5/9- 5/15: An Opportunity for President Obama to Act

16 May

While President Obama’s speech this week about immigration in El Paso, Texas was a disappointment to many immigrant activists, it has prompted more national attention to immigration. The New York Times published an editorial arguing that the President needs to do much more than he has to advance immigration reform. Suggestions included introducing legislation, pushing Congressional leaders for their support and abandoning the Secure Communities program, which they described as a “failed strategy of mass expulsion.” Senate Democrats reintroduced the DREAM Act and Representative Howard Berman introduced the bill in the House. The scrutiny over Secure Communities also continues to expose its flaws and inconsistencies, prompting states and cities like Illinois, California, and Albany, NY to resist participation. California Watch reports that “in Illinois, ICE data shows that 46 percent of those booked into federal custody through Secure Communities had never been convicted of a crime.” In California, AB 1081 would allow each county to negotiate its terms with Immigration and Customs enforcement. Other advocates and media organizations put a face to the problems with Secure Communities. Recently, Isaura Garcia, a victim of domestic violence, found herself in danger of being deported after attempting to report the abuse she was suffering. A program that boasts of improving the safety of communities does the exact opposite.

In his speech, President Obama indicated that he sees immigrants as an important part of not only our economy, but also our communities. If he is really serious about creating an environment that does not exploit immigrants and which does not force them to live in the shadows , he needs to back up his statements with actions that prioritize the rights of undocumented immigrants. As the discontent over Secure Communities mounts, coming notably from staunchly Democratic states, he has an opportunity to show his commitment by suspending the Secure Communities program. It is a program that pushes immigrants further into the shadows and subjects them to even more exploitation and abuse. After all, a community is not safe if the individuals in that community – with papers or without – don’t feel they can report abuse or walk outside of their homes without fear of being stopped by a police officer and being uprooted from their homes.

Related News

Some fear program could be bad for health, Boston Globe, May 6, 2011

In this Letter to the Editor, Professors at Harvard Medical School argue that Secure Communities also affects the physical health of immigrants by instilling fear and anxiety which could lead to chronic diseases and avoidance of health care.

Arizona taking immigration law to U.S. Supreme Court, San Francisco Chronicle, May 9, 2011

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is pressuring the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration law. The deadline to file the appeal is July 11th.

Utah Immigration Law is Blocked, New York Times, May 10, 2011

Federal judge in Utah has temporarily blocked a state law from being implemented that attempts to “curb illegal immigration.” The hearing is set for July 14th.

In Border City Talk, Obama Urges G.O.P to Help Overhaul Immigration Law, New York Times, May 10, 2011

President Obama addresses the nation regarding his plans for immigration reform.

City revises its stance on undocumented immigrant youths, San Francisco Chronicle, May 11, 2011

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announces that the city will “no longer report to immigration authorities juveniles suspected of being in the United States illegally when they are arrested on a felony charge if they can show they have family ties to the Bay Area, are enrolled in school and are not repeat offenders.”

Less than Citizens, Abolishing Birthright Citizenship would Create a Permanent Underclass in Our Nation, Center for American Progress, May 11, 2011

This brief discusses the problems with conservative legislation that attempts to block citizenship rights to children born in the U.S. whose parents are undocumented immigrants.


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