September 20, 2016
Re: Request to Support “Bring Jose Back” Petition
Dear President Clinton:
We, the undersigned, write on behalf of Mr. Jose Alvarez, his family, and the many organizations across the country that have petitioned for Mr. Alvarez to be allowed to return to his family following his unjust deportation. We respectfully request that you add your name to the growing list of people petitioning for his return home. Moreover, we hope that you will take a firm stand against the very laws you enacted as President that are directly resulting in the separation of the Alvarez family.
Until recently, Mr. Alvarez lived with his six U.S. citizen children in Long Beach, California. On February 21, 2016, he was on his way to pick up his son from his job at Krispy Kreme, when he was pulled over by California State University of Long Beach campus police for a broken headlight. What should have been an insignificant traffic stop turned into a devastating moment for his entire family. The campus police officer turned Mr. Alvarez over to U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, and he was deported within seven hours.
ICE contends that Mr. Alvarez is a priority for deportation because of a conviction for a non-violent offense and resulting deportation order from over twenty years ago. In other words, the government’s position is that Mr. Alvarez’s past conviction should carry more weight than his 30 years of living and working in the U.S., his six U.S. citizen children, and even his eldest son’s seven years of service as a United States Marine.
We are directing our attention to you, President Clinton, because you signed into law the federal bill that is responsible for keeping Mr. Alvarez from his children. This same legislation has destroyed countless other families. More than any other single law, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) is responsible for the terrible conflation of immigration and criminal law that fused together mass deportations and mass incarceration. Mr. Alvarez’s case is emblematic of the problems caused by IIRIRA and the need for reform.
IIRIRA is the law, signed by you on September 30, 1996, that created Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, paving the way for police involvement in deportations. This is the law that enabled Sheriff Joe Arpaio to conduct his reign of terror in Arizona, spawned the now defunct Se Communities deportation dragnet (S-COMM), and encouraged Arizona to pass SB 1070. This is the law that permitted President Obama to carry out mass deportations on a scale never before seen in the history of this country. It is not an exaggeration to say that IIRIRA is the most anti- immigrant federal law of our generation.
IIRIRA was enacted in the midst of a war on s that, as you recently acknowledged, has proven to be disastrously flawed. IIRIRA amplified the already disastrous effects of
the misguided war on immigrant communities by imposing banishment as an additional punishment for crimes, including nonviolent offenses, for which individuals have already served their time. The result offends basic notions of fairness, due process, and equality, and runs directly counter to the fundamental principles of justice and rehabilitation that are, ostensibly, goals of the U.S. criminal justice system. And you were in large part responsible.
For these reasons, we respectfully request that you add your voice to the many that have already called for President Obama to “Bring Jose Back” and allow him to be reunited with his family.
The Alvarez family’s petition is now supported by over 100 organizations from across the country, as well as local leaders, and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA’s 47th District). They all agree that Mr. Alvarez should be home with his family.
Will you join us in righting this wrong?
Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition (LBIRC)
Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization (ICO)
National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
United States Student Association (USSA)
National PICO Network (PICO)