Saturday, December 29, 2007

287g VOTE 1/3!

The Day is fast approaching. The January Common Council meeting has been set for 1/3 at 7:30pm at City Hall in Danbury. The most newsworthy point on this months agenda is the proposed institution of the 287g ICE ACCESS program. Insiders are fairly sure that this measure will be adopted, carte blanche, and unanimously by the common council. For those of you not familiar, the 287g ICE ACCESS program would enable local police to train with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and set forth a partnership where the specific officers who are trained would then be under the direction of, and subject to the FEDERAL jurisdiction of ICE. It would enable them to conduct investigations of suspected criminal aliens, and those facing final deportation orders. It would allow them to conduct raids, and to arrest and detain undocumented individuals who are part of the ICE jurisdiction.

Several serious questions must be raised about this process, which the Common Council at this point does not seem to be raising.

1. How will the program be paid for? Federal government only reimburses a certain percentage of the costs incurred by this program. It does NOT pay for things such as travel and lodging expenses, or food for the agents during the training. Further, once they finish training, the public has not been advised as to which charges will be covered by federal budget. As in, how will these investigations be paid for? Surveillance? Housing of those arrested and detained? WHERE will they be housed and detained? The current police department does not appear to have ample enough space in their jails to house a large increase in arrestees.

2. While the already short staffed police force in Danbury perform these new duties, there will be at least 2 officers who will now be devoted to other duties, specifically those pertaining to issues of immigration. So, that means there will be 2 less officers on the beat to deal with the concerns of the average American resident, and the public safety issues in general. First of all, doesn't the Police already have the authority to arrest and detain anyone suspected of criminal wrong doing? Why do they need a partnership with ICE to allow this? Secondly, with two less officers on the beat handling general crime, will other police officers be asked to put in overtime hours, and how much will that cause the average danbury tax payer?

3. A partnership with ICE can only cause problems in trust between local police, and our Immigrant Community. One of the most obvious examples of how the Immigrant community could suffer as a result of this program, is domestic abuse cases. Imagine you are a woman, undocumented, who is being abused, by a spouse or boyfriend. To even reach out and call the police, for even an American Citizen in such a situation is hard enough. Domestic Abuse victims and survivors suffer years of mistrust and "shell shock" and feelings of isolation from their abusive relationships. In this situation, often, reaching out and telling people what you are suffering can be hard enough to do, imagine then, how much more difficult it would be to report such a crime if you were simultaneously terrified of being arrested and deported yourself due to your lack of documents? Imagine how easy it would be for an abuser to use this tool to further terrify the abused "I'll call the cops on you, and they'll see you don't have documents. So shut up and do what I tell you...". etc. A slippery slope indeed.

4. Members of the Immigrant Community have already privately pointed to situations in which they believe that they were discriminated against, and were victims of racial profiling and harassment due to their culture. Being that this sort of partnership with ICE has the potential to be abused, and to create a situation where frequent racial profiling is used as a tool to catch and deport "criminal aliens" how many of our Legal Hispanic and Latino residents could possibly be wrongfully detained, and harrassed even by our local police? Is there an assurance that common council can give us that this will NOT happen? Have they studied the program deeply enough to know?

These are just some of the questions that need to be raised by people at the Common Council meeting 1/3. The simple fact is, that even for those who may not be on the side of Immigrants, there are enough reasons to halt this process and ask that our common council take it to further study before accepting it. This is not a decision to enter into lightly, lest we expose ourselves to strains on our municipal police, on the taxpayers wallets, lest we expose ourselves to lawsuits incurred by civil rights violations, and less we further marginalize members of our immigrant community (legal, as well as undocumented).

We at Stop the Raids urge you to come down to the City Hall and make your arguments that day, and say loud and clear to the common council "Don't pass the 287g program today!" and preferably, don't pass it, ever.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Huckabee and Dobbs, trained at the same school?

One begins to wonder if all GOP candidates are studying at the same school as Lou Dobbs.

Recently, Keith Olberman made a very interesting argument pointing out the Mitt Romney-esque hypocrisy of Lou Dobbs, the rabid anti immigrant television news personality. Apparently, while railing against undocumented immigrants publically, Dobbs' financially supports the equestrian aspirations of his two daughters, who are showjumping enthusiasts. The competitive equestrian industry employs thousands of undocumented immigrants annually.

Meanwhile, in a very "six degrees of separation" moment, Lou Dobbs not only rails against Undocumented Immigrants, he also has a tendency to blatantly lie, and often twist facts, such as this episode where he cites a massive rise in cases of leprosy in the US, which he attributes to illegal immigration. Of course, there is one small problem. There was no huge rise in cases of leprosy.

That sounds rather familiar...hmm. Who else is now spinning false statistics?'s GOP Candidate Mike Huckabee! Yes, Mike Huckabee, that bastian of republican values, and the hardline candidate on Illegal Immigration. What does Huckabee have to say about Illegal Immigrants? Well, he seems to believe that the largest percentage of Undocumented Immigrants in the US, except for those who come from South of the Mexican Border, are from...Pakistan! Could that be right? Apparently Not. But maybe he got that gem from Lou Dobbs.

I'm sure that every anti immigrant in Danbury was frothing at the mouth when they heard that news, though. Maybe for a minute, they stopped picking on the Latino and Hispanic Immigrants and turned their ire, quite mistakenly, toward the currently Mourning, and Worried Pakistani Immigrant population.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Businesses hurt by new Immigration Laws.

Small business owners, especially those in the construction and other labor sectors are feeling the crunch due to the changing local immigration laws. Business owners say that it is nearly impossible to operate under the strict and harsh immigration laws rising up in individual cities across America, and they are increasingly urging our government to seek comprehensive immigration reform.

Local communities will start feeling the pinch even more in the coming months, as not only is our economy negatively impacted by the loss of workers, but also, as we begin to see more and more immigrants "Self-Deport" as a result of the hostile environments they find in many cities who have chosen to take the matter of immigration reform into their own hands and enact strict anti immigrant policies and laws.

Meanwhile, Legal Hispanic Residents and Citizens are also begining to feel the burn of these harsh anti immigrant laws, feeling that they are being caught in the middle of this battle, and subjected to rising cases of discrimination, hate crimes, and racial profiling per the lastest Pew Hispanic Studies.

The voice crying out for federal level Comprehensive Immigration Reform continues to grow, while anti immigrant and anti latino groups focus narrowly on an enforcement only policy of "Secure the Borders", which has since been picked up as a catch phrase in the 2008 Presidential Debates by both political parties.

While the governments of local municipalities continue to take matters into their own hands, and the federal government refuses to act humanely and find some way toward amnesty or a path to citizenship, the line in the sand between those who value the many contributions of our immigrant population, and those who are apparently hellbent on "Purifying" America.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

They are Human Beings.

As we see individual communities sign on to programs like 287g ACCESS, and as we see communities such as Prince Williams County in Virginia enact very harsh anti immigrant laws, and as the cry from the Nativist Movement grows louder, and more hateful with each breath crying for Mass Deportations..there is one thing that is being forgotten.

These are Human Beings.

Unfortunately, the Nativist Bigots such as those in FAIR, NumbersUSA, The Minutemen, and other numerous hategroups will never tell you what actually happens in an ICE raid. And there will never be a camera recording the way ICE rushes into a home, in paramilitary style, terrorizing the homes occupants. There will never be a camera rolling inside a deportation center, showing you the abuses that occur there, or the children poking out from behind bars as they await deportation with their undocumented parents. And it is that very lack of actual footage that keeps people blinded to the human rights crisis we find ourselves in in this climate of hatred, discrimination, raids, and deportations.

These are human beings. They are not "Aliens". Nor are they Cattle. They are not Slaves. And the vast and overwhelming majority of them are not criminals. They are human beings. Human beings who are working the jobs that many of us would never take. For the wages we would never accept, in conditions we would never tolerate. They are Human beings who have families, that they are struggling to keep united, and provided for. They are Human beings, who are being woefully abused by this system. Both as they work in our factories in horrible conditions, subjected to many work place abuses and violations, and by our own justice system.

On March 6, 2007, ICE conducted a very large scale raid on a leather factory in New Bedford, Massachusettes. Here is one womans tale, one HUMAN BEINGS tale of how she was treated.

Here's another testimony by a woman who was detained in an ICE raid in Illinois.

And this little girl, brings us the often unseen side. The effect of these raids on the children they leave behind.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tereza Pereira, Danbury 11 days in Court.

Teresa Pereira, and the 9 remaining of the Danbury 11 are coming up upon their court trials. These dates, in particular, are their most important court hearings to date, and could possibly be the final trial for those involved.

Pereira, a Brazilian Immigrant who has been here for almost 20 years, and a mother of two American Citizen Children, faces deportation orders for having been here on an expired Visa. However, Pereira had been seeking legal help in regularizing her status, and through many mistakes made by the lawyer presenting her at that time, was not aware that she had fallen out of status. She is currently fighting deportation, on grounds that her American Born Sons would face immense hardship if they were to follow her back to Brazil.

For a brief "refresher" on the case of Teresa Pereira, see this video. (Thanks CT Blogger!).

For a Refresher on the Danbury 11 case, and why this is such a ground breaking case for Danbury, please check in the archives of Hat City Blog.

Arizona : Test Case on Immigration.

The State of Arizona has the eyes of the nation focused upon it this week, as it announces some of the harshest laws penalizing employers who hire Undocumented Immigrants.

Under the new law, which goes into effect in early January, employers who hire undocumented immigrants would face a two strike law. On the first strike, they would face suspension of their business liscense. On the second strike, they would lose their liscense entirely.

This announcement has sparked major controversy within the state, and has civil rights advocates, and business owners seeking emergency injuctions in court, to bar this law from being implemented.

Arizona is becoming a test case in the national debate over immigration, as it will be the first state to enact such harsh legislation. Advocates say that these penalites are already resulting in a mass exodus of Immigrants from Arizona, into other bordering states.

The resulting economic chaos, and structural chaos this will create both within Arizona and in neighboring states, will quite possibly have a huge impact on the future debate of the Immigration Issue. Perhaps the screenwriters of the film "A Day Without a Mexican" should make a new film, this one staged in Arizona.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What do Americans really think on Immigration?

Over and over again, like a sad, and broken refrain, I hear the same message from the mouths of the most rabid anti-immigrant bigots. The sad chorus of "Most American Citizens want these illegals gone". But is that at all based in fact? Schewed studies have indeed noted that Immigration is a concern for the American Voter. However, just how much of a concern is an issue which is hotly debated. Many people place the Immigration Issue behind Health Care, Fiscal Concerns, The War in Iraq, and other issues.

Further, as this report on points out, the true opinion of what MOST American Voters believe should be done in response to the Immigration Issue appears to be quite different than the "DEPORT THEM!" crowd would want you to believe.

According to this report on Angus-Reid, with statistics gleaned from polls conducted by the New York Times, and CBS news:

38% of American Citizens Polled, believe that Immigrant workers should be allowed to stay in their jobs, and eventually apply for US Citizenship.

28% Believe that Immigrant workers should be allowed to reenter under temporary guest worker status, but not be eligible for citizenship.

28% Believe that Immigrant workers should be forced to leave (be deported).

6% Say they are not sure.

While it is clear that this means that there is far from an overwhelming concensus on the issue, the majority clearly does not want to see all Undocumented Workers rounded up and deported, as the old refrain goes.