Press Release: Frustration Mounts as DHS Continues and Expands Bush-Era Immigration Enforcement Strategies

July 29, 2009

Janet NapolitanoCommon Dreams, 7/29/2009

On the heels of several reports critical of the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement and detention policies, grassroots advocates for immigration reform took to the streets today to protest the continuation and expansion of ineffective Bush-era tactics.

Their protests echo the findings of credible reports and the recommendations of law enforcement officials, all of whom are calling on DHS to make significant changes in policy and strategy.

In New York today, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was met by protesters from the New York Immigration Coalition and allied organizations who demanded an investigation of flagrant abuses by immigration agents in residential raids carried out under the Bush Administration.

This call is based on a recently released public study of the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s home raid operations by the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University.

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Migrant organizations demand end to raids (in Spanish)

April 16, 2009

El Universal, 4/16/2009

A woman reacts to a 2008 raid in Postville, IA

A woman reacts to a 2008 raid in Postville, IA

Migrant organizations of the Global Association of Mexicans Abroad (AMME) called on President Barack Obama to stop the raid and deportation campaigns that have been increasing in the past two years.

Before the President’s visit to Mexico, the AMME’s 700 organizations acknowledged that there is “a significant change, not just in the rhetoric, but also in the attitude of the U.S. government” in relation to Mexico. However, they asked that the President view the bilateral relationship “under a broader lens and that national security not be sole determinant of his decisions.”

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A Cause Célèbre Clouds Mexican Sentiment on Kidnapping Scourge

April 8, 2009

The New York Times, 4/8/2009

Three years ago, morning news programs here broadcast the arrest of a Frenchwoman and her Mexican boyfriend in a police raid that rescued three kidnapping victims from the ranch the couple shared.

The woman, Florence Cassez, was convicted of kidnapping and other crimes and was eventually sentenced to 60 years in jail. Case closed, it would seem.

But through it all, Ms. Cassez, 34, has maintained her innocence. Her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, who confessed, said she knew nothing. And the television images of police officers storming the ranch? The raid turned out to have been staged the day after the couple was arrested and the hostages released.

“In a general climate of impunity, society becomes very conservative,” said Guillermo Zepeda, a security expert at the Center of Research for Development, a Mexico City policy group. “They want the few cases that are resolved to be exemplary.”

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Op-Ed: Obama’s immigration mishmash

April 5, 2009

Op-Ed, San Diego Union Tribune, 4/5/2009

immigration_and_customs_enforcement_arrestWhat a mishmash the Obama administration has made of its position on immigration reform.

The president recently promised the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he’d tackle immigration reform this year and argued that legalizing the undocumented improves the economic power of all workers. But more recently, Vice President Joe Biden told a group of Central American leaders that the economic crisis makes this a bad time to push the subject. “It’s difficult to tell a constituency – while unemployment is rising, they’re losing their jobs and their homes – that what we should do is in fact legalize (illegal immigrants) and stop all deportation,” he said.

President Barack Obama and Biden should get their stories straight. Then again, there is similar confusion at the Department of Homeland Security, the agency charged with protecting the nation’s borders.

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Amid immigration concerns, Locke urges stepped-up outreach; lawmaker calls for halt to raids

March 30, 2009

The Associated Press, 3/30/2009



New Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Monday exhorted census volunteers to boost outreach in hard-to-count communities as a top lawmaker urged the government to halt immigration raids to ensure an accurate count.

Speaking at a Census Bureau training conference, Locke and Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., tried to allay fears in Hispanic and Asian communities where immigrants often mistake census workers for tax collectors or law enforcement officials.

“It is your familiar, trusted voices that will help us succeed in educating residents about the census,” Locke, who is Asian-American, said in his first public appearance since taking office.

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Op-Ed: The Failure of ICE

March 9, 2009

Op-Ed, La Opinion, 3/9/2009

ICE no longer alone in immigration law enforcement

ICE no longer alone in immigration law enforcement

The report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the program that authorizes collaboration between police and immigration agents provides the best argument yet to get rid of it. The lack of interest shown by the Office of Immigration and Custom (ICE) in fulfilling the program’s stated purpose has led to a poorly supervised and misdirected process.

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Editorial: Who’s Running Immigration?

March 3, 2009

The New York Times, 3/3/2009

Immigration enforcement ran off the rails in the Bush era, when federal agents stormed factories to shackle workers and local authorities staged their own crackdowns with little or no oversight from Washington. It was a war without a plan, and it solved nothing.

President Obama has repeatedly promised to take a smarter path. But if he and the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, are making a clean break with the Bush way on immigration, we haven’t seen it yet. That shambling machinery lurches on.

So, a question: Are Mr. Obama and Ms. Napolitano in charge or not? Let them show it by ending the raids and Sheriff Arpaio’s abuses. Something has to be done about immigration, but it has to be smarter than this.

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Hispanic lawmakers hopeful on immigration

February 26, 2009

The Hill, 2/26/2009

Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill

Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill

Hispanic lawmakers are more hopeful than ever that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will end workplace raids by immigration enforcement officials. Several lawmakers emerged elated from a closed-door meeting Thursday with Napolitano, held one day after she promised to investigate a raid of an engine shop in Bellingham, Wash. Earlier this week. During the meeting with the lawmakers, Napolitano said she had “grave concerns” about the raid, in which 25 people were detained for deportation hearings.

The meeting was very, very constructive. We’re happy,” said CHC Immigration Task Force Chairman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.). “We shared with her our concerns about the raid. She shared with us that she had grave concerns about the manner in which it was carried out and that it’s under evaluation.”

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Conflicting Accounts of an ICE Raid in Md.

February 18, 2009

The Washington Post, 2/19/2009

ICE agents search a detainee following a raid in Portland, Oregon

ICE agents search a detainee following a raid in Portland, Oregon

The boss was not happy. His elite team of immigration officers had been raiding targets across Prince George’s and Montgomery counties all night long in search of fugitive and criminal immigrants but had netted only a handful.

As the unit regrouped in its Baltimore office that frigid January morning two years ago, the supervisor warned members that they were well behind a Washington-mandated annual quota of 1,000 arrests per team and ordered them back out to boost their tally.

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Immigrant Advocates Call for End to Raids

January 22, 2009

Washington Post, 1/22/2009

immigration-marchSeveral hundred immigrant supporters and religious leaders from across the country marched to the Southwest Washington headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency yesterday, strumming guitars, beating drums and waving colorful homemade banners exhorting President Obama to halt immigration raids and promote legislation offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

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