For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Postings //
August 4, 2016
What About Us?
Criminalized Immigrants Respond to President Obama’s Defense of “Second Chances”
Los Angeles, CA - In response to President Obama’s announcement this week that he will be granting clemency to 214 Americans who were “incarcerated under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws,” immigrant families actively seeking redress from those very same laws issued the following series of reactions:
“President Obama says people deserve second chances. My family fully agrees. Unfortunately, my dad didn’t get a second chance when he was deported because of a traffic stop and a decades-old drug conviction,” said Victor Alvarez, son of Jose Alvarez who was deported in February of this year. “Now our family is torn apart and I had to put my education on hold to take a second job to support our family. We will continue to ask President Obama to right this wrong and let my dad come home.” Read more about Jose: bit.ly/bringjoseback
Stephanie Hernandez, daughter of Xochitl Hernandez, a single mother of 5 US citizen children currently in detention, said the following: “What about our family? My mom raised 5 U.S. Citizen kids and has lived in this country for almost thirty years. Because of a single shoplifting misdemeanor from a decade ago, President Obama's government has kept her locked up in a for-profit jail since February and isn't letting her out unless my family comes up with $60,000." Read more about Xochitl: bit.ly/FreeAbuela
"After my conviction, I built a good life for myself in Portland. I contributed to my community and have worked night and day to raise my two U.S. citizen daughters,” said Francisco Aguirre, a day laborer who pled no contest to a drug charge decades ago. “After much organizing and community support, the Department of Justice dropped the charges against me, but President Obama’s immigration enforcement agents still won't leave me and my family alone. President Obama is still trying to deport me," he concluded. Read more about Francisco: bit.ly/UnidosConFrancisco
“The hypocrisy here is breathtaking. President Obama’s brutal deportation record has resulted in the unprecedented criminalization of migrants. He has fused our mass incarceration and our mass deportation systems, and he has put US immigration policy at odds with the criminal justice reform movement,” said Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). He continued, “The President continues to say that he is deporting 'felons not families,” a statement that not only doesn’t make any logical sense, it shows his double standard when it comes to immigrants. In his remaining months in office, President Obama should make use of clemency power for immigrants and he should immediately end his failed PEPCOMM policy which literally converted every single local police department in America into part of the civil federal immigration law enforcement apparatus.”
For Immediate Release
January 4, 2016
REACTION: Trump stigmatizes people with his dehumanizing language, President Obama deports them
Los Angeles, CA—In response to the White House's new efforts to rev-up deportations, this time of women and children refugees, Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), made the following statement:
"The White House's targeting of refugee families is unnecessary and immoral, but sadly not surprising. It is emblematic of the Obama administration's failed approach to immigration.
"For seven years, the Obama Administration has never missed an opportunity to move its immigration policy to the right to win a few political points. Now, as Trump's racist discourse becomes normalized in US politics, the Obama administration chooses to double down on its shameful deportation policy. The sad truth is that President Obama's actions are more vile than Trump's words. Trump stigmatizes people with his dehumanizing language; President Obama deports them.
"There are dark motives behind DHS' latest raids based on cold political calculation rather than sound legal analysis. Make no mistake: these raids are immoral, and justifications for violating human rights are never acceptable. The idea that deporting some people is somehow necessary for others to get relief is idiotic. This election year, there are no political points to be gained for Democrats thru increased deportations. Republicans gain more from these misguided efforts to appease the Trump-wing of US politics.
"The White House's assertion that this increased enforcement will somehow deter families that are escaping terrible violence is equally preposterous. If a deterrent is needed, then the situation is not under control as the White House has claimed. As long as their countries of origin are more life threatening than the already treacherous journey north, people will seek refuge.
"That it's refugee women and children in ICE's enforcement crosshairs today speaks to the dangerous callousness of the President's political calculations. The policy is a disgrace; it diminishes the United States' standing on the world stage. The mass detention and deportation machinery must be dismantled, not revved up.
"The President has roughly one year left to change course and avoid the enduring legacy of deporter-in-chief. Immigrant and refugee families do not have the luxury of time. The President and his enablers should cease these raids immediately and focus resources and attention on the preservation of immigrant and refugee rights. Basic decency requires no less."
For immediate release
Reaction: Free From Legislative Strategy, President Obama Can Do the Right Thing on Immigration
He Must Maximize Existing Authority to End Injustice of the Status Quo
Washington, DC - June 30, 2014.
In reaction to the President's comments this afternoon, Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement:
This is a pivotal moment in the movement for migrant rights. What comes next will be defining moment for the President and for the country. In de-linking his immigration policy from his legislative reform strategy, the President is now free to do the right thing, and he can fulfill the promise of being a transformative president.
The President's enforcement-first strategy and his misguided deportation policy were premised on the possibility of legislative reform, but it is now very clear Congress itself is broken.
We fully expect the President to maximize use of existing authority to ameliorate the injustice of the status quo, and we pledge to work with the administration to fend off the attacks from nativists that will surely come, if and when, he does the right thing. Until then, we will continue our efforts to escalate opposition to unnecessary and unjust deportations.
NDLON and the #Not1More Campaign are planning a day of action in Washington to ensure the President uses his authority to expand deferred action, halt deportations, and reverse criminalization on August 2nd.
In February of 2014, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network filed an official rulemaking petition with the Department of Homeland Security outlining the President's executive authority to act on immigration and requesting the department cease its deportations and expand deferred action to the fullest extent possible under the law. The rulemaking petition can be read here.
NDLON Reacts to President’s Comments on Immigration Reform to Law Enforcement
Today, President Obama met with representatives from several major national law enforcement agencies, commenting on the possibility of Congressional action on immigration reform and blaming House Republicans for lack of action. His full remarks are available below. In response, NDLON Executive Director Pablo Alvarado issued the following statement:
“The President's remarks on immigration today are more of an indictment of his own policies than of Congress's failure to allow a vote. President Obama's policies, not Republicans in Congress, have led to the Arizonification of the country. It borders on becoming a political crime for President Obama to decry the very status quo he created. While there is unity among immigrant rights advocates on the need for Speaker Boehner to allow a vote, there is equal consensus that the President should end his failed experiment to use police and sheriffs as so-called ‘force multipliers’ for immigration enforcement. That policy has been a catastrophe. Particularly if statutory immigration reform were to be signed into law this year, there would be heightened need for President Obama to end Secure Communities and programs like it in order to ensure immigrants have safe passage on the metaphorical road to citizenship contemplated in the Senate proposal. In related news, Santa Cruz, California is the latest local jurisdiction to rebel against President Obama's signature deportation program."
Washington, DC. - Following a chorus of growing criticism over the President's Secure Communities (S-Comm) policy, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus delivered a letter to the White House calling on the Administration to place a moratorium on the program that “is not living up to its name,” according to the Caucus.
Secure Communities (SCOMM) was initially described as a program to identify and deport immigrants found guilty of serious crimes. The program enlists local police into federal immigration enforcement by screening all fingerprints of those booked in local jails through the federal ICE database. Data revealed through a federal lawsuit filed by civil rights groups shows the program fails to live up to its stated intention, as the program deports large groups of people without any convictions or convicted of only minor offenses. According to the CHC letter, “Evidence reveals not only a striking dissonance between the program’s stated purpose of removing dangerous criminals and it’s actual effect; it also suggests that S-Comm may endager the public, particularly among communities of color…”
Lawmakers in Congress and in states throughout the country say ICE officials lied about program details and requirements at its early stages. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California has described the implementation of the program as "dissembling and deceiving" and has called for an Inspector General (IG) investigation with the support of Senator Menendez. The call is reminiscent of another IG report on SCOMM's predecessor, the 287(g) program made famous by Joe Arpaio in Arizona, which showed a program riddled with flaws that was too broken to be fixed.
On May 4th, the Governor of Illinois terminated his state's participation in the program. In California, Assemblyman Ammiano introduced the TRUST Act to reform and regulate the program. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, large scale rallies have taken place in opposition to the program.
Thus the Caucus states, “We appreciate and steadfastly support your efforts to reform broken immigration laws and to strengthen national security and public safety. Unfortunately, neither of these goals are served or advanced by the S-Comm policy in its current form…
We are not convinced the program is achieving its stated goals, and we see nothing in the management and oversight of S-Comm that convinces us that these risks have been adequately addressed in the latest incarnation of local police immigration enforcement…
For these reasons, we request an immediate freeze of S-Comm pending a thorough review.”
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network whose organization along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law are litigants in a FOIA suit with the agency stated:
“SCOMM has become a symbol of the President's broken promises on immigration reform. We are all painfully aware of the poisonous political climate on immigration reform, but there is simply no excuse for the President to deploy a policy that criminalizes immigrants, erodes our civil rights, and destroys community safety. The policy is unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped immediately.
There is a domestic human rights crisis in Arizona and elsewhere, on display to the world, because of the foolish entanglement of police in immigration enforcement. To allow- and advance- a policy that repeats Arizona’s mistakes across the whole country would be a betrayal.
The President must change direction immediately, through actions and not mere words. His first steps on the road to reform can- and must- be heeding the Hispanic Caucus’ call and putting S-Comm on ice.”
See below for Letter from Rep. Gutierrez to Governor Quinn and for for Governor Quinn's letter to ICE.
(Los Angeles) Following President's speech on immigration, Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network made the following statement:
"Immigration reform has been on the national agenda for ten years, and we are mindful the politics have never been more poisonous. However, we hope the President will use his political capital and his persuasive powers to help steer the debate back to a more productive course. After all, the loud voices who favor punishing this generation's Americans-in-Waiting are the very same people who suspected the President himself was an undocumented immigrant. It's time to move beyond the Arizonification of American politics. The nation's first African American president has a unique opportunity to take racism out of the political discourse on immigration.
Like Congressman Luis Gutierrez though, we all want to feel the same sense of hope and optimism we felt in 2008. However, words alone will no longer be enough. The President must earn Latinos' support through actions that move the country toward a policy granting us political equality, through the regularization of our immigrant families' status. The goal contained in Arizona's SB1070, the criminalization of immigrants, is mutually exclusive with the goal of legalization. While Republicans have coelesced on a nativist position that will be shamed by history, it is not sufficient for the President to simply blame Congress for inaction. The President must lead by example, and we will measure his commitment to immigration reform by taking stock of his actions.If the President seriously wants to move the debate forward, he can start by answering the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's call to freeze the misguided Secure Communities as a first step.*"
Pablo Alvarado is available for media inquiries.
NDLON staff is also available for interviews on Secure Communities FOIA litigation, Arizona work, and to provide reporters access to day laborers so their voices can be included.
* In a letter sent Thursday, May 5th, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called on the President to place a moratorium on SCOMM saying, "[it] will contribute to the criminalization of immigrant families by casting them under a cloud of suspicion and by further conflating civil immigration violations with criminal conduct."
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network represents 43 member organizations and more than 120,000 corner day laborers throughout the country. The mission of the National Day Laborer Organization Network is to improve the lives of day laborers in the U.S. by unifying and strengthening its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights. Visit www.ndlon.org