Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Arrests of "Low Priority" Individuals Continue

From Northwest Immigrant Rights Project:

If  you have been reading news articles about immigration lately, you maybe as confounded as we are.  On the one hand, you may have read about the Obama Administration's announcement that it plans to shift its policy on deportations "from going after those who pose no security or public-safety threat to focusing enforcement on those who do."

But you may have also read a story the very same week about how Border Patrol agents arrested a Korean man-who posed no threat to anybody-at a farmers market in Port Angeles in what one witness described as "so clearly a case of racial profiling." 

Unfortunately, President Obama and his advisers in Washington, DC appear to be disconnected from what federal immigration agencies are doing in local communities around the country, including here in Washington State. 

As you may have read in one of many recent reports, the U.S. Border Patrol has greatly expanded its presence in our State, but increasingly it appears to be focusing its resources on exactly the kinds of individuals that the Administration says it does not want to deport: long-time residents with deep ties to the community and no criminal history. Even the Border Patrol's own agents in our region have started to come forward to decry how the agency is wasting precious resources.

What is perhaps most frustrating about all of this is that the President does not want to own up to what his Administration is doing. Recently, a White House official noted that despite the announcement about the review of pending deportation cases, the Administration still expected to continue deporting approximately 400,000 people each year. 

But the official suggested that the Administration's hands were tied because the number of deportations was tied to how much money Congress allocated to immigration enforcement.  In other words, it seems that the Administration is saying: "we don't mean to deport so many, but Congress is making us do it."  Well, this argument may carry some weight if the amount of funding the Administration was requesting were quite limited and Congress had substantially increased it, but that is not the case: the Administration is essentially getting what it is asking for.  In its most recent budget request to Congress, the Administration is asking for even more Border Patrol agents than ever.  

We can only guess that this increase in funding is necessary because we'll soon need more agents who can patrol farmers markets in our region.  

Jorge L. Barón
Executive Director


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