By A Concerned Irving, Texas Citizen
Today’s Guest Voz is a longtime Latino community leader in Irving, Texas, and herself an immigrant. In Irving, the local police have opted to be a part of ICE’s nationwide Criminal Alien Program or CAP. In this program, the local police help ICE by identifying those people suspected of being in the country illegally after they’ve been arrested and brought to jail for an offense.
The problem is that the local police are being accused of stopping Latino motorists indiscriminately and targeting them even when no crime has been committed. Because of these actions, the number of undocumented immigrants being arrested and deported from Irving has skyrocketed to the point that the Mexican consulate has issued a travel warning for Irving.
Our guest writer brings her perspective to the issue and shares her feelings.
(Editor’s note: The reason why she is not identified is that she could not be reached in time before posting to get her permission.)
Tempers flare as supporters and critics clash at rally protesting how Irving, TX police enforce CAP program.
Irving, Texas has problems.
We thought we won a lot by having the 247G law in place. The Criminal Alien Program or CAP is an alternative local program implemented by the police department headed by Chief Boyd.
Ever since, apparently, police officers have taken their job very seriously. There have been rumors that the Irving police officers are abusing this authority. There is no doubt that there has been arrests made of illegal immigrants that are violating the traffic laws and after being asked for an ID, they end up at a detention center, then at a deportation center.
All of us (in Irving) are very concerned, and a group of Dallas activists are making their concerns known to the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. They are arguing that the recent actions occurring lately represent 2,347 immigrants of Hispanic descent deported for traffic related offenses.
The activists argue that this program racially profiles Hispanics and that it is used to deport immigrants en masse for minor traffic offenses.
Apparently, the Irving police department conducted massive unannounced raids on seven apartment complexes without search warrants and with no particular suspects in mind and without probable cause.
The apartments raided had predominant Hispanic populations and it was a fact that no other apartments were raided in the City of Irving.
The situation, as stated in the letter of concern, addressed to the Department of Justice, explains how the situation has become so critical that the Mexican Consulate has issued a travel advisory urging Mexican immigrants to stay away from Irving. The Consulate of El Salvador has done the same.
Activists mentioned that a violation of civil rights is taking place while City Council member Beth Van Duyne is bringing a lot of animosity dividing the Irving City Council with very negative comments against illegal immigrants â€” she calls them sex offenders.
The activists mentioned that her negative comments and labeling children as criminals and drug addicts shouldn’t come from a representative of the Irving City Council.
Her political mindset in saying that illegal aliens are criminals is creating a lot of animosity against the Hispanic community in Irving.
I believe Herb Gears, the Mayor and Chief Boyd, as well as City Manager Tommy Gonzalez don’t want to break the good communication with the immigrant community. There have been long meetings with the Irving Hispanic Leadership.
They have pledged, in a closed meeting with activists, that they would review on a one-on-one one basis every offense from anybody that complains. They said they will perform an analysis of each case brought to them with specifics.
They mentioned they want an open and continued dialog â€” They don’t want the economy of Irving to be damaged and our image to be like that of Farmers Branch.
There is no question that the level of fear from our immigrant communities is up to the ceiling! There has been talk of making Irving a sanctuary city, but authorities donâ€™t want to see this.
I clearly see two legal aspects that are working in parallel:
The legal Aspect – a Myth or a true fact
Our Hispanic immigrant communities are breaking the law very openly and visibly:
Driving with no ID’s
Driving with no driverâ€™s license
Driving with no insurance
Family violence and drug and alcohol abuse are the highest among them.
Driving while intoxicated
Driving with suspended driverâ€™s licenses
On the other hand, the police officers are taking the CAP law into their own hands and making illegal arrests and illegal deportations through ICE.
There is a humanistic and moral side to the issue:
Immigrants come here for the strong reasons we know.
They don’t have their legal status so they cannot receive a driverâ€™s license since they don’t have a social security card â€” itâ€™s all one vicious circle.
I understand their suffering and how they have to work 2 jobs, receive minimum wage and as a consequence must leave their children abandoned the whole day which creates teenagers without identity, self-esteem, etc.
This also leads to: at-risk children and youth who drop out of school, teenage pregnancy, gang participation, crime and welfare.
I believe education is the key to everything.
â€¢ Educate the parents.
â€¢ Educate the children.
â€¢ Educate the youth.
â€¢ Educate our authorities about diversity and multiculturalism.
An open dialog with panelists in both languages could open a forum for authorities and the community to discuss and ask questions, to educate the community about precautionary measures, safety measures, recycling, etc.
From my end, I am between the wall and the knife, as we word in Spanish, (entre la espada y la pared). The Mayor is on the board of our non-profit corporation that assists Hispanic immigrants. He has done a lot for us.
He told us that the 247 CAP program would protect our illegal immigrants from being picked up from the streets by federal agents, but now, things turned (who knows, even worse) as the deportations reflect the highest figures nationwide.
I suspect that our illegal immigrants are suffering more and their fears, insecurities and barriers now run deeper.
Boycotts, marches and rallies bring more animosity and confuse a lot of people. I am not for it, as I respect and love the Irving authorities. I have worked with them for 10 years and they have always been supportive, kind, respectful and helpful.
The City allows our non-profit to use Parks and Recreation (centers) for our ESL and our Cultural Folklorico classes. The Mayor recently supported us with a $50,000 donation, which came from a local entrepreneur whom he convinced that literacy classes could help new immigrant families succeed in life faster.
Now, isnâ€™t this a fine gesture from someone who believes in us?
Our Hispanic first immigrants need to learn about civics and how to respect the law. I understand how difficult this situation is and how we are all suffering the consequencesâ€¦
At the non-profit corporation that I represent, our mission statement says that we assist the immigrant communities with educational and cultural programs in their process of assimilation and acculturation, in order for them to become productive members of society.
Lately, our students have not been coming as often to class. Itâ€™s that vicious circle again â€” no education, no assimilation, no acculturation.
I proudly spoke at the rally we had in Irving about JUSTICE! Justice for all of the children suffering, their parents, their relatives.
Many, like me, came to look for â€œThe American Dreamâ€ and found it, but for some, unfortunately, their dream turned into a nightmare.
It is sad to know how much fear, sadness and frustration there is in so many thousands of people in Irving. We thought we were protected by a local fair plan, but we ended up in a big mess.
I pray for those who are paying the consequences.