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Immigration Advocates to Obama: We Need Action, Not Just Speeches

July 1, 2010

(The following action alert is from after President Obama gave a speech on immigration policy.)

1,000 per day. That’s the rate at which immigrants are being deported under the Obama Administration. Amazingly, it’s more than under President Bush, and the vast majority are students, taxpayers and hardworking community members.1

Today, President Obama addressed the nation, and once again expressed his commitment to immigration reform. But at this point, as Latino and immigrant communities are being torn apart, we need more than empty promises. We need action.

And so far, the only action we have seen is increased enforcement, including a $600 million dollar request for more immigration agents and a recent deployment of 1,200 troops to the border. Things have become so urgent that hundreds of undocumented youth are committing civil disobedience around the country, risking deportation to send a signal that enough is enough.

That’s why, in collaboration with the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) and the Trail of DREAMs, is launching an ambitious new campaign calling on the President to use his power to create real change, starting with ending the deeply problematic 287g program. The 287g program is what empowers local authorities like Sheriff Joe Arpaio to conduct vicious raids of Latino communities and is what inspired Arizona to pass SB 1070.2,3,4 It’s time to tell President Obama to move beyond just finger pointing at Republicans, and say BASTA to 287g. Will you join us?

In anticipation of his speech, President Obama met with community leaders on Monday, including Juan Rodriguez — one of four brave immigrant students who have been working with since January to raise awareness about the plight of undocumented immigrants through the “Trail of Dreams,” a 1,500-mile walk from Miami to Washington, D.C. After the meeting, Juan told us how it went:

“While the President expressed support for measures that required Congressional action, he refused to act on any of the ones he can change immediately through executive action, such as 287g, the federal program that allows collaboration between local police and ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement). He said his office is looking to see where the flaws of the programs are.”

We think the flaws are clear. The Department of Homeland Security’s own Inspector General recently issued a scathing report with one central conclusion: 287g does not increase public safety.5 Only 10 percent of the people deported through the program have committed serious crimes, and more than half have no involvement in violence, drugs, or property crimes. In many communities, 287g has become a license for police officers to hunt down and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed no crime other than working hard to provide for their families.6

As a candidate, then Senator Obama spoke eloquently about the horrors caused by our failed immigration system, saying that, ” …when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel … the system just isn’t working, and we need to change it.” But as President, Obama has done little to lessen the terror of deportations. The 287g program is something that the President can end with the simple stroke of a pen, and in doing so, he can show he has more to offer Latino and immigrant communities than just compelling speeches.

Please join us in saying Basta to 287g.

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