The Department of Homeland Security’s report on annual deportations has become an expected and widely reported reverse census, an accounting of how many people are no longer in the country. This week’s announcement, that a record 396,906 individuals had been deported, caused quite a media flurry. Through TV, radio or print the number 396,906 has been sliced and diced to report the percentage of criminals, the percentage that is Latino, the percentage that left citizen children behind, etc.
The fact is that 396,906 deportations are not inevitable. This number is not caused by undocumented individuals, but by the Bush and Obama administrations’ policy of mass deportation. The Executive Branch sets policies such as Secure Communities and use of workplace raids to proactively remove immigrants, all under the guise of national security.
Nor is the number acceptable. The evidence is overwhelming, from personal stories to human rights reports to economic analyses, that deportations are destructive to families, communities and the moral compass of our justice system.
President Obama says he cannot pass comprehensive immigration reform without the help of Congress, but there is one thing he can do: Stop mass deportations.
In other news:
Following the August announcement that it would stop deportations of low-priority undocumented immigrants, the Obama administration announced that it will soon begin to review the approximately 300,000 pending cases to identify which low-priority cases it would drop. The details of the policy and criteria are still unknown.
ACLU: Law suit alleges 3 immigrant women assaulted while in ICE custody, CNN, 10/21/11
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against three ICE agents, a private detention facility and a detention guard for the sexual assault of three women. Their investigation has found over 200 reported cases of sexual abuse in detention facilities since 2007.
Reports are emerging from parents and community members in Alabama that bullying of Latino students and ethnic tensions in schools have increased since the passage of HB56. The Justice Department reports that it is monitoring the increase in bullying and has set up a phone line for families to call to report any case of abuse.
This week a judge ruled against Arizona’s countersuit to the Federal Government’s lawsuit against SB1070. The Federal lawsuit asserts that the Federal Government has complete jurisdiction over immigration issues. This is an important step against SB1070, but given this week’s reminder of the 400,000 deportations, it’s cold comfort to think that the Federal Government is the preferable alternative to Arizona’s anti-immigration policies.