Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stop the ICE Raids

Fair, equitable, and comprehensive immigration reform should be a high priority for the new administration and the new Congress. First and foremost the raids must stop. This should be right up there with stopping the military commissions at Guantanamo, which President Obama did even before his first full day in office.
  • The horrific Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids have terrorized communities all over the United States. The terrorizing isn't (and couldn't be) limited to unauthorized immigrants; it affects whole communities, children and families, many of whom are U.S. citizens.
  • The raids leave devastated communities in their wake and ruin local economies. For proof of how much immigrants do to strengthen our local economies, look at what happened in the small community of Postville, Iowa. Before the May 12, 2008, ICE raid, this was a thriving paragon of integration and cross-cultural cooperation with a population of more than 2,200. The community of Postville is now a ghost town, a shadow of its former self, having lost approximately a quarter of its population. Every single member of the community has been deeply affected by the raid. (Go here for more information about the Postville raid.)
  • Families are torn apart by the raids, and fear runs rampant throughout the community, not only among Latinos and immigrants, but especially among children, who fear that their parents will be taken away from them as the parents of their friends and classmates have been. The raids establish a climate of fear for everyone in the affected communities.
  • Workers caught up in the ICE raids have been denied due process. The cases involving the workers from Postville were not reviewed individually, nor were individual circumstances taken into account. All the cases were treated exactly alike and were railroaded through court ten at a time. The system was designed for the wholesale imposition of guilt. It is unlikely that the workers understood the charges against them.
  • Enforcement-only policies encourage profiling. Many Latinos, regardless of their immigration status, are harassed and frightened. Friends and relatives occasionally just disappear, presumably picked up by ICE, but no one knows for sure. For many, this experience is eerily familiar, as they come from countries where friends and family were once regularly "disappeared" by regional death squads.
The ICE raids have made the United States resemble an autocratic police state with no regard for individual rights or the well-being of children, families, and communities. They must stop so that we as a nation can focus instead on creating reasonable, equitable immigration reform.

Today our friends from the Fair Immigration Reform Movement are demonstrating in Washington, DC, to ask the new administration to work for fair and comprehensive immigration reform. If you would like to support their work, please join the Fair Immigration Reform Movement cause on Facebook, support the New Day for Immigration, and sign the pledge at Building America Together:

I commit to stand for America's finest ideals and core community values and publicly reject the politics of division and isolation that fan anger and hate against any person or community. I will work towards just, workable and humane immigration reform.

We can do this. Yes we can! ¡Sí, se puede!


  1. Thanks for posting this, Mary. I was really happy to see that Obama had accomplished such good things on his first day -- I do hope that this tops his agenda soon. You are a good ambassador for this community! I have found border guards (I live near the Detroit/Windsor border) and "Homeland Security" (I love Naomi Wolf's comparison to Hitler's Germany) to feel dangerously above the law. They treat people however the heck they want -- and it is really scary (you can't even believe the stories I've heard and what we've experienced -- and you're afraid to speak out because they can make your life hell and you have no recourse), so I can imagine how scary the ICE raids are -- particularly to people who are not U.S. born citizens with some sense of entitlement to his/her rights.

    Regardless of what I said about not having black/white clarity about "war crimes" -- I think that it is perfectly clear that if someone isn't harming anyone or putting anyone else into immediate danger -- that there should be NO excuse for the unkindness, incivility, and power-tripping that these agents do. For me, it is different when people are violent -- although, reading about secret prisons and tortures in The End of America makes me even question that. I just don't KNOW what to do when people are violent. But nonviolent people should NEVER be treated violently. NEVER. Whether they are here legally or not -- they should be treated with the same respect and dignity as any other human being.

  2. Thanks for joining the Facebook cause, Kathy, and for your encouragement. Having good friends who are Latinos and immigrants has been galvanizing for me in many ways. In fact, focusing on the need for immigration reform has been part of what has led me to pay more attention to politics in general. I never thought in a million years that when I actually managed to start writing, I'd be writing about politics. Weird ol' life, idn't it?