For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Media Contact: Viridiana Vidal (702) 206-2110 //

National Day Laborer Organizing Network Reacts To DHS Enforcement Guidelines

Los Angeles, CA – In response to the release of a memo on “Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law” by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, Pablo Alvarado, the Co-Executive director for NDLON, issued the following statement:

“Above all, this memo constitutes a stunning acknowledgment by a cabinet secretary that his own agency is currently causing considerable damage to the country, and consequently, it ironically and unintentionally makes a forceful case for the Department of Homeland Security to be defunded, dismantled, and reimagined.

“Furthermore, it sets forth a blueprint for bottom-up community organizing, advocacy, activism, and policy-making so that DHS and individual ICE and CBP agents can be held accountable to utilize their considerable discretion in the months and years ahead.

“The fact that Secretary Mayorkas’s memo foregrounds the importance to ‘achieve justice and realize our ideals as a Nation’ only serves to highlight the fact that DHS itself has been the cause of human rights violations, racist injustice, an undermining of labor standards, a polarization of our politics, and an erosion of shared national values. No statement of priorities or procedures, no matter how carefully worded, can gloss over this undeniable reality. Since its inception DHS has been a failure, and even as we fight for its reform we will also fight so that, one day, it no longer exists.”

Chris Newman, General Counsel for NDLON continued:

“Particularly because ICE and CBP are rogue federal law enforcement agencies, Secretary Mayorkas’s statement that prosecutorial discretion is a foundational principle of law enforcement is a necessary but insufficient step to ensure that some of the laudable priorities contained within this memo are brought to fruition. However, if the Secretary and President Biden are truly committed to reversing the country’s descent into Trumpism, they must demonstrate more leadership and take additional action using and fortifying vested constitutional and statutory authority.

“Especially if Congress comes up short on legalization again, pressure on the White House will only grow, and the Biden Administration should learn from, and avoid, President Obama’s mistakes. President Biden should begin now to defend in both in court- and in court of public opinion- the full range of his power to protect immigrants and the national interest. For example, he should complement this memo by making clear today that not one more person who qualifies for his ‘Day One bill’ will be deported.

“It’s concerning that, like the Obama Administration before it, the Biden Administration appears to be misapprehending, and therefore potentially self-limiting, the scope of its own executive branch authority when it comes to enforcement reform. It is not the case that DHS’s bloated budget is the sole source of its discretionary authority. There are a range of other options President Biden can and should use immediately including, but not limited to: the extension of TPS, the termination of Title 42, the exercise of robust parole authority, the use of pardon power, the redirection of allocated budget resources, and the ending of the 287g program, full stop.

“Moreover, it is disappointing the memo relies on the familiar conjuring of racist, imaginary threats in effort to justify the unjustifiable. The embellishment of fears about public safety and so-called ‘border security’ as a basis for immigration enforcement priorities has been used as pretext for atrocities committed by DHS and for its dangerous intrusion into all aspects of American life. Ironically this memo, with its bizarre warning to state and local governments about the need to respect civil rights, will further propel the sanctuary city and state movement which has been a key bulwark against DHS’s overreach and civil rights violations.

“Finally, we are encouraged by Section Four of the memo. It is a stunning acknowledgment by a sitting DHS Secretary that immigration enforcement has had a deleterious effect on labor law enforcement. We hope the clear description of this enormous problem is followed by commensurate action from DHS and DOL in the form of a policy that incentivizes rather than deters the exercise of workplace rights by immigrants. Such a policy would be good for all workers, and it has the potential to change the terms of a national debate on immigration that continues to be poisoned by fear and division.”