Tag Archives: ICE

Stop the Raids

Up in Bellingham, Washington, a town just a few miles from the Canadian border, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted a “raid” on an engine plant, arresting 28 workers. The raid stirred outrage among many progressives who had hoped that the secret police tactics of the Bush-era ICE (and I’m sorry, but that’s really the best way to describe it) would end with the new administration.

These “raids”, several of which have hit California communities, making temporary orphans of children whose parents go to work and are thrown into prison camps with no warning or provision made for care of the children (or in cases in Texas, the children themselves are thrown into the camps), have been a prime target of immigrant rights and human rights groups.

These groups point out that immigration law can be enforced without destroying communities or violating basic rights. They also note that the raids rarely catch criminals. A New York Spanish-language paper, El Diario La Prensa, called the raids “a runaway program that has ruthlessly persecuted undocumented families” and demanded Obama and Napolitano stop them.

The outrage at these raids reached DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who claimed she did not know about the raids and would investigate them:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers during a Wednesday hearing in Washington, D.C., that she did not know about the raid before it happened.

She has asked ICE for answers.

“In my view,” she said, “we have to do workplace enforcement, and it needs to be focused on employers who intentionally and knowingly exploit the illegal labor market. I want to get to the bottom of this as well.”

Some Latino bloggers are not sure they buy the Sgt Schulz defense:

The original Know Nothings were a nativist party in the 1800’s. Call me cynical, pero I have a hard time buying that the new Secretary of of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, didn’t know anything about the ICE raid yesterday that arrested 28 undocumented workers….

As ICE raids continue while the Obama administration keeps telling us via Spanish language media that they care about immigration, is this administration going to be the new Know Nothings?

It’s good for immigrant rights activists to keep up the pressure on the Obama Administration. Whether the problem is Bush-era holdovers or an administration not yet willing to break with a policy that violated the human rights of thousands on a massive scale, these raids must stop.

Also, AG Eric Holder is promising to end the raids on medical marijuana clubs. This is a big victory for California and might signal a shift in Obama’s approach to the failed war on drugs, although it’s worth noting this is a small step forward. Let’s hope that Napolitano and Holder are both serious about ending these raids.

UPDATE: “These raids are not a long-term solution” says the White House. A good start, but I’d cut out the words “long-term” – the raids don’t solve a damn thing.

UPDATE 2: Big rally last night in SF’s Mission District criticizing raids and other punitive and unjust methods of enforcing immigration law.

On DREAMs, Intimidation, and Nativist Jerks

As mentioned by Brian, the federal version of the DREAM Act is up for a vote today.  The bill would set on a path to legal status those children of immigrants who enlist in the military or enroll in college.  Yesterday, college students who would benefit from this program were on Capitol Hill, lobbying Congress for passage.  Tom Tancredo, noted jerk, called for the arrest of the students.

Democrats were planning to hold a press conference today featuring three college students whose parents came to the United States illegally in order to promote the DREAM Act. But the event was postponed after anti-immigrant Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) called on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to arrest the three students:

“I call on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to detain any illegal aliens at this press conference,” said Tancredo, who claims to have alerted federal authorities about the well publicized press confrence. “Just because these illegal aliens are being used for political gain doesn’t mean they get immunity from the law. If we can’t enforce our laws inside the building where American laws are made, where can we enforce them?”

They eventually held the press conference anyway and nobody was arrested.  Tancredo is not only being callous here, he’s being ignorant.  One of the students has permanent residency status, and another cannot be deported because she exists in a kind of legal limbo.  Her name is Tam Tran.

Tam Tran, whose Vietnamese parents came illegally to the US from Germany, has lived in the US since she was ten, is a UCLA graduate who wants to pursue a PhD at USC, but can’t because she can’t afford further schooling without federal student loans. The government can’t deport her family back to Vietnam because her father was persecuted by the communist government there, but the German government won’t take them back either. Tran said today she is in “permanent legal limbo.”

The last time Tran spoke out in support of the DREAM Act, in an article in USA Today on October 8, her family was detained by the ICE.

Just three days after the article appeared, federal officers entered her home in the middle of the night and forcibly arrested her family. Tran’s family was detained on a “years-old deportation order,” even though they have been in regular communication with immigration officials for almost 20 years since arriving in the United States.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chair of the immigration subcommitee, equated the family’s arrest to “witness intimidation” and accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials of targeting the Tran family because Tam “testified before Lofgren’s panel earlier this spring.” Earlier this week, USA Today spoke with Lofgren about the Tran family’s arrest:

“Would she and her family have been arrested if she hadn’t spoken out?” Lofgren said of Tran, who was not at home for the raid but has been asked to report to Immigration and Customs officials next week. “I don’t think so.”

This is shocking behavior for the ICE to undertake, and not only does it show the price for dissent in Bush’s America, but it shows how convoluted our immigration system is in the absence of a comprehensive solution.  You can punish immigrants, who have no political power, or you can punish companies who hire the undocumented, who have loads of political power.  In this case, the solution is clear; allow students who have known no other home to contribute to the country in which they were raised.  Brian has the numbers; light ’em up.