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Obama marked Record High Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants

24 Oct

Photo Courtesy of John Moore / Getty Images / AFP

By: Eduardo Pacheco, Researcher

On September 30th the fiscal year ended with the Obama Administration breaking their previous record set last year of deportations of undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. Officials with ICE claim this increase in deportations is the direct result of “smart” immigration enforcement policy through the Federal Government’s Secure Communities Program that has led to the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants suspected of having criminal backgrounds. According to the reports disclosed by ICE on October 18th, 55% of the 396,906 deported from the US had a criminal background, in which under the administration’s new policy placed them under the High Priority Category for apprehension and deportation. It is important however to realize that 45%, a very large percentage, of those deported had no criminal background putting some doubt in the exclusivity of only targeting criminal undocumented immigrants.

Many pro-immigrant rights organizations and organizations that advocate in the reduction of immigrant flows into the US disagree with the Obama Administration’s reports and policy.

Many of the organizations that seek to drastically reduce the number of undocumented immigrants claim that the change in deportation priority is a backdoor amnesty, and these recent record breaking deportation numbers is a way for the Obama Administration to shift attention away from this “backdoor amnesty”.

In contrast, pro-immigrant rights organizations argue that under the Obama Administration more families are being torn apart than ever before by the flawed Secures Communities Program, in which there is record that in the past many individuals have been wrongfully targeted by the program.

While Immigration continues to be used as a political football between political candidates and parties in the US, what is true is that lack of action to address this issue on behalf of Congress and the Obama Administration is having grave consequences on Latino Communities across the United States, Mexico, and Latin America. The disproportionate deportation of Latinos has led to friction between the Latino Community and President Obama. According to DHS 77% of Undocumented Immigrants residing in the US are of Latino descent, however according to the newly published numbers by ICE 93% of the 396,906 deported last fiscal year are Latinos mainly from Mexico.

There is a great need to reexamine not only these immigration enforcement policies, but also the rhetoric revolving around this issue and its negative consequences on the largest minority community in the US, for the sake of the US and of the countries that are having to deal with large numbers of repatriates.


Success! Deportation Halted for Some Students

27 Apr

by Regina Cantu @ Matt.org

Olga Zanella, a Texas resident born in Mexico and currently a college student, could not bring herself to make plans to make a life in Mexico after being told American immigration authorities were working resolutely to deport her.

Zanella has been living illegally in the United States since her parents brought her here when she was 5, and the thought of moving to a violent country she does not remember, where she had no close family, rattled her with fear. She was pulled over by the local police in February 2009 as she was driving in her hometown, Irving, Tex., and did not have a driver’s license. The police handed her over to immigration agents and she has been fighting her deportation for two years. Ms. Zanella is studying at North Lake College in Irving to become a dentist. The police in Irving never explained why they stopped her and never issued any traffic ticket,

Her case looked bleak, but in recent days everything changed. Last Thursday, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official in Dallas summoned Ms. Zanella and told her she could remain in this country, under the agency’s supervision, if she stayed in school and out of trouble.

Encouraged by the surprising turnaround, Ms. Zanella’s parents and two siblings, who also had been living in the United States illegally, presented papers late Monday to ICE, as the agency is known, turning themselves in and requesting some form of legal immigration status.

ICE’ eventual decision in Ms. Zanella’s case is an example of the kind of action Democratic lawmakers and Latino and immigrant groups have been demanding from the Obama administration to slow deportations of illegal immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes. In particular, pressure is increasing on President Obama to offer protection from deportation to undocumented immigrant college students who might have been eligible for legal status under a bill in Congress known as the Dream Act.

In an April 13 letter, the top two Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada and Richard Durbin of Illinois, asked the president to suspend deportations for those students. But short of that, the senators asked Mr. Obama to set guidelines by which those students could come forward individually to ask to be spared deportation and to obtain some authorization to remain in the United States. The letter was signed by 20 other Senate Democrats. The Dream Act passed the House but failed in the Senate in December.

Homeland Security officials have said their focus is increasingly on removing immigrants who are convicted criminals. That, in fact, is what an ICE official told Ms. Zanella in explaining the new decision in her case.

As long as I do well in school and stay out of trouble, I will be out of trouble with ICE,” Ms. Zanella said she was told. She has to report to ICE every month.

In a similar story, immigration authorities also suspended the deportation on Tuesday of Mariano Cardoso, 23, a Mexican student at Capital Community College in Connecticut, according to Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, who had pressed Mr. Cardoso’s cause. ICE’s decision ended a two-year battle against deportation for Mr. Cardoso.

But nationwide the administration’s deportations policy remains confused and erratically implemented, immigration lawyers said, with many students and immigrants without criminal records being deported

*Pictured: Zanella, high school graduation

Cardoso, News Tribune

DREAMer Pedro Gutierrez Talks About Being Deported

30 Mar

by Regina Cantu @ Matt.org

Via America’s Voice, Pedro Gutierrez speaks about his difficult childhood and his dream to join the Marines. Pedro was desperately counting on the DREAM Act to pass.

He’s an orphan who grew up in Arizona and has no family or friends in Mexico. His grandmother brought him to the US at the age of 7, but passed away when he was still a child.

In the face of incredible adversity, Pedro has managed not only to survive, but to thrive, and he attributes this to the opportunities afforded to him in the United States. Pedro is admired by many for his spirit and tenacity, and above all for his desire to give back to his country by joining the US Marine Corps. The local recruiting officer, with whom Pedro has been in constant communication, considers him a perfect candidate.

Still, Pedro persevered with the support of his community. He graduated from high school and now dreams of joining the Marines.

Watch Pedro’s story:

Stop Future Marine\’s Deportation

“I now realize that the only way for me to be able to stay in Arizona, my home, is for President Obama to allow for me to stay. It is his choice whether I am deported to a country I do not know or if I am allowed to stay in Arizona and give back to my community. I ask President Obama to please let me serve this nation,” says Pedro.

Until President Obama takes targeted administrative action to re-examine the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible youth in removal proceedings, ICE will continue to deport DREAMers like Pedro. For every Dreamer we see in the papers, there are hundreds more without a voice being deported.

[Take action here to help stop Pedro’s deportation.]