January 28th, 2013
In light of the recent announcement on an immigration framework by the Senate “gang of 8”, we believe that there is much more work to be done to provide relief to our communities.
While it’s encouraging to see bipartisanship on an issue that was one of the top priorities for Latino voters going into the polls in the November elections, the framework does little to quell questions around the “who” and the “how”. Beyond the DREAMers and farmworkers, who, according to the framework, will have preferential treatment, it is unknown how families with current deportation orders, with minor offenses (which constitutes a criminal record in some instances), and those who re-entered would fit into the mix. There’s no mention of putting a moratorium on current deportations while this process sees its end; an end that may benefit those very same individuals in proceedings as we speak.
The framework does nothing to discredit the idea that immigration enforcement is a billion dollar industry that has been invested on more than other government agencies like the FBI and CIA combined. Spending for the Border Patrol and ICE and its primary enforcement-technology initiative, the US VISIT program, surpassed $17.9 billion in fiscal year 2012. This amount is nearly 15 times the spending level of the INS when IRCA was enacted. It makes the case for yet more enforcement, adding drones to border security enhancements that already exist. This is their prophetic solution despite the fact that the net migration from Mexico fell to zero in 2012 and continues falling.
This attempt means nothing for the local families that we work with in Collier County who may not even qualify under this current framework. Plagued by the poli-migra vis-à-vis 287g and [in]Secure Communities, these mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, live with the constant fear of an inevitable reality that they continue facing everyday It’s a constant terror of their family’s separation, unstable future and economic burden.
For Gloria*, a Fort Myers woman, this is reality. She’s US citizen, but her husband is undocumented. He was deported to Mexico after living in the country for 12 years and seeks to re-enter to be with his family. She’s burdened with the task of being the family’s only breadwinner and caring for 2 special needs children, who are constantly showing psychological distress due to their father’s absence. Because her husband was previously deported before, there are no details within this current framework that will assure her that her husband may benefit from immigration reform.
Edith, a Naples woman, is suffering physical and emotional trauma in the absence of her husband of more than 8 years. He is currently detained after having been arrested for driving without a license in Collier County 2 months ago. Because of a DUI charge that took place in 1999 (a charge he served his sentence and time for and was rehabilitated through this process) and for re-entry after deportation (trying to get back to his family), deportation proceedings were initiated against him. He remains detained without medical attention for a stomach infection and gets worse by the day.
This is unacceptable and in no way, justifies more enforcement, more separation of families and more non-sensical policies that make our communities worse, not better.
We will continue to hold President Obama and Congress accountable for their actions. We will continue to fight to bring the stories of our communities with pride and dignity in hopes of changing this broken system as a whole.
In the meantime, this is another day, another battle and it begins with us.
View our principles for immigration reform here
*At the individual’s request, we changed names to preserve anonymity and respect the person’s wishes.