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Human Costs Of House GOP's CIR Sabotage Are Growing. By Roger Algase

Rating: 5 votes, 5.00 average.

It is all too easy to think of immigration reform as just another political issue, and to be concerned only with whether it will affect the 2014 and 2016 elections. From that perspective, the media are now evidently finding immigration reform less interesting than the idea of running endless apocalyptic stories about the ACA and its failed website which will eventually be fixed (no doubt with the help of talented IT H-1B visa holders, more of whom - one is tempted to imagine, since there is no evidence currently available either way - might have conceivably helped to avoid the computer problems in the first place, if enough visas had been available).

Whatever the reasons for the ACA system failure, media obsession with this one issue is crowding out a much more important and fundamental story, one about an ongoing human rights disaster which is destroying the hopes and dreams of millions of people, breaking up hundreds of thousands of families of American citizens and staining the moral conscience of our nation.

As we wonder about political questions, such as who will win the Republican civil war between the Tea Party bigots and the more "moderate" wing of the party, or what House Speaker John Boehner will do next to bury immigration reform in a desperate attempt to keep his speakership, it is easy to forget the tragic human consequences of the daggers which Boehner and the other House GOP leaders are relentlessly sticking in the body of comprehensive immigration reform, with the same intent and result as the daggers which were used in the Roman Senate on March 15, 44 BC.

This is why all of us who care about immigrant rights, and about human rights, should read a November 16 article in the Tampa Bay Times, As momentum for immigration reform dies in Washington, human costs build.

The link is:

The article describes the fear that Jose Castillo, 47-year old father of two and owner of a construction business in Orlando, experienced as ICE agents knocked on his door at 6:00 am to carry out a two-decades-old deportation order against him one Sunday in September.

He was detained for 7 weeks before being given a one-year stay, but he still faces deportation back to Mexico. The article also mentions the anxiety of another Orlando resident, 21-year old Martha Rosales, a DACA beneficiary who was carried across the border when she was 2 and whose father was deported in 2008. She is worried that her mother could also be deported and that a different president could also revoke her own DACA status, leading to her deportation.

The article also describes the fears of two other young people, Julio Calderon of Miami and Raul Leon of Mesa, Arizona, who arrived in the US shortly after turning 16 and are not eligible for DACA.

Calderon, who came to America only one month after his 16th birthday, in addition to his fear of deportation, cannot afford to enroll in college because he does not qualify for in-state tuition. Leon has been ordered to leave the US in one year after being pulled over at a traffic stop in 2008, and is now trying to explain this to his 10-year old US citizen son.

The article also has some chilling statistics: 409,849 people deported in 2012, a record number, and 150,000 people deported since the Senate passed its CIR bill, S. 744, in June. According to the article, almost 2 million people have been deported since Obama became president.

Only 55 per cent of those deported last year had been convicted of a crime, and of those, we can be sure that many of the convictions were for minor offenses.

One of my own clients was deported not so long ago for a minor misdemeanor, which still technically qualified as an "aggravated felony" under the immigration laws, after being sentenced to pay a fine of $100 with no jail time.

Another client was deported last year for similar low level misdemeanors after serving three months in jail. Neither one had ever been in the US illegally and both had valid work visas at the time of being apprehended.

Reading the Tampa Bay Times article, I am also struck by the sheer callousness to human suffering of the people on the other side of what they insist on calling the "amnesty" issue. The article quotes Ira Mehlman of FAIR, for example as saying that "you can empathize with one individual... but the fact of the matter is that we probably have 12 million people here..."

Mehlman, whose name is Jewish (I do not know anything about his actual religious affiliation, if any) seems to have forgotten about the thousands, if not millions, of European Jews who were denied refuge in America while trying to flee Nazi persecution during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many of them died in concentration camps.

Nor do Mehlman and his colleagues at FAIR, so far as I am aware, ever talk about the anti-semitism and hostility which greeted millions of Jewish immigrants to America in the late 19th century (when my own Jewish grandparents arrived to escape persecution in Czarist Russia), and the 20th century up until very recently.

Nor does another advocate of stricter enforcement mentioned in the same article, Tea Party Senator Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who is of Puerto Rican origin, seem to recall how Puerto Ricans have been discriminated against even though they are US citizens.

Or perhaps he never heard of
West Side Story?

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Updated 11-18-2013 at 08:50 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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