By Nezua, TMC Mediawire Blogger
The number of undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S. is plunging, as The Washington Independent’s Daphne Eviatar reports. And yet, the White House is still ramping up harsh detainment measures like 287(g), which is already linked to abusive practices. If Obama continues to fall back on harsh stopgap measures and leaves comprehensive immigration reform for next year, he greatly increases the risk that it won’t pass at all.
Some are inclined to give the President a degree of lenience, considering the great challenges facing the nation. After all, shouldn’t Obama prioritize the legal citizens? That kind of thinking is problematic. When human beings in our midst are abused, their citizenship is a moot point. The United States’ most revered documents, such as the Bill of Rights, recognize this truth by noting the existence of inalienable rights. These rights must be vociferously defended, especially when the most vulnerable are deprived of them.
But as RaceWire accounts, a new report reveals that “[Immigration and Customs Enforcement] (ICE) agents routinely violate constitutional guarantees by illegally entering homes using physical force, seizing upon innocent people” and target people based “solely on their race.” One would think this would be quite a teachable moment, but the White House has been silent so far. ICE projects 400,000 arrests next year.
Sojourners reveals how the 287(g) program plays out in places like Guilford County, North Carolina. Immigration opponents are in a fury, and families are terrified of being locked up or bearing the brunt of that anger in some other way. Unfortunately, “such images and stories are becoming commonplace” in the towns where 287(g) is enacted. And it gets worse. Families go without medical care and suffer. Crimes are committed on a vulnerable population that fears reporting crimes to police in case of deportation. “As we await substantive immigration reform, what kind of community do we want to be,” asks author Julie Peoples.
Do we want to be a community that covers the uninsured? Do we want to be a community that covers the uninsured but not the undocumented? Even when “it’s simply more expensive to do nothing?” Are we comfortable deporting a man paralyzed with brain damage for being poor? In even the most optimistic of current proposals for healthcare reform, “universal” clearly does not mean “human.”
Some ethnic communities face higher risks of certain disease. Asian Pacific immigrants (API) “face serious health disparities,” according to New America Media‘s Sara Sadhwani. As Sadhwani notes, “South Asians and Pacific Islanders face high rates of chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.” And yet the API community—legal immigrants with green cards, in this context—would be ineligable for federally funded public benefits for a five-year waiting period, according to current healthcare proposals.
But what about those who are neglected by the current immigration dialogue? WireTap’s Nina Jacinto says we must make this dialogue representative of the queer undocumented who do not fit the “heteronormative framework” of the conventional narrative. “Queer immigration reform activism must also contend with the relationship that exists between immigration reform and the preservation and uniting of family,” writes Jacinto. While she concedes the strategic value of employing a heteronormative, family-focused framework in current U.S. culture, one unfortunate result of the “broken family” narrative is that the marginalized continue to be left out of the conversation, and are even further shut out.
Finally, both Racewire and Wiretap make the case that everyone should be counted for the 2010 census. It’s a controversial argument for a couple reasons. While many lawmakers, as well as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, promote participation, many do not. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, an immigrants rights group, hopes to use a boycott threat to leverage fairer treatment and legislation for the immigrant community. Also urging a boycott are hate groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies. But no irony in the latter cases; these factions subscribe to the notion that a person’s moral worth is dependent on pieces of paper. No surprise they want to keep the undocumented uncounted!
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