We fought hard in 2010. At the hands Congress, DREAM did not pass, but we built momentum.
Many people speculate that 2011 will be a very difficult year to pass immigration legislation. The Republican Party gained a majority in the House of Representatives and the Democratic Party maintained a majority, though slim, in the Senate. As a result, it’s going to be very difficult to pass any legislation, much less legislation related to immigration.
We shouldn’t simply give up and wait until 2012, hoping for a new situation in which to push for immigration reform. Rather, we can do all we can for immigrant rights, including to put our immediate focus on stopping deportations, on urging state and local law enforcement agencies to opt out of Secure Communities and on repealing Arizona’s SB 1070 law.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials removed 392,000 undocumented immigrants in Fiscal Year 2010 – 23,000 more than the year before. Sadly, the Obama administration is deporting more immigrants in comparison to the Bush administration. Moreover, the Obama administration has promised to secure the borders through more ICE agents, more troops and more unnecessary weapons/equipment. The result of all this energy and tax money is the deportation of hard-working immigrants and harsh separation of immigrant families.
We can anticipate an increase of mass deportations again in 2011. Therefore, we must organize and mobilize to halt as many deportations as possible. Otherwise, we will lose the battle. Every single deportation is a tragedy – a thousand deportations is a disaster.
Opting Out of “Secure Communities”
First of all, don’t be deceived by the title of this ICE program. It is a fatal mistake to believe that “Secure Communities” does anything but harm immigrant communities and communities at large. Instead of targeting criminals as it claims to do, the program often harms immigrant families. “Secure Communities” is not only dangerous, it violates human rights. We have to promote and educate our communities about “Secure Communities,” and urge state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide to opt out.
Repealing Arizona’s SB 1070 Law
Last year, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. At the time, it gave authority to police officers to stop and question anyone who they suspected to be undocumented. It was essentially racial profiling. Although the Obama administration stepped in and repealed much of the harshest parts of the law, the law itself still stands. Worst of all, several states are considering SB 1070 copycat immigration laws in their states. We haven’t seen the actual result yet, but it is quite scary to imagine SB 1070 being implemented across America. We have to continue a long-term push for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, and at the same time we must fight anti-immigrant laws such as SB 1070.