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Posts Tagged ‘community impact’

Last Week: In Our Community (Mar. 16-23)

In community impact on March 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday, March 16 through Monday, March 23.

Stop the Raids
In his blog “God’s Politics,” evangelical leader and activist Jim Wallis tells people that ending immigration raids is a matter of conscious.

End Immigration Raids, Cardinal Tells President
On Saturday, Cardinal Francis George called on President Barack Obama to end immigration raids and pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. He said, “We cannot strengthen families when people live in fear from day to day.”

A Slippery Place in the U.S. Workforce
This article talks about the experiences of immigrants in Morristown, a small factory town in east TN, in light of the economic crisis. Covering the historical demographic changes of the area, to the anti-immigrants struggles spurred by ESL classes in the education system, to disparate access to career centers and additional job training, this article provides insight into how immigration can affect communities and the economy as a whole.

Martinez Heats Up Immigration Debate
Florida Senator Mel Martinez began heating up the debate over comprehensive immigration reform last week. A leading Republican voice for CIR, Martinez wants to get CIR done fast as he has plans to retire at the end of his term. He also seems to believe that other republicans have begun to see immigration as a human rights issue.

Immigration Agency Is Criticized Over Healthcare
After another death in immigration detention was reported last week, Human Rights Watch and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center have stepped up their critique of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigrant detention practices. The groups argue that deaths and other forms of substandard treatment are the result of “unskilled or indifferent staff, overcrowding, bureaucracy, language barriers and limited services available to detainees.”

The Competition for Low-Wage Jobs
This week the NY Times blog Room for Debate discusses how the current economic crisis affects both legal and undocumented immigrants. The blog brings together six differing perspectives, ranging from labor economists, anti-immigrant activists, migration policy experts, day laborer, and employment activists.

Ana’s Choice: Can Congress reform immigration law to make it more humane?
This article is a summary of larger piece published in the Winter 2009 issue of Ms. Magazine. It provides one of many feminist perspectives on immigration, focusing on family unity and a pathway to legal status.

Migrant Workers Sending Less Money to Latin America
This Wall Street Journal article discusses the decline in remittances being sent to Latin America due to the economic recession. Many Latin American countries depend on remittances sent from the U.S., Europe, and Japan and are likely to be hard-hit with this decline.

Cities and Counties Rely on U.S. Immigrant Detention Fees
These days, most local governments are having to cut their budgets. But many local law enforcement agencies have found a new source of income–immigrant detention. This article talks about how many South California jails are nearly able to pay for the entire cost of running their facility off of the income they make on housing immigrant detainees.

Keep the border patrol ON THE BORDER

In community impact, enforcement on March 16, 2009 at 5:12 pm

The Port Townsend Peace Movement (which includes many dedicated Quakers and FCNL supporters) has made a documentary about the activities of the Border Patrol on the Olympic Peninsula. The full documentary is a powerful representation about how immigration enforcement can tear apart and instill fear in our communities.

Check out the trailer:

For more information, see www.bpfree.org

In particular, if you live on the Olympic Peninsula and have had a direct personal experience with the Border Patrol, Border Patrol Free Zone is collecting information and facts on all Border Patrol activities to document abuse and other civil liberties violations. Please document your story here.

Last Week: In Our Community

In community impact on March 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday March 2 through Monday March 9.

Pelosi: End Raids Splitting Immigrant Families
On Saturday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined hundreds of families in the Mission District of San Francisco to call for an end to raids which tear apart families. To the crowd she said, “Taking parents from their children…that’s un-American.” She also called for comprehensive immigration reform as the solution to the broad immigration problems in the United States.

Revisions Could Prompt Arpaio’s ICE-Program Exit
After the Congressional hearing on the 287(g) program last week, Sheriff Joe Arpaio issued a statement saying that he would withdraw from the program if the federal government tried to implement oversight and regulations that would limit him to only arresting immigrants with serious criminal records. Arpaio has consistently been accused of using racial profiling as a means to identify undocumented immigrants, a frequent problem with the 287(g) program that regulations are meant to deter. Yet Arpaio states, “I like it [the program] the way it is now.”

U.S. Must Shield Its Child Citizens
Does the United States support intentionally orphaning the children of non-criminal immigrants? This article explores the fears and struggles of the some 3.1 million citizen children in the United States who have at least one undocumented parents. As the law stands now, judges to not have judicial discretion in cases where initiating removal proceedings would separate families or perhaps even orphan children. Immigrant families are then left with the choice to either bring their citizen children to a country where they will have fewer opportunities, or leave them in the care of the foster system. The Child Citizen Protection Act recently introduced to Congress would change this.

GAO Report- DHS: Organizational Structure, Spending, and Staffing for Health Care Provided to Immigrant Detainees
This GAO report examines the quality of health care provided to immigrants detained by the Department of Homeland Security. Overall, they found that the provision of health care was not uniform across all ICE facilities and there was a lack of data concerning organizational structure and oversight, spending, and staffing.

Who’s Running Immigration?
This NY Times editorial asks who is in charge of immigration under the current administration? Despite the fact that President Obama campaigned on comprehensive immigration reform and said that raids “terrorized” communities, a number of recent events have demonstrated that the new administration is so far maintaining the status quo as they prepare for immigration reform.

Many Immigrants Still Till the Land of Opportunity
This article tells the story of immigrants who make their living tending gardens in the United States. It provides an interesting perspective into the life of many immigrants in the United States.

Last Week: In Our Community

In community impact, enforcement on March 5, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday February 23- Monday March 2.

Given that I’ve posted a number of updates on the Bellingham raid (to access these updates click here, here, here, or here), I’ll just include a list of news articles without annotations.

Bellingham Raid
Immigration Officials Raid Bellingham Plant
28 Illegal Immigrants Arrested in Bellingham Raid
Obama Administration Conducts First Immigration Raid in Bellingham
Raid on Illegals Dismays Obama Backers

Officials, Advocates Question Immigration Raid
Bellingham Immigration Raid Raises Protests
Napolitano Orders Review of WA Raid

Concerns Arise Over Fast-Track Deportation Program
This article focuses on the federal government’s increasing practice of deporting immigrants without a hearing. Attorneys, advocates, and judges all have concerns about this practice because many immigrants are deported without knowing their rights or the future consequences of their deportation.

Obama Can’t Afford to Ignore Immigration
This International Herald Tribune article argues that even in the midst of recession, Obama can’t afford to set back immigration reform. The author argues that to come out of the recession, the U.S. needs to boost service, construction, and agricultural industries.

Haitians Look for Shift in Immigration Policy
Haitian immigrants are looking to the Obama administration for a reversal of the Bush administration’s resumed deportations to Haiti. After deadly mudslides and hurricanes hit Haiti last year, the Haitian government requested that the U.S. offer “temporary protected status” to Haitians living in the U.S. The Bush administration halted deportations while they reviewed the request, which they later denied. Many Haitians now fear being torn apart from their U.S. families. Protests against U.S. policy towards Haitians also took place last week.

Liberians in Limbo
Since they were granted temporary protected status (TPS) in 1991 after fleeing civil war, Liberian refugees have been making a life, and a community, in the United States. Now, eighteen years later, thousands of Liberian refugees are being forced to voluntarily leave the U.S. or face mass deportation on March 31. This article discusses the history and politics of the “TPS” category, which is in desparate need of reform.

U.S Immigration Policies Brings Global Shame on Us
This article discusses the global media attention–and shame–garnered by Sherriff Joe Arpaio’s tactics in handling immigration. Next to news articles abroad on President Obama’s speech before Congress were articles talking about the “inhumane,” “discriminatory,” and “humiliating” treatment of immigrant detainees in the United States.

ICE Program Shifts Immigration Costs, Abuses
“We can make a person disappear,” an ICE official said. This article discusses the problematic programs of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which has extraordinary powers under civil immigration law.

Immigration Not Local Police Duty
This editorial discusses how the 287(g) program–a program which gives grant funds to local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration laws–does little to reduce crime, the program’s orginial selling point.

Other news articles:
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee- ADC Requests DHS Civil Liberties Investigation of Operation Frontline

Atlanta Journal Constitution- Immigration Rally Focuses on Families

Immigration Impact- Obama Assures Mexican President He’s Committed to Immigration Reform

Associated Press- Calderon: US Should Fix Economy, Then Immigration

The Washington Post Magizine- A College Student Fights Deportation

Seattle PI- Washington Activists Fights Immigrant Detention Center

AP Texas News- Deported Infant Case Back in Court

San Francisco Chronicle- Court Takes Case on Rights of Immigrant Defendents

While the President Addressed the Nation

In community impact on February 25, 2009 at 5:32 pm
[POST UPDATED] For the latest update on the Bellingham raid, click HERE.

Last night President Obama addressed the joint chambers of Congress laying out his administration’s priorities for the next year. The entire speech focused on the economy, but emphasized energy, healthcare, and education as the top three areas of focus–all issues that I strongly support.

I was disappointed, however, that President Obama failed to mention immigration even once during his address.

I was even more disappointed that on a day when he calls for the U.S. to take responsibility for its future once more, for its people to join in rebuilding their country, the first worksite raid of the Obama administration took place in Bellingham, Washington.

In their usual militarized and heavy-handed fashion (including the helicopter), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided Yamato Engine Specialists arresting 28 undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

As it appears now, they are attempting to charge these individuals with identity fraud, which–unlike “unlawful presence” or “entry without inspection” –is a criminal offense. This is the same tactic ICE piloted in Postville, Iowa last summer, a tactic that’s legality is currently being reviewed by the U.S Supreme Court.

But the first worksite raid of the Obama administration is especially disappointing given that during the campaign last summer Obama said:

“When communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids, when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel, when all that is happening, the system just isn’t working, and we need to change it.”

At that moment back in July, he seemed to get it. Yet the raid that took place yesterday was no different, three mothers with young children were among those arrested.

And I can’t say that Obama doesn’t get it now. As I posted last week, when he was on the radio show El Piolín por la mañana, Obama clearly spoke of the need for immigration reform precisely in light of the current state of the economy.

I think he does get it. But as his address to the nation last night showed, it is not currently a priority of the Obama administration. This is problematic for two reasons:

  1. Without reform, raids like that the one that took place yesterday in Bellingham will continue to terrorize our communities, tearing mothers from their children, separating families, placing hardworking members of our communities in detention centers with inadequate standards, and even placing further strain on local economies.
  2. By not prioritizing humane immigration reform, immigration will continue to be a divisive issue used to derail critical initiatives of the administration like healthcare and education.

As we’ve seen in congressional debates over SCHIP and the Recovery Act, immigration has been an issue which almost causes their failure. What will happen in a debate over universal healthcare if we have not already rectified the status of undocumented immigratants? What about education when hardline anti-immigrant advocates say they don’t want money going to schools if it will fund ESL programs?

How will we move forward in what is best for our country without finding a way to include and recognize core members of our communities?

I wish Obama would answer that. Even President Bush left the Whitehouse saying one of his biggest regrets was that he did not push for immigration reform first, before social security reform. I don’t want the Obama administration to leave with such regrets. I want change.

But I can say that I am left hopeful by the continued and growing efforts of communities around the country to speak out on the issue of immigration. As we saw last week, over 150 communities nationwide held prayer vigils calling for Congress to act on humane immigration reform. And in April, another national grassroots effort will take place in the form of “Neighbor-to-Neighbor” in-district visits with Congresspeople.

May theirs be the winds of change that move us forward.

abUSed: The Postville Raid

In community impact, enforcement on February 23, 2009 at 8:35 pm
“…the desperate need for immigration reform needs a face, and that face might well be in Postville, Iowa.”

~One of the many articles written about Postville

On May 12, 2008, Postville, Iowa experienced one of the most heavily armed and militarized immigration raids in U.S. history. 389 undocumented meatpacking workers were arrested and chained while working at Agriprocessors, Inc by 900 armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
In less than 4 days, over 3/4 of those arrested were fast-tracked through the U.S. legal system where, as one of the certified interpreters brought in to translate these cases testified, “defendants whose words he translated…did not understand the criminal charges they were facing or the rights most of them had waived.” The defendants were allowed little time with their legal counsel–if any–and many did not understand why they were in criminal court.

Unlike previous raids were ICE apprehended undocumented immigrants to be deported, in Postville they were trying a new tactic: charging as many people as they could with criminal offenses. They then used these criminal charges–many of which carried a mandatory two-year sentencing–to persuade people to plead guilty to lesser immigration charges, spend 5 months in detention, and deportation.

While the legality of this ICE tactic is currently be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the devastation the Postville raid has had on the community is still evident. Families have become dependent on churches and other social services for food and shelter. The economy is tanking. U.S. citizen children are left in the foster care system or exiled to a country they have never seen. Restaurants who served the Agriprocessors workers have been forced to shut down. The company itself cut the jobs of even more workers and filed bankruptcy.

As I heard many faith groups and individuals who went to Postville to offer humanitarian relief after the raids say, the Postville raid created a natural disaster zone, only it was manmade.

abUSED: The Postville Raid is a documentary by acclaimed director Luis Argueta capturing the stories and effects of the Postville Raid. Even this short, 8 minute trailer gives a face to current, unjust enforcement practices and the dire need for comprehensive immigration reform in our country.

I encourage everyone to watch it and use the full documentary once it comes out as a educational tool for your communities.

For more information on the continued devastation in Postville, see this Times article that I included in my February 2nd news update.

Last Week: In Our Community

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Immigration news and updates from February 16th- Monday February 23rd.

There was a lot of interesting coverage last week (not even including all of the great media coverage the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s prayer vigils received!), so I’ll highlight a few articles with annotations up top, and then just include a list of links after that.

TRAILER- AbUSed: The Postville Raid
While I’m going to create a separate post on this later today, I figured I’d go ahead and link to the trailer for a new documentary coming out about the immigration raid at Agroprocessors, Inc. in Postville, IA last year. This trailer is extremely powerful (I look forward to seeing the documentary in full) and demonstrates the continued devastation facing the community of Postville emotionally, economically, and spiritually.

NYT Editorial: Enforcement Gone Bad

This NY Times editorial outlines the failures of the federal government’s enforcement-only immigration strategy.

NY Times: In Lonliness, Immigrants Tend the Flock
This heartfelt article discusses the work of (legal) temporary migrant workers who come to the US to work as sheepherders in the U.S.-American West. The article notes how, in particular, the “harsh, solitary lives of foreign sheepherders in the American West have remained virtually unchanged for more than a century. And government oversight of their circumstances remains piecemeal.”

Immigrant Removed During Church Service Near Conroe, Jailed
This article tells the story of Jose Juan Hernandez who was arrested for re-entering the country after deportation while sitting in a church santurary during a church service near Conroe, TX. Hernandez had no prior record of violence. The arrest inside the church caused great controversy in the community, many of whom felt ICE’s tactics violated sacred worship.

THE HILL: Immigration Reform Advocates Push Forward in Tough Economy
This article discusses the continued push for comprehensive immigration reform in the coming year. The article provides a nice overview of the political climate on the Hill around immigration given the current state of the economy, unemployment, etc.

Conflicting Accounts of an ICE Raid in MD: Officers Portray Detention of 24 Latinos Differently in Internal Probe and in Court
This Washington Post article discusses the controversial arrests of 24 Latino men at a 7/11 in MD over two years ago. The arrests were caught on security camera footage and the footage was then obtained by the Washington Post. The footage demonstrates how ICE agents tended towards random sweeps for undocumented immigrants–which perpetuated racial profiling–rather than focusing on their stated goal of apprehending fugitive criminals.

100,000-plus Citizen Children Find Parents Deported: Serrano Releases DHS Study Showing Families Being Torn Apart
Congressman José Serrano released a study last week which he commissioned from the Department of Homeland Security showing that DHS has deported more than 100,000 parents of U.S. citizen children. DHS also admitted that this number could be higher if their records were more accurate. In response, Congressman Serrano has re-introduced the Child Citizen Protection Act which would take allow the courts to take family unity into account when considering the cases of parents with U.S. citizen children. For further coverage, see this Associated Press article.

Helping Workers in Hard Times
This NY Times editorial does a great job at linking protection of labor rights to undocumented immigration. Pointing out that undocumented immigrants most often fill the “most dangerous, dirty, and low-paying jobs,” the editorial argues that the best strategy to combat undocumented migration and protect U.S. workers is to “fight back against abuses that make wages and job conditions worse for everyone.”

Now for the list:

LA Times: Illegal Immigration Case Stemming from Van Nuys Work Site Raid Is Dismissed: ICE agents violated regulations in 2008 raid, judge says in ruling that could affect dozens of other cases

Washington Post: ICE Halts Detentions at Piedmont Facility After Death

Chicago Tribune: Law Allows Religious Workers More Time With Jailed Immigrants

NPR: Napolitano Outlines Immigration Priorities

Politico: Rahm’s Immigration Turnabout

NY Times: U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship

Associated Press: Supreme Court Hears Immigrant’s ID Theft Case

Texas Observer- Access Denied: Countless women are sexually assaulted as they attempt to immigrate into the United States. What happens to their reproductive rights when they wind up in U.S. custody?

Brownsville Herald: America’s Immigration Gulags Overflowing With Mentally Ill Prisoners

Guardian- America’s ‘Toughest Sheriff’ Faces Lawsuit Over Crime Crackdown: Call for Investigation into Alleged Anti-Hispanic Sweeps

Omaha World-Herald: Mom Worries as Woman Faces Deportation

NY Times: Facing Graduation, Not Deportation

Associated Press: In Enforcement Era, Communities Prepare for Raids

Prayer, Renewal, Action

In community impact on February 20, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Throughout this week, over 150 communities nationwide have joined together to pray for humane immigration reform in the 111th Congress.

In a campaign sponsored by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (of which we–FCNL–are members), participants in these vigils are calling for:

1. Protection for immigrants and their families
2. Empowerment of the faith community to advocate on behalf of immigrants
3. Moral courage for Congress to take the necessary leadership to see that humane comprehensive immigration reform is passed

prayer-vigils-1

As my colleague with the United Methodist Church, Bill Mefford, said: “This tremendous response by people of faith is due to seeing the devastation of raids on immigrant families and local communities and the need for Congress to have the moral courage to enact just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.”

Bishop Carcaño, who was in town last week for the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s press conference launching the Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform, followed by saying that “prayer is a powerful, fundamental aspect of our faith. When nothing else has changed hearts and changed minds in the past, prayer has been that changing factor. I believe in the power of prayer.”

And seeing the impact and coverage these vigils have brought to the issue of comprehensive immigration reform in the last week, I’d be inclined to believe her. Not even 3/4 of the vigils have taken place, but here is a hint at what sort of impact they’re having:

TV Coverage
Good Morning Arizona Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
ABC15 News at 5 am Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
12 News at 10 pm Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
ABC 15 News at 10 pm Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
3 TV News at 9 Sunday Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]

News 10 NBC Today Rochester, NY
News 10 NBC Today at Eleven Rochester, NY
Fox 4 at 9 pm Kansas City, MO
NBC 17 News at 6 Raleigh- Durnam, NC
ABC 11 Eyewitness News at 5 Raleigh-Durnam, NC
Fox 4 at 12 Noon Kansas City, MO
WRAL TV News at Noon Raleigh-Durnam, NC
ABC 11 Eyewitness News at Noon Raleigh-Durnam, NC
News 8 Update Dallas, TX
Channel 2 Action News Atlanta, GA
CBS Atlanta News at 11 Atlanta, GA

News Coverage
Newsday: Prayer Vigil Focuses on Immigration Reform [Updated 2/23/2009]

Ashville Citizen Times: Immigration Vigil Focuses on Reform
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Jackson Clarion Ledger: Immigration Prayer Vigil Set for Carthage
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Waterloo Courier- A Prayer from Postville: Vigil Urges Reform of Immigration Laws
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Iowa Independent: Calls for Immigration Reform Continue in Postville [Updated 2/23/2009]

Decorah Journal: Renewed Hope [Updated 2/23/2009]

Bradenton Herald: Church to Hold Vigil for Migrants [Updated 2/23/2009]

Waco Tribune: Local News Briefs [Updated 2/23/2009]

El Diario La Prensa: Oran por reforma migratoria [Updated 2/23/2009]

Dallas Morning News: From Dallas church, people pray for ‘humane and just’ immigration reform

Idaho Press Tribune: Vigil will focus on immigration

Aurora Sentinel: Faith calls together crowd for immigration vigil

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Interfaith church vigil calls for immigration reform

WHEC News: Immigration reform prayer service

ABC 11 News: Immigration supporters pray for change

North Carolina News Network: Prayer For An End To Immigration Raids

Raleigh News & Observer: Prayer vigil focuses on immigration

WRAL News: Raleigh joins national vigil for immigration reform

Omaha World Herald: Bishops take on immigrant policies

Virginian Pilot: Religious group to host immigration talk in Va. Beach

Alter Net: Religious Leaders Help Shape Immigration Debate

Christian Post: Faith Leaders Re-Ignite Immigration Debate

The Hill: Immigration reform advocates push forward in tough economy

Decorah Journal: Postville prayer vigil Thursday

MSNBC: Immigration reform prayer service

Jersey Journal: Immigration vigil tonight

Catholic News Agency: Nebraska bishops use input from laity to tackle immigration reform

Columbus Telegram: Bishops urge care with immigrants

Cary News: Cary immigration reform group holds training session

Great Falls Tribune: Immigration bill targets illegal workers

San Diego Union Tribune: Bilingual workshop set to help with immigration

Annapolis Capital: Immigrants march to protest Va. county’s policies


Last Week: In Our Community

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday February 9th-Monday February 16th.

VIDEO: President Obama Talks About Immigration with Univision
This video shows Univision’s coverage from their interview with President Obama. The conversation discusses comprehensive immigration reform, legalization, and current enforcement practices like raids.

Political Economy of Immigration

This Border Lines blog post discusses the political economy of immigration as we enter into a new administration. In particular, the post distinguishes the politics of fear which have driven the immigration debate over the last few years from the realities of the current economy.

Bad Economy Forcing Immigrants to Reconsider U.S.
This CNN article discusses the effects the current economy is having on immigration and immigrants. With fewer jobs on the market, many immigrants are returning to their home countries; others are choosing to stick it out as their home countries have been hit even harder by the economic crisis.

Liberians Facing Mass Deportations from U.S.

On March 31st, thousands of Liberian refugees will face deportation as their Temporary Protected Status visa–which has provided many of these people with protected status in the United States for over 18 years–expires. Communities where there is a large Liberian population are questioning what will happen to their communities? To their businesses? And to the American-born children and family members that are left behind? Many Liberians fear going back to a country which drove them away in a bloody civil war and currently still faces mass unemployment.

NPR: Immigration Crackdown Overwhelms Judge

This NPR piece discusses the effects the current immigration crackdown has on the judicial system. Discussing issues from court backlogs, lack of testimony, and denied access to legal counsel, one immigration judge is quoted as saying, “For some people, these [sentences] are equivalent to death penalty cases, and we are conducting these cases in a traffic court setting.”

Feds Return for Immigration Raid
This article discusses the arrest of Julia Morales, a local pentecostal pastor in New Haven-New York, who has lived in the U.S. for a quarter of a century. A leader in the community and a person without so much as a traffic ticket on her record, the community is fuming over her arrest.

Jailed Immigrants Buoy Budgets

This article discusses what among immigration advocates is known as the “migrant military complex;” that is to say, the industry developed around the detention of migrants. As this article discusses, both public and private facilities “aggressively try to market” themselves in order to get immigrant detainees in their facilities due to the price ICE pays per day per detainee. Meanwhile, there is increasing concern about the standards of immigrant detention.

AP: Immigrant Raids Often Mark Start of Years in Limbo

This Associated Press article discusses the years of hardship that is often sparked due to immigration raids. Backlogs in the courts, as well as no legal “speedy trial” requirements as exist in criminal courts, mean that immigrants often wait years to learn the status of their immigration cases. During this time, many are held in detention, but others who continue to live in their community are not lawfully able to work. This has placed a huge burden on communities, especially churches which provide services to immigrants and their families.

Use of Federal Database for ID Checks Hits Some Bumps

This USA Today article discusses a few of the many problems caused by E-Verify, including database discrepancies, employer discrimination, lack of transparency, and its inability to address identity fraud.

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition Announces Campaign for Action on Immigration Reform

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Today, my colleagues from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and I held a press conference down at the Capitol officially announcing our Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform and our new campaign “Prayer, Renewal and Action on Immigration.”

The press conference had an impressive list of speakers: Congressman Gutierrez, Congressman Honda, Sister Eileen Campbell (Sisters of Mercy), Bishop Minerva Carcaño (United Methodist Church), Rabbi David Ssaperstein (Reform Judaism), Jim Wallis (leading evangelical voice, President and CEO of Sojourners), and John Crestwell (Unitarian Universalist). And while I expected the conference to be good, I didn’t expect to be quite as moved by what people said.

First, Congressman Gutierrez gave an impassioned speech about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, speaking specifically about family unity. He said, “Respecting family values should be fundmental to our nation’s laws, but instead, across America families are torn apart by a system that values quotas over parents and their children or husbands or wives.”

Then, Congressman Honda talked about the legacy of the Japanese internment camps and how our current system reflects a racial profiling that we had once sworn “never again” to.

The faith leaders then spoke about peoples of faith call to welcome the stranger and love our neighbor as ourself. Some highlights from the press release are:

“The often politicized and divisive debate around immigration calls for a deeper dialogue shaped by our best religious values of compassion, mercy, justice, and tolerance…The faith community has a clear responsibility in leading this conversation and helping those who are most vulnerable due to their immigration status.”
~ Reverent Jim Wallis

“Our nation’s soul is at risk. Families are being torn apart. Human rights are being denied. Comprehensive immigration reform is needed now. We recognize an urgent duty and challenge to stand in solidarity with immigrants, refugees, and trafficked persons seeking fullness of life, and to act as a voice for those whose needs get lost in the political debate.”
~ Sister Eileen Campbell

“We read in the Torah more frequently than any other commandment that we should love the stranger as ourselves, love our neighbor as ourselves. Leviticus says, ‘The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’ And who was the ger or the ger toshav, which we interpret as ‘the stranger’? It was the resident alien, the person who came to Israel, lived in Israel, worked and participated in the life of Israel, but did not convert to Judaism. Is that not exactly the status of the immigrant in America today?”
~Rabbi David Saperstein

“As the suffering of immigrants and their families grows every day, we as people of faith long to bring healing to them and this land. As with people of all faiths, United Methodists stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters. Immigration reform that is just and humane is the only way to bring healing to our land.”
~Bishop Minerva Cacaño

“When we move toward a day where our words and deeds embrace instead of erase we will witness Beloved Community. Immigration legislation must be humane and written in light of our common humanity. We are interconnected and interrelated.”
~John Crestwell

Then finally, in response to a question asked about whether or not we believed we had the political clout to bring about immigration reform in the first year, Jim Wallis replied: “At the end of his campaign Obama said that now we must create the winds of change that will push him along. But winds of change are already blowing in the faith community with regards to immigration. We are clearing the way.”