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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.
by Victoria Bouloubasis
(Read below for Spanish/ En español abajo)
Regardless of the issues at stake, our nation’s political debate seems to be fueled by bloated jargon and calculated strategy. Among them, the “family unit” has become a political label, a contrived moral badge and, at times, a shield, used by conservatives, liberals and all that fall in between.
So why is this nation still tearing families apart?
As we’ve detailed in an earlier post, Javier Santos entered the Mecklenburg County Jail in Charlotte, NC, after being stopped for a broken tail light—and consequently arrested—while driving home from work on Sept. 6. That same day, ten undocumented youth were arrested for participating in a sit-in. Members of the NC DREAM Team met Javier in jail. Overnight, the team was released. Javier was transferred to an Atlanta detention center, where he sits awaiting deportation. (Click here to sign the petition to bring him back.)
Javier left behind a pregnant wife and two children, ages 8 and 11. His wife, Leticia, gave birth to their third child, a premature baby girl. She had many complications during the birth that doctors have attributed to stress and a surprise onset of diabetes. The family of four lost their sole provider in Javier and have since moved from their home to a new apartment because, according to Javier’s sister, Griselda, they couldn’t afford to make rent payments with Javier in detention.
“So many of us don’t have a driver’s license,” Griselda said. “If we don’t drive, we can’t work and feed our family. If you can’t work, you have no place to live, nothing to eat.”
She spoke of her sister-in-law—-a woman who is literally sick and tired, a mother worried about her children and a wife missing her husband and trying to maintain hope of his return home.
“It’s not the same, living without your partner. She needs him. The kids need him.”
Griselda worries about her niece and nephew. When Leticia doesn’t have the strength to talk about their father, Griselda steps in. “My own kids had someone come speak to them at school about the effects of an absent parent. It made me think of my niece and nephew,” she explained. “[My nephew] was happy before. From what I’ve seen now, he’s a bit more rude. If something bothers him, he pushes or hits his cousin. And my niece was never like that, but now she is always bothered about something.”
“Leticia says ‘there are days when I feel so alone,’” Griselda continued. “She sees them crying and asking for their father. They are deporting so many people that are fathers of families and that don’t have any criminal backgrounds.”
According to recent ICE statistics provided by an article in the Winston-Salem Journal, “Nearly half of the immigrants processed by an immigration court in the United States were not convicted of criminal offenses […] for federal fiscal year 2011, which started Oct. 1”
With a brave voice, she tells me she plans to address this issue at the source, in person. Griselda will attempt to speak with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at Duke University this Thursday on behalf of her brother and his family.
Will you be there to support her?
“So many families are being separated. Those who suffer are the children.”
Please join us as we support Griselda on Thursday. Please, please sign the petition to stop Javier’s deportation and the separation of his family. Urge your friends to do the same. And, like Griselda, confront DHS. Make the call to keep the de los Santos family together.
A pesar de los problemas que están en juego, el debate político de nuestra nación parece ser estimulado por estrategias tan calculadas. Entre estas cosas, “la familia” se ha convertido en una etiqueta política, en una insignia artificial de la moralidad y, a veces, en un escudo usado por los conservadores, los liberales y todos aquellos que se encuentran en medio.
Entonces, ¿Por qué esta nación sigue separando a familias?
Como hemos detallado antes, Javier Santos entró a la cárcel del condado de Mecklenburg en Charlotte, NC, después de haber sido parado por tener una luz trasera de su auto rota el 6 de septiembre en camino a casa y, por consequencia, fue arrestado. Este mismo día diez jóvenes indocumentados fueron arrestados por participar en una desobediencia civil.
Miembros arrestados del NC DREAM Team conocieron a Javier en la cárcel. Durante la noche, los miembros del equipo fueron liberados ya que su acción fue un acto publico televisado por las noticias locales y nacionales. Sin embargo y a la misma vez, Javier fue traslado a un centro de detención en Atlanta, donde ahora espera su deportación. Haz clic aquí para firmar la petición para que Javier regrese a casa.
Al estar detenido, Javier dejo a su esposa embarazada y sus dos hijos de 8 y 11 anos de edad. Su esposa Leticia dio a luz a su hija prematuramente. Ella tuvo muchos problemas durante el nacimiento cuales los médicos han atribuido al estrés. También, ahora hay en Leticia un comienzo de diabetes. Sin Javier, esta familia de cuatro perdieron el apoyo financiero del que dependían y se han tenido que mudar a un apartamento nuevo porque, según Griselda, la hermana de Javier, ellos ya no pudieron pagar la renta que tenían.
“Varios de nosotros ya no tenemos licencia. Si no manejamos, no podemos trabajar y darles comida a la familia,” dijo Griselda.
Ella habló de su cuñada Leticia, una mujer que está literalmente enferma y cansada, una madre preocupada por sus hijos y una esposa que extraña a su esposo y que trata de mantener fe que el regresará.
“No es lo mismo sin su pareja. Lo necesita, lo necesitan los niños,” dijo Griselda. Griselda se preocupa mucho por sus sobrinos. Cuando Leticia no tiene la fuerza de hablarle a sus hijos sobre su papa, Griselda le ayuda.
“Mis hijos tuvieron a alguien en la escuela hablando de cómo afecta la ausencia de una mama o un papa,” contó Griselda. “Me empiezo acordar de mis sobrinos. Antes mi sobrino era alegre, pero como que he visto que se porta un poco más grosero. Si algo le molesta, lo empuja o le pega a su primo. También, mi sobrinita antes no era así, ahora ella siempre se muestra molesta por algo.”
“Leticia me dice “hay días en que me siento sola en este momento,’” Griselda siguió. “ Los ve llorando y preguntan por su papa. Están deportando a muchas personas que son padres de familia y no tienes incidentes criminales.”
Según un reporte sobre inmigración (ICE) en el Winston-Salem Journal, “Casi la mitad de inmigrantes procesados por una corte de inmigración en los Estados Unidos no fueron declarado culpables de ofensas criminales […] en el ano fiscal del 2011, que empezó Oct. 1”
Con una voz valiente, Griselda me dice que planea enfrentar este problema en directo y en persona. Griselda tratará de hablar con la Secretaria del Departamento de Seguridad Interna (DHS), Janet Napolitano, en la Universidad de Duke este jueves en Durham. Griselda hace esto por parte de su hermano y su familia.
Estarás allí para darle tu apoyo?
“Pues muchas familias las están separando. Los que están sufriendo son los niños.” Por favor vengan con nosotros para apoyar a Griselda este jueves. Por favor, firme la petición para parar la deportación de Javier y la separación de su familia. Pidan a sus amig@s y familia que hagan lo mismo y, al igual que Griselda, se enfrenten a DHS sin miedo. ¡Llama hoy para reunir a la familia Santos!
If you have heard of the ‘Morton Memo’, you have probably heard it as something to be happy about. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton has urged his agency to utilize “prosecutorial discretion”, meaning that it may not pursue deportations as vigorously as it has. Unfortunately, this memo isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. There aren’t any guarantees that undocumented youth are now safe from deportation–it shouldn’t be thought of as anything remotely reassuring. In fact, President Obama just deported asylum-seeker Andy Mathe the day after personally finding out about the case.
Here’s a brief overview of this much talked about memo and what it means for you.
The Memo, ICE and Obama
On June 17, John Morton put into writing what President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano have been saying for months: that DREAM Act-eligible youth are not a deportation priority. Despite that, as you’ve seen from the continued need for petitions, undocumented youth are still winding up in proceedings (and deported, as mentioned above).
Overall, ICE has been taking heat for two of its programs under the ICE ACCESS umbrella of law enforcement partnerships, 287(g) and Secure Communities, making the Morton Memo appear to be a concession to satisfy critics who have rightly accused ICE of rounding up immigrants without respect their civil rights and civil liberties or the due process of law, let alone the nuances of their cases. As the National Day Laborers Organizing Network pointed out, President Obama has now deported more immigrants than President Eisenhower under Operation Wetback in the early 1950s.
A Brief History of Prosecutorial Discretion
The Morton Memo is another development in a history of prosecutorial discretion that goes back to the Clinton Administration and changes to immigration law in the past two decades.
Long before the Morton Memo, a previous memorandum on prosecutorial discretion written by INS Commissioner Doris Meissner in 2000 established significant authority for prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases. After Congress amended the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1996, judges in immigration court lost a lot of their ability to use, well, judgment on individual cases. INS was forced to make better decisions about where it allocated its resources now that immigration judges would no longer be able to grant as much relief from removal as they once had. Meissner’s memo places a greater emphasis on “substantial Federal interest,” meaning that prosecutorial discretion permits ICE not to pursue cases–even “legally sufficient” ones–which don’t benefit the federal government in any way. Meissner’s memo also lists cases in which discretion should be used and categories of people that should “trigger” favorable discretion. Some of those triggers should sound familiar: “Juveniles;” “Aliens with lengthy presence in United States (i.e., 10 years or more); and “aliens present in the United States since childhood.” The memo also notes that “community attention” is a factor to consider when discretion might be possible.
The Morton Memo and today’s politics
In 2011, what does the Morton memo say? Nothing too different from the previous policy directive. It doesn’t say anything about the DREAM Act. However, many of the factors ICE should use to consider backing off would apply to undocumented youth:
the circumstances of the person’s arrival in the United States and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child;
the person’s pursuit of education in the United States, with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution of higher education in the United States;
whether the person, or the person’s immediate relative,has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat;
the person’s criminal history, including arrests, prior convictions, or outstanding arrest warrants;
the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships;
But as previously noted, there are no guarantees that undocumented youth will not be deported. In fact, Meissner’s memo was far more rooted in looking at the merits of individual cases and the radical idea that law enforcement officials ought to do more than round people up and ship people out. The Morton Memo is based more in budgetary concerns rather than humanitarian ones.
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and several other senators have claimed that the Morton Memo was an attempt to “grant administrative amnesty“, but this is the same Jeff Sessions that lied on the Senate floor when he said that undocumented immigrants could already join the military during the December DREAM Act vote. There’s no reason to take him seriously on this. As a member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, Sessions is supposed to be an expert on immigration, so the only explanations are that he’s a liar or that he is completely undeserving of his position.
The history of prosecutorial discretion and its present reiteration reveal the root of the problem: a system that is too narrowly focused on deportations. Such a narrow focus is ill-fit for the present reality, and one that we wouldn’t tolerate from any other law enforcement agency. Police have to do more than make arrests–immigration officers have to do more than raids and deportations. Prosecutorial discretion isn’t a solution, or even really a benefit. One way or another, it shouldn’t be thought of as a pro-migrant accomplishment by the Obama Administration.
By Domenic Powell
Just days before the American Renaissance has its national conference in North Carolina, ALIPAC has released a statement defending the race-science publication. The American Renaissance recently made national headlines when Fox News released a memo stating that the Department of Homeland Security was directing “strong suspicion” at the publication. It was later reported that DHS had nothing to do with the statement, and Fox didn’t provide where its source came from.
That hasn’t stopped ALIPAC—which is based in North Carolina—from calling for a Congressional investigation of DHS in a statement released January 21:
“ALIPAC is calling on members of Congress to investigate why the Department of Homeland Security sent a memo to the media containing false information implying that the Tucson shooter Jared Loughner, was motivated by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ religion and stance in favor of Amnesty [sic] for illegal immigrants.”
As Politico reported ten days before ALIPAC released its statement, the erroneous memo came from the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, not the DHS. The memo was improperly sourced by Fox News, but even that was determined over a week ago.
The Christian Science Monitor referred to the American Renaissance as an anti-immigrant group, but the primary focus of the publication is race science rather than immigration policy. The February 2011 issue discusses migration to Europe more than the United States, and does so in the context of racial preservation. It also assumes an all-white audience:
“In Life After the Collapse, Thomas Jackson reviews Archeofuturism by French author Guillaume Faye (written in 1998 and only recently translated into English). This remarkable book peers into the near and distant future, and sees “multiculturalism” running its course, leading to the fracturing and disintegration of Western nations, and speculates on what will emerge from the rubble. Dr. Faye fully recognizes the significance of race and, while strongly connected to the European peoples and their cultures, he prescribes a complete revolution of the current order as soon as possible to maximize the chances for the long-term survival of our descendants.”
The American Renaissance will hold its major conference February 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The conference will focus on “Defending the West.” The announcement of the conference states that “Ours is an era of fear and self-censorship. Virtually no whites are willing to break taboos about racial differences in IQ, the costs of “diversity,” or the challenges of non-white immigration. We are different. We believe these are vital questions.”
ALIPAC has made a serious error by perpetuating misinformation long after it was determined to be faulty. They are calling for unwarranted investigations into DHS, stirring opposition and fear of the federal government. They have done so in the defense of an organization that promotes policy that favors whites over other groups—more blatantly speaking, in defense of an organization that supports white supremacy. Any public official that is contacted by ALIPAC supporters about this issue should rebuke the organization immediately.