Washington D.C.’s stance on illegal immigration differs greatly from some states including Georgia, Indiana, Alabama, and Arizona. Since the District does not believe they should engage in Jim Crow type laws or witch-hunts they believe that the federal government should handle immigration matters which lie under the purview of their jurisdiction. City officials in the District of Columbia are holding firm on immigration, and refusing to enforce Customs and Immigration Enforcement ( ICE) detainers or warrants resulting directly from immigration violations. Mayor Vincent Gray signed an executive order instructing police officers and public service officials not to question the immigration status of persons with whom they come into contact. This stands in sharp contrast to other states who have proactively made laws asserting immigration is under their jurisdiction.
Mayor Gray stated, “In the spirit of ‘OneCity and assuring the equal treatment of citizens and non-citizens alike, I am delighted to sign this.”
Currently, with over 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and a bad economy, many persons have chosen to target the immigration illegals as a “scapegoat” for economic woes. Many conservatives have suggested laws restricting housing, education restrictions, licenses, and laws to force police to detain those suspected to be illegal. This has resulted in a equally responsive emphasis by Latinos and other civil right activists on the negatives of this type of enforcement such as jobs created by small enterprises of immigrants, statistics of 5100 US children forced into foster homes whose parents were deported, rotting vegetable fields for lack of laborers and emphasis on economic cost and profiling resulting from targeting illegals.
In Arizona, Latinos have removed their school-age children for fear of being removed.. D.C fears that illegals will not report crimes they see and would be the victim of crimes if they are targeted. Nonetheless, the very irony of having D.C. thumb their nose in the Capital of the country is courageous and contentious. Many are also concerned about possible law suits that would result from inherent errors of arrest as to how a police officer distinguishes a legal from an illegal?
Opponents to Gray’s executive order such as Kenneth Baumann, the chairman of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police labor committee stated to The Washington Post, “Vince Gray right now is under such duress, he is willing to pander and fold to any group in order to take the scrutiny off himself,”.
If the District can stand firm while in Washington’s shadow, to promote “equal treatment of all” then certainly other states will follow suit and see the ignonomy of this xenophobic behavior. Certainly, crime and national security must be a concern, but not at the cost of focusing on a small group of non-criminal individuals who are often unable to protect themselves and by burdening the police force to make distinctions which they are not trained to make.
Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is www.boilapc.com.