Sunday, July 16, 2017

28.2 - Outrage of the Week: Enforcement of immigration laws cruel, based on bigotry

Outrage of the Week: Enforcement of immigration laws cruel, based on bigotry

Now for one of our regular features. This is the Outrage of the Week.

I had this as the Outrage of the Week just about maybe five or six weeks ago. It is making a return appearance because it is an ongoing outrage. It is immigration.

We start by noting that for several years the administration of the Amazing Mr. O enforced immigration laws so aggressively that they deported undocumented immigrants in greater numbers than any previous administration. By 2014, though, they apparently had a change of heart or they were just embarrassed by the increasing attention being paid to this stain on the Obama liberal escutcheon into taking a different road. Whatever the reason, the Obama administration instructed immigration officials to exercise more discretion in who they targeted for deportation.

At that time, in 2014, in deciding about moving for deportation, the agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or I.C.E. or ICE, were told to consider factors such as the length of time an immigrant had lived in the country, their family or community ties, and whether they had a young child or a seriously ill relative. TheRump's gang explicitly rescinded those guidelines almost immediately after the inauguration and told Immigration to enforce the law “to the greatest extent practicable.”

Despite that, agency officials insisted and still insist that "ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of national security and public safety threats." Or, as TheRump put it, they're going after the "bad hombres."

A well-named agency
They are lying.

A recent article on ProPublica details how ICE agents, under a directive from the head of its enforcement unit, are told to take action against any undocumented immigrant they encounter while on duty. Not that they "may" take action, which still allows for at least some degree of discretion, but that they "will" do so.

David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, said "The memo explains what we have actually been seeing on the ground," that immigrants without criminal backgrounds are routinely being arrested and ordered deported.

People have been arrested for deportation on their way to their senior prom, on the way to the hospital to pick up their newborn child after emergency surgery, even at an ICE office when they voluntarily came in for what was supposed to be a routine check-in, even when they voluntarily came in to discuss how they could obtain legal status. Sometimes the arrests seemed designed to be mocking: A group of ICE officers had breakfast at a restaurant in Michigan - and after the meal arrested three of the restaurant's workers.

Andres Magana Ortiz was an undocumented immigrant who had lived in the US for nearly thirty years. He has an American wife and three US-born children. During his time here he worked his way from migrant coffee farmer to owning his own land and being prominent in Hawaii's coffee industry, even to helping the US Department of Agriculture conduct a five-year study into a destructive insect species harming coffee crops and helping run 15 other small farms.

He lost his fight to not be deported US despite letters of support from Hawaii's entire congressional delegation and the judge in his case, who, while legally unable to stop Ortiz's deportation, wrote a scathing opinion saying that that “the government decision shows that even the 'good hombres' are not safe.” On July 7, Ortiz "voluntarily" left for Mexico, just days before he was to be deported.

Jesus Lara Lopez is an undocumented worker in a Pepperidge Farm food packaging plant. Like many undocumented workers, he lived for years under the radar, working in the fields picking fruits and vegetables. He has no criminal record. He has supported his family. He has paid taxes. He has never used any form of public assistance, not even unemployment. He is being deported on July 18.

Francisco Javier Gonzalez came to the US, alone, when he was 15. He graduated high school and went to college but couldn't graduate because he couldn't prove he was here legally. He now manages a successful restaurant in Palm Beach, Florida. He has an American wife and three US-born children. He has no criminal record and yes, he pays all his taxes. He was to be deported to Mexico on July 14 but got an almost literal last minute 3-month delay.

What is the point of deporting people like these? What is the gain in throwing them out? What is the loss in allowing them to stay?

What is accomplished by this beyond satisfying the white-supremicist desires of the bigoted xenophobes occupying the upper reaches of the TheRump administration?

And the case of Ortiz raises something else: Ignore for the moment that he is by the usual way such stories were told to us as we grew up, a classical, almost cliche, American success story, rising from migrant laborer to land owner, businessperson, upstanding figure in the community. Ignore all that and for the moment just focus on the fact that he has been here for nearly thirty years. And it didn't matter.

Because there is no sort of statute of limitations on being an "illegal" immigrant. No matter how long you have been here, no matter how many and how thick are the roots you have set down, no matter how stable is the life you have established, no matter how much you have contributed to your community, it doesn't matter.

Think about that. There is no statute of limitations. Except for murder, terrorism, and sexual crimes against children, federal law has statutes of limitations for all sorts of crimes and all kinds of civil offenses - which by the way, is what being an undocumented immigrant is; it's a civil offense, not a criminal one. We have federal statutes of limitations for kidnapping, for fraud, for racketeering, for embezzlement, for all sorts of the most serious crimes. But not for being an undocumented immigrant. Two years, ten years, thirty years, fifty years, it makes no difference.

This to me is insane.

Even the notoriously anti-immigration - and note well that I didn't say anti-undocumented immigration, I said anti-immigration - the notoriously anti-immigration Mark Krikorian, even he a few years ago allowed as how even as he disagreed with it as a matter of policy, the idea that an undocumented immigrant who has been in the US for three years (his time frame) and has put down roots here should not be deported, that idea "at least makes a certain kind of sense."

So yes, there should be a time limit. There should be some sort of statute of limitations. There should be a point beyond which being able to show roots in the community and an established life will free you from the daily fear of discovery and deportation, the daily fear of the ripping up of your life and the ripping apart of your family. We can talk about what that limit should be, realizing that any limit would be somewhat arbitrary, and I do have my own idea for if you will an opening bid on that discussion, which I will hold aside for now to focus on the central point that there should be such a limit.

But instead, what we have is a thoroughly-broken system enforced by the well-named ICE because it is cold-hearted to its core, now directed by an administration chock full of bigoted xenophobes who don't care who they deport as long as they can eject "foreigners," eject "them," eject "the other," which they then have the unintentionally-revealing gall to call "enhancing public safety."

They are without mercy. They are without compassion. They are without understanding. They are without humanity.

They and the system they oversee are an outrage.

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