A project of the Center for Community Change

Administration claims commitment to immigration reform, ICE escalates enforcement

Last Wednesday, 12 grassroots leaders met directly with President Obama to discuss immigration reform. During the meeting, leaders were clear about the human cost under the current Bush-era enforcement policies that are separating families and ravaging communities.

Deepak Bhargava, one of the 12 leaders present for the meeting, had this to say about the meeting:

“The President today heard two messages loud and clear.  He heard about the pain caused by the administration’s enforcement only approach to immigration and how it is tearing families apart.  He also heard about the possible consequences of breaking his promises to deliver comprehensive reform: a growing backlash in the immigrant and Latino communities.”

He may have heard our message, but he certainly hasn’t turned that message into action. Just yesterday, John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, stated that his agency would be ramping up enforcement efforts against undocumented immigrants with no criminal records. Morton’s statement was in response to pressure from Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Hal Rogers, (R-KY).

From Congress Daily (subscription required):

Although the top priorities are border enforcement and pursuit of criminal immigrants, Morton said ICE has not abandoned operations against non-criminal illegal immigrants. “It is not a question that we have, in any way, given up on,” he said.

President Obama has recently restated his firm commitment to the immigrant community and immigration reform. From what I understand from the definition of commitment, it does not include throwing entire hard-working families and communities under the bus in order to ‘look tough’. If Mr. Morton is operating outside of the President’s priorities, he should be replaced. And if he is not, then what is the value of President Obama’s words of commitment?

This is a critical time for trust in the administration’s commitment to our issue. With a massive national march planned for this Sunday and the blueprint for a possible bill in the works, we need actions, not words, to show us this commitment.

Mr. President and Mr. Morton, you should get together and figure out if you are on the side of hard-working and vulnerable communities in this country or if you are willing to pander to the anti-immigrant right in order to ‘look tough’ on the issue.

On Sunday, we march. Now more than ever, we are hitting the streets to hold you accountable to your promises.

What’ll it be?

photo courtesy of justice.gov

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