#Not1More Deportation

All posts tagged deportations

Remarks given by President of the Durham Association of Educators, Bryan Proffitt, during a press conference calling for the release of Wildin Acosta, a young immigrant facing deportation. For more information on how to support contact Alerta Migratoria NC.


WildinAcostaMy name is Bryan Proffitt, and I’m an 11-year veteran high school history teacher, currently serving as the President of the Durham Association of Educators, a local affiliate of the National Education Association. As the classroom teacher on this phone call, it is impossible for me to relate to this issue abstractly. When I heard about ICE’s kidnapping of Wildin Acosta, I thought about Heidi, who stayed after school to teach me Spanish. I thought about Helen who came into my classroom, quiet and timid with almost no working English vocabulary, and consistently completed every task I gave her in two languages. I thought about Ana, one of the most gifted students I ever taught, whose undocumented status prevented her from access to the state’s public university system. I thought about the inevitable terror that 11 years worth of my students would be experiencing when they heard the news, and it broke my heart and compelled me to see how our union could respond at local, statewide, and national levels.

Public schools have real enemies. They are privatizers and corporate reformers. They are not immigrant students. We are fighting for the very existence of public schools in this country. Every day, heroic educators practice our craft in overcrowded and under resourced classrooms full of students that we love. Every day, we work long hours to support our students’ dreams and futures despite the constant efforts of privatizers to shame our schools and blame educators for the problems this country faces. And every day, we sacrifice our extra hours and our own resources to ensure that our students have what they need to have happy, stable, and healthy futures. Immigrant students are not the cause of our problems. Heidi, Helen, and Ana are not threats to our schools. Neither is Wildin. Like all of our students, they bring us joy and challenge and infinite reward. We refuse to stand by and allow them to be painted as the enemies of our communities and our schools. They are our kids, and we love them and feel responsible for them.

We also feel responsible for ensuring that our students leave our schools learning the right lessons. These raids teach our kids the wrong things. Young people are naturally open-hearted, accepting, and curious. Those traits bring us joy and hope every single day. My favorite part of my new job is spending time in elementary schools where I watch young people work together and build friendships across social barriers of race and nationality and class in ways that very few adults practice in this country. Educators work to nurture and facilitate the growth of these characteristics, because they represent the best possibilities for humanity and the future of our communities. When immigrant students, or Black students, or gay students, or students with disabilities face public policies and practices and messages that label them and their families as problems or threats, they struggle to maintain a positive self-esteem and their mental and physical health suffers. They struggle to reach their fullest potential. I’ve watched it happen again and again, and I have to ask the question—what lessons are they learning about themselves? When other students hear that their classmates represent an “internal threat to the security of the United States,” they become fearful and close themselves off, creating tension in our classrooms. What lessons are they learning about each other? We are speaking out against the labelling of immigrant students as dangers in our communities because it damages the self-esteem of some of our students and teaches others that it is okay to mistrust and mistreat one another. We teach our students to love themselves and support one another in our classrooms, and we reject policies and practices that undermine our role as educators.

And finally, we are speaking out against the kidnapping and detention of our students because it prevents us from doing our jobs. We cannot teach kids who are sitting in jail cells. We cannot teach kids who are traumatized by the disappearance of their friends on the way to school. And we cannot teach kids who live in constant fear that their families will be split up and put in harm’s way. ICE’s detention of Wildin’s has sent a chill through our classrooms. Students aren’t showing up for class. Students can’t focus through the trauma and fear that they are experiencing. And families are hesitating to even register their kids for school because they fear that the school system might share their information with La Migra. This has to end.

For 11 years, I was expected to call home any time a student of mine missed a significant amount of class. It was my job to let my students know that I cared, find out what the barriers to their success were, and help them and their families navigate them. Wildin Acosta and the other detained students have missed too much class, and we, as their teachers, are calling ICE to end their detention and let them come back to us and their classrooms, where they belong.

Thank you.

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As the Obama administration engages in a public relations campaign to convince local governments that deportation policies are more humane and narrowly targeted, in practice ICE continues to ignore its own set priorities and fails at exercising discretion, as deportation cases and new TRAC data on immigration detainer shows.

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By Tania A. Unzueta, Not1More

This month in the state of Georgia there are two immigrants who could be deported and separated from their families after being charged with nothing else but driving without a license.

The first is Irvin Pineda Mauricio, a Guatemalan man who has lived in the U.S. for 10 years. Three years ago was turned over to immigration authorities by local police solely on the basis of one old driving without a license charge. The second is Julio Hernandez Diaz, a construction worker and father of 2 who has lived in the country for over 18 years, and who also has nothing else in his record but driving without a license charges.

Both of these men are in immigration detention right now, and in both cases the Georgia ICE field office has failed to follow set priorities by DHS to “focus on people who pose a risk to public safety or national security,” failing to exercise prosecutorial discretion. (Update: Julio was released in October 2015 and continues to fight his deportation.)


Data Backs Story

In the case of Irvin, it was the Hall County police that called ICE under its own initiative and placed an immigration hold on him. The Georgia ICE Field office then made the decision to take him into custody and put him in removal proceedings.

As in every case, ICE had a choice to take all the factors into consideration, as it has a choice now to release him from detention and stop his deportation. Irvin was not a priority under the ICE memoranda in effect then, and he is not priority under current policies.

Coincidentally, Irvin’s case was made public this week, just a few days before TRAC released new data analysis showing that when it comes to immigration detainers ICE continues to fail at meeting its own priorities.

Although the report points out that less detainer have been issued than, for example, 3 years ago when Irvin was originally detained, there are troublesome patterns. According to this recent TRAC report, detainers issued by ICE in April 2015 included:

  • 68% of individuals who had never been convicted of a crime;
  • 81% of people without any felony convictions;
  • 82% of individuals who had never been deported or ordered deported in the past;
These numbers show that there is a glaring incongruence between the messaging being presented by the White House and high-level DHS officials to the public and the implementation of enforcement practices.

These numbers show that there is a glaring incongruence between the messaging being presented by the White House and high-level DHS officials to the public and the implementation of enforcement practices. It confirms what immigrants have been seeing in their communities: that ICE continues to raid homes and workplaces, that parents continue to be torn away from their children and that there is still little consequence when ICE doesn’t meet what should be minimum requirements to follow its own standards.

Cesar Hernandez DiazIn Georgia Julio is a Felon

But the problems with ICE and enforcement implementation go beyond adherence to criteria. Technically, Julio does indeed fit the new DHS guidelines to be priority for removal, because under Georgia state law SB 350 four charges of driving without a license within one year makes an individual into a felon.

Julio was charged for the fourth time in early August, sentenced to 3 months in jail and 5 years probation, and a ticket of over $1,300. According to the state law he could have been forced to pay fines up to $5,000 and serve up to five years in prison.

So although Julio has never been charged with anything but driving without a license, and although under state law is not able to get a driver’s license as an undocumented immigrant, ICE could report that he is one of the 98% of immigrants who “clearly met one or more of ICE’s stated priorities,” and one of the 19% of felons issued a detainer.

This Georgia law, SB 350, is part of a series of “attrition through enforcement” policies pushed forward by anti-immigrant and white supremacist groups with the explicit purpose of making life so difficult for immigrants that we would ‘self-deport.’ Organizations like the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) have fought hard against the policy, arguing that “the law ignores the economic reality and necessity to drive in order to work, take children to school, or make emergency trips to the hospital and instead repeats failed policies like those in Arizona that have proven to incentivize racial profiling and are susceptible to abuse.

Although ICE has no jurisdiction over state law or local charges, it does have discretion over whether to consider these felony charges priorities for deportation. As Julio’s case shows, ICE is actively making a choice to participate in the targeting of immigrants by state law, and in fact worsening the situation, by deporting these individuals.


ICE Has Discretion on Felonies

ICE collusion with local law enforcement agencies with questionable civil rights and human rights practices is not without precedent, the most famous, the most famous example being the case of Maricopa County, Arizona.

Using state laws, the Maricopa Sheriff spent years raiding workplaces and arresting working people. The County Prosecutor readily filed the maximum charge against Arpaio’s victims prompting ICE to initiate deportation proceedings against them.

However, after an intense campaign led by the local organization, Puente, targeting the County prosecutor and the Phoenix ICE office, ICE began to release immigrants who were victims of Arpaio’s raids, even though they were charged with felony convictions that technically placed them at the top of ICE’s priorities.

Although many of these immigrants are still in deportation proceedings and that this change would not have taken place without intense local organizing, it shows that ICE can use discretion even in the case of felony charges. It just usually won’t unless pressured.

Pressure on Local Governments

These contradictions are noteworthy right now since the federal government has been spending time and political capital to convince local governments, immigrant rights advocates, the media, and legal practitioners that the problems previously raised regarding troublesome and unconstitutional ICE enforcement practices have been resolved.

Six months after the November 20, 2014 announcement that the “Secure Communities” program was ending, Secretary Johnson and other high level DHS officials have been conducting closed door meetings with state governors, sheriffs, county commissioners and other elected officials to relate to them the message of change and urge them to share information with ICE by joining its replacement, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP).

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…the analogy breaks downs when we realize it is not a good idea to ‘choose your own adventure’ in a book written by an author who you don’t really trust…

Localities that have passed laws separating ICE from local police enforcement have been specifically targeted by DHS for participation in PEP. The DHS message has been that ICE will work with these localities to make PEP whatever they want.

One DHS official during a recent meeting said that we should think of PEP as a “choose your own adventure book,” where local governments would get to pick how much communication to have with ICE and DHS. But the analogy breaks downs when we realize it is not a good idea to ‘choose your own adventure’ in a book written by an author who you don’t really trust, has no real supervision when they don’t follow their own rules, and whose main goal is to to deport your family.

DHS Needs to Get it Together

Lately the focus of immigrant rights advocates has been to go after flashy figures like Donald Trump for his inflammatory rhetoric and Republicans for their legislative attacks on immigrants. Although their xenophobic comments and actions should not go uncontested, DHS and ICE practices under the Obama administration continue to be extremely harmful to immigrant communities.

DHS and ICE should not be looking to expand enforcement programs when it continues to show that implementation of priorities are at best inconsistent throughout their field offices with few mechanisms for accountability and with problematic priorities. ICE headquarters and DHS need to review what the local field offices are doing, and in many cases change the leadership of the ICE Field Office. Many of the regional ICE Directors in charge now and are the same ones who have implemented racist and destructive enforcement practices in immigrant communities in recent years– and who, in some cases, continue problematic practices.

Finally, the cases of Irvin and Julio must be reviewed. ICE should change policy to stop deporting people whose charges stem from racist legislation designed to criminalize immigrants, such as Georgia’s SB 350, Arizona’s SB 1070.  DHS needs to figure out consistent exercise of its discretionary power, so that we can address not just the persisting dishonesty and deception carried out by the agency but the deeper issues with ICE’s priorities and enforcement as a whole.

President Obama
We ask to refrain from meetings with President without undocumented people there to represent themselves. Read more

Marichuy Leal Gamino is 23 years old and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She is transgender, and has been detained in immigration custody for over a year. A few weeks ago, she reported experiencing sexual harassment at the Eloy Detention Center, but was told by the guards to “deal with it.” Then just last week she was raped by her cellmate. When she told the guards, they pressured her into signing a statement saying the rape was consensual. 

If ICE can’t guarantee her safety, she should be released immediately. Please sign the petition demanding Marichuy is released.

Even though she is a transgender woman, Marichuy continues to be held in the male-section of the facility and is still in danger. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender detainees are 15 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees.

Marichuy’s story is one more example showing how the Eloy administration is not capable of guaranteeing a minimum level of safety and dignity for transgendender people. In fact, it is not a safe facility for anyone. Eloy detention center has a long history of conditions that have lead to nearly a dozen deaths in the last decade, including two suicides just last year.

Please sign the petition to makes sure that Marichuy is released immediately.

WH Action to Stop Deportations

WH Action to Stop DeportationsSince April 5th, immigrant families at the center of the immigration debate have created an indefinite presence on the President’s front lawn asking that he meet with them directly, and stop detaining and deporting their family members.

With record-breaking deportations, and a burgeoning immigration detention complex, our immigrant communities are starving for relief, and have brought that starvation, front and center, to the President’s doorsteps. On April 8th, immigrant families from Arizona started a hunger strike at the White House. This week, we have a family from Texas continuing the hunger strike, and soon, others will arrive from Georgia and Louisiana to escalate.

We need all the support we can get. Here are some things that community members and supporters can do to help the hunger-striking families and keep pressure on the White House to stop the deportations:

1. Volunteer shifts: We are asking volunteers to support the hunger strikers by joining them at the White House (at Lafayette Park) in three hour shifts. Volunteers will keep the hunger strikers company, help ensure their needs are met, demonstrate solidarity, deal with passers-by when necessary, and help out with set up and clean up of the site. If you or your organization can take a shift or an entire day(s), that would be incredibly helpful.

Besides your time, we also need space near the White House, food, meal donations, and materials to continue the hunger-strike so please check out the link here and let us know if you can help us with anything.

2. E-action: The hunger strikers have family members who are detained and facing deportation. Sign the petition to ask the White House to meet with the hunger strikers and stop the deportations of their loved ones here.

3. Join in the events at the White House: If you are in the area, join us for a prayer vigil, happy hour, taller de son jarocho Cosita Seria, or congressional briefings. Check out our calendar of events to get involved.

4. Donations: You can contribute by hitting the donation button above or on this online donation page to help support the hunger strikers and cover logistical costs associated with the action.

5. Read and share the Not One More Blue Ribbon Commission report: Last week, a Blue Ribbon Commission of current and formerly undocumented leaders formed as an independent and parallel body to make recommendations for immediate implementation by the President as he instructs DHS to perform its own review of deportation policy.  The report outlines 14 steps available under the legal authority of the President to reduce the harm caused by the status quo and expand affirmative relief to the undocumented.

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after speaking with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson about the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) and deportation policy:

“I had a productive conversation with the DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.  I spoke with him about my recent visit to the NWDC and made sure he was fully aware of all the concerns that were brought to my attention by the detainees I met with, their friends and relatives, and advocates in the community.  Secretary Johnson has visited a detention facility in Texas and plans to visit more in the near future.  I asked that he continue to visit facilities and invited him to come see the NWDC in Tacoma in hopes that these visits will lead to a review of policies at detention centers.

“Additionally, we spoke about the issue of deportation.  I expressed my concerns about the rising number of immigrants being deported and how this has a devastating impact on families in our community.  Secretary Johnson understands these concerns and ensured me that DHS is reviewing all deportation policies, as the President announced this week.  I have a great working relationship with Secretary Johnson from his tenure at the Defense Department, and I look forward to continuing working with him in his new capacity on this issue.”

On early morning of March 13th, Fernando called his wife telling him that the detention center where he is being held, had told him to pack his things. Concerned with his potential deportation, his family and community members sent out an alert, requesting that people call to ask why ICE was deporting Fernando. Within less than an hour of the action alert asking for calls to ICE, immigration informed us that he would not be getting deported today. According to the New Orleans ICE office, when Fernando was told to pack up his things by the detention center officers, it must have been a ‘mistake’ by the immigration detention center.

In August of 2013, Fernando Figueroa Barajas was stopped at a roadblock in his home state of Mississippi, and charged with driving without a license. The local police who arrested him, told Fernando they were doing so because he was a ‘fucking wetback” and an “illegal.” Read more

In this exclusive, unedited interview, Jorge Ramos compares President Obama’s pro-immigration reform rhetoric to the administration’s large number of deportations.

Included in that bus are Octavio, a father who was placed in deportation proceedings after being stopped for a minor traffic violation, and Brigido, father of 2 US citizen daughters. Both of their families are watching to see whether the bus will turn around, or take their loved ones away. Make a call to immigration to ask why they are breaking families apart. Read more


September 09, 2013

John Sandweg
Acting Director
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
George Lund

Enforcement and Removal Operations
New Orleans Field Office Director
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

RE: Positive exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion for immigrant parents detained during New Orleans immigration operations 

Dear Mr. Sandweg and Mr. Lund,

We, the undersigned write to urge that the Department of Homeland Security and the New Orleans Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office take significant steps to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the detention and deportation of parents and legal guardians of children, especially those encountered collaterally during Department of Homeland Security investigations and operations in Louisiana. 

On Friday, August 23, we welcomed the directive by Acting Director of ICE, John Sandweg, Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities. According to this directive, special consideration should be made in the placement, detention, and deportation of immigrants who are primary caretakers of minor children, regardless of the children’s immigration status. In addition, the prosecutorial discretion guidelines set by former ICE director John Morton in the June 17, 2011 memoranda Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities of the Agency for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens and Prosecutorial Discretion: Certain Victims, Witnesses, and Plaintiffs set guidelines for exercising discretion for “low priority” removals taking into account the totality of the circumstances.  Read more