Tag: Criminalization of immigration

Religious Leaders Face Deportation: Detention Reignites Churches' Call for Immigration Reform

Pastor Magdalena Schwartz speaks with the wives of the detained religious leaders - Photo: Alfa y Omega Church.

Pastor Magdalena Schwartz speaks with the wives of the detained religious leaders. (Photo: Alfa y Omega Church)

PHOENIX, Arizona — A group of eight religious leaders of the Disciples of Christ denomination in Phoenix are facing deportation after being detained by a tribal police department when they were on their way to a spiritual retreat.

The incident that occurred on Sept. 4 has shaken up the Evangelical church community in Phoenix, which is redoubling its efforts to call on President Barack Obama to take action on a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

“We’re planning to send him a letter soon with a group of churches,” said Job Cobos, who oversees the 13 Spanish churches of the Disciples of Christ in Arizona and who is also the pastor of the English-language Larkspur Christian Church.

A caravan of vehicles from the Alfa y Omega Church was driving towards Payson for a weekend spiritual retreat, when one van with nine passengers was pulled over.

The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Police Department stopped the van because it was driving significantly below the speed limit, chief of police Jesse Delmar told Feet in 2 Worlds.


New Jersey Attorney General Warns Police Against Profiling Immigrants Under 287(g) Program

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently announced the addition two New Jersey police departments to the highly-controversial program known as 287(g), which deputizes local officers to enforce federal immigration laws. Now the state’s Attorney General Anne Milgram is warning officers in the Garden State not to engage in racial or ethnic profiling. The AG also reminded officers that they cannot ask about a person’s immigration status “as part of an on-the-street encounter.”

The Morristown Police Department and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office are ready to join the program that has recently faced a barrage of renewed criticism from pro-immigration and Hispanic advocates. Last week, a coalition of 500 organizations launched a national campaign against it.

The program, created under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, grants “a state and local law enforcement entity … delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions,” according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (more…)

500 Groups Launch Campaign Against Obama's Expansion of Immigration Enforcement Program

Over 500 local and national advocacy groups have promised to “voice their discontent” in coming months with the Obama administration’s continuation of 287(g), a Bush-era program that allows local police to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

Day Laborer Arrested by Phoenix PD

A day laborer is arrested by Phoenix police. (Photo: A.J. Alexander)

The groups sent a two-page letter (plus 13 pages of signatures) to President Obama last week, asking him “to immediately terminate the 287(g) program operated by the Department of Homeland Security.” The letter will be followed by “vigils, marches and other activities across the country,” said the National Immigration Law Center in a press release.

The 287(g) program — named for a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act — has been heavily criticized for leading to racial profiling and creating a climate of fear in immigrant communities.

“The Obama administration has responded to documented violations within the 287(g) program by expanding it and creating an illusory complaint process,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the center, in the statement. “Ostracizing potential victims of and witnesses to crime and providing them with a disincentive to trust the authorities will make all our communities less safe.”



Drama About Immigration Raids and their Human Consequences in Arizona Is No Fiction for Many

Dulce Juarez plays the role of a school counselor who has to decide whether she will help an immigrant family. (Photo: Charles Dee Rice/cdricephotography.com)

Dulce Juarez plays a school counselor who has to decide whether to help an immigrant family. (Photo: Charles Dee Rice/cdricephotography.com)

PHOENIX, Arizona — When the school counselor gave her the news, it broke Olivia’s heart. Her father had been detained by deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. In the worst case scenario, he might have already been deported.

Olivia is a fictional character in The Tears of Lives, a play produced by Phoenix’s New Carpa Theater Company and written by James Garcia. But stories like hers are common in Arizona.

The play — a fundraising effort to keep Phoenix’s sole day laborer center from shutting down — is holding up a mirror to audiences, challenging them to acknowledge the situation faced by immigrant families torn apart in raids by local sheriff’s deputies who are authorized to act as immigration agents.

“We wanted to expose audiences to stories they might never see — said Garcia — put a third dimension to the immigrant story. Because most Americans’ image of immigrants is of people coming over a (border) wall, or being handcuffed on a sidewalk.”

Watch a segment of the play/Video by Valeria Fernández


New York Immigrant Advocates Launch Campaign to End ICE’s Presence in Local Jails

By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W contributor
Pro-immigrant activist Humberto De La Cruz holds a copy of the letter advocates will send to the New York City council, during the press conference at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan. (Photo: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes)

Pro-immigrant activist Humberto De La Cruz holds a copy of the letter advocates will send to the New York City council, during the press conference at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan. (Photo: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes)

Saidah Mohammed, an 18-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, hasn’t seen her boyfriend, Jaun Pierre, for over a year. He’s being detained while he awaits deportation to his native Jamaica, an island he hasn’t visited since his parents brought him to the U.S., settling in Brooklyn some 10 years ago.

Jaun, 19, has spent the past 11 months in immigration detention. Before that he spent months detained on a minor charge in New York City’s Rikers Island prison. It was while he was a prisoner at Rikers that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents caught Jaun. His lawyer advised him to plead guilty to charges stemming from a fight he was allegedly involved in without informing him that such a plea would set grounds for deportation. Now proceedings are underway to return Jaun to Jamaica, away from his parents, siblings, friends and Saidah. (*In response to a reader’s comment, this paragraph was edited for clarity.)

Saidah told her boyfriend’s story through tears at a press conference Tuesday in New York where advocates and religious groups launched a new campaign to end the presence of ICE at the city’s jails.

Advocates called on New York City’s government to pass legislation that would preclude ICE from accessing detainees’ place of birth information prior to conviction. A bill drafted by the groups and sponsored by Council Member Eric Gioia will be introduced in the City Council next week.


Connecticut City Joins 287 (g) Agreement with ICE, Promises to Pursue Only Criminal Immigrants

Danbury has seen a heated debate on undocumented immigrants. (Photo: mystical_swirl/Flickr)

Danbury has seen a heated debate on undocumented immigrants. (Photo: mystical_swirl/Flickr)

Billed by a Latino newspaper as “one of the most controversial measures enacted by the city’s Common Council”, an agreement between Danbury, Conn., and the Department of Homeland Security for that municipality to join the criticized 287 (g) program is finally going into effect after extensive debate.

Under the agreement, which at least 66 local law enforcement agencies nationwide have joined, two Danbury Police detectives will be trained by DHS to enforce immigration laws. The Associated Press reported, the agreement has already resulted in immigrants’ moving away from the southern Connecticut city.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the agreement will function under new rules set by the Obama administration, which supposedly would prevent local officers from going after non-criminal undocumented immigrants and those who commit minor infractions, like traffic violations.

According to the Tribuna Connecticut newspaper, Boughton said:

“The revised program was not created to cater to either of the extreme sides of this issue.

“It will not pick up the (day laborers) at Kennedy Park, nor will it turn a blind eye to the legal status of someone who robs a bank.

“This program caters to the 70 percent of the population that wants a safer community, whether they were born here or not and are here legally or illegally.”


News Analysis: ICE Chief Promises Efficiency, Continued Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws

On his first visit to Los Angeles, three months after becoming the chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), assistant secretary for Homeland Security John Morton said all his agency wants to do is become more efficient.

“We will try to apply immigration laws in a tough, smart and thoughtful manner,” said Morton to a small group of reporters invited to meet him last week as part of his tour of Southern California.

He said that if people expected ICE to stop doing its job, they would be disappointed. “That is not the point”, said Morton, who is a career prosecutor.



Children of Detained Immigrants Call for End to Raids in Arizona: Raid Today One of the Largest

PHOENIX, Arizona — While the Obama administration has established new federal guidelines to focus on employers that break the law by hiring undocumented workers, local authorities in Maricopa County are going in the opposite direction, and increasing the crackdown on employees. Just today sheriff’s deputies conducted one of the largest raids to date at a paper plant in Phoenix.

Heidi Rubi Portugal (holding sign) and other child protesters look up at the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in downtown Phoenix - Photo: Nick Oza

Heidi Rubi Portugal, holding sign, and other child protesters look up at the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in downtown Phoenix. (Photo: Nick Oza)

Last Friday dozens of children took to the streets to call for an end to immigration raids by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and to bring attention to the social and economic impact the raids have had on their families.

“I want to tell Sheriff Joe Arpaio to let my parents alone and let them free. And leave the people that are working out, and (instead) get the people that are killing others and robbing,” said Katherine Figueroa, a 9-year-old U.S. citizen.

Katherine’s parents Sandra and Carlos Figueroa –both undocumented — were arrested in June in a raid at a Phoenix carwash where they worked , and charged with identity theft. Katherine found out about their arrest when she saw her dad detained on a local TV news program.

It’s been two months since Katherine has shared a meal with her parents. She now stays with one of her aunts.

“He needs to stop the raids is not fair what he’s doing to people,” said Katherine who held a cardboard sign in the shape of a colorful orange and black butterfly.

Listen to Katherine here:


The Monarch butterfly was the theme for the young marchers because it endures an epic migration between Mexico and the U.S. for its survival.

Chanting “Obama, Obama we want our parents back,” the children walked in the hot Arizona summer from Madison Jail, were their parents are detaine to Sheriff Arpaio’s offices in downtown Phoenix.

Listen to the children chanting:



Immigrant Detainees on Hunger Strike After White House Rejects Change to Detention Standards

Immigrants in a Louisiana detention center began a hunger strike this week to protest the dismal conditions in which they say they are being held.

The detainees’ decision comes in the same week that two new reports –by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC)– showed that the U.S. government continues to violate the rights of detained immigrants –held for breaking civil, not criminal, laws.

The hunger strike is also a response to the Obama administration’s refusal to change the system for inspecting  immigration detention centers that was created during the Bush era and for enforcing minimum standards the government set in 2000. This decision, according to The New York Times, “disappointed and angered immigration advocacy organizations around the country.”

Immigrants at the detention center in Basile, Louisiana, decided to start the protest after reporting “egregious violations to jail staff, immigration officials and advocates,” said the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, which is supporting them. According to About.com’s immigration specialist Jennifer McFadyen, this is the fifth hunger strike in four weeks at the jail.


New Reports Show Rights of Immigrants in Detention Continue to Be Violated

While New York immigration advocates demonstrated Wednesday against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, evidence kept piling up that the U.S. government is violating the rights of immigrants in detention.

Immigrants in some detentions centers in Texas and Arizona are held in “unacceptable conditions,” with their rights to due process “compromised,” concluded a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which visited the centers just last week.

A separate report released Tuesday by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), said that “information not available to the public until now reveals substantial and pervasive violations of the government’s own minimum standards for conditions at facilities holding detained immigrants.”