One of the most prominent features of the “Secure” Communities program is the fear that it spreads in our communities. Last Thursday night, Griselda (Javier’s sister) stood up to that fear, and the head of those responsible for it. She stood up before the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to plead her brother Javier’s case and call for his release.

She sat as Secretary Napolitano spoke about the the challenges of running the department trying to deport her brother. From the complexities of national security, to protecting against racial/religious profiling at airports and the difficulty of enforcing a set of horribly broken immigration laws. During the Q&A portion of the night- Secretary Napolitano heard the reality of what those same policies do to real people.

Here, Alicia interprets Griselda’s question to Secretary Napolitano:

Under the much-hyped Morton Memo. Javier, a father of 3, husband, sole provider, with a clean criminal record and a long-time member of the community shouldn’t be part of DHS/ICE’s ‘high-priority’ list. Except, he’s still facing ICE’s deportation machine. Secretary Napolitano’s response to why there is such a discrepancy between the memo’s suggestion of discretion and ICE’s continued attempt to remove Javier from his sick wife and newborn? Getting local offices to follow our lead is hard.

As we watch ICE proudly boast over nearly 400,000 deportations this year, those numbers and a clear explanation of their power deserves to a look. ICE reports that about 55% of those nearly 400,000 people had felony or misdemeanor convictions. So, 178,608 people (at least) had no felony or misdemeanor convictions…. For the others, the conflation of felony and misdemeanor helps to bolster their numbers but confuses the perceived ‘threat’ that they are create in their narrative of enforcement. Keep in mind, misdemeanor includes such infractions as jaywalking.

While we understand that the Morton Memo is not law, and not to be confused with a law- we are left to wonder what good is a policy or suggestion from a national office that local offices can ignore? How many more families need to be separated because of such superfluous things as broken license plate lights?

To her credit, Secretary Napolitano did collect the 2,000+ signatures that you all have signed in support of Javier (if you haven’t signed, you still can) and promised that Javier’s case would be looked into. The real question will be whether it is the national DHS office or the local ones who really hold power over whether Javier becomes 1 of 400,000 other people deported or returns to his wife and children.

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