Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Raid in Washington State Denounced

From America's Voice:

Yesterday’s Immigration Raid in Washington is Inconsistent with the President’s Vision for Reform

Comprehensive Immigration Reform is the Only Solution

Immigration in the 2008 Democratic National Platform

“We are committed to pursuing tough, practical, and humane immigration reform in the first year of the next administration….  [W]e need to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. It’s a problem when we only enforce our laws against the immigrants themselves, with raids that are ineffective, tear apart families, and leave people detained without adequate access to counsel. . . .  For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law.  We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.  They are our neighbors, and we can help them become full tax-paying, law-abiding, productive members of society.” 

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted the first major worksite raid under the Obama Administration.  According to reports from Bellingham, Washington, dozens of armed ICE agents stormed engine remanufacturing plant Yamato Engine Specialists and arrested 28 individuals, mostly from Mexico and Central America, on suspicion that they are in the country without legal immigration documents.  Below is a statement from America’s Voice:

“As recently as last week, President Obama reiterated his commitment to moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform this year.  His statements echoed the 2008 Democratic Party Platform, which promised to shift enforcement priorities to unscrupulous employers and pursue enactment of a comprehensive reform bill in the first year of the current administration. 

“The raid yesterday in Washington stands in stark contrast to the President’s vision for common sense immigration policies that target the truly bad actors, keep American families together, and put hard-working undocumented workers on a path to becoming full Americans.  Immigration raids targeting non-criminal, undocumented workers will not fix our broken immigration system and they will not make our country safer. 

“While President Obama has articulated a commitment to moving forward on real, comprehensive immigration reform, his immigration enforcement agency is continuing the same failed strategies of the past.  Our country desperately needs President Obama and his Administration to make good on their promise to reform our broken immigration laws and adopt effective enforcement strategies that target the truly bad actors.  We urge the new Administration to reject Bush era policies in favor of common sense solutions and real reform.”

From the National Council of La Raza:

ON IMMIGRATION, WE NEED CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN

Washington, DC—On Tuesday, February 24, 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided a workplace in Bellingham, Washington, reportedly arresting 28 people.  This is the first major workplace raid since President Obama took office.  The following is a statement by Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

“We are better than this, and our nation deserves better than the continuation of a failed immigration policy that contradicts American values and civil liberties.  Our community understands the federal government's pursuit of hardened, dangerous criminals and our country’s need to protect its borders.  But the systematic demonization, detention, and deportation of peaceful immigrant workers and parents under the pretense of homeland security is an assault on our values as a country.  At a time when messages of change and hope abound, we are left to wonder how change will come to these failed policies.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and we are indeed a nation of laws, yet when our government engages in practices that violate the very laws we hold dear, it is a clear indication that we must evaluate the course.  The zeal with which federal and local law enforcement agencies have applied these policies has violated the rights and civil liberties of many in various communities, including legal residents and U.S. citizens.  Latinos specifically have been racially profiled, arrested without warrant, detained without counsel, and in some cases even deported out of the country although legally present.  Such policy is an abrogation of civil rights, common decency, and human dignity.

“Escalating immigration raids and local police crackdowns over the past eight years have spread indiscriminate terror among millions of people who pose no threat to the United States and who have lived peacefully and productively within our borders for years.  Most have worked hard, paid taxes, lived productive lives, and been good neighbors.  Many have children and spouses who are U.S. citizens.  Many have served in our nation's defense.  Yet over the past eight years, U.S. policies have sought to criminalize this population, raid their homes and workplaces, suspend their civil liberties, put them in chains, and ultimately deport them.  In the process, families are torn apart and children are separated from their parents, despite the fact that under U.S. law, immigration violations are a civil offense. 

“Billions of dollars have been allocated over the last decade to such ill-conceived tactics, yet the undocumented population has continued to grow.  While some may claim that these techniques have staunched unauthorized migration, the reality is that the most powerful factor in that equation has been a slowing economy.  Restoring the rule of law to our immigration system requires systematic change and smart enforcement strategies that do not blur the line between innocent workers and those who mean us harm.  An urgent response is needed, and it should include a thorough examination of Department of Homeland Security practices and policies to provide a cost-benefit analysis in terms of the effectiveness, security, resource efficiency, and ethics of these operations. We also need clarification from the administration as to its plan to reform our immigration system in a manner that protects families, workers, and our nation’s ideals.

“Let us not forget that how we resolve the status of the undocumented will say much about who we are as a country.  We would do better to listen to the better angels of our nature.”

More from the National Network:

BACKGROUND: ICE Raid & Immigrant Protest Brutal Treatment in Detention

ICE Raid in Bellingham, WA

Yesterday morning, the Department of Homeland Security sent some 75 agents from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Yamato Engine Specialist plant in Bellingham Washington. With a typical overwhelming show of force, the ICE agents arrived in SUVs accompanied by buses and a hovering helicopter.

The ICE agents, dressed in riot gear and heavily armed, invaded the plant and terrorized all. ICE agents interviewed all the workers and arrested 28 for immigration status. ICE agents handcuffed the immigrant workers and chained together at the ankles before boarding them on buses. The immigrant workers are now in detention.

Immigrant Prisoners Rebel against Inhumane Treatment and Abuses

Also, in January, immigrants serving sentences for being undocumented or deportable in the Reeves County Detention Facility Complex, in Pecos, Texas, began a protest after prison officials refused to take a gravely ill prisoner out of solitary confinement to the hospital.

The protest began after a group of immigrant prisoners attempted to meet with the detention facility’s authorities, demanding that a gravely ill detainee be released from solitary confinement and be taken immediately to a hospital. The prison authorities refused to listen and did not take action. The detainees responded by protesting after being ignored.

After the detainees began a spontaneous protest, a melee ensued. A fire broke out during the protest and guards immediately left the premises, locking in the prisoners behind. Some prisoners broke windows to get to other detainees who were choking and fainting, overcome by the smoke.

Then the guards got into SWAT vehicles (or some type of armored vehicle described as a “tortuga,” a turtle, by an inmate) and began firing teargas and rubber bullets at the prisoners who had been abandoned in the facility that was on fire.

Afterwards, the prison guards forced the immigrant inmates to stay outdoors in the prison facility yard on Saturday night. Since then, they have only been fed once a day; they have little or no water and have only three restroom facilities for almost 3,000 prisoners.

The prison authorities only let the inmates back into the facilities after a week. But the prisoners are being forced back into a smoke-damaged building contaminated with carbon monoxide from the fire. The facility now has little or no ventilation since windows have been boarded up.

The Geo Group already has more than 2,800 prisoners in a facility meant to hold 2,400 in Pecos.

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