Category: deportation

With Immigration Reform Looming, Private Prisons Lobby Work to Keep Migrants Behind Bars

Laura Carlsen

By Alan Bean

In this HuffPost piece, Laura Carlsen lays bare the idiot greed driving American immigration policy.  You will notice that most members of the eight-person bi-partisan team pushing the reform agenda in Congress (including all the Democrats) have received generous contributions from the private prison industry.  Why has a smart man like Barack Obama embraced a brain-dead immigration policy.  Well, consider this:

The inhumane and illogical step of pre-deportation detention was invented by the private prison industry. Last year, the Obama administration spent more money on immigration enforcement, including detention, than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined — a staggering $18 billion. The detention centers receive $166 per person, per day in government funds — an amount that would be a godsend to a homeless family or unemployed worker.

Please give this article the attention it deserves

With Immigration Reform Looming, Private Prisons Lobby to Keep Migrants Behind Bars

By Laura Carlsen

As the immigration reform debate heats up, an important argument has been surprisingly missing. By granting legal status to immigrants and ordering future flows, the government could save billions of dollars. A shift to focus border security on real crime, both local and cross-border, would increase public safety and render a huge dividend to cash-strapped public coffers. (more…)

An Innocent Question

Federal courthouse, McAllen, Texas

By Alan Bean

“Is there any way that I could get a permit that would let me stay in this country?”

The question came from a young man who, the day before, had been nabbed by Border Patrol officers as he waded the Rio Grande River.  Like most of the men in the courtroom, the questioner was short, thin and young.  I guessed his weight at 120 pounds, but it could have been less.

Like the thirty-five men and women standing with him in the magistrate court on the fourth floor of the federal courthouse in McAllen, Texas, the man asking the question was pleading guilty to a charge of entering the United States illegally.  Most of the defendants had been deported on multiple occasions, but this young man was apprehended by Border Patrol on his first attempt to enter the country illegally.

And yet he asked an innocent question; innocent in the sense that children are innocent.  He meant no one any harm.  He was just looking for a chance to earn a decent living.  He was ready to work long and hard.  He was eager to contribute to the greater good.  He entered the United States for the purest of motives, and yet he was being prosecuted as a criminal. (more…)

Why American immigration policy is in chaos

By Alan Bean

It is difficult to make sense of American immigration policy because our immigration policy makes no sense.  The Obama administration swept to victory in 2008 on promises of comprehensive immigration reform.  When efforts to follow through on this promise were met with hysterical references to amnesty and calls for wholesale deportation, Obama ramped up a Secure Communities program ostensibly designed to identify and deport undocumented residents with criminal records.  Secure Communities (also know as S-Comm) led to record levels of deportation (upwards of 400,000 per year) as the number of people entering the country, legally and illegally, dropped to a 40-year low.  Mass deportation did little to silence Obama’s critics on the right but sparked claims from the Latino community that the spike in deportation was separating undocumented parents from their  citizen children while targeting people who posed no threat to public safety.

In response to criticism from a sector Obama can’t afford to ignore, ICE officials were ordered to focus on keeping families together while deporting only “the worst of the worst”.  In December, immigration prosecutors initiated an extensive review of the nearly 300,000 deportation cases pending in the nation’s 58 Immigration Courts to ensure that the new policy was being carried out.  As a result, the deportation machinery has slowed considerably. 

Conservatives are calling Obama’s new policy a de facto amnesty for illegal aliens; Latino critics complain that thousands of harmless people are languishing in immigration prisons while public officials dither.

Now, according to this article in the Tucson Citizen, some are alleging that the judicial logjam in the nation’s immigration courts has been caused by conservative officials within the Homeland Security establishment who take their cue from conservative Republicans demanding that every undocumented person must be deported regardless of criminal history or family circumstances. 

In other words, as the President attempts to arbitrate the contradictory demands of conservative Republicans and Latino activists there is no sign that a coherent immigration policy will emerge any time soon.  By nature, Obama is a conciliator eager to meet his opponents in the middle.  As the fall election approaches at freight train speed, however, no one is in the mood for cutting pragmatic deals.  If Obama doesn’t go to the wall to back up his kinder-gentler version of Secure Communities he could lose the enthusiastic support of the Latino community.

New policy slow to clear deportation backlog

on Jun. 09, 2012

Tucson Citizen

Federal immigration officials have closed less than 2 percent of the more than 230,000 cases they have reviewed in the past six months in their effort to reduce backlogged immigration courts and focus more attention on deporting serious criminals. (more…)

DC says no to “secure communities” immigration checks

By Alan Bean

If you’re wondering what this “secure communities” business is all about, you probably aren’t Latino.  If so, you have nothing to worry about.  Forget about it.  This doesn’t apply to you.  Unless you believe in equal justice.  In that case, read on.

Secure Communities began as a pilot program in late 2007.  The idea was to hold criminal suspects in detention until their fingerprints could be checked against FBI and DHS records.  In case of a match, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) puts a detainer on the individual until immigration status can be verified and a preliminary decision made about deportation. 

In theory, only serious criminals are selected for deportation, but the rules governing the Secure Communities program are vague and susceptible to multiple interpretations.  Public officials who want to use Secure Communities as a cover for racial profiling and the harassment of heavily Latino neighborhoods are free to do so.

Secure Communities was voluntary at first, but the Obama administration, eager to dodge the impression that it is soft on illegal immigration, has become increasingly enamored of the program.  Safe Communities is now mandatory and universal compliance will be demanded by 2013.

US immigration policy lurched in a conservative direction in 1981 when Ronald Reagan took a strong stand against Haitian asylum seekers.  But the real change came in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing and the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1996.  The implementation of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) made deportation much easier while shifting decision-making authority from the judiciary to petty government officials.  The post 9-11 creation of ICE as a component of Homeland Security set the stage for Secure Communities.  The United States now deports seven times as many people as we did in 1994, just prior to AEDPA and IIRAIRA.

Although half of the roughly 400,000 people deported annually in recent years have criminal records, many are guilty of nothing more than driving without a driver’s license (an understandable violation if you are documented). 

How safe has Safe Communities made America?  Deporting bad actors will always be a popular idea, but when entire communities are transformed into virtual police states, community trust is seriously eroded.  Nobody wants to talk to the police, even the victims of violent crime or potential eyewitnesses.

Secure Communities policies were softened slightly earlier this year, but critics were uniformly unimpressed with the miniscule changes.

As this story suggests, the erosion of community trust is emerging as the major reason people across the nation are fighting mad about Secure Communities. 

Secure Communities Immigration Checks Resisted In District Of Columbia

Elise Foley
Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — District of Columbia council members said they plan to act swiftly on Tuesday to defy a federal immigration enforcement program the city will be forced to join the same day. (more…)