Sunday, March 2, 2008

Immigrants Push Back Against ICE Raids

Immigration and Custom Enforcement has stepped up it raids seeking "fugitives" or those who have ignored a deportation order and have stay in the country. But once entry to a residence is given to ICE, it has the right to check every one's papers. As a consequence, 40% of the detentions on these raids is "collateral", that is of someone other than the one whose name is on the warrant. The raids has created much fear in immigrant communities, so much so immigrants are now beginning to push back. They are devising strategies and organizing networks to monitor the movements of ICE. Sometimes it's merely printing and distributing card outlining what few rights an undocumented has -- like not opening the door when ICE comes knocking, asking for a lawyer. Some of the new tactics are more aggressive, like telephone trees to warn of ICE's presence in the neighborhood or shadowing ICE on its raids. Once women's group in Los Angeles calls themselves "Madres Contra Redades". (See Chicago Tribune article.)

Davis Leonhardt writes an excellent review of the history of anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. and of its more recent manifestations in the failed campaign to reform immigration law. (See NY Times article.) He argues that immigration has often been raised in elections -- especially in the days of the Know-Nothing Party -- but presidential elections have never turn on it.Though the three candidates vying for the presidency this year are somewhat sympathetic to reform, Leonhardt the problems of immigration will be with the next president as he/she moves forward with a new Congress. He also raises the problem of continued migration. Demographics tell us we will need the new workers in only a few years. That means fences and more border patrol are of no great utility. And such measures as employer sanctions, which Homeland Security is aggressively pushing or even a pathway to citizenship are not long-term solutions. Where Leonhardt's analysis fails is in not going into the "bush factor' driving Mexicans al norte. It is a wonder that, in view of America's historic ambiguity toward the immigrant-- nativism on the one hand and the welcoming Statue of Liberty on the other -- the problem will be with for a long time.

The deadiliest corner in Hispanics neighborhoods might not be the site of drive-by shootings. Perhaps it's the nearby entrance to the parking lot of Home Depot where day laborers gather to pick up construction jobs for $10 an hour. The rate of fatalities of Hispanic workers in the construction industry is on the rise and higher than for whites or other minorities ding the same work. And since much of it is among undocumented workers, the suspicion is that the real number is underreported. (See Chicago Tribune article.)

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