Sunday, March 26, 2017

ICE, immigrants, and criminals

As has been widely reported, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- the deportation police -- have been snatching up people who have been reporting for routine immigration check-ins. The immigrant detainees are seldom "bad hombres." In northern California, last week a man named Martin

had no criminal record, had lived in this country for 26 years, his two sons are citizens, and he ended up in deportation proceedings because he was a victim of a fraudulent "notario" [a quack posing as a "lawyer"] 10 years ago. The case was litigated in court, appealed and finally lost for 10 years, and on Wednesday, when he showed up for his green card interview, he was detained and put on the deportation bus.

Calls from community members and the offices of Senator Feinstein, Rep. Matsui, Rep. McCarthy, Rep. Harrison, and Rep. Pelosi could not stop the ICE human-grinder. Martin was summarily shipped off to Mexico.

Sometimes community intervention can win a stay that leaves room for additional legal pleadings. Here's a heartening story of State (a senator) and Church (an archbishop) combining with community pressure to keep a sick elder in this country, at least for awhile.
In How Immigrants Became Criminals, Alan A. Aja and Alejandra Marchevsky have outlined how the deportation regime is integrated with the "war on drugs" and the mass criminalization of all people of color.

In 2016 more than 60,000 immigrants were cast out from the United States on criminal grounds. According to ICE, “criminal removals” comprised 92 percent of all deportations from the nation’s interior last year, compared with only 3 percent in 1980. Yet immigrants are not committing more crime than in the past. Rather the definition of “criminal” has broadened significantly since the 1990s, when the federal government began criminally prosecuting immigration infractions that were previously enforced as civil matters, while also deporting an unprecedented number of immigrants with minor criminal records. So-called criminal deportations bring into clear focus our nation’s “crimmigration” system, where immigration policy, criminal law, and their corresponding enforcement apparatuses are tightly intertwined. ...

Immigrants and their advocates naturally point out that these people are NOT criminals under any reasonable definition. But this argument has its own pitfalls.

... the oft-made claim of innocence furthers a disturbing respectability politics that aids the Trump administration’s assault on communities of color. By insisting that most immigrants do not deserve to be deported, advocates leave unchallenged the idea that the criminals do. The good immigrant narrative misses the ways that overpolicing and mass incarceration produce a reservoir of immigrants with criminal records, creating an endless chain of detentions and deportations....

The Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations bloated police department coffers and put tens of thousands more cops in communities of color. More police and bigger budgets meant more arrests, more convictions, and more incentive to police to maintain agency resources. The overpolicing of low-income neighborhoods has meant a sharp increase in the number of immigrants of color encountering the criminal justice —and thus the deportation—systems. In particular, more and more black and brown immigrants, both undocumented and authorized, were arrested and convicted of drug crimes, received longer sentences than their white counterparts, and then were deported. Between 2007 and 2012, there was an increase of 22 percent (totaling 260,000 deportations) in the number of lawful permanent residents and undocumented immigrants deported for drug offenses. Research shows that black deportees are the most likely to be legal permanent residents deported for drug convictions. The intersection of anti-drug policy and the Department of Homeland Security’s expanded deportation powers reflect and reinforce anti-black racism in our nation’s system of law, yet are rarely challenged in tandem. ...

While the good/bad immigrant debate is now being challenged by the immigrant rights movement and civil liberties groups (most notably the ACLU), progressive politicians and organizational leaders have yet to follow suit. Many states, cities and universities are creating sanctuary policies that make exceptions for criminal immigrants. ...

Although there has been growing awareness and action around the abuses behind mass incarceration, too often have they been siloed from discussions of and advocacy around mass deportation. Public pressure has forced many states to remove three-strike laws from their books, but few in the public are aware that the government may deport a non-citizen who has three misdemeanor convictions. Calls to roll back oversentencing in the criminal justice system have not made connections to deportation as a form of extreme punishment. ...

Draconian immigration enforcement -- and the War on Drugs -- and mass incarceration are all elements of Making America White Again (MAWA), all made explicit by the Trump/Bannon gang.

Resist and protect as we can. Join an Emergency Response Team in Northern California.

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