Monday, December 23, 2013

President Obama: Stop Deportations Now

From Daniela Conde:

President Obama: Stop deportations now

The New York Times reports on its front page today that New Orleans has become the new frontier of ICE enforcement:
“Our people feel they can’t go to the store to buy food or walk their children to school,” said Santos Alvarado, 51, a Honduran construction worker [and member of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice]. “We couldn’t be quiet any longer.”

Without immediate action, the race-based raids being piloted in New Orleans will become the new normal across the country. Please join our demand to President Obama to stop it.

As 2013 comes to a close, members of Congress are home for the holidays without having passed immigration reform. Meanwhile, immigrants across the United States continue to live under siege. The Obama Administration is continuing to deport immigrants at the blistering rate of 1,100 a day, separating people from their families and uprooting them from their communities. At the current rate, 16,500 more will be deported by the time Congress returns on January 7. By this time next year, 401,500 more will be deported.

Immigrants in New Orleans are already facing the new frontier of immigration enforcement: indiscriminate community raids by ICE squads at apartment complexes, grocery stores, laundromats, Bible study groups, and parks based purely on racial profiling. Often working with local law enforcement, New Orleans ICE arrests people who appear Latino and uses high-tech mobile biometric devices, first created for U.S. military use in Iraq and Afghanistan, to conduct immediate biometric record checks. Most people are handcuffed before the fingerprinting begins, and based on the results, many are immediately separated from their families and transported to ICE detention centers for deportation.

Who is being snared in these dragnets? Juan Ramon Pena-Mendoza, a father ICE arrested while he was dropping off his 5-year-old U.S. citizen daughter at the school bus stop. Jimmy Barraza, who watched ICE agents handcuff his 16-year-old U.S. citizen stepson and throw him against a wall when the boy asked questions about his father’s arrest. Karen Elizabeth Sandoval, a mother left to raise two children alone after ICE arrested her partner in a “driving while Latino” stop while the family was on their way to buy school supplies. All these people have done is struggle to be reunited with their families and loved ones—or refuse to "self-deport" from the communities they helped rebuild. (Read the new NOWCRJ report on the raids: The Criminal Alien Removal Initiative in New Orleans: The Obama Administration’s Brutal New Frontier in Immigration Enforcement.)

These race-based immigration raids are “stop and frisk” for the immigrant community. The outcome of this quota-driven enforcement in New Orleans is that driving, shopping, dropping kids off at the bus stop, or attending a Bible study—while appearing Latino—is grounds for handcuffing and forced submission to fingerprinting at a mobile fingerprinting device. Criminalizing communities based on racial appearance is never good law enforcement practice.

On December 12, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond wrote to ICE Director John Sandweg expressing grave concerns about the recent ICE raids. His letter stated: “Profiling any race is not the American way and no one should be subject to unethical pursuit; especially not while accompanying your son at his school bus stop, while attending weekly Bible study meetings, or while purchasing food for your family at the local supermarket.”
President Obama has the legal authority and moral responsibility to stop the deportations. And as the New York Times reports, New Orleans shows exactly why across the country, the movement for immigration reform is now urging the President to use that authority. The first step on the path to citizenship for the 11 million is to stop deporting today the citizens of tomorrow.

Don’t let New Orleans become the new normal. Please add your organization to our letter to President Obama and join us in the following demands:
End the quota-driven immigration enforcement that focuses on prior immigration history, separating families and undercutting workers’ rights.
Stop the community raids in New Orleans and put a moratorium on the use of mobile biometrics devices.
End collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement, starting with the CARI taskforces in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany parishes.
Grant immediate deferred action to the community members and civil rights leaders who have exposed the CARI raids.
Adopt a policy not to pursue deportations based on arrests that are unconstitutional or violate ICE’s own guidelines.
Provide full information on the enforcement programs in effect in the region, including the information NOWCRJ is seeking on CARI, and hold a public forum to dialogue on the impact of this enforcement and plans for future enforcement programs.
This is a fight not just for Juan, Jimmy, and Karen, and not just for New Orleans. It’s a fight to stop race-based community raids from becoming the new normal in every corner of the country—to stop them from coming soon to laundromats, markets, barrios, and Bible studies near you.

In solidarity,

Daniela Conde
Legal Fellow
New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice
National Guestworker Alliance


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