients will be present at the protest and available for interviews to demonstrate how the Obama administration is destroying immigrant families while at the same time he promises comprehensive reform to keep these families together.

The administration manages to deport such large numbers of low-priority immigrants by reclassifying non-criminal, family men and women as “fugitives” or “egregious immigration violators” although these immigrants are only here because U.S. immigration laws are so draconian that they have left them with no other way to be with their children, spouses, or parents in the United States.

The stories of our three clients are below.

ICE’s New York Office of Enforcement of Removal has already denied  one of our client’s request for prosecutorial discretion. The letter is inserted below.

Werner Arreaga (A # 098-897-297). Werner has been married to Nora, a U.S. citizen, since 2007. He has no criminal history and has widespread support from his community. He also has a U.S. citizen stepdaughter, Cindy, who is 12-years-old. His wife, a naturalized U.S. citizen, is from Chile and Werner is from Guatemala. If he is removed, Werner’s family will be permanently separated. Werner returned to the United States in 2006 because of gang violence. He was previously removed from from the U.S. in 2002.

Werner ended up in ICE custody when the NYPD pulled him over for an illegal U-turn. A search of his name showed that he has an outstanding order of removal. Even though all criminal charges against him were dismissed, New York City honored ICE’s detainer and turned this non-criminal, low-priority individual over to ICE custody for removal. He has been detained by ICE since February at the Bergen County Jail located in Hackensack, New Jersey.

On March 8, 2013, ICE’s New York Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations denied Werner’s request for prosecutorial discretion to remain in the United States with his family, even with the help of a petition from Dreamactivist. He may be removed any day now.

Werner 1

Werner Denial Of stay letter.

2. Oscar Jimenez (A # 098-897-297.) Oscar is the father of two beautiful 8-month-old U.S. citizen daughters, Ashley and Astrid. He is the sole financial provider for his girls. His wife does not work because she has to take care of her children. Oscar has no criminal history. He was picked up by ICE after the NYPD stopped him on his way home from work for having an open beer container. The police told Oscar that they would only issue him a ticket and asked for identification. Oscar only had his Honduras consular ID card. The police officers said that they had to bring him in because the foreign ID was not enough. When the police brought him to the station and ran his fingerprints, they discovered an outstanding ICE removal order from 2005. New York City honored ICE’s detainer even though all charges against Oscar were dismissed.

Oscar has been detained since February at Bergen County Jail and faces removal at any moment. If he is removed, his little girls will be without a father for their entire lives.

Jimenez photo

 

Oscar Jimenez with his twin baby daughters in the U.S.

Oscar Jimenez with his twin baby daughters in the U.S.

 

Juan Marcelino A # 077-753-369. Juan Marcelino is the father two to U.S. citizen children, Kelly and Stephen Marcelino Delgado, who are 11 and 9-years-old respectively. He is married to Rhina Delgado, who has Temporary Protected Status in the United States. Juan was arrested after it was discovered that the Bodega in which he worked was not properly selling cigarettes. Ultimately, Juan was only convicted of disorderly conduct, a non-criminal violation. Juan has been detained for months now pending a motion to reopen filed by a prior attorney that has little chance of success. Juan has an outstanding order of removal from 2003 and may be removed in the imminent future. He is currently detained at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, New Jersey.

These three cases are a sobering snapshot into the world of the Obama administration’s removal machine.  Although Mr. Obama has consistently purported to support immigrant families, his administration’s actions have proven his words to be lies.

This protest is to help stop the Obama administration’s coercive destruction of these three families and all others unfortunate enough to be ensnared by this arbitrary and unjust system.

Please come out and support them at 11:30 am at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10278.

 

 

Will The Real Prison Profiteers Please Stand Up?

F. William Mcnabb II, CEO and Chairman of The Vanguard Group, which owns close to $590 million private prison shares.

F. William Mcnabb II, CEO and Chairman of The Vanguard Group, which owns close to $590 million in private prison shares.

Abigail Johnson, leader of Fidelity Investments, which owns over $520 million in private prison shares.

Abigail Johnson, leader of Fidelity Investments, which owns over $520 million in private prison shares.

The GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) have been active in the press as of late. Most recently, Florida Atlantic University announced that it would name its new stadium the “GEO Group Stadium” in recognition of a $6 million donation from the private prison giant.

The CEO of CCA recently assured investors that there was no need to worry about immigration reform, as Colorlines reported: 

There is always going to be strong demand regardless of what is being done at the national level as far as immigration reform.

Although it is tempting to apportion the moral outrage of immigration detention upon ostensibly evil entities such as CCA, GEO, or ICE, one must be vigilant in following the money.

Who really owns GEO and CCA? A handful of the biggest investment funds in the world. You might even have a stake in one of the companies if you invest in mutual funds.

Fidelity Investments, one of the largest mutual funds and financial services groups in the world, owns over $520 million in shares between CCA and GEO.

The Vanguard Group, another giant investment fund that manages close to $2 trillion in total assets, owns over $580 million in shares between CCA and GEO.

There are several other investment funds and banks that have a substantial amount of money invested in private prisons. For example, Scopia Capital Management, which manages a more modest $3.5 billion in total assets, owns $299,518,488 in GEO shares. That is a staggering 8 percent of their entire holdings.

Scopia would have a lot to lose if immigration reform drastically reduced the need for the detention of human beings  unlucky enough to not be endowed with the golden ticket of U.S. citizenship.

Money corrupts. It creates an impermeable barrier between those that profit and those that the profit is made off of. Profiting off of detaining immigrants is particularly pernicious. The shareholders of GEO and CCA are earning money off of the destruction of immigrant families. They are earning money by contributing to a child losing her father or mother or both forever.

Moreover, the shareholders are earning money from the systematic violation of immigrants’ human rights, which includes but is not limited to the illegal detention of U.S. citizens , rapeundernourishment, and inadequate healthcare of the detainees.

We should not let these profiteers ignore the harm that their profits are causing. Let the public know. Below are the leaders of the funds with the most invested in GEO and CCA. The groups listed below have at least $50 million in ownership of GEO and/or CCA.

F. William Mcnabb II is the CEO and Chairman of Vanguard.

Abigail Johnson leads Fidelity along with her father, Edward C. Johnson III.

Matt Sirovich and Jeremy Mindich run Scopia Capital Management.

Richard McGuire heads Marcato Capital Management.

Stephen M. Goddard is the founder and CFA of London Company of Virginia.

Kenneth M. Jacobs is the Chairman and CEO of Lazard Asset Management.

Keith A. Meister is the founder of Corvex Management LP.

Chris Wallis is the CEO president and CEO of Vaughan Nelson.

Paul Trowbridge Gillepsie Jr. is Co-founder, principal, and president of New South Capital Management, Inc.

Guy Monson is the Managing Partner, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Investment Officer of Sarasin & Partners LLP.

Joseph L. Hooley is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of State Street Corporation.

Richard Rossi is the President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of Eagle Asset Management, Inc.

R. Andrew Beck is the President and CEO of River Road Asset Management LLC.

David G. Booth is Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.

Jay B. Abramson is the CEO of Cramer Rosenthal Mcglynn LLC/Adv.

John G. Stumpf is Chairman, President, and CEO of Wells Fargo & Company.

Lawrence D. Fink is Chairman Chief Executive Officer of Blackrock Fund Advisors.

Latinos at Higher Risk From Domestic Violence in Suffolk County

On immigration,  Suffolk County is probably best known for the hate crime murder of Marcel Lucero.

Many have commented on how the political leadership of then-County Executive Steve Levy, which was routinely racist and anti-immigrant, contributed to a climate of hate against Latinos in the County. The problem was so serious that the Justice Department launched an investigation into the Suffolk County Police Department’s handling of Latino hate crime complaints.

The Justice Department focused on the SCPD’s handling of hate crime reports and when it was permissible for officers to ask a suspect or victim about their immigration status.

The SCPD was not investigated for its severe deficiency in protecting Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence.

A first-hand account  provides a vivid illustration of a system that endangers the lives of Latina/o domestic violence victims.

A woman was grabbed and violently pushed to the ground by her live-in boyfriend. She was in pain from the fall and scared for her life. She called 911 to ask for help.

Several officers responded to the woman’s call. However, none of the officers spoke Spanish and the woman did not speak English. Her boyfriend spoke English. The police officers did not offer to provide a professional interpreter. The police did not arrest the boyfriend that night. Further, the police report made no mention of the woman’s allegations of physical abuse.

The boyfriend returned hours later to again threaten and physically abuse the woman.

She called the police a second time. This time, however, she insisted that an interpreter be available over the phone. Despite having an interpreter, and despite her wish to have him arrested, the police left a second time and wrote up another report that made no mention of physical abuse. The police did not even bother to separate the boyfriend from the woman.

Again, the boyfriend piled on the physical and verbal abuse. Again, the woman called the police. Again, the police did nothing. Actually, they did do something: they told her that if she wanted her boyfriend to be arrested, they would have to arrest her as well.

Scared and ignored by the police, the woman turned to me (I’m not a police officer or have I ever been)  for help. I, too, was ignored. The woman was told that she had to go to the same department of police officers who had just hours ago told her that she would be arrested if she pressed charges against her boyfriend.

The police would not make the trip to my office because they were in a different geographical region in the County although they still belong to the same entity: The Suffolk County Police Department. Given that the police already did not do their job properly and even contributed to the fear underlying the abuse, it is unreasonable to require a domestic violence victim to ask them for help.

Yes, there is a family offense protection order available. However, a victim whose life is in imminent danger may not know or have the option to avail themselves of this protection. There should be an immediate law enforcement alternative for victims of domestic violence if there is reasonable suspicion that the police improperly failed to take action at the original point of contact with the complainant.

An example of when an alternative should be available is when the police did not have a Spanish-speaking officer available to speak to a complainant who only spoke Spanish.

Who should be the alternative? The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. As the Suffolk County DA’s office  policy stands now, a victim cannot press charges through their office.  The DA will only prosecute a crime if it is sent to them by the SCPD. This policy is dangerous and exposes the most vulnerable victims to police officer errors or misconduct.

Nassau, the bordering county, already has a system in place where victims and others can lodge a complaint directly with the District Attorney’s Office. This system prioritizes the public’s safety over that of police misconduct or mistakes.

The policy of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office gives far too much power to the police. It  appoints them as sole arbiter of whether a suspect should be arrested and charged with a crime.

Steve Bellone, the new County Executive, promised to change Suffolk’s anti-immigrant and anti-Latino/a culture. He should start by advocating for a policy where the community’s most vulnerable victims can report crimes directly to  the District Attorney’s Office.

Why President Obama Can Implement Deferred Action For Immigrant Families

Yesterday, Celia Munoz of the Obama administration repeated a by now familiar justification for steaming along the deportation track: 

The duty of the government is to do what Congress has instructed it to do. The congress, under the current immigration laws, obligates us to deport persons who are “deportable” and gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), frankly, a great quantity of resources to do this work.

Munoz’s comments echoed the response of the President when he said he was not a King and that there would still “be stories that are heartbreaking with respect to deportations until we get comprehensive immigration reform.”

According to the representations of President Obama, he cannot legally put a halt to deportations that would result in the destruction of immigrant families.

Déjà vu 

On March 28, 2011, Jorge Ramos asked President Obama the following question:

With an executive order, could you be able to stop deportations of the students?

President Obama adamantly declared that he could not stop the deportations of students with an executive order for essentially the same reason that he is declaring today that he cannot put a stop the deportations of immigrants that would result in family separation. Read closely: 

With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed…The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.

There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that he would suspend the deportation of students through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which, as you can see, he previously said was impossible.

When asked about this about-face, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano awkwardly took the fall:

During Thursday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, Napolitano admitted to Virginia Republican Rep. Randy Forbes that Obama’s March 2011 statement was inaccurate. “Could he have issued an executive order to do what you did?” Forbes asked her.

“Yes,” Napolitano responded.

The Daily Caller was generous in stating that Napolitano found Obama’s statement to be inaccurate. It should really read as: “Obama’s March 2011 statement was a lie.”

Obama was a constitutional law professor. He knew what he was saying in March of 2011 was not true.

This is the same lie that is currently being spread to the public when the President laments that we will continue to see heartbreaking stories and he is just “enforcing” the laws as he is required to.

The President and his defenders will say that DACA was permissible because it allowed DHS to redirect enforcement resources to higher priority removals. They will say that a broader Deferred Action will be different from DACA because it will then run afoul of the Executive’s obligation to use the resources appropriated to it by Congress for immigration enforcement.

This defense is preposterous because there is no way to verify if it is true.

No one knows whether DHS has ever prioritized removals as they purport to have done. Under the Obama administration, DHS has refused to corroborate its deportations statistics.

Furthermore,  as far as anyone knows, DACA did nothing to cause higher priority immigrants to be removed from the United States.

President Obama could use the same justification behind DACA for a wider Deferred Action.

Prioritization. By suspending the deportations of immigrants that would result in the separation of families, DHS would be able to focus more of its limited resources on the mythical and monstrous criminal aliens.

 

 

The Audacity of President Obama’s Deportation Duplicity

President Obama’s speech on immigration reform on January 29, 2013 described undocumented immigrants in a favorable light:

 …And the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren’t looking for any trouble.  They’re contributing members of the community.  They’re looking out for their families.  They’re looking out for their neighbors.  They’re woven into the fabric of our lives.

However, just yesterday Obama implied that he had no compunction in ripping undocumented immigrants out of the fabric of our lives.

In an interview with Telemundo Obama said:  “I make no apologies for us enforcing the law as well as the work that we’ve done to strengthen border security.”

Obama was also asked if deportations would continue. His answer was duplicitous in the extreme:

That may be a moot question, because I anticipate us being able to get comprehensive immigration reform done.

May be moot. As in not currently moot because undocumented immigrants are still being deported in record numbers.

When asked the same question in a separate interview with Univision, Obama responded:

I’m not a king. There are still going to be stories that are heartbreaking with respect to deportations until we get comprehensive immigration reform.

What about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)? DACA is a blanket refusal to enforce the immigration laws of the United States. DACA is an unprecedented use of Deferred Action. In other words, Obama is only willing to be bold if he stands to gain politically. DACA only happened because President Obama wanted a boost in the elections for 2012.

Now that there is no election, Obama is unabashedly expressing his indifference  at the destruction of immigrant families. Obama has the power to implement a moratorium on deportations. 

At the very least, Obama should  create a similar administrative program to DACA that stops deportations that would result in the separation of immigrant families.

What makes my blood reach a boiling point is not the anti-immigrant actions of the President. Rather, it is his cunning duplicity in pretending he has no power to act otherwise.

Obama refuses to be accountable for the concrete harm that ICE has caused to the families of the deported. He refuses to look at us in the eye and say: “My administration has destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children who have done nothing wrong.”  He hides behind the obviously false assertion that he has no choice.

President Obama: If you are bold enough to break international law by unilaterally assassinating suspected terrorists, you can institute a legal moratorium on deportations of immigrants with families in the United States.

Let our President know you want a halt to deportations by signing this petition.