Immigration Advocates Fire Back at ICE


Activists want immigration head fired
Enforcement agency increased quotas for deportation.

Immigration activists are calling on President Obama to dismiss a top official at the Department of Homeland Security.

Their push came days after the Washington Post   reported that the federal government plans to increase deportations of illegal immigrants despite promises from Immigration and Customs Enforcement leader John Morton that only dangerous criminals will be deported.

The leaked memos also revealed that ICE still has quotas for capturing illegal immigrants even though Morton said that practice had stopped. Now the activists want Morton to go.

"This agency has gone rogue and is operating in clear opposition to the direction   President Obama has set," said Deepak Bhargava, who runs the nonprofit Center of Community Change, a lead organizer of the immigration rally in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

Bhargava spoke on a conference call with reporters Tuesday that marked a shift in the activist groups' strategy. In recent weeks, they pressed Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration law, which may be less politically viable   than today's more targeted request.

"The President does not need Congress. He does not need the Republican Party to act ... and fire Morton," Maria Rodriguez, leader of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, added on the call.

-- Ambreen Ali,

Only "Three-Fifths of a Person" - More Immigrant Deaths Uncovered from Under DHS

At a border conference recently Secretary Napolitano stated, "Our job is to enforce the laws that we have now, to do it intelligently, to do it with well-trained professionals who are well-supervised," but in enforcing current immigration law, DHS is violating the highest law of all - the Constitution of the United States. 
Until due process applies to immigration courts, DHS should seriously revisit this policy. 

I allude in the title to Article I, Sec. II of the original U.S. Constitution (before the 14th amendment providing equality under the law came into being) because today, the New York Times uncovered additional deaths of individuals who were held under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention.  I would like to think that this absence of humanity at ICE persists because many of the DHS officials there are remnants of the Bush Administration.  DHS officials report that these deaths were "missed," the way you'd fail to notice a new hair do, or forget to pick up dry-cleaning.  Not only is the enforcement system itself appalling, more infuriating is DHS's completely unacceptable response.  If I were a family member of that person who was left to die and then "forgotten," DHS would have a wrongful death suit on their hands (at least). 

But most of those detained do not know the legal system, and do not have the resources to effectively fight back, and so they often lose their lives in the attempt.  As Rep. Zoe Lofgren has pointed out, it is unacceptable that in the United States of America, that prides itself on its humanitarian, inclusive values, and "justice for all," ICE detention centers are something out of a "gulag" or dark ages. 

Let me explain how "justice" works in the immigration enforcement system:  first, a person - any person mind you, even U.S. citizens - can have their door knocked down one fine day and get taken in by ICE (because unless you happen to carry your U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport in your pocket, you have no proof of citizenship).  Once you are taken in and accused of a violation to immigration law, many are kept for days or weeks on end while they await a hearing.  Because infractions to the INA and immigration laws are a civil penalty, not a crime (contrary to popular belief), if you are detained for an immigration violation you have absolutely no right to a lawyer.  If you cannot get one, tough luck.  Similarly, you have no right to a translator.  So if you don't know to ask for one, if you cannot find one or hire a translator in order to understand the charges against you - again - too bad, you will be processed without being able to understand the charge against you.  How is THAT for due process?

So once you are convicted of an immigration offense that you probably didn't understand, whether you violated the law or not, you are sent to one of these detention centers, where approximately 104 individuals have died since 2003.  That might not seem like a large number, but the fact that many died after needing and requesting medical attention repeatedly means that ICE detention procedures as they stand often amount to manslaughter.  And this is no exaggeration - the fact is that according to the law, detainees have no enforceable rights.  ICE has acted in such a way that has resulted in the deaths of dozens of people, but those people have no due process rights under current law. 

And unfortunately, this epidemic of mistreatment and deaths in detention is not isolated to immigration detainment centers.  Immigrants (and U.S. citizens) when held for immigration violations are sometimes placed in ICE detention centers, but because of overcrowding, they are often moved to local, state and federal prisons.

According to the Department of Justice, there are Bureau of Prisons facilities, privately managed "secure" facilities, and community corrections facilities.  Our focus on detention might begin to explain why our prisons are also the most crowded in the world.  The U.S. has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world, with 750 inmates per 100,000 persons.  Of those incarcerated, "white" inmates make up about 57% percent of the prison population, while "blacks" make up 39% and "Hispanics" are 32%.  However, the prison system has a disproportionate effect on minorities.  Only approximately 118,000 inmates are white, while approximately 81,000 are black and 66,583 are Hispanic.  Although African-Americans constitute 14 percent of regular drug users, they are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses, and 56 percent of persons in state prisons for drug crimes.  Many justice experts have found that the increase in the incarceration rate is the product of changes in penal policy and practice, not changes in crime rates. 

But as I said earlier, the important distinction is that people who violate only immigration law are not criminals.  And thus, they should not be in prisons or similar establishments.  I encourage enforcement of laws and of immigration law, but an immigration law that is functional, fair, and that is in line with our Constitution and our principles.  I do hope President Obama takes this opportunity to reverse much of the damage caused by the 1996 revisions to immigration law and to create a new, realistic, fair, and enforceable immigration law. 

Weekly Immigration Update

Updates from our last report on the Elections and Immigration: Georgia's Senate Race just two weeks away - The runoff election will take place on December 2 and early the voting period began on Monday in many of the state's counties. Saxby Chambliss and Rep. Jim Martin - the Democratic challenger - are battling voter fatigue, they have to persuade supporters to come out again to vote. A Democratic win in Georgia would be yet another severe blow to the GOP in a state considered a stronghold for them. For immigration advocates, a win by pro-CIR Jim Martin would mean another win for those of us working for immigration reform.

Begich Defeats Convicted Sen. Ted Stevens in Alaska - Senator-elect Begich (D) defeated Stevens by 3,724 votes, a margin of more than 1 percentage point, putting Democrats closer to the 60 seat mark in the Senate. While Stevens has conceded this election, in Minnesota the candidates are still fighting in out. Election officials began a recount yesterday in the race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken. So far Coleman leads Franken by 216 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

Obama picks scholars to develop immigration plan - Alexander Aleinikoff, Dean of the Georgetown University Law Center, and Mariano Florentino Cuellar, professor at Stanford Law School will lead the policy working group designated for immigration. Click here to read some articles by Dean Aleinikoff, and here to read more about Florentino Cuellar. In addition, it's looking more and more like Gov. Janet Napolitano will take on the important position of DHS Secretary. In the meantime, Julie Myers is officially no longer at ICE, and John Torres will take the helm through the end of this administration. And according to Adfero Group, these are the 10 most important jobs to be filled at ICE.

New Bedford Factory Targeted in Raid to pay $850,000 in overtime - The owners of the factory settled a class action lawsuit this week, agreeing to pay 764 current and former workers $850,000 owed in overtime.

The Texas GOP just doesn't get it - the Texas State Legislature will see several bills related to illegal immigration this session - "Advocates for a crackdown on illegal immigrants, apparently undaunted by their failures in the last Legislature, have filed a slew of bills for the upcoming session that are even stronger in tone and approach." The GOP is allegedly panicked about their lack of support among Hispanics, but Texas Republican legislators don't seem to get it. The bills go beyond the usual, one is for English-only, another would require public schools to check the citizenship of their students. Another would require illegal immigrants to be banished to self-described "sanctuary cities." Author Leo Berman, R-Tyler said, "The federal government is requiring us to give free education and health care to illegals," Mr. Berman said. "It's the largest unfunded mandate in the history of our nation." Another bill filed for the 2009 session allows police to check people's immigration status under "reasonable suspicion" that they might be illegal immigrants - really. Another refuses birth certificates to children born in the U.S. to parents who are here illegally.

On the flip side, a bill by Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, prohibits cities from restricting landlords on who can rent homes from them - a direct criticism of Farmers Branch's efforts to keep illegal immigrants from renting homes there. Another bill would create a task force to fight human trafficking. "The reality is that these problems can only be solved in Washington, D.C.," said Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas. "Even if every immigration-related bill passed in the Texas House, it would be wholly ineffective at dealing with the larger issue of how we align our immigration policy with the needs of our labor force. And that's what's driving illegal immigration." I wholeheartedly agree - and so far I've heard many doubts as to whether immigration reform will even be addressed by the 111th Congress.

Will Reform Happen in 2009? - Well, Congress should do so - after the 2006 midterm elections two years ago, congressional job approval was 26%. In this week's Gallup poll, Congressional approval is now at at 19%, with a 74% disapproval rating. Polling data consistently shows that immigration is not the third rail of politics - it's not that people are against reform, if you take the time to ask, people are against the broken immigration system and they want it fixed. Two-thirds of all voters support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Patience is not a virtue when it comes to immigration reform - how much longer can we wait? Obama is facing pressure from immigration advocates and from voters, particularly mixed-status families, to pass reform. Many articles posit that Latinos "may" question Obama on immigration - I disagree, Latinos will question Obama on immigration.

As reported by La Jornada, "the Latino vote is not a blank represents the aspiration for change, social and economic justice for Latinos." Hopefully President Obama will work with Congress to fix our very broken immigration system, and fight against the few who confuse reform for "open borders." The Americas Policy Program attempted to explain how the two camps are "retrenching" on the issue of immigration reform, but their explanation merits comment - their article argues that opponents of reform argue that CIR can't happen during a time of economic downturn for fear "we'll lose jobs." The unemployment rate has increased for many reasons that have nothing to do with immigration policy.  All data demonstrates that undocumented immigrants perform jobs that Americans don't want, and by legalizing those without papers, we would be bringing them out of the shadows and improving wages for all, thus increasing wages across the board and fostering a more productive consumer base. The economic crisis is no argument against reform, if anything, CIR can be used as a tool to help improve the economy. The article says proponents of reform are arguing that the new administration "owes" the Hispanic/Latino electorate, i.e., they should pass it because we want it. Not really - while the Democratic party can certainly expect a backlash at the polls for not fixing the broken immigration system, it will come not only from Latinos, but from all the voters who currently feel Congress has not delivered solutions. Yes, Hispanic voters will be watching to see whether Obama "keeps all his promises," and you can bet he won't feel the love next time at the polls if he does not, but CIR shouldn't pass just because Latinos want it, it should be passed because from a policy and a political standpoint, the right and the best thing to do is to pass it in 2009.

Instances of Mistreatment of Children under CPB and ICE custody - A study released by the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) found that more than 43,000 undocumented, unaccompanied children have been mistreated while in custody and denied access to representation by Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and then transported home unsafely. The story was also reported by Latin American press, with reports of children being caged, neglected, and denied medical care.

Decorated immigration agent arrested on crystal meth charges.

Read the signs - A CQ article from this week makes some good points, but slightly misread the polling data from Lake Research, saying the issue of immigration has "cooled" - hardly. As Hispanics are being attacked and ostracized throughout the country, a more accurate point in the story that should be highlighted: "Hispanics could blame Democrats for immigration inertia, or feel that implicit campaign pledges weren't honored." A post-election poll by Lake Research Partners for America's Voice found that Hispanics turned their backs on the GOP - even though President Bush and Sen. John McCain , R-Ariz., both favored comprehensive legislation - because of perceptions that Republicans blocked the immigration overhaul in 2007 and used inflammatory rhetoric in the process. And Hispanics will only continue to determine candidates' political fate based on this important issue, as Robert Paral and Associates have reported - the 2008 election results demonstrate that, "even in states where the Hispanic community is relatively small, they can tip those states, they can be kingmakers if the other groups are evenly balanced." Paral expects the Hispanic vote to be the pivotal swing in future elections too, as more Hispanics register to vote, not only in traditional immigrant-receiving states, but also in states with fewer immigrants, such as New Hampshire, Connecticut, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

E-Verify not Ready for Prime Time - According to the ITAA, the final rule published this week requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to screen workers and new hires through the E-Verify system each year will put significant new burdens on those employers at least in the short term.

Immigration authorities need to release the guidelines they use in deciding 'stipulated removal' cases - In the last few years, the number of illegal immigrants in detention who waived their right to plead their case to remain in the United States has shot up from 5,500 in 2004 to 35,000 this year. In all, nearly 100,000 people have agreed to leave the country under "stipulated removal." Not surprisingly, troubling reports have surfaced of immigrants who say they were encouraged to self-deport without knowing that they had valid legal claims to remain in the U.S. and to have a hearing before a judge. Immigrants' rights groups are suing the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, demanding they divulge their procedures for informing detainees of their rights. The department, which has made only half-hearted attempts to comply, should be made to do so.

Querétaro, Mexico gets appropriation for immigrants - The lower chamber of the Mexican Congress approved 704 million pesos to support immigrants returning to 10 states of the country, 50 million of this sum will go to the state of Querétaro.

Oberlin, OH considering becoming sanctuary city.

UN Trade Chief sees up to 6 percent drop in migrant remittances in 2009 - Migrant remittances, a vital source of income for poor countries, could decline by up to 6 percent next year due to worsening economic conditions around the world, the U.N.'s trade chief said last Friday.

Words Have Consequences - Click to read our coverage of hate crimes. Most recently, the death of Ecuadorian immigrant, Marcelo Lucero.

Weekly Update on Immigration: As the Economy Dives, DHS Targets the "Engine of Our Economy"

I. Immigrants continue to head south, Prop. 202 in Arizona remains under scrutiny, and here's an interesting op-ed by Jorge Castañeda linking trade, the economy, and immigration.

II. Fear and loathing continues at McCain rallies.

III. What Constitution? Charlie Savage and the New York Times report (surprise, surprise) the Bush administration has informed Congress that it is bypassing a law intended to forbid political interference with reports to lawmakers by the Department of Homeland Security. The August 2007 law requires that the reports on activities that affect privacy be submitted directly to Congress "without any prior comment or amendment" by superiors at the department or the White House.

IV. DHS Can't Sit Still: Not happy with the results of their brilliant "Deport Yourself" initiative or the outrage caused by USCIS detainee conditions and the mistaken detention of U.S. citizens during ICE raids, on October 23, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final administrative rule that sets new procedures for employers who receive "no-match" letters from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Each year, SSA sends businesses ''no-match'' letters with the names of workers whose Social Security number on W-2 forms don't match SSA records. The DHS rule would require employers to correct the discrepancy or fire the worker within 90 days. Failure to comply could bring prosecution and heavy fines.

Setting aside the flawed policy behind this rule for a moment, could Secretary Chertoff have picked a worse time to issue this rule? Definitely not. This rule, made public 11 days before a Presidential election during which minorities and naturalized citizens have the power to swing numerous battleground states, and during which the incumbent Administration's candidate is far behind in the polls, could be interpreted by Hispanics (native and foreign-born) and immigrants of all races and ethnicities as another expression of the Republican party's anti-immigrant stance. Additionally, this "enforcement-only" approach places greater financial and legal burdens on employers, while simultaneously putting workers at risk of losing their jobs during a time of severe economic crisis - the federal government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to rescue the nation's banking, credit and housing markets, yet Secretary Chertoff is pushing ahead with a potentially job-crippling program that, at the end of the day, is ineffective in curtailing undocumented immigration.

Luckily, a court injunction will remain in place against the rule until the Court issues its final decision. The next hearing in this litigation is set for November 21, 2008 to set a schedule to present arguments, so this case won't be resolved anytime soon. Accordingly, SSA will not send any no-match letters to employers until the matter is resolved. Therefore, notify the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the AFL-CIO, or the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) if you know of any employer trying to implement this rule.

This final rule is basically unchanged from its original version, issued in August 2007, despite a court ruling in June of this year that: a) Questioned whether DHS had a reasoned analysis to change its position in regards to employer liability, b) Found DHS had exceeded its authority by interpreting anti-discrimination provisions in immigration law (IRCA), and c) Violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) by not conducting the analysis of the rule's impact, as required by law (doh!, that pesky analysis thing).

This rule is misguided, too costly, and ineffective:
1. Originally
SSA no-match letters were an attempt by SSA to correct discrepancies in their records that can prevent workers from getting credit for their earnings. These letters were never intended to be used as an immigration enforcement tool--no-match letters are not evidence of an immigration violation. As stated in a judicial opinion, no-match "does not automatically mean that an employee is undocumented or lacks proper work authorization. In fact, the SSA tells employers that the information it provides them ‘does not make any statement about . . . immigration status.'"

2. The implementation of this rule is far from a solution - it will only increase unemployment at a time of severe economic crisis.
a. According to DHS, it would cost $36,624 a year for the largest small businesses to comply, not including the costs of termination and replacement of workers. It could have a staggering impact on businesses caught between the financial and legal liability they would face if they fail to comply, and the financial and legal liability they would face for wrongly firing a worker whose name was listed in error. If implemented, the rule also could have a chilling effect on millions of immigrant workers in construction, agriculture and service industries at a time when the U.S. economy can ill afford it. Many businesses, too, fearing government prosecution will decide to dismiss or not hire workers that they suspect may have an immigration problem.

b. An economic analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that under the new rule, 165,000 lawful U.S. workers could lose their jobs, at a cost to employers of approximately $1 billion per year. In her testimony before the Immigration Subcommittee, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords discussed the effects of mandatory use of E-verify at the state level in Arizona, and reported that between October 2006 and March 2007, 3,000 foreign-born U.S. citizens were initially flagged as not authorized to work.

c. Under a mandatory E-Verify program, USCIS has estimated that annual employer queries of newly hired employees would be an average of 63 million. A GAO study from June 2008 found that about 7% of the queries initially appear as a "no-match" to SSA, and about 1 percent cannot be immediately confirmed as work authorized by USCIS, and:

The majority of SSA erroneous tentative nonconfirmations occur because employees' citizenship or other information, such as name changes, is not up to date in the SSA database, generally because individuals do not request that SSA make these updates.

Taking the modest estimate of 63 million queries per year, at the 7% initial error rate found by GAO, that translates to 4.41 million potential no-matches, i.e. persons who could be pushed to unemployment, again, at a time when the national unemployment rate is above 6%. If we extrapolate 7% unconfirmed queries to the existing civilian workforce - over 154 million people - the number jumps to 10.7 million people in danger of losing their jobs.

3. Mandatory e-verify would require an increase in capacity at USCIS and SSA to accommodate the estimated 7.4 million employers in the U.S. The GAO study found that e-verify would cost a total of about $765 million for fiscal years 2009 through 2012 if only newly hired employees are queried through the program and about $838 million over the same 4-year period if both newly hired and current employees are queried.

A study performed by Dr. Richard Belzer, former official of Office of Management and Budget, concluded that this program would cause an estimated increase of 610,000-2.7 million visits per year to SSA. He also pointed out that DHS made no estimate of the authorized worker unemployment that would result from erroneous no-match letters.

4. The rule is ineffective because it ignores unintended consequences:
a. Instead of discouraging undocumented immigration, the rule will only increase identity theft by making it more valuable for unauthorized workers to have genuine social security numbers.
b. The rule will have to be followed by more rounds of rulemaking, for example, how to deal with duplicate instances of SSA numbers, in addition to "no-match."
c. The rule will shift unauthorized workers into independent contracting and the "underground" economy, which will only risk pushing wages down during a time of economic crisis.

5. E-Verify is vulnerable to acts of employer fraud and misuse. GAO found:

- The current E-Verify program cannot help employers detect forms of identity fraud, such as cases in which an individual presents genuine documents that are borrowed or stolen.
- As USCIS works to address fraud through data sharing with other agencies, privacy issues may pose a challenge. In its 2007 evaluation of E-Verify, Westat reported that some employers joining the Web Basic Pilot were not appropriately handling their employees' personal information...and anyone wanting access to the system could pose as an employer and obtain access by signing a MOU with the E-Verify program.
- Westat reported that some employers used E-Verify to screen job applicants before they were hired, an activity that is prohibited. Additionally, some employers took prohibited adverse actions against employees-such as restricting work assignments, reducing pay, or requiring employees to work longer hours or in poor conditions-while they were contesting tentative nonconfirmations.

We've tried the enforcement-only approach for decades, and it has not curtailed undocumented immigration. Rep. Zoe Lofgren said it best during our latest forum on Immigration, as DHS has focused its resources on raids, there's been a 38% decline in prosecution of organized crime at the border, so "we've ended up with an expensive, stupid system that has not solved" the issue of a broken immigration system.

A verification program without comprehensive reform is ineffective. NDN has long advocated for the importance of matching legal immigration visas with the economic need for immigrants as a way to curtail undocumented immigration. Only by moving immigrant workers through legal channels, providing immigrants already here with an earned path to citizenship, reducing the backlog in family visas, and developing a sensible system for future flow will immigration will become manageable, and enforcement at the border and at the workplace will become more effective.

Even the Chief of the Border Patrol, David Aguilar agrees, "We cannot protect against the entry of terrorists and the instruments of terror without also reducing the clutter....To most effectively secure our border, we must reform our immigration system to relieve this pressure. We need comprehensive immigration reform."

I.C.E Ends Self-deport Program

I suppose most of us saw this coming...

The federal government will scrap a program for illegal immigrants to turn themselves in for deportation after only eight people volunteered during a nearly three-week trial, an official said Thursday.

And yet, I find myself rather stunned at the ongoing incompetence. They tried for three weeks. They spent $41,000 to advertise the program and then gave it only three weeks?

After years of rounding people up and scaring the hell out of immigrant communities by tearing families apart, making people disappear and allowing people to die while in custody, ICE calls it quits after three-weeks and, predictably, blames the immigrants and immigration advocates:

The bottom line is it is not effective," Hayes said. "Quite frankly, I think this proves the only method that works is enforcement...Hayes said lack of support from those activists shows they are unwilling to accept any enforcement."They want amnesty, they want open borders, and they want a more vulnerable America," he said. Hayes told the AP that other tactics have proven more effective. ICE has been tracking down so-called immigration "fugitives" by knocking on their doors at home, often during pre-dawn hours.

Apparently it's not "enforcement" unless they're hunting people down and dragging them out of their homes in the middle of the night.


Note to Congress: Comprehensive immigration reform is the only answer.

Note to the GOP: Throw the nativist, xenophobic Know-nothings over board...they're in the way of a responsible solution.


La organización internacional de derechos humanos Breakthrough acaba de lanzar un juego llamado ICED ("Puedo eliminar la deportación", por sus siglas en inglés). El título del juego alude a las siglas de ICE: Oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas, y las convierte en un verbo. Después de elegir un personaje de inmigrante, la idea es que uno puede experimentar en primera persona los obstáculos que los inmigrantes tanto legales como ilegales enfrentan día a día.

Asimismo, el juego también revela algunas de las injusticias que resultan del sistema de inmigración que actualmente tenemos en nuestro país. El objetivo es educar a todos aquellos que no han tenido la experiencia de ser inmigrantes. Una excelente idea, ya que mucha de la oposición en contra de los inmigrantes proviene de la ignorancia y de la facilidad con la que la gente se deja llevar por ciertos mitos.

A medida que uno va avanzando en el juego se encuentra con preguntas, y debe responder si algo es mito o hecho. Por ejemplo uno que me tocó a mi cuando jugué es: "de acuerdo con las leyes de inmigración, una persona de 40 años que es residente permanente puede ser deportado al descubrirse que robó materiales escolares cuando era adolescente". Difícil de creer, pero esto es un hecho. El juego nos sensibiliza a las desventajas de ser inmigrante, nos educa con respecto a la ley de inmigración y sobre todo, al ponernos en el lugar de un inmigrante, nos recuerda que el debate de inmigración se trata a fin de cuentas de un asunto de derechos humanos.

A New Immigration Strategy - Deport Yourself!

This past Sunday, Assistant Secretary for Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), Julie Myers, announced a new pilot program called "Operation Scheduled Departure" on Univision's political show, Al Punto. The idea is to "invite" all the undocumented immigrants who have already undergone immigration proceedings and have been issued a removal order (called non-criminal fugitives by ICE) to approach their local ICE office to begin their deportation. Why didn't we think of that before?! ICE reports that there are 400,000 people who currently fit that description. People who are not eligible for the program are all the undocumented immigrants who have not yet undergone removal proceedings (i.e., have not been caught), and any with a criminal conviction. However, when Ms. Myers "invited" all the viewers of the channel with the largest Hispanic audience in the country to participate, she omitted this detail, making it sound like anyone who is currently undocumented can participate. Not to mention, the policy is contradictory - during this same interview, Ms. Myers herself stated, "When I speak to people in the [ICE] detention centers and I ask if they plan on coming back [to the U.S.], they say ‘of course I'm coming back - that person always gives me a job.'"

During a conference call today with Congressional staffers, ICE officials had a hard time selling the program. Before promoting this program among people in their districts, staffers understandably pressed for answers: "What would be the benefit of participating?" DHS says: Well, they'd avoid risking being caught in a raid (another one, I guess, because they've already been caught, right?) and this way they'd have time to make "all necessary arrangements". Brilliant! It sounds like a concierge service. "Would turning oneself in count towards a legal status?" No. "Would participating in the program grant reprieve from the statutory bars that prohibit re-entry into the U.S.?" No. "Could people just leave of their own accord, without reporting to ICE, and then report their departure to a consulate abroad?" Sure, that's still their choice. Hmmmm...I could almost hear everyone on the phone scratching their head. "What about countries that refuse to issue travel documents, or won't accept their nationals back?" Yeah, then those folks would remain in the U.S. under ICE supervision indefinitely. Sounds like they've really thought this through. ICE could not provide me with the cost of the pilot program, and they couldn't tell us what results they expect to have. So I still don't understand the point of this program - a program that will only be in five cities (Santa Ana, CA, San Diego, CA, Chicago, IL, Pheonix, AZ, and Charlotte, NC), to - ideally - schedule the deportation of 400,000 people during a three-week window (August 5-27). I agree with Doug Rivlin, from National Immigration Forum, "It's pure fantasy." Even Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the largest anti-immigrant lobby group, agreed, "The government would have to offer some kind of incentive to entice immigrants to sign up."

Yet another example of the short-sighted, uninformed, and inadequate policies of this Administration. To us at NDN, this is not a solution to the problem. Instead of laughable policies like this, DHS should channel its resources towards dealing with its own backlog, which is keeping many from obtaining legal status, and it should help Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform to address the flaws in immigration law, provide a pathway to citizenship for those who fulfill certain requirements, and deal with the issue of future flow of immigrants.

Atención Inmigrantes: Autodepórtense!

Por fin alguien encontró una solución para la inmigración ilegal. Se llama Operación Salida Programada (vea Operation Schedule Departure), la que, gracias al genio de nuestro Presidente y su administración, logrará poner un fin a la inmigración ilegal. ICE comenzará pronto con éste programa "piloto", que tendrá una duración de tres semanas, y que consiste en una oferta de autodeportación para inmigrantes ilegales en cinco ciudades en el país. Estas ciudades son Chicago, San Diego, Santa Ana, Phoenix y Charlotte.

O sea básicamente ICE les va a "permitir" a los inmigrantes ilegales que no tienen antecedentes penales, presentarse ante las autoridades y regresar a sus países de origen. ¿Y el incentivo? que no se los va a internar en un centro de detención antes de ser deportados. Ah y que tendrán hasta tres meses para irse del país.

Consideremos la ridiculez de ésta iniciativa como respuesta a las acusaciones de que los procedimientos de deportación que ICE utiliza son crueles. También consideremos lo poco realista que es ésta solución: porque 12 millones de personas (que es aproximadamente el numero de inmigrantes ilegales que hay actualmente en este pais ) - muchas de las cuales arriesgaron sus vidas para venir a aquí - están ansiosos por regresar a sus paises de origen y descartar todo lo que han trabajado tan duro para lograr. Lo único que se me ocurre que es un incentivo real es el pobre Estado de la economía en nuestro país (gracias, otra vez, Sr. Bush).

Me encanta la creatividad de esta administración (y para que no haya malentendidos, lo digo de la forma más sarcástica posible), y esta "solución" solo demuestra el tipo de agencia que ICE es: inservible.

Para más información Vea las notas de NPR aquí

y aquí

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