LatinaLista — Last week, rumors were rampant that the Obama administration was bracing for bad news just as the Democratic National Convention was winding down. The bad news was the monthly jobs report.
The report showed only very slight improvement and pushed the Obama camp to briefly acknowledge it as “not good enough” before dispatching across the country their army of volunteer campaign stompers like San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.
Yet, there was another report released last week that was just as important to Latino voters that the Obama administration did a good job of ignoring. It was the 2011 deportation figures from the Office of Immigration Statistics.
According to the report, immigration enforcement authorities detained and deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants last year and, if they continue the trend, will achieve the same in 2012. The four leading countries of deported immigrants were Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Highlights of the report show:
CBP — U.S. Customs and Border Protection
DHS — Department of Homeland Security
ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement
• CBP found 212,000 foreign nationals inadmissible for entry into the United States.
• DHS made 642,000 apprehensions of foreign nationals; 76 percent were natives of Mexico.
• ICE detained approximately 429,000 foreign nationals, an all-time high.
• DHS returned 324,000 foreign nationals to their home countries without a removal order.
• DHS removed 392,000 foreign nationals from the United States.
• Reinstatements of final orders accounted for 130,000, or 33 percent, of all removals.
• Expedited removals accounted for 123,000, or 31 percent, of all removals.
• ICE removed 188,000 known criminal aliens from the United States, an all-time high.
While no one is advocating on behalf of the murderers, rapists, drug and gun runners, who are true criminals, it’s a known fact that calling someone a criminal whose only crime is either being in the country without proper paperwork or re-entering the country to reunite with family after already being deported — which is considered a crime — does not constitute a threat to national security nor community safety.
The point of dispute is that if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was actually following the White House directive on prosecutorial discretion the numbers should not be as high as they are. But independent reports from across the country, from immigration lawyers and immigrant advocates, point to the fact that the Commander-in-Chief may not have command over DHS and immigration personnel who are in charge of detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants.
For one thing: “Of the 298,173 (immigration) cases that were pending at the end of September, only 4,585 had been closed under the program by the end of May.”
Another sign that the chain of command has some broken links was the announcement that a group of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and officers sued DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It’s a program that gives students known as DREAMers a 2-year reprieve from any deportation process.
Also, thanks to Latina Lista contributor in San Diego, Elizabeth Kennedy, who is working with children who are apprehended at the border, trying to enter the United States illegally and alone in search of parents or a better life, and classified as “unaccompanied minors,” the immigration court system isn’t exactly following the rule of law.
For the 5 to 10% who come from living on the streets, their long journey ends with a short “repatriation” flight back, where they become vulnerable to both human and drug trafficking.
In theory this should not occur, since orphans and victims of trafficking are eligible for “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)”, which allows them to enter the US foster care system and eventually become legal residents. Yet with no right to legal representation, children and youth rarely learn of this option.
Chances are the greater Latino community will remain blissfully oblivious to the government’s apprehension and deportation rate of undocumented immigrants until the first DREAMer applying under the DACA program is instead deported rather than given the green light to join US society.
When that happens, all hell will break loose — from both sides of the aisle. In the meantime, the main fight for immigration reformers — to keep families unified — will continue to be violated by a government that seems to be as divided as the nation on the issue of immigration.