LatinaLista — Hawaii is 1,625 miles from the U.S. mainland. In this day and age of easy travel and internet usage, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would think that Hawaii is so far away that news of what happens in Hawaii stays in Hawaii (excuse the paraphrase of a popular commercial).
Yet, that’s exactly what the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Hawaii branch would like to believe. In the last six to nine months, they have stepped up work site and home immigration raids to never-before-seen rates.
However, someone must have missed the latest memo from Secretary Napolitano who has called for a review of all further raids because of a new focus by the administration on employers and not the employees.
In Hawaii, it’s been business as usual. In fact, it has gotten so bad that the Mexican government has issued a travel advisory for Mexican migrants traveling or working in Hawaii.
In part, the advisory warns:
They have been detained in airports and handed over to immigration authorities. The majority of the cases have dealt with workers in construction and the tourist industry who have traveled to the Hawaiian islands for seasonal employment.
The threat of intimidation on the island’s Hispanic community has increased tenfold to the point that Latina Lista’s regional edition partner, JosÃ© Villa, editor and publisher of Hawaii Hispanic News, reports:
There was a protest last Wednesday in Honolulu, in front of ICE headquarters, by clergy members of an organization called FACE. They are, primarily, non-Latino clergy that have made the humane treatment of undocumented individuals part of their mission. They delivered a letter to ICE, our congressional delegation and President Obama calling for an end to the raids that have traumatized Mauiâ€™s legal and illegal Hispanic community.
This same organization, FACE, has also found the need to create a new initiative to help the islands’ undocumented Latino community. It’s a “Know Your Rights” campaign.
Reports are filtering in of ICE agents going into people’s homes on the pretext of looking for one individual but ending up asking everyone in the home to show proof of their residency status. The Know Your Rights initiative educates immigrants on what questions government officials should and should not be asking.
Sources in the islands tell Latina Lista that a recent news article regarding the raids angered local ICE officials so much that unnamed officials warned one business owner, who is a known advocate for undocumented immigrants, “to watch his back.”
If this is the case, then, at the least, this is an ICE office that needs a visit from Sec. Napolitano and a clarification of the department’s new focus.
At the most, this kind of behavior calls for a review of who is authorizing these island raids and either a suspension or dismissal for levying threats against local advocates.
Also, this post should serve as a reminder that in this day and age, nothing stays hidden or below radar forever.