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Boston Nonprofits Teach Undocumented Immigrants How to Defend Themselves Against ICE

LatinaLista — Today in Washington, in Room 2141 of the Rayburn Building, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law held a hearing on the STRIVE Act — a bipartisan immigration reform legislation introduced earlier this year by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).
To many who have been involved from the onset to push Congress to adopt just and fair immigration reform measures, these hearings and what they result in is the Final Curtain call for the issue before it’s mothballed until after the Presidential election.
But while it’s easy to slate a postponement on issues, it’s not easy for millions of families to continue to endure conditions indefinitely brought about by not having a definitive judgment in place.
These people are suffering and it’s decent human nature to want to ease that suffering — even if the government says it’s obstructing the law.

Last night, on Univision’s Don Francisco program, several children tearfully told of how ICE agents came to their homes and at gunpoint took their parents away.

The Barrios children recount the deportation of their father 8 months ago.
(Source: Univision)

In one interview, the oldest child, 17-year-old Leslie, described to the show’s host what happened on the night the agents came to their home: (translation to follow)

Don Francisco: ¿Cuándo fue que tus padres fueron deportados?
Leslie: El 22 de febrero de este año. A las 7 y media de la noche inmigración fue a la casa. Más de 15 agentes buscaron por toda la casa, no se qué estaban buscando, nos trataron como criminales, a mi papá no lo dejaron entrar a la casa, lo esposaron afuera y todos llorábamos desesperadamente. Yo tuve que ser la fuerte y tuve que tomar la responsabilidad.

Don Francisco: When were your parents deported?
Leslie: February 22 of this year. At 7:30 at night, immigration went to the house. More than 15 agents looked all over the house, I don’t know what they were looking for, they treated us like criminals, they wouldn’t let my father enter the house, they handcuffed him outside and we all cried desperately. I had to be the strong one and I had to accept the responsibility (of younger siblings).

Child after child tearfully told of how their parents were treated like dangerous criminals, not given a chance to defend themselves or say anything but carted away leaving their children behind crying for them, and in some cases not knowing who was going to take care of them.
These stories were not invented especially for this program to extract tears from the viewers. They are stories that have been repeated with regularity from the eyewitnesses – the children – whose sense of pain and trauma is very fresh with each retelling of what they lived through.
Yet, all along, even in the face of eyewitness accounts, ICE denies that they conduct themselves in such a manner when apprehending undocumented immigrants.
It’s their word against hundreds of eyewitnesses but because these eyewitnesses are children or don’t speak English or are here illegally, then they’re ignored or discounted.
Well, not in Massachusetts.
It seems ICE is doing everything there in that state that they profess they don’t do: conduct random sweeps, and when arriving to deport one undocumented immigrant detain everyone present and in sweeps to arrest gang members, pick up non-criminal undocumented immigrants as well.
The people have been reduced to living in fear. That’s why some state non-profit groups are holding information sessions for undocumented immigrants and explaining to them that they do have legal options.
The nonprofit groups conducting these sessions tell the immigrants if they are confronted by ICE agents: don’t lie, don’t run, don’t carry false papers. Just stay silent or ask for a lawyer.

Joel Rodriguez, an organizer with the Alliance to Develop Power, listened to the concerns of immigrants at a meeting in Springfield last week and discussed their rights. (NANCY PALMIERI FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE)
They are then given fliers outlining their rights, business-size cards to give to federal agents that explain why they won’t speak and an emergency plan so that they can arrange child care in case they are arrested.
This simple advice is getting ICE and anti-immigrant supporters all bent out of shape.
One called what the nonprofits are doing as “immoral.”
An ICE spokesperson said that they would “encourage organizations that are engaging in that kind of information distribution to stop.”
Well, until ICE and the federal government understand that they’re dealing with people who have families and for whom the majority have never ever committed a crime, these sessions will continue.
In fact, several agencies in the state plan to step up their training sessions.
If raids and sweeps continue with blatant disregard for children who are present and basic human rights ignored, ICE may find that Boston may just be the starting site for a whole new Revolution.

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  • yave begnet
    September 6, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    There’s a long tradition of government-backed oppression of unpopular groups in this country, and likewise a long tradition of civil disobedience to combat that oppression. This is one of the civil rights fights of our day. Like past battles, it won’t be easy and it won’t be painless. But it will be won.

  • Horace
    September 7, 2007 at 7:39 am

    Begnet, your comparison to past injustices is plain wrong. Illegal immigration is not a civil right and deporting illegal aliens is not oppression, as their deportation is done in defense of the citizens of this country, as represented in their will under our immigration laws. What civil right are you talking about yave begnet? Sounds like your inventing your own law. Which Constitutional right are illegl aliens fighting to retain? Illegal aliens have no protection from removal under our Constitution. You invent something that doesn’t exist. No nation on this planet would countenance foreign demands to occupy their territory.

  • Frank
    September 7, 2007 at 8:24 am

    I totally agree, Horace. Illegal immigrants are not being denied any civil rights. They are here in violation of our laws and therefore don’t have any rights to even be in our country.

  • Michelle
    September 7, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Do we really want the STRIVE Act? Rediculous fines plus being forced to leave the country to apply for citizenship…and that’s only after getting the border secured. The STRIVE Act is nothing more than a wolf in sheeps clothing. It offers everything that the repulicans want on immigration reform…this wouldn’t help undocumented immigrants just hurt them.
    I’m white and have volunteered in the border regions before with No More Deaths. I was taught (and still do believe) our border problems are a result of economic laws we passed (NAFTA). Until we address this, nothing is going to change.

  • kyledeb
    September 7, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Good to see you writing about happenings in Massachusetts, Marisa.
    Arguing that this training is obstructing the law is ridiculous. Someone at Wizbang suggested as such.
    Educating people about their rights is not against the law. Especially considering the abuses we’ve seen.

  • Horace
    September 7, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    “our border problems are a result of economic laws we passed (NAFTA). Until we address this, nothing is going to change.”
    To anybody but those who’ve been labotomized our problems stem from the Mexican government’s failure to do what’s right by it’s people. Korea, Japan, Germany and China were devistated by war, while Mexico experienced nothing of the kind, yet they are a complete economic failure when measured by the state of their people. I find it pathetic how you people avoid criticizing Mexico and the Mexican people for their failures.

  • michelle
    September 7, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Horace….do you think we don’t have illegal immigrants from Korea, China, Germany, and Japan?! Being Mexican isn’t a prerequisite for being illegal! We have trade deficits and economic problems of these countries.
    I don’t pretend to think that Mexico is prefect. However, neither is our government. Illegal immigration is a self-inflicted wound. We’ve build an economy around it.

  • Frank
    September 7, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Cry me a river! If you live by the sword you die by the sword. This also applies to illegal aliens. I feel no sympathy for those who violated our immigration laws. If they are suffering it is by their own doing!
    It isn’t a racist issue or a civil rights issue, it is a laws issue.

  • David O.
    September 7, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Clichés and hackneyed phrases make for bad rhetoric but are popular with the those who don’t know nuthing except mouth what the talking mouthpieces on the radio and TV spew. Over and over and over. Go fall on your sword pendejo.

  • Frank
    September 7, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    I make up my own mind on the issues facing us today. I use common sense, logic and our laws to arrive at my opinions. I don’t need the media or anyone else to do my thinking for me.
    Of course we have illegal aliens from other countries besides Mexico but guess who is the overwhelming majority?
    Corruption from our government and business has built an econony around illegal aliens, not your everyday working slob who is having to foot the bill for their social services and deal with the overcrowded conditions and cultural changes in our country. Don’t blame your everyday law abiding American for this mess. We are going to clean house and get rid of the traitors in congress who are in the back pockets of business. Don’t expect us to sympathize with any of the law breakers either and that includes illegal aliens.

  • quelindosoy
    September 7, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    yaaaaaaaaaaaawn……You know its funny, 15 years ago when I worked for the American embassy in mexico , I would talk to mexican officials about helping stop drugs coming across the border, “mira!” they would tell me, “these drugs are a gringo problem our people dont use them” my my how times have changed, not only has the drug use skyrocketed, the violence and corruption has many mexicans worrying that their country may slip into a state of anarchy. To be perfectly blunt this is exactly what mexico needs, a coup de ta and then a Pinochet or even a Stroessner to straighten things out.

  • yave begnet
    September 7, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    We are going to clean house and get rid of the traitors in congress who are in the back pockets of business.
    Phew, I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I guess we do have something in common after all, though I’m not as optimistic as you are.
    But I’m curious, who are the traitors, and who are we going to replace them with?

  • Horace
    September 8, 2007 at 12:34 am

    The traitors of Congress are those that listen to big business, illegal alien advocacy groups, and immigration lawyers and are willing to accept political contributions to sell out the long term interests of our country for the sake of foreigners who’ve come here illicitly. They are represented by the Tom Delays, other Republicans and even Democrats of the K Street gang ilk. Those that voted for the recent amnesty bill are what Frank is referring to. We eliminated some of them in the last election and those that exposed themselve as supporters of illegal immigrants during the recent months will also be removed by the power of the vote. How is that for a laugh, Begnet?

  • Frank
    September 8, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Most Americans are not druggies. We are busy struggling to survive just to pay our bills. Nice little stereotyping there though.
    The open borders nutcases, those who will do anything for a buck including ignoring our laws and not securing our borders, ignoring the will of the people. These are just a few of the examples of traitorus behavior in congress. You know who those politicians are. I don’t need to list them here. I will vote for any politician who has shown a track record of standing up for Americans.

  • Horace
    September 8, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Michelle said: “Illegal immigration is a self-inflicted wound. We’ve build an economy around it.”
    Time for urban renewal. Which “we” are we talking about, Michelle? Using the collective “we” to included everyone is unfair to the honest folk who don’t use illegal labor. Considering how difficult it has been to remove illegal aliens from our society, even when honest citizens try to have the law enforced, we can hardly blame honest folk when the employers of illegals get away with murder. You’re unfairly stereotyping all businesses in this country by implying that they’re all involved in illegal immgration. You’re doing exactly what you liberal types complain about, staining the reputation of all for the sins of a few. Hypocrite.

  • yave begnet
    September 8, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    You guys should pick up a newspaper once in a while. The Senate immigration bill was killed by Republicans. Democrats mostly voted for the bill. Republicans lost big in 2006 and, unless something changes, will lose big in 2008, largely because of Iraq. Also, more likely than not, we’ll have a Democratic president in 2008. I don’t see how this will improve your position.
    Also, I said we have something in common because I’d also like to see more people elected to Congress who aren’t in the back pockets of business. But I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon, whether we’re talking about Republicans or Democrats.

  • Horace
    September 9, 2007 at 12:31 am

    “Also, more likely than not, we’ll have a Democratic president in 2008.”
    Hillary is presently number one of the Democrats, but she’s unellectable. Like it or not, a Republicans will once again be president in 2009. Hillary is a blatant socialists, and Americans have learned their lesson concerning their welfare spending habits. Also, she’s a supporter of illegal immigrants, and everyday more and more voting citizens are making positions of immigration a criteria for whom they elect. Come the primaries, the Democrats position on immigration will put them way behind in the polls. Either Hillary flips on her position on amnesty, or she’s toast.

  • Frank
    September 9, 2007 at 8:38 am

    Horace, I hope you are right. Although I think Bush was a lousy president, I sure don’t want a Democratic president elected in 2008.

  • Horace
    September 9, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Fran, the Democrats are pretty solidly behind amnesty for illegal aliens, but hostility towards that concept grows by the day and they’ll eventually rue the day they hitched their wagon to the illegal alien cause. The advocates and illegal aliens themselves are deluded into thinking that the citizens of this country are easily intimidated, and that we cannot do without them. Their marches have come to nought, their boycotts ignored and their political initiatives bitterly opposed and defeated. In spite of all this they keep using the same broken tools over and over again, with expectation of different results.

  • Eden Carroll-Weis
    September 9, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    I am sorry families are hurt. But you can’t expect for twenty million workers of one ethnic group to flood the country and most of them have three, four, or five kids to bring here and parents. That would amount to sixty million people that need jobs. Once the country is flooded, and manufacturers hire illegals at cheap wages where are Americans suppose to work? Manufacturers say we don’t want the jobs. We want to work but for proper pay. Illegal’s children get a free education and college while our kids work two jobs to make it through college. And then Mexican kids getting everything given to them have the nerve to say our kids are lazy and spoiled. Manufacturers want to keep wages low. Americans would work there at a decent wage and benefits. We don’t want sixty million people who are different than us coming here changing our DNA, our language, our customs, music, and food. We don’t want a landscape with billboards full of Spanish. THIS is NOT about prejudice it is about keeping wages up here, about jobs, our economy, and our children’s future. Nobody thinks of them. If you are all allowed to stay it will ruin OUR economy and the jobs will go away. Then what would the illegals do? Right. They’d just go back to Mexico after spoiling our country.

  • Eden Carroll-Weis
    September 9, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    There are many politicians devoted to the immigration problem. To first secure the border. Then send people home and then you come back properly through the right channels. You get a tamper-free Identification carde so there will be no more fraud. If you can’t support yourself you will have to go home as the welfare programs will be cut off. No more putting up with criminals. Those people that come just for healthcare and a free hand out. I don’t mind giving to charity but I don’t want it forced on me.

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