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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.
Over the next few days, expect to see more posts about a Charlotte-area man fighting his deportation. Despite official claims that ‘low priority’ undocumented folks would not be caught up in the deportation dragnet, Javier Santos is still having to face all of this- over a broken license plate light. For those of you who haven’t already seen this:
Please, take a moment from your day- seriously, a couple of minutes at most- to sign Javier’s petition and make a phone call to help reunite Javier with his wife and
two three children. Sadly, because of his continuing detention, ICE wouldn’t let Javier be there for the birth of their third child.
Each day matters- keep making calls and watch this space for more ways to help Javier.
One thing that we have [sadly] gotten used to as organizers is that sometimes, the voices of the undocumented are overlooked, ignored or misrepresented. That’s part of why we, as the NC Dream Team exist. Take, for example, September 6th, 2011.
Seven undocumented youth from across the state came out of the shadows, dropped the fear and disclosed their immigration status in a very public way. Listening to their stories and their reasons for taking this brave action painted a complex picture of the harsh reality that faces undocumented immigrants in North Carolina and around the country. They came out decrying a community college system that throws undocumented youth to the back of the bus- if not under it. Charging them four times the tuition rate [regardless of their ability to show high school diplomas or tax records that would provide in-state tuition for their documented and citizen peers] while demanding that they scavenge through the post-registration leftovers. They also called out policies and programs that blur the line between local police officers and federal immigration agents- 287g and “Secure” Communities.
It’s a shame that the complexity of the reality that they tried to expose proved too complex. Many in the media referred to the act of civil disobedience as a “DREAM Act Rally”. Potential allies looked at what happened and saw it as a chance to express their solidarity with the passage of the DREAM Act.
Don’t get me wrong- we’re not opposing the DREAM Act. Believe me, we’re not. But the reason I bring this up is because listening – really listening – to the voices of these brave youth is important. They are trying to expose their reality, the reality that we all live in- consciously or not. It is a reality that our government pursues most intensely when no one is watching.
I bring this up now because the same day that these youth undertook this action, they met another undocumented person who was caught up by the same policies they were fighting against. Javier Santos was not surrounded by hundreds of supporters at the time of his arrest. He was unceremoniously picked up by the police dragnet and received very different treatment from the youth arrested that day. While they are free today, Javier continues to sit in a detention center awaiting deportation. ICE kept him separate from his wife and children while his wife brought their third daughter into the world. He has been unable to provide for his family for the past month because of these community destroying policies. All this while President Obama claims that “low priority” cases [like Javier's] would not face deportation.
It is this reality that the undocumented youth were calling your attention to. It is Javier who needs your support and attention as much as they needed it on September 6th. Please, take action today to help bring Javier home to his family. Signing this petition is important. Making the phone calls is important. Combined, they will take less than 5 minutes of your day. You can help this father see his newborn daughter for the first time- will you?