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Contact: B. Loewe, NDLON, 773.791.4668
During Meeting with DHS Sec. Johnson, NDLON’s Undocumented Representative Seeks Audience for Blue Ribbon Commission, Answers on Deportation Quota
“Invitations Will Not Slow Grassroots Movement,” Says Tania Unzueta “Until Deportations Are Stopped These Meetings Are More About Pageantry Than Policy.”
Washington, DC – March 25, 2014
In a follow-up to the White House meeting with immigration advocates where the President scolded any criticism of his deportation record and attempted to redirect attention to House Republicans, the administration invited representatives to a meeting with DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson.
“It’s a question whether the administration called the meeting to take action on deportations or to try to prevent it,” states Tania Unzueta, #Not1More Campaign organizer for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the meeting’s only undocumented attendee.
During the meeting that Unzueta described as formal and uncomfortable given Johnson’s roll in administering the removal of people whose cases NDLON takes on, Unzueta presented the groups formal rulemaking petition, filed with DHS in early February and still awaiting required response under the Administrative Procedure Act, submitted 18 cases of individuals facing deportation for immediate review and sought the Secretary’s stance on expanding the deferred action program to provide immediate relief as has been granted immigrant youth.
“What the President did for immigrant youth like myself can be done for a far broader group of undocumented immigrants who might qualify for immigration reform if it were passed but instead are continuing to be deported by the administration. Secretary Johnson will have to choose which part of the administration’s rhetoric to actually implement because he can’t maintain a deportation quota and be more humane at the same time,” adds Unzueta.
Many say that the meetings are an attempt to quell the grassroots pressure that has risen to a fever pitch and galvanized a consensus that the President must use his authority to expand relief immediately.
The conversation with Sec. Johnson comes the day after protesters in Alabama chained themselves together to block deportations at the Etowah Detention Center, as hunger strikes by detainees in Washington state and Texas, and only days ahead of what has been called the “Two Million Too Many” National Day of Action to Stop Deportations on April 5th.
Unzueta continues, “Instead of participating in the pageantry of the meeting, I asked for a conversation with the President on behalf of the Blue Ribbon Commission of undocumented leaders that formed in response to his review. Invitations like these are meant to relieve pressure on the administration but we want a relief to the suffering of our families. Until that happens the pressure will only grow.”