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- 03-12-2012, 08:30 PM #1
DREAMers personalize cases to stall deportation
DREAMers personalize cases to stall deportation
By Alan Gomez, USA TODAYUpdated 11m ago
Growing up in Ann Arbor, Mich., Mohammad Abdollahi was given the same guidance that countless parents of illegal immigrants have told their children — don't tell anyone how you came into the country.
Abdollahi's parents immigrated to the U.S. from Iran on a student visa when he was 3, but did not return when the visa expired, so the entire family was living in the U.S. illegally. Abdollahi heeded his parents advice, until two years ago when he felt they were getting close to being deported.
That's when Abdollahi did the unthinkable — he got himself arrested during a May 2010 protest of immigration policies and had a friend alert immigration officials of the arrest. He figured that if his case was made public, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials would be hard-pressed to deport him.
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"We realized that the more public we are with our stories, the safer we are," said Abdollahi, 26. After he publicly told his story, his lawyer received a call from an immigration official who said the agency wasn't pursuing deportation, he said.
Adbollahi now works for the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, one of several groups that help young illegal immigrants facing deportation by publicizing their cases. The young illegal immigrants are known generally as DREAMers after the DREAM Act, legislation that has failed several times in Congress that would legalize some illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
The latest example came last week, when North Miami Senior High School valedictorian Daniela Pelaez was facing the threat of being deported to her home country of Colombia. More than 2,500 classmates held a rally at her school on March 2, the same day her attorney sent ICE a request for a reprieve accompanied by letters of support from Republican U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and David Rivera of Miami.
On March 6, Pelaez's attorney received an e-mail from ICE saying Pelaez had been granted a two-year deferment on her deportation.
ICE officials deny that the publicity of any case, including Pelaez's, affects whether they push for deportation. Instead, ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said they simply adhere to ICE guidelines to focus on illegal immigrants who pose threats to national security, have been convicted of crimes in the U.S., are recent border-crossers and repeat immigration law violators.
"ICE takes discretionary actions based solely on the merits of a case regardless of publicity," Gonzalez said.
Immigration attorneys disagree, saying that ICE continues targeting students who would be eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act.
"I've had clients approached by ICE officers in detention who essentially told them, 'The only way you're getting out of this is if the media picks up on it,' " said David Bennion, a Philadelphia immigration attorney.
The infrastructure behind the publicity machine has grown rapidly in recent years.
When Gaby Pacheco's family was arrested by immigration officials during an early-morning raid in 2006, she remembers struggling to contact friends, local politicians and community organizers to alert them.
Now, Pacheco runs the website EndOurPain.com, that screens cases of people facing deportation to help them get publicity around their case. Pacheco has a 30-person team of volunteers and access to pro bono immigration attorneys to plot out publicity strategies in each case.
Dulce Guerrero runs a similar program in Georgia, where she uses social media networks to alert hundreds of people to flood ICE with phone calls on behalf of people they think should not be deported. Other groups organized "National Coming Out of the Shadows Week," which is running this week and features events around the country where illegal immigrants "out" themselves in public.
While Congress has been unable to tackle comprehensive immigration legislation that would address the status of the country's 11 million illegal immigrants, some members of Congress are also helping DREAMers win reprieves from immigration officials.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a long-time sponsor of the DREAM Act, dedicates one speech on the Senate floor almost every week to highlight the credentials of an illegal immigrant who would qualify for the act. Durbin said legislators who have long opposed the act are coming around in recent years as they hear the firsthand accounts of DREAMers.
"These DREAMers stepping out, identifying themselves and speaking to members of Congress are making it personal," he said. "It's absolutely essential they continue to do it."
Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that opposes the DREAM Act, said the infrastructure being built to publicize deportation cases shows that the outcry garnered is, "not a spontaneous reaction to an individual case, but part of a concerted and organized effort to get the most sympathetic illegal immigrant into the public discourse."
"Sure, it's a very effective political strategy," Camarota said. "But a lot of people, even some legal immigrants, are very resentful. It may endear as many people as it upsets."
The only reservations that organizers have is that untold number of illegal immigrants don't benefit from the strategy. The Obama administration has set a record each year with the number of people it deports — nearly 400,000 in 2011 — and they believe countless people who would qualify for the DREAM Act are among those.
DREAMers personalize cases to stall deportationNO AMNESTY
DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS
BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP
- 03-12-2012, 11:29 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2012
Know what that means? It Time for AMERICANS to get in the Media, Making our Stance Publically and Widely Spread at how we WILL NOT let it go anymore!
And its a Flat, Outright LIE that they "pursue" illegals who are "threats"..Ive dealt Personally with ICE and John Morton and their online "services"...All for NOTHING!
My life, My fiance's life, and the safety of our children have all been Threatened, Ive Proven it to the court and to the Police, and to ICE!!!
And the Illegal remains free!..So, are they doing their job? H*** NO!..They are ALL TALK and no show!
If America is going to be safe and secure ever again, its going to have to be Made so, by the American people, because so far, the government and its "policies" have Failed Miserably!
- 03-14-2012, 05:18 PM #3
March 14, 2012 | 12:35 PM | By Leslie Berestein Rojas
Coming out undocumented: How much of a political effect has the movement had?
A student activist's t-shirt, December 2010
It’s been two years since a group of young people in Chicago made official a movement that had been slowly growing among undocumented students, holding a “coming out” day at a local park to go public with their undocumented status as a political act.
In that time – mostly during the last year – the larger movement they launched has taken off exponentially. It received perhaps its biggest boost last June, when former Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer winner Jose Antonio Vargas confessed to his undocumented status in a New York Times essay and launched an advocacy project, drawing worldwide attention.
Much else has happened in the last year: Last summer, the Obama administration released guidelines urging immigration officials to use prosecutorial discretion when pursuing deportation cases. This involved giving special consideration to certain immigrants, including people who had been here since they were children, a demographic that makes up the bulk of the young activists involved in the coming-out movement. In August, the guidelines became the backbone of an Obama administration plan to review some 300,000 deportation cases to screen out these “low priority” immigrants, a process that began late last year.
This week, more young people are going public with their status around the country as part of what’s by now become an annual ritual, National Coming out the Shadows Week. As they do, it’s worth taking a look at how much influence, if any, a movement that seeks to attach faces to those who would benefit from legal status has had on the policy changes seen this year.
Last April in a post, before the Obama administration’s new guidelines were issued, I asked several young people who had come out with their status – and readers in general – whether they thought it had become safer to reveal publicly that one is in the U.S. illegally. “Yes, it’s true!” responded a reader named Rigo. “I haven’t felt this safe in a while.”
In another post the same month, undocumented UCLA graduate and activist Nancy Meza described the role of being “out” in the peer support networks that have come to the aid of many a young person facing deportation, launching petitions and helping several win reprieves long before the federal guidelines crystallized who stood a better chance of staying.
“What we’ve seen is that the more public you are, the more out there you are, the more public support you have, especially in deportation cases,” said Meza, 24. “People have seen you be involved with the community, your activism, and they are more willing to help. I think that going public is one of the ways that a person could have a better opportunity of getting deferred action.”
This is true, said Louis DiSipio, an immigration expert and political science professor at UC Irvine. There is a safety-in-numbers aspect to coming out for undocumented students and graduates involved in the movement, and to date, most of those involved have been supported and protected by their peers if they face deportation.
“By coming out, they are asserting their right to protest, but it also makes it harder for the Obama administration or local authorities acting under the Department of Homeland Security to arrest those students,” DiSipio said by in a phone interview.
As to the coming-out movement’s political effect at the national level, that’s up for debate. Frank Sharry, director the Washington, D.C. immigrant advocacy organization America’s Voice, believes the movement “has made a huge difference.”
“It has transformed what had been an immigrant advocacy effort into an immigrant-led social movement,” Sharry wrote in an email.
“The moral power of the undocumented coming out, telling their stories and demanding to be recognized for the full Americans they feel they already are moved the Congress to action in taking up the Dream Act in 2010, moved the White House to adopt new policies in 2011, and eventually will result in undocumented immigrants overcoming the ‘criminal other’ tag assigned by anti-immigrant forces and being formally recognized as the aspiring citizens that they are,” Sharry wrote.
DiSipio sees the movement’s national political effect as more limited. While it may have had a small effect on the Obama administration’s deportation policies, he said, the prosecutorial discretion guidelines and other recent changes are more a product of political compromise.
“I think the Obama administration from the beginning, as soon as it realized it wasn’t going to get the Dream Act through the Senate, realized it needed a way of demonstrating it was concerned about the unauthorized,” he said. “It looked at what administrative discretion it had.”
But putting a face on who stands to benefit from immigrant-friendly reforms like the proposed federal Dream Act, which would grant conditional legal status to those who arrived before age 16 if they go to college or join the military, has affected national and state immigration politics in other ways, he said. The savvy student-led movement has also effectively gotten the ear of legislators in an area where immigration restriction advocates once held the biggest megaphone. This has led to smaller victories for undocumented students, like California’s state-level tuition reforms.
“What these students are trying to do is they are reminding their supporters…that they also need to take a stand,” DiSipio said. “While it is not going to have an immediate political effect at the national level, you are seeing more at the state level to provide what benefits they can for the unauthorized. The California Dream Act is an example of that.”
As for the Obama administration, it’s generally stayed away from young people who come out – to a point. Uriel Alberto, a young North Carolina man who came out publicly before the state legislature last month, had a minor offense record that included a speeding conviction. He has been held for deportation by authorities, while two others arrested with him weren’t.
But true to the coming-out movement, supporters rallied behind him, with a social media campaign and online petitions circulated to spare him from deportation; he’s now set to be released on bond.
Coming-out events are taking place around the country this week, including one in Los Angeles’ Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights tomorrow.
Coming out undocumented: How much of a political effect has the movement had? | Multi-AmericanWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.
- 03-16-2012, 12:25 PM #4
We need a coming out (of the White House) for Obama and a new president that will make these "undocumented" feel nervous again."A Nation of sheep will beget a government of Wolves" -Edward R. Murrow