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On July 30, Lorena walked into the Alamance County Time Warner Cable office to apply for cable service. The representative who assisted her asked her to complete some paperwork and to present a form of identification. The representative went to her office for several minutes telling Lorena she was making copies of the paperwork. Finally, the representative came out and returned the I.D. and asked Lorena to pay for the deposit and first month of services. As soon as Lorena paid, a police officer came from the back room and arrested her. She was taken to Alamance County Jail and was then transferred to ICE custody and placed in deportation proceedings. She is scheduled to appear in court on December 13 and could be given a final order of deportation.

Is it Time Warner Cable’s policy to work with Alamance County law enforcement to entrap undocumented people so they can be arrested and deported? Recent findings by the Department of Justice show that Sheriff Terry Johnson and his department have engaged in egregious discriminatory practices against Latinos living in Alamance County. Why is Lorena facing deportation and separation from her 7 year old daughter when all she wanted was cable service?

Tell Time Warner Cable’s President Jack Stanley to stop collaborating with Alamance County law enforcement and stop targeting immigrants who want cable service @ 336-665-0160 or sent him an email: jack.stanley@twcable.com

Lorena came to the United States in 2004 and has been living in North Carolina for the past 8 years. She is a single mother of a 7 year old U.S. citizen child. If Lorena is deported, her daughter will be separated from the only person who provides her with emotional and financial support. Most importantly, her daughter will be left without a mother to care for her.

According to the Morton Memo, Lorena is a low-priority case and should be granted favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Lorena has been living in the U.S. for 8 years, has a 7 year old U.S. citizen daughter. Lorena only went to the Time Warner Cable’s store to get cable service for her family. Instead, a police officer came out from the office and arrested her. Why is this company working with the police to target undocumented immigrants? Lorena needs to stay in the U.S. to continue to provide for her daughter.

Help Lorena by calling ICE director John Morton at 202-732-300 and signing her petition online: http://action.dreamactivist.org/northcarolina/lorena/

Lorena YANEZ-MATA & daughter

 

On Friday we joined Cristina Tzitzios and her son, Sebastian, for a vigil in Charlotte. They are leading a fight against this immigration system intent on deporting Miguel Tzitzios-their father/grandpa. Cristina and Sebastian are asking for your support to get Miguel released from North Georgia Detention Center.

John Morton (ICE), Senator Hagan and Senator Burr have the power to release Miguel NOW. Help Cristina and Sebastian win their family back:  Sign the petition and make your calls.

Vigil in Charlotte: Cristina asks her community to join her in getting her father released

On October 21, Miguel was on his way to work when he was pulled over by a police officer because his license plate was expired. The police officer arrested Miguel and charged him with driving without a license and for possession of fraudulent identification, even though he presented a valid passport. Despite being low priority, Miguel was transferred to North Georgia Detention where he has been ever since.

Miguel’s daughters and one year old grandson depend on him financially and emotionally. President Obama has said people like Miguel shouldn’t be deported. Why has Miguel not been released?

We will hold this administration accountable because behind each deportation are real people like Cristina and Sebastian who only want their family to stay together.

Sample Scripts:

Call ICE – John Morton @ 202-732-3000

“Hi, I am calling to urge ICE to release Miguel Tzitzios Gonzalez (A# 205-210-562) from North Georgia Detention. Miguel has been living in the U.S. for 13 years and has two daughters and a grandson that depend on him emotionally and financially. According to the Morton Memo, Miguel is a low-priority case and should be released immediately.”

Senator Hagan:

Washington DC: 202-224-6342
Greensboro: 336-333-5311

Senator Burr:

Washington DC: 202-224-3154
Winston-Salem: 1-800-685-8916

“I am calling to ask the Senator take a position on the case of Miguel Tzitzios Gonzalez (A# 205-210-562) from North Georgia Detention Center. Miguel has been living in the U.S. for 13 years and has two daughters and a US citizen grandson that depend on him emotionally and financially. According to the Morton Memo, Miguel is a low-priority case and should be released immediately. Will the Senator take a position on this case and issue a letter of support?”

image by Santiago G.

Following the undocuppation of OFA offices around the country, President Obama made an announcement saying that his administration will stop deporting undocumented youth who are between the ages of 16 and 30 and meet certain requirements. This is not the executive order we are asking for. Many are celebrating this announcement, calling it a temporary Dream Act. For others of us DREAMers, we’re calling it as we see it. It is only an announcement, one very similar to the past prosecutorial discretion announcement made last August and the Morton memo before that. These announcements have failed and less than 1% of those who can benefit from them have. We are not only skeptical, but plan to keep the president accountable. Actions speak louder than words.

image by our umbrella organization, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance

Check out what our team members think about yesterday’s announcement!

We’re not going to believe the president until we see it happen.. We’ve been down this road before. -Jose Rico (taken from the N&O)

Although it is good news, when read in its entirety, you find that it is full of obstacles which leads me to fear that very few Dream Act - eligible youth would benefit from it. This is not the immediate relief that DREAMers currently in deportation proceedings need in order to stay in the only home that they know. - Alicia Torres

While I see progress, this announcement still leaves much doubt. This is only an extension of prosecutorial discretion which has proven to be a failure for our undocumented community. It only gives space to local ICE officials to continue on their rogue behavior. I, as a documented ally, believe we should be critical and continue to hold the president accountable. - Elisa Benitez

image by V. Martinez

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 4, 2021

media@theniya.org
704.281.9911

NIYA Demands Executive Order to Stop Deportations of DREAM Act-eligible Youth

Prosecutorial discretion has failed—deportations of DREAMers continue

DENVER—The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is calling for the President to issue an executive order to stop the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible youth. We simply cannot continue to allow our lives to be held up by petty partisanship and congressional gridlock.

We need the strength of an executive order to stop our deportations. Prosecutorial discretion has not stopped them; NIYA has continued to fight tooth and nail for many young people who meet the criteria to have their cases administratively closed under the June 17 Morton Memo. At present, NIYA is fighting over 30 active cases that meet these criteria.

Many cases move forward into removal proceedings simply because ICE field offices disregard prosecutorial discretion. ICE agents are not under any obligation from their superiors to do otherwise. Even in Denver, Colorado, where the field office is participating in a pilot program for prosecutorial discretion, ICE agents denied Hugo Zarate’s request for deferred action, even though he is DREAM Act-eligible and suffers from rheumatic fever.

We have lost hope for immigration reform during the current period of congressional gridlock. As well, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has continued to expand programs like Secure Communities and 287(g) and deportation levels remain at record levels.

We hope that our call for an executive order has not fallen on deaf ears in the White House. If the Administration does not issue an executive order, we will be forced to respond with direct action in the coming days. The administration, by not taking action by means fully within its power, keeps our lives on hold. That position, for us, is no longer acceptable.

###

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is an undocumented youth-led network committed to achieving equality for all undocumented youth. We have member organizations in Alabama, California, Colorado, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington and have relationships with activists throughout the entire country. We are the only independent national organization of undocumented youth. Through advocacy, grassroots organizing, direct action and civil disobedience, we will develop a sustainable movement for justice and equality led by those most affected and supported by committed, conscientious allies.

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.

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@NCDREAMTeam

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