LatinaLista — Since Senator Ted Kennedy’s death, advocates, editorial cartoonists, commentators and politicians have tried to turn the contentious debate over healthcare and immigration reform by proposing that Congress work extra hard to pass both bills in tribute of Sen. Kennedy’s devotion to each issue.
Editorial cartoon contrasts two tributes to Sen. Ted Kennedy – the traditional flying of the flag at half-staff and a white flag raised to signal the passage of the 2009 Health Care Reform bill.
(source: Boulder Camera)
Roll Call contributing writer, Morton Kondracke explains in his column’s intro:
Along with a health care reform bill, it would be a fitting tribute to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) if Congress could act on his other great unfinished cause: immigration reform.
There is no doubt that advocates for undocumented immigrants lost a great friend and champion in Sen. Kennedy, but the fight continues.
The latest round in the ongoing battle over immigration reform is an unprecedented collaboration that illustrates how the greatest legacy of Ted Kennedy’s political career — the ability to work with the opposition to reach solutions — is being taken to heart.
Five hundred twenty-one local and national organizations signed off on a letter sent to President Obama demanding that the 287(g) program be terminated.
The 287(g) allows for qualifying state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law. The consequences of the program has resulted in increased racial profiling by law enforcement officials, has negatively impacted response time to the greater community and has resulted in abuse of the program and its victims.
Reports of abuse in local communities have been widespread. In Davidson County, Tennessee, the Sheriff’s Office used its 287(g) power to apprehend undocumented immigrants driving to work, standing at day labor sites, or while fishing off piers. One pregnant woman—charged with driving without a license—was shackled to her bed during labor. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, even without formal 287(g) powers, over 350 individuals were detained and deported from the jail this February after being arrested for driving without a license, a county ordinance violation, or on traffic or misdemeanor charges. The Gwinnett jail is triple-bunked, with one person in each cell sleeping on the floor, and the jail’s internal SWAT team is known for appearing in ski masks to subdue detainees it deems uncooperative. Yet, Gwinnett County is among the 11 jurisdictions granted new 287(g) approval by Secretary Napolitano earlier this month.
In a recent research report, Justice Strategies, a nonpartisan research firm, found evidence that links the expansion of the program to racial animus against communities of color. According to FBI and census data, sixty-one percent of ICE-deputized localities had violent and property crime indices lower than the national average, while eighty-seven percent of these localities had a rate of Latino population growth higher than the national average.
The 521 organizations that signed the letter range from the expected immigrant advocacy groups and social justice organizations to non-partisan think tanks and even police organizations.
To bring greater awareness to the issue, all local organizations that signed the letter will host vigils, marches and other activities today (Thursday) and tomorrow.
It makes no sense to continue tearing families apart and criminalizing people from being able to legally return to the country, which most often happens when they undergo deportation proceedings, when any immigration reform measure is bound to legally recognize undocumented immigrants.
Then instead of fixing the problem of illegal immigration, the CIR will only encourage those parents and children who were deported to come back illegally to reunite with their families.
It’s a problem that can be averted if the administration works with foresight and vision, and quits trying to placate a vocal opposition that will never be fully in favor of any federal policy that brings 12 million people out of the shadows and onto the road of being granted full voting privileges.