Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Time for Maryland Democrats to Speak Out for End to Mass Deportations // U.S. Ejecting Residents At Fastest Rate Ever

Below Maryland Juice presents a new article from our writer Dan Furmansky regarding the record  setting mass deportations of residents under the Obama administration:

After the heaviest of lifts, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate is now languishing in the House of Representatives. It’s easy to see why, since House Republican leadership is already awful busy giving the middle finger to the Affordable Care Act and proposing a renewed food stamp program that cuts $40 billion from SNAP and effectively leaves millions of Americans hungry at night. With these noble endeavors at the forefront of the House’s agenda, and Iowa Congressman Republican Steve King telling the world that undocumented youth aren’t really hungry for an education, but drug smugglers with “calves the size of cantaloupes,” I think it’s safe to say that the “new and improved” Republican Party rashly promised to us in a series of post-November news headlines is also languishing.

In June the House sent a clear signal to the country with a mostly party-line vote of 224-201 to discard President Barack Obama's rule allowing deferred deportation for some young undocumented immigrants. Only six House Republicans, none in GOP leadership, voted against Steve ‘the Cantaloupe’ King’s amendment. Advocates will not be deterred, and with the August congressional recess upon us, the broad coalition pushing for immigration reform is urging the grassroots to lobby members of the House in their home districts.

Meanwhile, there is work that we here in Maryland can do with our own congressional delegation. We need our members of Congress to urge President Obama to halt deportations now.

As the clock ticks on achieving any meaningful and compassionate changes to our woefully broken immigration system, tens of thousands of families will be ripped apart because President Obama continues to deport more immigrants—aka future citizens—than any other president in our nation's history. Consider this:
  • The United States is now deporting people at a faster rate than at any time in our modern history—an estimated 1,100 people per day. 
  • More than 410,000 undocumented workers were deported last year, an all-time high.
  • A report from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute released earlier this year found that the United States spends more money on immigration enforcement—nearly $18 billion in the 2012 fiscal year—than on its other law enforcement agencies combined. 
  • The government spends about 15 times more on immigration enforcement than it did in the mid-1980s, adjusted for inflation, the report found. 
  • According to data obtained by the news website Colorlines, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deported nearly 205,000 parents of U.S. citizen children from July 1, 2010 to Sept. 31, 2012.

Given these numbers, what does this mean for immigrant communities right now, as House Republicans obstruct any progress and endorse the continued separation of parents and children?

During the August recess alone, an estimated 44,000 people will likely be expelled from the country.

Pres. Obama has the power to stop this. He already chose through his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memorandum to allow for deferred deportations for young immigrations, aka DREAMers. But this only happened after tremendous, sustained pressure on the Administration to take action, and the failure of the passage of the DREAM Act in the U.S. Senate due to Republican obstructionism, since the DREAM Act had majority support, but lacked 60 votes to end debate.

Many people believe that halting all deportations could put key pressure on the House of Representatives to move.

Pablo Alvarado, of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, has strong words for President Obama in The Hill (excerpt below):
PABLO ALVARADO (VIA THE HILL): Luckily for the president and for those victimized by the current broken system, such cruelty is optional.  Building upon prosecutorial discretion and the deferred action for childhood arrivals program, the president has it in his executive authority to expand the relief he’s granted dream-eligible youth to their parents, neighbors, and the other potential citizens who are watching the Congressional debate closely.

In fact, if and when the president will stop prolonging the suffering of people in deportation proceedings and use his authority has become a repeated question any time he addresses Spanish language media. As limitations of the Senate bill are being reported and a few obstructionist legislators seek to imperil progress, hundreds of organizations have looked to the administration to take action and help break a possible logjam. His response to whether he will step in: “Probably not. I think that it is very important for us to recognize that the way to solve this problem has to be legislative.  I can do some things and have done some things that make a difference in the lives of people by determining how our enforcement should focus.”

Imagine how different the conversation would be and how much stronger reform's prospects would look if the president told obstructionist Republicans that deportations are suspended until a legalization bill is passed, as some of his own advisors have recommended.

To some people, the idea that the President might simply halt all deportations—not just those of DREAMers—may seem radical. No doubt it is aggressive, but is aggressive really such a bad idea when dealing with obstructionist Republicans? The President has worked ferociously over the years to prove he is “tough” on illegal immigration while wasting untold government resources, and he has absolutely zero to show for it from conservatives who clamor for more deportations and continue to parrot the words “border security” over and over as a talking point for their standing in the way of any pathway to citizenship.

Sadly, the President is unlikely to take bold action and expand the scope of his deferred deportations:
"I think it is important to remind everybody that, as I said I think previously, and I'm not a king," Obama told Univision's Maria Elena Salinas in January. "I am the head of the executive branch of government. I'm required to follow the law."


As with most issues, the President requires a strong push to exercise greater authority in this debate. He needs the same type of robust, concerted pressure that led to his decision to defer deportations for DREAMers.

Across the country, activists are asking lawmakers and local and state Democratic Parties to put pressure on the President to halt deportations until comprehensive reform passes. Resolutions are being drafted. The Maryland Democratic Party and Maryland’s congressional delegation can and should call for a change in the terms of the debate by asking the President to halt all deportations.

Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Rep. Yvette Clarke are circulating to their colleagues a sign-on letter to President Obama, urging him to suspend any further deportations and expand the successful deferred action program to all those who would be potential citizens under immigration reform. The letter to the President reads:

“As we have seen with deferred action for childhood arrivals, such relief brings with it the benefit of active participation in the debate by undocumented people themselves. When their stories are known and voices are heard, we have witnessed how the debate shifts. The fear and xenophobia that block progress only shrink in the display of their courage. But left unchecked, the threat of deportations will prevent so many from coming forward and contributing to the national conversation. Instead, the specter of deportation removes the human and grounding element in any political discussion—those individuals who are most directly impacted.”

If you agree that we need a bolder strategy to move immigration reform, then call up your member of Congress and ask them to sign on to Reps. Grijalva and Clarke’s letter to the President.
To call your Member of Congress:
US Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121
To locate your Member on-line:
U.S. House of Representatives:

Maryland Juice will be following this story and will keep you posted next month on which members of our Congressional delegation chose to sign on and take a stand for an end to deportations now.

- Dan Furmansky

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