Latino and immigrant rights groups are speaking out - loudly - over the fact that the White House has led the largest crackdown on immigrants in the country's history.
The New York Times reports this evening on protests around the country regarding the White House's policies:
In Los Angeles, about 200 immigrants and their supporters walked out of a stormy hearing Monday evening that was called by a task force advising the enforcement program, known as Secure Communities. Bearing signs that said “Stop Ripping Families Apart,” the protesters called for an end to the program, which they said had led to the deportation of victims who reported domestic violence to the police, and to parents of American citizen children.
On Tuesday in Chicago, several dozen protesters delivered thousands of petitions calling for an end to the program to the headquarters of Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign. Petitions were also delivered by small groups of protesters to Democratic Party offices in Miami, Atlanta, Houston and Charlotte, N.C.
The article also discusses the release of a report this evening by the American Immigration Lawyers Association outlining a pattern of local police and ICE cooperating to put people in deportation proceedings for offenses like failing to use a car's turn signal or burning trash in a front yard
Also on Tuesday, the American Immigration Lawyers Association published a report that cast light on how Secure Communities and other enforcement programs have stirred tensions in immigrant communities. The association, which includes 11,000 immigration lawyers, polled its members to see how many were handling cases of immigrants facing deportation after being stopped by local police officers for minor offenses, like traffic violations.
Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the lawyers’ association, said his office was deluged with responses.
“Department of Homeland Security practices have ushered in a sea change in who is being deported, and our attorneys have literally been flooded with people coming in to their offices who have been picked up by local police for small time stuff,” Mr. Chen said. The report, which presents a sample of 127 cases from 24 states, was the “the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
The White House is in a quandary and is trying to walk a fine line of not alienating the country's Latino voters while also trying to avoid giving right wingers ammunition to use against the President. They're doing it by trying to make it appear that all of the enforcement is against hardened criminals and not more sympathetic individuals. John Morton, ICE's Director, told the Times that most of those deported are criminals and Celia Muñoz, the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs blogs today largely the same message.
Except it isn't really true. ICE's own statistics show, and the AILA report illustrates, that a sizable percent of the so-called criminals being deported have only committed minor offenses and for many the offense in the statistics is immigration-related.
Morton does tell the Times that the agency expects the number of deportations to drop as a result of the new June memorandum on prosecutorial discretion. But as the AILA report shows, the memo, which has been in effect for two months, is largely being ignored in the field. Which makes one wonder whether the memo was simply something designed to convince Latino voters that the President is not as anti-immigrant as his policies appear.If the President wants to convince the public he is pro-immigration, it's time for his actions to match his words and it's time for him to stop worrying about the tiny (albeit loud) minority who will never think the President is tough enough on immigration.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.