- Since taking office, Obama achieved the impossible -
compiling a worse record than his fiercest critics feared, worse than George
Bush across the board on domestic and foreign policies. He:
- -- looted the nation's wealth for Wall Street;
- -- wrecked the economy;
- -- consigned millions to poverty, unemployment, and bleak
- -- expanded unbridled militarism and imperial wars;
- -- spied more aggressively than ever on Americans;
- -- destroyed decades of hard won labor rights;
- -- targeted Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for
erosion and elimination;
- -- further institutionalized public wealth transfers
to super-rich elites who already have too much;
- -- commodified public education;
- -- subverted Net Neutrality;
- -- targeted whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, and
environmental and animal rights activists as terrorists;
- -- militarized Haiti, engineered fraudulent elections,
and provided no desperately needed aid;
- -- gave drug, insurance and hospital chain giants greater
control over healthcare, rationing it and making a dysfunctional system
- -- made America more than ever a police state, including
by targeting immigrants, holding thousands in hundreds of unlisted, unmarked
detention facilities in nearly every state before secret courts deport
them, at times stranding them far from home countries.
- On October 6, the Los Angeles Times headlined, "US
deported record number of illegal immigrants," saying:
- "For the second year in a row, the government deported
more illegal immigrants during the last fiscal year than ever before, according
to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures."
- From October 2009 through September 2010, nearly 400,000
were affected (including many long-time residents). These numbers are expected
to increase as ICE goon squads reign terror on immigrant communities, targeting
homes, work places, and other locations where immigrants congregate.
- Omitted by the Times was that detention conditions are
inhumane. Secret courts deny due process, and (since 2003) at least 104
deaths occurred. Women are especially impacted, vulnerable to sexual harassment,
rape, and loss of their US-born children, American citizens, seized in
raids, and put up for adoption.
- It's part of Obama's agenda "to make our national
laws actually work," targeting the poor, people of color, Muslims
and vulnerable immigrants, not elitist criminals allowed to plunder America's
wealth and resources with impunity. Legislation even helps them as well
as appropriations for illegal imperial wars.
- New National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
- NNIRR promotes just and equitable policy, regardless
of immigration status. On December 16, it released a new report condemning
increased policing. Titled "Injustice for All: The rise of the US
immigration policing regime," it documents human rights abuses against
immigrant families, workers and communities.
- It accused Washington of running "a brutal system
of immigration control and policing that criminalizes immigration status,
normalizes the forcible separation of families, destabilizes communities
and workplaces, and fuels widespread civil rights violations."
- It also increases racial discrimination and hate violence
against people of color "perceived to be foreign born or 'illegal,"
media reports heightening tensions. Over 100 accounts of documented abuse
show how immigration policy reigns terror across America from rural New
Mexico and North Carolina to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
- Affected are women, children, indigenous people, Latinos,
African Americans, and South Asian communities and workers. They're unfairly
targeted by America's rage to vilify, target, persecute, imprison and deport.
NNIRR cites four troublesome pillars:
- (1) Criminalizing immigration status, increased use of
incarceration and state terror tactics.
- (2) Linking immigration politics to national security,
relying on "racial, ethnic/nationality and religious profiling."
- (3) Militarizing border communities, reinforcing policies
that force immigrants to cross dangerous Southwestern areas, especially
in extreme summer heat that kills. In 2010, record numbers were recorded,
254 near Arizona's border alone. Other data confirm at least two migrant
deaths daily, and for every body found "at least ten others are believed
to have disappeared."
- (4) "Scapegoating immigrants for the economic crisis,
and leveraging anti-immigrant sentiment (for) laws and policies that cut
(or) eliminate public services," civil rights, environmental, labor
and other social protections.
- America's repressive immigration agenda targets, detains
and deports immigrants in record numbers, devastating communities as a
result. ICE uses harsh tactics, prolonged/indefinite detentions, and coercion
to force immigrants to wave due process and be deported. Local police collaborate.
Militarized immigration control violates border communities' rights and
causes numerous migrant deaths.
- Audited employer workplace files result in labor rights
violations and mass firings. In addition, repressive local, county and
state anti-immigrant laws and policies fuel hate, fear, and abusive policing
with impunity, perhaps exacerbated when federal policy is enacted.
- In the past decade under Bush/Obama, Washington established
a repressive regime, using immigration status to scapegoat people of color.
A Washington/state/local cabal collaborate on practices violating human
rights and civil liberties. Since 2000, 107 cities, towns and counties
passed anti-immigrant ordinances restricting their access to services,
housing and employment.
- Since 2003, ICE combined immigration, national security
policies, and Operation Endgame, a 10 year initiative to detain and deport
"all removable aliens" targeted for their race and ethnicity.
It turned immigration policy into repressive policing, vilifying anyone
undocumented and often targeting or indirectly harming US citizens in the
process. As a result, immigrants are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
In addition, communities across America are destabilized and unsafe.
- In 2008, ICE implemented Secure Communities, letting
local police send fingerprints of arrested people to DHS for matching against
immigration records. Those found undocumented are then expedited for deportation.
- In April 2010, Arizona enacted anti-immigrant legislation,
requiring police to verify any suspected undocumented person. Other states
and cities may follow, given a rage to vilify as well as provide prison
corporations more profits. Two-thirds of imprisoned immigrants are held
in local facilities. "In southern California alone, DHS is set to
pay almost $57 million to 13 jails," including for-profit ones.
- As a result, racial profiling and other forms of discrimination
are rife. Immigrants fear ICE or local authorities may target, arrest and
separate them from their families unjustly. They also fear employers, landlords,
schools, hospitals and other public agencies may collaborate.
- Overall, collaborative "programs between DHS and
state and local law enforcement have become the new arbiter of justice
when it comes to detecting and arresting undocumented immigrants, many
of whom are detained and even deported without a trial or access to a lawyer."
- In 2009, the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law's Immigration
Justice Law Clinic issued a report documenting widespread ICE abuse, including
racial profiling, illegally entering homes without consent or warrants,
and forcefully holding permanent residents and US citizens hostage while
ransacking residences for evidence.
- Report Findings
- Included were alarming examples of repressive targeting,
family separation, traumatizing children, abusing women, beating men, and
destabilizing communities. Moreover, "ICE uses prolonged and indefinite
detention and the threat of loss of life and freedom as coercion....for
immigration status offenders to force them to waive their due process rights
and accept deportation."
- In detention, abuses are common, including cruel and
unusual punishment. One case documented a brutally beaten man expedited
for deportation. When forced on a plane, the pilot wouldn't take him, fearing
he couldn't survive the trip. Rather than hospitalize him, ICE subjected
him to weeks of solitary confinement before "dragging him" at
night aboard another flight to Egypt, where he fled to avoid persecution.
Dozens of other cases are similar, at times using lethal force.
- After Arizona passed SB 1070, its racial profiling law,
Juan Varela, a second generation Mexican-American was gunned down in front
of his home by a white neighbor who earlier harassed the family, telling
them to "go back to their country." In Boston, a white mob brutally
beat a Guatemalan man, inflicting permanent brain damage.
- A Final Comment
- Besides a multi-billion dollar ICE budget, Washington
spent over $800 million (or $15.1 million per mile) for a 53-mile long
Arizona-Mexico "virtual fence." For the entire US-Canadian border,
only $20.9 million was spent. By early 2010, over 600 miles of Southwest
border walls were built, "harming natural habitat and wildlife migration,
expropriating traditional Indigenous lands, and putting border communities
- America's immigration policy is out-of-control. Enacting
S. 729: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2009,
the so-called DREAM Act, won't fix it. On December 18, the Senate defeated
the measure that would have:
- -- made eligible only high school or GED graduates of
"good moral character," who arrived undocumented as minors, resided
here continuously for at least five years, and fulfilled their temporary
residency obligations in six years;
- -- required biometric information, security and background
checks, medical exams, registration for Selective Service, and a two year
wait to get legal immigrant status;
- -- prohibited DREAM students from sponsoring other relatives
for permanent residency for at least 12 years, especially parents who brought
them to America;
- -- mandated two completed years of college and/or two
years of military service (with emphasis on the latter), subjecting youths
to war zone dangers that kill, seriously injure, and permanently impair
thousands of unsuspecting recruits; military enlistment contracts usually
require eight year commitments, including six years of active duty; DREAM
applicants, in fact, might be pressured to serve longer than the minimum
required, increasing the hazards they'd face;
- -- excluded applicants from Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act (Obamacare) health insurance exchanges, Medicaid, food stamps
and other entitlements;
- -- established a one-year deadline after completing high
school, GED requirements, being admitted to college, or the bill's enactment
to make application;
- -- required proof of eligibility and regular application
audits to verify legitimacy;
- -- mandated at least three notarized documents proving
applicants meet all DREAM requirements;
- -- required DHS to provide applicant information to any
federal, state, tribal, or local law enforcement agency, or intelligence
or national security agency in case of criminal investigation or prosecution;
- -- assured severe penalties, including rapid deportation
without recourse for immigrants submitting fraudulent applications;
- -- mandated permanent residency revocations for immigrants
committing a felony after or before submitting applications, no matter
- -- required parents of applicants to register as illegal
aliens before applications are accepted, making them instantly vulnerable
- -- excluded immigrants under orders for deportation;
- -- made applicants ineligible for taxpayer-supported
financial aid, putting college out of reach for many;
- -- mandated full enforcement of the above provisions;
any violations render the program null and void; and
- -- placed the bureaucratic burden of proof on applicants
to prove eligibility.
- Overall, America treats aliens like criminals, especially
Muslims and those of color, what only a radical mindset change can fix.
So far, it's nowhere in sight under either party and won't be in 2011.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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