Posts Tagged 'ICE'

Meeting: Civil Liberties in the Time of Obama

“Civil Liberties in the Time of Obama”
Tuesday, March 16, 1 PM
Fireside Room, Unitarian Center
1187 Franklin St (betw. O’Farrell, Geary), SF
Free, Wheelchair OK
A SF Gray Panther Program, Public Invited

As with war, Obama has been disappointing on civil liberties issues, such as the extension of the Patriot Act, extraordinary renditions, military tribunals, detentions without charges, not charging the architects of torture, not closing Guantanamo, and failure to intervene in the cases of Mumia and Lynne Stewart.

Similarly, Obama has been disappointing on immigration issues, such as family separations, widespread ICE raids, mass firings, police checkpoints, continued immigrant detention and deportations, and a network of secret detention facilities violating basic rights and needs. Meanwhile an immigration reform bill is being introduced that promises to arouse more controversy.

Angela Chan, a lawyer from San Francisco’s Asian Law Caucus, a leading advocate for civil liberties, will describe the impact of some of these trends, especially for San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policy.

Ms. Chan has been active in fighting the deportation of immigrant youths arrested for felonies without any investigation of whether the arrests were based on facts or simply racial profiling by the police. Many of these charges were later dropped, but the youth are already deported to countries where they often have no family support.  In response to community outrage, Supervisors passed an ordinance that bars turning over juvenile immigrant arrestees to ICE unless subsequent hearings establish the arrestee was actually guilty, but Mayor Gavin Newsom has refused to implement this law.

Read more: http://tinyurl.com/y9c8t8w

short link to this page:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-nH

Pregnant Latina forced to give birth in shackles by Arpaio deputy

Phoenix New Times, October 20, 2009

Pregnant Latina Says She Was Forced to Give Birth in Shackles
After One of Arpaio’s Deputies Racially Profiled Her

Forced to give birth in shackles

The bleeding kept her up all night, drenching her black-and-white-striped jail uniform.

Alma Chacón feared her baby would arrive early. Her nightmare had started with a traffic stop a day earlier. She’d been weeping since. “What if the baby is born here, in the jail?” she thought.

In the afternoon, she was shackled and transported to Maricopa County Medical Center, where she gave birth in a “forensic restraint.” She couldn’t hold her baby daughter or kiss her. She could only watch as hospital personnel carried the infant out the door. She wouldn’t see the baby for 72 days.

Her case raises questions about the use of racial profiling by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies during traffic stops, but, most importantly, sheds light on the mistreatment of unconvicted immigrants inside county jails.

Chacón retells her story inside her trailer home in Queen Creek. Outside, her children play in the shell of a home under construction. It’s Chacón’s dream townhome, and she’s been building it a block at a time.

She looks younger than 35; her long, black hair rains straight to the small of her back. The immigrant from Durango, Mexico, has quiet tears. She came to America when she was 16 on a tourist visa and never looked back.

No one promised it would be easy. Tamale sales and housecleaning have barely enabled her to feed her children. The father of the first four of her kids died six years ago in a car accident.

Fear of deportation was always a normal part of Chacón’s life in Queen Creek. The town, with a population of 23,000 on the outskirts of Maricopa County, has a contract with the Sheriff’s Office for police services. Like many immigrants, she drives slowly so she doesn’t attract suspicion.

But that didn’t help the afternoon of October 12, 2008, when she came head to head with a sheriff’s deputy. It was a Sunday and she was on her way to cash a check at the grocery store. Giselle, her 8-year-old, was along for the ride.

“He looked at me, did a U-turn, and got behind the car,” she said of the sheriff’s deputy. “There wasn’t time to check my plates.”

When he came to the driver’s-side window, she handed him her Mexican consular card.

“When are you due?” the deputy asked in English.

“October 21,” she answered.

Minutes later, he put her in handcuffs. There were two warrants for her arrest.

Turns out Chacón owed more than $1,000 in fines for driving without a license and had a misdemeanor shoplifting charge. She said that because she isn’t allowed to get a driver’s license because of her undocumented status, she wasn’t able to earn money to pay the fines. She had to drive, she said, to work and support her children. She said even the shoplifting charge came because, after her husband died, she was desperate and stole food to keep her children alive.

“If someone doesn’t come and pick up your daughter in 30 minutes, I’ll call CPS [Child Protective Services],’ the deputy told her.

A neighbor picked up a sobbing Giselle.

“That’s when the nightmare inside the nightmare began,” she said.

She spent her first night at the Fourth Avenue Jail on a cold cement bench. The following day she was taken to the Estrella jail.

During her second night behind bars, the bleeding started. On the morning of October 14, she felt contractions. Her hands and feet shackled, she was in labor and ushered into a paramedic’s van by a detention officer who restrained her to the stretcher.

“That’s not necessary,” the paramedic told the officer.

“It’s my job,” the officer responded. The guard was a Latina.

She thought she would be released from the shackles once she arrived at the hospital, but she wasn’t.

The officer chained her ankle to one leg of the hospital bed.

A nurse requested that she be freed to get a urine sample. But the officer suggested instead that her bed be dragged over to the bathroom.

Later she was changed from her jail uniform into a hospital gown.

“The officer chained me by the feet and the hands to the bed,” she said. “And that’s how my daughter was born.”

Baby Jaqueline was delivered at 9:25 p.m. and weighed 6.28 pounds. Chacón stared at her daughter as nurses cleaned her. It was a precious eight minutes, she said. But they didn’t allow her to hold the baby.

When questioned later about the incident, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said, “I wasn’t the one who kept her from holding the baby. Ask the hospital.”

Sheriff’s Office policy states that jail inmates be restrained for “security reasons in an unsecured facility,” said Jack MacIntyre, an MCSO deputy chief. McIntyre said a 12-foot chain link was attached to Chacón’s leg.

“Let’s assume someone is faking labor — that’s a hypothetical — and she then chose to escape and hit or assault the hospital staff,” McIntyre said. “She could do that easily because it’s an unsecured area.”

Sentenced, pregnant state prison inmates are treated better than un-sentenced ones in Maricopa County jails. Arizona Department of Corrections policies state: “A pregnant woman will not be restrained in any manner while in labor, while giving birth, or during the postpartum recovery period.”

Hospital records mentioned that Chacón had a forensic restraint on her ankle. Doctors turned down a request from New Times to talk about her case, even after Chacón gave consent for the release of her medical files.

Over the following weeks, after she was back in the county lock-up, her breasts swelled and hurt. Jail guards wouldn’t give her a breast pump. Nor would they give her enough medication to make the pain stop. She got one dose of pain medication a day, no matter how extreme her discomfort.

She worried about her four children, who were left alone in the care of her 17-year-old son, William. She said the baby’s father, her boyfriend, had left her after he found out she was pregnant.

“I felt so sad to see her children alone,” said Chacón’s mother, Maria Gómez, who arrived from Durango, Mexico, with a visa four days after her daughter was arrested.

Gómez took care of Chacón’s new baby, who had been picked up at the hospital by a family friend.

On October 29, a judge let her go but told Chacón she’d be on probation for two years, during which time she must pay all her remaining fines.

She waited 14 extra days in jail to be picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“[ICE officers] took me to the Florence Detention Center, where they treated me much better,” she said. “At least not like an animal.”

There, she refused to sign a document for her voluntary removal from the country.

The story of an immigrant mother’s struggle to care for her children was told repeatedly on Spanish-language radio. People in her community raised $3,000 needed to make the bond set by an immigration judge, and she was released from custody.

Chacón’s hopes are up these days. After almost 20 years in the country, she may have a strong case to stay with her five children — who are all U.S.-born and therefore American citizens. Her attorney filed a motion to cancel her deportation, and now she’s hoping to get a work permit.

It’s been a year since the arrest (baby Jacqueline just turned 1).

“I’m not afraid to come out with my story,” she said. “But I’m disappointed to see that not much has been done to stop [Joe Arpaio].”

Connecticut ICE agents retaliate against New Haven Municipal ID Program

Connecticut Post, October 28, 2009

Immigrants: Conn. raid retaliation for ID cards

By John Christoffersen

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Ten New Haven residents filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing federal agents of violating their rights during an immigration raid they say was in retaliation for a city program that provided ID cards to foreigners in the country illegally—the first of its kind in the nation.

The sweeps in New Haven on June 6, 2007, came two days after the city approved issuing identification cards to all of its residents, regardless of immigration status. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have denied that the early morning raids were retaliatory, saying planning began the year before.

“The New Haven raids were not a product of routine immigration enforcement,” the lawsuit states. “Hartford ICE agents deliberately chose to conduct raids in New Haven in retaliation for the city’s efforts to improve public safety for all its residents by integrating immigrants and Latinos into civic life.”

Spokesmen for the U.S. Attorney’s office and ICE declined comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, cites e-mails between federal officials that the residents say show hostility to the ID card program and an intent to stop it.

One e-mail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on March 28, 2007 disclosed that an ICE official “had been talking to his headquarters about the fact that New Haven is becoming a sanctuary city.” On May 11, the ICE official held a conference call with several prosecutors to discuss how to address the “headaches in New Haven,” according to the lawsuit.

The comments took on a racially charged tone after a city committee approved the ID card program, the lawsuit alleges. “Yale is loading up the Amistad with illegal immigrants and sailing them to freedom, while (ICE counsel) openly weeps in Hartford,” an ICE attorney wrote, referring to the slave ship that was commandeered by African captives who eventually won their freedom.

An ICE official then drafted a letter to the city expressing concerns with the program and discouraging the mayor from implementing it, according to the lawsuit. ICE officials and the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to disguise their collaboration to make it look like the letter was coming from prosecutors instead of ICE, the lawsuit alleges. The defendants then planned their first and only raid of the year, including only 33 New Haven-area addresses in their target list when there were 5,500 outstanding warrants for fugitives, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit contends ICE’s retaliatory intent became clear after the raid when a spokesman declared, “There is truly no safe haven for fugitive aliens.”

The lawsuit alleges ICE agents broke into homes without search warrants or consent and arrested residents based on their race or ethnicity. When the girlfriend of one of those arrested asked where they were going during the raid, one of the agents laughed and taunted that they were going to a concert by Juan Gabriel, a famous Mexican singer, according to the lawsuit.

“ICE agents broke into my home without permission while I was still sleeping, pulled the covers from my bed, and arrested me for no reason,” Jose Solano-Yangua, a plaintiff, said in a statement. “I was terrified and humiliated.”

In June, a federal judge ruled that agents violated the constitutional rights of four immigrants in the raids. Immigration Judge Michael Straus said the ICE agents went into the immigrants’ homes without warrants, probable cause or their consent, and he put a stop to deportation proceedings against the four defendants, whose names were not released.

Immigration officials have denied claims that the 32 arrests that morning were improper, and they said the people who were arrested had been ordered by judges to leave the country. They said in court documents that they were allowed into the homes during the sweep. Witnesses have alleged in court documents that parents were arrested in front of their frightened children, agents refused to identify themselves and told people in the homes to shut up.

Yale Law School students are representing the immigrants. Of the 32 arrested, none are still in custody, according to the Yale students. Of the 19 that Yale represents, 4 agreed to leave the country, 10 are still fighting their cases and five won motions to suppress evidence, according to the students.

The lawsuit, which names former and current ICE officials as defendants, seeks damages and a judgment that the officials violated the Constitution.

Immigrant Rights Groups demand end to Homeland Security’s 287(g) program and racial profiling

Immigrant Rights Groups’  Letter to President Obama Demanding An End to
Homeland Security’s 287(g) Program and Racial Profiling in Immigration Enforcement

Also see press release  Obama Accused of Continuing Bush’s Racial Profiling of Immigrants, Democracy Now on racial profiling and abuse in the 287(g) program, and NY Times Firm Stance on Illegal Immigrants Remains Policy (sic),  Shackled While Giving Birth – Police Abuse 287(g), and Immigrant Groups Protest Napolitano’s Visit

A handful of protesters call on the Obama administration to follow through on immigration reform. (Christine Lin/The Epoch Times)

Protesters call on the Obama administration to follow through on immigration reform. (Christine Lin/The Epoch Times)

San Francisco Gray Panthers and the national Gray Panthers have endorsed this letter.

July 31, 2009

The President

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We, the undersigned civil rights, community, and immigrant rights organizations, urge you to imme-diately terminate the 287(g) program operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The program has come under severe criticism this year because local law enforcement agencies that have been granted 287(g) powers are using the program to target communities of color, including disproportionate numbers of Latinos in particular places, for arrest. Racial profiling and other civil rights abuses by the local law enforcement agencies that have sought out 287(g) powers have compromised public safety, while doing nothing to solve the immigration crisis.

We applaud your recent remarks acknowledging, that “there is a long history in this country of Afri-can Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.” However, DHS’s continued use of the 287(g) program exacerbates exactly this type of racial profiling. In light of well-documented evidence that local law enforcement agencies are using 287(g) powers to justify and intensify racial profiling, Secretary Napolitano’s July 10, 2009 announcement that DHS has ex-panded the 287(g) program to include 11 new jurisdictions is deeply alarming.

Since its inception, the 287(g) program has drawn sharp criticism from federal officials, law enforce-ment, and local community groups. The program, largely recognized as a failed Bush experiment, relinquishes the power to enforce immigration law to local law enforcement and corrections agencies and has resulted in the widespread use of pretextual traffic stops, racially motivated questioning, and unconstitutional searches and seizures primarily in communities of color. In a country where racial profiling by law enforcement agents has led to massive arrests of people of color, these efforts to push immigrants into the criminal justice system is not surprising, but absolutely counterproductive to increasing public safety.

A March 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report criticized DHS for program misma-nagement and insufficient oversight of the controversial program. The DHS Inspector General is currently conducting an audit of the 287(g) program, and the Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation into the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, whose 287(g) program has been widely criticized for engaging in racial and ethnic profiling. The Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Major Cities Chiefs Association have expressed concerns that deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce civil federal immigration law undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation, and exacerbates fear in communities.

Reports of abuse in local communities have been widespread. In Davidson County, Tennessee, the Sheriff’s Office used its 287(g) power to apprehend undocumented immigrants driving to work, standing at day labor sites, or while fishing off piers. One pregnant woman—charged with driving without a license—was shackled to her bed during labor. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, even without formal 287(g) powers, over 350 individuals were detained and deported from the jail this February after being arrested for driving without a license, a county ordinance violation, or on traffic or misdemeanor charges. The Gwinnett jail is triple-bunked, with one person in each cell sleeping on the floor, and the jail’s internal SWAT team is known for appearing in ski masks to subdue detainees it deems uncooperative. Yet, Gwinnett County is among the 11 jurisdictions granted new 287(g) approval by Secretary Napolitano earlier this month.

In a recent research report, Justice Strategies, a nonpartisan research firm, found evidence that links the expansion of the program to racial animus against communities of color. According to FBI and census data, sixty-one percent of ICE-deputized localities had violent and property crime indices lower than the national average, while eighty-seven percent of these localities had a rate of Latino population growth higher than the national average.

The abusive misuse of the 287(g) program by its current slate of agencies has rendered it not only ineffective, but dangerous to community safety. The program has worked counter to community po-licing goals by eroding the trust and cooperation of immigrant communities and diverted already reduced law enforcement resources from their core mission. DHS’s proposed changes to the program not only fail to correct its serious flaws, but also create new ones.

We know that you are committed to tackling our nation’s most complex issues, for these reasons we ask that you examine the damaging impact the 287(g) program is having on immigrant communities across the country and terminate the program. We would be pleased to provide additional information or recommendations regarding current programs and operations of DHS.

Thank you for your consideration. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Marielena Hincapié, executive director, National Immigration Law Center at (213) 639-3900 ext. 109.

Cc:

Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Eric Holder, Attorney General, USDOJ

Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, USDOJ

Congressional Black Caucus

Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

Congressional Progressive Caucus

Mesa, AZ & Florence, AZ:

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, Rep. Jeff Flake, Sen. Jon Kyl, Sen. John McCain

Sussex, DE:

Rep. Michael N. Castle, Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Sen. Edward E. Kaufman

Gwinnett, GA:

Rep. David Scott, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Sen. Johnny Isakson

Mesquite, NV:

Rep. Dean Heller, Sen. John Ensign, Sen. Harry Reid

Monmouth, NJ & Morristown, NJ:

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Sen. Robert Menendez, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg

Guilford, NC:

Rep. Brad Miller, Sen. Kay R. Hagan, Sen. Richard Burr,

Rhode Island

Sen. Jack Reed, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Charleston, SC:

Rep. Henry E. Brown, Jr., Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Jim DeMint

Houston, TX:

Rep. John Culberson, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sen. John Cornyn

Racist, Anti-Immigrant Web Posts Traced to Homeland Security

July 25, 2009

Racist Web Posts Traced to Homeland Security

After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York in June, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers in the region, an apple-growing area east of Rochester, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article.

Most of the posts were made anonymously. But in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.

Homeland Security started an investigation into the posts this month, according to the reporter, Louise Hoffman-Broach, and Richard M. Healy, the Wayne County district attorney. A spokeswoman for the federal agency’s inspector general said she could neither confirm nor deny an investigation; department rules prohibit the use of office equipment for the personal transmission of material that could offend fellow employees or the public.

Coming on the eve of the apple harvest season, the Web posts and the investigation — first reported this week on The Star’s Web site — have ratcheted up longstanding tensions in Wayne County, where farmers and laborers have accused immigration officials of using heavy-handed tactics like racial profiling and arbitrary or unjustified detentions.

Such tactics, the farmers say, have scared Hispanic farmworkers from the region just as growers are preparing for the harvest.

Representative Dan Maffei, who represents the area in Congress, said the allegations of overaggressive immigration enforcement, coming from a wide range of constituents, were “of extreme concern.”

“I’m investigating these reports to make sure that people’s rights aren’t being harmed and that the economy of Wayne County is not being harmed,” said Mr. Maffei, a Democrat.

A. J. Price, a regional spokesman for United States Customs and Border Protection, defended the work of the area’s officers. “We are constantly criticized for doing our job, and that’s just part of our job,” Mr. Price said.

Local officials and residents say that beginning about 2006, federal officials stepped up their enforcement of immigration laws in western New York.

Farmers and other residents said the push created a climate of fear in communities whose economies depend on migrant laborers, many of them illegal immigrants.

The Obama administration has moved to a less confrontational policy at work sites, focusing on employers. But Customs and Border Protection, which does not conduct work-site inspections, had not changed its strategy in New York, Mr. Price said.

The latest flare-up began with a boat trip on June 12. A local farmer, Robert Norris, decided to take a Mexican employee and relatives of another worker for a spin on Lake Ontario, Ms. Hoffman-Broach said.

Federal agents stopped the boat because it had too many people on board, Mr. Price said. When some of the passengers were unable to produce documentation proving they were citizens or legal immigrants, he said, they were detained. All but one was eventually released, The Star reported.

The article about the arrests, posted on June 16, led to a torrent of angry Web postings. One, sent from a fake e-mail address, said, “watcha doing to mi wifey, no checky her papeles. she no legal, but she havey benifit card.”

A response, which carried a Homeland Security Internet protocol address, read: “That sounds like my boyfriend. Leave him alones and get your own. My boyfriend works sometimes but he is really good at getting FREE benefits from the Federal and State government.”

Another post, apparently sent from a separate computer linked to Homeland Security, read in part: “These farmers have a problem because the gravy train that they were riding for soooooo long is being brought to light.”

The newspaper removed the posts. It also reported that it had discovered others, dating to last year, that appeared to have come from computers affiliated with Homeland Security.

Immigrant Rights Activists Condemn Obama Plan to Expand Use of Local Police to Enforce Immigration Law

Immigrant Rights Activists Condemn Obama Plan to Expand Use of Local Police to Enforce Immigration Law

On July 10, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano  announced plans to standardize and greatly enlarge the 287(g) program,  by which local law enforcement is given money, equipment, and powers  to enforce federal immigration law.  (See Homeland Security’s press release.)

As the following press release shows, turning immigration enforcement over to local police has led to  frequent police abuse, racial profiling, and rapid-fire detentions and  deportations.

In a related development, the ACLU has condemned the new standardized  Memorandum of Agreement governing local police under the 287(g) plan,  as a meaningless gesture to reduce local police abuses, writing “The  new standardized MOA makes no serious attempt at discouraging illegal  racial profiling or reducing the conflict between sound community  policing principles and the expansion of this program.”

As one immigrant rights activist wrote, “More groups and individuals going against the “Washington Consensus” –  legalization in exchange for even more enforcement-on immigration.  Please distribute this far and wide as the Obama and Napolitano are  trying to do this below the clouds-and some fog- of excitement around  the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. This is the clearest statement to  date of Obama’s willingness to support racist, dangerous and  ultimately failed immigration policy. That some of these groups have  not previously made statements against Obama and that they waste no  time using language still unheard of in echo chamber of Washington  (ie;” Condemning”) provides,  I think, an interesting preview of where  and how Obama’s credibility may rapidly drop in immigrants rights and  Latino communities.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ADVOCATES ISSUE STATEMENT CONDEMNING OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S

EXPANSION OF DHS’S FAILED 287(g) PROGRAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 17, 2009

Media Contacts:

Adela de la Torre, Communication Specialist, National Immigration Law  Center, 213.674.2832 (office), 213.400.7822 (cell)

Andrea Black, Coordinator, Detention Watch Network, 202-393-1044 ext.  227 (office), 520-240-3726 (cell)

Judith Greene, Director, Justice Strategies, 718-857-3316,  jgreene@justicestrategies.net

Civil rights and community groups across the country denounce  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano’s  plans to expand the highly criticized 287(g) program to eleven new  jurisdictions around the country.  The program, authorized in 1996 and  widely implemented under the Bush Administration, relinquishes, with  no meaningful oversight, immigration enforcement power to local law  enforcement and corrections agencies.

Since its inception the program has drawn sharp criticism from federal  officials, law enforcement, advocates and local community groups.  A  February 2009 report by Justice Strategies, a nonpartisan research  firm, found widespread use of pretextual traffic stops, racially  motivated questioning, and unconstitutional searches and seizures by  local law enforcement agencies granted 287(g) powers.  Justice  Strategies recommended the program be suspended.  “We found evidence  that growth of the 287(g) program has been driven more by racial  animus than by concerns about public safety.  The expansion of this  deeply flawed program cannot be justified before a thorough test of  corrective actions shows solid proof that they have been effective,”  reports Judy Greene, Director of Justice Strategies. A March 2009  Government Accountability Agency (GAO) report, criticized DHS for  insufficient oversight of the controversial program.

Also in March, the United States Department of Justice launched an  investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, to  determine whether Arpaio is using his 287(g) power to target Latinos  and Spanish-speaking people.  In Davidson County, Tennessee, the  Sheriff’s Office has used its 287(g) power to apprehend undocumented  immigrants driving to work, standing at day labor sites, or while  fishing off piers. One pregnant woman—charged with driving without a  license—was forced to give birth while shackled to her bed during  labor. Preliminary data indicate that in some jurisdictions the  majority of individuals arrested under 287(g) are accused of public  nuisance or traffic offenses: driving without a seatbelt, driving  without a license, broken taillights, and similar offences.  Such a  pattern of arrests suggest that local sheriff’s deputies are  improperly using their 287(g) powers to rid their counties of  immigrants, by making pretextual arrests that are then used to  forcefully deport people. “We need only look at the example of  Maricopa County to understand the devastating effects the increased  287(g) program will have on our communities,” said Chris Newman, Legal  Programs Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.  “The Obama administration must recognize that the 287(g) program is  predatory and ripe for corruption and profiling that will harm  community stability and safety for everyone.”

The Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of  Police, and the Major Chiefs Association have expressed concerns that  deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce civil federal  immigration law undermine the trust and cooperation of immigrant  communities, overburdens cities’ already reduced resources, and leaves  cities vulnerable to civil liability claims.  “When victims and  witnesses of crime are afraid to contact police for fear of being  jailed or deported, public safety suffers,” said Marielena Hincapie,  Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center.

Napolitano’s July 10 announcement that DHS has granted 11 new  jurisdictions 287(g) powers stunned advocates who had been expecting a  major overhaul of – or end to – this failed program.  “DHS is fully  aware that the abusive misuse of the 287(g) program by its current  slate of agencies has rendered it not only ineffective, but dangerous  to community safety.   It is surprising Napolitano did not simply shut  this program down.  Expanding this failed program is not in line with  the reform the administration has promised,” said Andrea Black,  Coordinator of the Detention Watch Network.

Signatory Organizations:

A Better Way Foundation, New Haven, CT

All of Us or None, San Francisco, CA

Border Action Network, Tucson, AZ

Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY

Center for Media Justice, Oakland, CA

Detention Watch Network, Washington, D

Families for Freedom, New York, NY

Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami, FL

Grassroots Leadership, Austin, Texas

Homies Unidos, Los Angeles, CA

Immigrant Defense Project, New York, NY

Immigrant Justice Network

Immigration Law Clinic, UC Davis School of Law, Davis, CA

Immigrant Legal Resource Center, San Francisco, CA

Judson Memorial Church, New York, NY

Justice Strategies, New York, NY

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco, CA

Main Street Project, Minneapolis, MN

Media Action Grassroots Network, Oakland, CA

National Day Laborer Organizing Network

National Immigration Law Center, Los Angeles, CA

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Boston, MA

Partnership for Safety and Justice, Portland, Oregon

Project Rethink

Southern Center for Human Rights, Atlanta, GA

NY Times Shows Dismantling of Sanctuary City in San Francisco

New York Times, June 13, 2009

San Francisco at Crossroads Over Immigration

SAN FRANCISCO — In the debate over illegal immigration, San Francisco has proudly played the role of liberal enclave, a so-called sanctuary city where local officials have refused to cooperate with enforcement of federal immigration law and undocumented residents have mostly lived without fear of consequence.

But over the last year, buffeted by several high-profile crimes by illegal immigrants and revelations of mismanagement of the city’s sanctuary policy, San Francisco has become less like its self-image and more like many other cities in the United States: deeply conflicted over how to cope with the fallout of illegal immigration.

At the center of the turnaround is a new law enforcement policy focused on under-age offenders who are in this country illegally. Under the policy, minors brought to juvenile hall on felony charges are questioned about their immigration status. And if they are suspected of being here illegally, they are reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for deportation, regardless of whether they are eventually convicted of a crime.

“We went from being one of the more progressive counties in the country to probably one of the least, and the most draconian,” said Abigail Trillin, the managing attorney with Legal Services for Children, a nonprofit legal group. “It’s been a total turnaround.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who ordered the new policy, disputes that characterization and ticks off a list of policies that remain immigrant friendly: the issuing of identification cards to residents regardless of legal status, the promotion of low-cost banking and the city’s longstanding opposition to immigration raids.

“I’m balancing safety and rights,” Mr. Newsom said. “And I’m taking the arrows.”

The policy was put in place last summer amid a series of embarrassing revelations about the city’s handling of illegal minors and even as reports arose of several serious crimes committed by illegal residents. The policy has led not only to dozens of juveniles in deportation proceedings, but also to criticism from the city’s public defender and members of its Board of Supervisors, which is threatening to relax it next month.

“I think the point of sanctuary is that you protect people and treat people the same unless they engage in some felony crime,” said David Campos, a county supervisor who came illegally to the United States from his native Guatemala when he was 14.

The new approach has pitted a growing coalition of immigrants rights groups against Mr. Newsom, who is running for governor in a state where immigrants, particularly Latinos, can be vital to being elected.

Mr. Newsom defends the policy as an effort to bring the city’s juvenile protocol in line with that for adult illegal immigrants, who have always been reported to federal authorities if they are accused of a felony.

But immigration advocates say the policy has too often swept up juveniles who are in this country illegally but who are innocent or held on minor charges, a list that includes young men like Roberto, 14, who has lived in the United States since he was 2.

Roberto, whose last name is being withheld at the request of his parents who are also in the country illegally, was handed over to immigration authorities last fall after he took a BB gun to school to show off to friends. He spent Christmas at a juvenile facility in Washington State and is now facing deportation to Mexico, where he was born.

The experience left Roberto shaken. “I was feeling really scared,” he said in an interview here.

Supporters of the new crackdown say that Roberto’s case is unrepresentative and that the majority of youths turned over to the immigration authorities have engaged in serious crimes, including those associated with the practice by Honduran drug gangs in San Francisco of using minors as dealers.

“A lot of them have histories; a lot of them are second, third chances,” Mr. Newsom said. “This is not as touchy feely as some people may want to make it.”

Mr. Newsom says he still supports the sanctuary ordinance, which grew out of worries in the 1980s about the deportation of Central Americans to war-torn regions. Made city law in 1989, the policy forbids city agencies to use resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or information gathering.

While proponents say such policies help the police by making immigrant communities — often suspicious of the authorities — more comfortable with reporting crimes, critics say San Francisco’s policy had been stretched to extremes, including the practice of occasionally flying some offenders back to their home countries rather than cooperating with immigration authorities.

Mr. Newsom says he discovered and stopped that practice in May 2008, and quickly ordered a review. Juvenile referrals began shortly thereafter and were formalized as policy in August.

In the interim, however, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a group of teenage Honduran crack dealers who had been sent to a group home simply walked away from confinement.

A second event was more serious, when a father and two sons driving home from a picnic were killed in a case of mistaken identity in June 2008. The police later charged Edwin Ramos, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador and suspected gang member who had had run-ins with the San Francisco police as a juvenile but had not been turned over to the immigration authorities.

At the same time, San Francisco found itself under criminal investigation by the United States attorney for the Northern District of California, and city officials were eager to show that their city was not a lawless haven for illegal-immigrant criminals.

“If we start harboring criminals as a sanctuary city, this entire system is in peril,” Mr. Newsom said.

For their part, immigration advocates say they are not asking the city to shelter felonious youths from deportation. The problem, they say, is the point of contact: at arrest, rather than after any sort of legal adjudication.

“Even if you’re undocumented, you have the right to due process,” said Jeff Adachi, the city’s public defender.

The federal authorities, meanwhile, have been pleasantly surprised that the new policy has resulted in more than 100 referrals.

“We are now getting routine referrals,” said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency.

The most serious challenge to the policy is likely to come in July, when the Board of Supervisors is expected to take up a proposal that would apply the policy only to illegal juveniles found in court to have committed a felony. The measure’s sponsor, Mr. Campos, said he expected it to pass.

Such an ordinance would not help Roberto, who is still waiting to plead his case to an immigration judge. He said he had already learned a valuable lesson.

“I will never bring anything to school again,” he said.


Archives

Categories

RSS Gray Panthers in the News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 370 other followers


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 370 other followers

%d bloggers like this: