Immigration Reform Advocates To Protest Against Napolitano in New York Wednesday

NEW YORK — Local immigration activists plan to demonstrate against U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano Wednesday morning when she comes to the city to deliver a speech on terrorism, in what may be the first significant protest by presumed Obama administration allies against a member of the president’s cabinet.  (Editor’s note: We previously reported incorrectly that the demonstration was scheduled for Thursday.  We regret the error.)

May Day rally at Madison Square Park in Manhattan.

A previous demonstration by New York immigration groups, on May Day. (Photo: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes)

Several pro- immigration groups are organizing a demonstration and press conference at the Council on Foreign Relations, where Napolitano will deliver a speech titled “Common Threat, Collective Response: Protecting Against Terrorist Attacks in a Networked World,” which will be broadcast live on the web.

The groups plan to protest Homeland Security’s “backward policies such as the implementation of e-Verify and the expansion of 287(g)” (a program that deputizes local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws) said Norman Eng, a New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) spokesman. The demonstration comes on the heels of the release last week of a report that found Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a DHS agency, violated the Constitution by conducting home raids without warrants and appropriate documentation under the Bush administration.

The groups taking part include the American Friends Service Committee, La Unión de la Comunidad Latina, Make the Road New York, New Immigrant Community Empowerment, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants’ Rights.

They will call on lawmakers to adopt recommendations made in the report released by the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.

The report says the majority of immigrants targeted by ICE were Hispanics, and concludes that the raids were “shockingly ineffective at capturing their purported targets.” [You can download the full report here.]

The protest is part of an escalated effort by New York groups to keep immigration reform on track and pressure legislators to discuss comprehensive changes in the next months.

Gabriella Villarreal, immigration advocacy policy coordinator at the NYIC, an umbrella organization for more than 200 pro-immigrant groups across the state, told FI2W that the coalition will increase community organizing and lobbying efforts in the next months.

Specifically, Villarreal said the coalition has increased meeting requests with members of Congress, scheduled more educational meetings, stepped up efforts to recruit volunteers, and increased collaboration with national groups such as FIRM.

The economic crisis, which has affected the budgets of grassroots organizations, will not impede this escalation, according to Villareal.

“Advocating for immigration reform is our priority, and the reason why the coalition was formed in 1987. The immigrant community is under siege, and people are feeling the need to act. It has not been difficult to mobilize,” Villarreal said.

The group “will use all tools available” to convey the urgency of passing comprehensive immigration reform, she added.

Advocates are not the only ones calling for changes to ICE policies. The New York Times ran an editorial Sunday calling on the administration to adopt the Cardozo report’s recommendations:

The Department of Homeland Security, under Secretary Napolitano, says it has been trying to undo the worst excesses of Bush-era immigration enforcement. But advocates want it to hasten the adoption of recommendations including no home raids except as a last resort to catch dangerous fugitives; no raids without judicial warrants; videotaping of agents in action; retraining agents on procedures; and starting an inspector general’s investigation to see how far the abuses have spread.


  1. brittanicus

    Most politicians are indoctrinated with tunnel vision, they only see campaign contributions and inventing a long drawn out career. They seem to be completely isolated from the American people, whether US workers, senior citizens or homeless veterans are ignored. To me catering to the 20 plus illegal immigrants seem to be more important to the status quo in Washington, than following the oath of allegiance to our nation. Right now the US population is up in arms, because the Democrats have authored a bill to give free government health care, to foreign nationals and their families. Can anybody tell me why American families are forced by law, to pay for people of other countries? We should have health care, but it should be the individual choice?

    You either paid your premiums, co-pays and deductibles, to the giant insurance corporations and hoped they didn’t kill of their service, if they suddenly decided you were a risk. Or you tried a new avenue available to many Europeans, that of a government health insurance plan? YOU! Should choose? What’s best for your family? Not some politician who is a stockholder in one of those wealthy insurance giants? Not only have citizens and legal residents been the prey of private medical care providers for decades, with some unable to afford the crippling premiums. That our hard earned dollars are whisked away in taxes to pay for a large bowlful of benefits, including free health care, for just anybody who can slip past government officials, at our border, ports or overstaying a tourist visa.

    In Europe this obscene travesty of immigration laws, may cause a collapse of governments in the near future. Activists like me see the destruction of our culture and irreversible OVERPOPULATION. Instead of these calculated cash going to support foreign national families, it should be going to refurbish our highways, bridges and tunnels. Inside America our infrastructure is falling apart. Instead of nation building, we should us our money to stabilize our own economy. Early immigrants gave much to this America, whereas the last ten years have eroded our welfare safety net to our own people. They did not come here to bleed America dry as they do today. Crime Yes! But not on the ever increasing scale, as it does today.

    If the Democratic leadership move forward with Immigration Reform or AMNESTY, American will further hemorrhage from those who are already here, and they in turn sponsoring their families, but the open door welcome for the following hordes sitting patiently in foreign lands? Trillions of dollars are on the line, because of the numerous federal mandates on taxpayers.

    The only power Americans have is the vote and even that is been compromised? As one voice we must pressure our Senators and Representatives, to empower E-Verify as part of the Save Act. 202-224-3121 Our concentrated effort of millions of phone calls, is making these subservient lawmakers to corporate welfare very nervous. They like their jobs, their exceptional health care and the benefits that go with it? Support for the bi-partisan SAVE Act, which will expand E-Verify and protect American Workers! We must focus on the zenith to this major problem-the jobs that attract illegal aliens. It would phase in a requirement for every employer to use the electronic E-Verify system. Remember also that the US chamber of Commerce, the ACLU, the Council of Foreign Relations are not friends of the ordinary American Worker, as they are anti-Sovereignty, Open border and are sustained by corporate grant givers, to destroy any Immigration Enforcement laws.


  2. Wandagb

    Who dictates America’s immigration policy – citizens or illegal aliens? If the latter then expect a billion people to pile on in. If the latter then enforce our laws.

    Above all, implement E-Verify and restore integrity to the hiring process.

    Everything you need to know about immigration and what to do about it humorously told.

    (Roy Beck and NumbersUSA are the “gumball” heroes)

  3. Kyle

    Stop Blaming Immigrants and deal with the real issues driving “Forced Migration”

    •Like many developing countries, Mexico’s economy is heavily dependent upon agriculture.

    •NAFTA required Mexico to end the majority of its subsidies and credit programs for small farmers.

    •NAFTA also required Mexico to eliminate tariffs on agricultural imports from the United States. This resulted in a flood of cheap grains into Mexican markets.

    •Imports fromthe U.S. are cheaper than food grown in Mexico because U.S. staple crops receive billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer subsidies, allowing large agribusiness exporters to sell grains on the international market for less than what it actually costs farmers to grow them.

    •The flood of imports has forced over one million Mexian corn farmers out of business since NAFTA took effect. According to the Economic Policy Institute, at the end of 2004, there were 6.8 million unemployed agricultural workers in Mexico.

    •The poverty rate in rural areas has climbed to an outrageous 81 percent. This has led to an exodus from rural areas into cities and border towns, creating intense competition for jobs and driving down wages for everyone.

    •According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Mexican-born people living in the United States increased by more than 80% between 1990 and 2000.

    •Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans continue to migrate to the U.S. each year, with more than two-thirds coming from corn-producing regions.

    Things Working Americans Should Know about Immigration

    •NO LEGAL ENTRY: For most Mexicans displaced by NAFTA, there is no legal way to migrate into the United States. Most people who legally immigrate do so through a family petition. A U.S. citizen or lawful resident may petition for a foreign spouse or child to be allowed entry — typically a multi-year process with many financial hurdles. For those displaced Mexican farmers who do not have a very close family member already living in the United States and able to file a petition on their behalf, there is virtually no legal way to immigrate.

    •RISKING LIVES: People who feel they have no other choice but to enter the U.S. illegally are literally risking their lives to do so. Since NAFTA was enacted, at least 3,000 Mexicans have died trying to cross the border. Some have asphyxiated in shipping containers. Others have drowned. Many more have died of thirst after becoming lost in the desert.

    •PAYING TAXES: Undocumented immigrants living in the United States pay the same real estate, sales and excise taxes as everyone else. Most also pay income taxes and contribute to Social Security, even though they have little chance of ever collecting Social Security. On average, immigrants pay more per capita in taxes than they receive in government services.

    •IMPACT ON WAGES: Businesses know that undocumented workers have relatively few options for employment and are less able to “rock the boat.” When unscrupulous employers hire undocumented workers in order to take advantage of their marginalized status, this drives down wages for everyone. U.S. Labor Department studies show that following the 1986 amnesty for undocumented immigrants, real wages for those workers increased dramatically, exerting an upward pressure on wages for all.

    Increased immigration can cause economic and social strains in the United States, but blaming immigrants for these problems would be both morally wrong and counterproductive. As one rural Mexican preparing to cross the border in the U.S. recently said, “I would rather risk dying in this desert than endure the shame of watching my children suffer from hunger in their own land.”

    Finding solutions to the question of undocumented immigration will not be easy, and reasonable people will certainly have differences of opinion, but from a working person’s perspective the approach taken on this issue should be based on principles of worker solidarity.

    •We need to broaden our opposition to free trade agreements from simply preventing the offshoring of American jobs to also defeating trade provisions that hurt farmers and workers in developing countries.

    •We need to question politicians who urge us to “get tough on immigrants,” yet continue to support trade policies that increase forced migration.

    •We need to demand that everyone working in the United States receives the same workplace protections and has the same right to organize, so that employers can no longer exploit workers just because of their immigrant status.

  4. Pingback: Immigrants Protest Napolitano as She Asks the Public to Join Fight Against Terrorism – Feet in Two Worlds « Shut Down ICE

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