Nashua Locals Hold “A Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming”

This week, I had the privilege of helping to organize and attend a great event in Nashua. The vigil was to show support for all of the refugees and immigrants coming to New Hampshire and many of our southern states.

Over the past few months, a group led by Jerry Delemus and the “912 project” have been traveling around our state, opposing immigration reform and using the thousands of child refugees as a backdrop to promote their hate-filled agenda.

After seeing their gathering on the Exit 6 overpass on one Saturday afternoon, I was personally outraged. Yes, there is a lot of political controversy surrounding the unaccompanied minors at the US border. But these children are not coming to America as immigrants – they are surrendering themselves to US Border agents as refugees from war torn countries, where oppressive governments and gangs are literally murdering children in the streets.

The sad fact is that some of these children are killed within a week of being deported back to their home country.

I connected with Representative Sylvia Gale (Nashua Ward 1) who gathered a group of immigration advocates to organize an event to show that real Granite Staters are not bigots using children for political purposes – but that, instead, we are a truly welcoming community.

 

The Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

Vigil 8

At the vigil, guests were asked to leave their own message on the sign.

“Bring us your tired…Your poor…Your huddled masses yearning to be free”
— Emma Lazarus

These are the immortal words inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. For many immigrants, like my great-grandparents, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes that America is truly a welcoming country.   No matter where you come from, or why you chose to come here, the United States welcomes you to seek your own version of the American Dream.

Around 50-60 people gathered on the steps of Nashua’s City Hall, directly under the ever-waving State of New Hampshire flag, to let the people of Nashua’s bustling downtown area know that we are tolerant and welcoming.

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

The plaza was filled with a variety of people including labor leaders, immigration activists, and elected representatives. Dozens of people came with their own hand-made signs with phases like, “No human is illegal” and “Immigration rights are civil rights”.

The vigil was opened with a prayer from Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church.   She talked about how “God made us all in his own image” and that we are all humans.

Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep. Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale gave a wonderful speech explaining why we need to show that New Hampshire and the United States are open and welcoming.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation.”

(Rep Gale’s full speech is included below)

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo of the Immigrant and Refugees Coalition and Janeth Orozco of Welcoming NH spoke about how we need to change the political messaging surrounding immigrants and refugees. Castillo said, “We are all human” and that “We should be open and welcoming of people and their cultures that have shaped our nation”.

Ray Ealey, a member of the New Fellowship Baptist Church, led the group in a rousing version of “We Shall Overcome.” All of the attendees gathered in a circle, held hands and sang out.

Rev. Tom Woodward gave the closing prayer and “Call to Action.”

While our elected leaders fight to overcome the gridlock in Washington D.C to pass meaningful immigration reform, we want everyone to know – despite what others may say – New Hampshire is a tolerant, welcoming community.

The differences in all of us are what make America the great nation it is today.

And New Hampshire has always welcomed people – no matter what color, what language, what religion, what circumstances – to come here and “Live Free.”

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Full Speech by Rep. Sylvia Gale

Thank you all for joining us this evening.   This event was conceived and came about as a result of the thoughts and actions of many of us who are gathered here, along with many others who are unable to join us.

We have been distressed and dismayed with the news of what has been happening at our nation’s southern most borders…..that of more than 60,000 children, many of them unaccompanied by any legal parent or guardian, making the dangerous and overwhelmingly difficult journey to find safety and comfort which can no longer be assured in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

These children, some as young as 4 or 6, are literally fleeing for their lives and have been sent by their families with the last desperate hope of being reunited with other family members who may already be somewhere in the United States.   They and their families know that there is no guarantee that they will be able to stay here, but yet they come, fleeing for their very lives. 

No longer, as in the past, are they only fleeing to escape the devastating poverty in their home countries, but now they come seeking protection and safety from the unimaginable violence in their homes and schools, with murder rates raging out of control due to the seemingly unstoppable drug cartels that appear to have exerted their rampant violence into every aspect of civic and community existence in those countries. 

And, as news of this flood of young and desperate refugees has spread across this great nation, we have been further alarmed and dismayed by the reactions of some of our fellow countrymen and women who have raised signs and slogans steeped in racism and bigotry and have loudly shouted, “Not Welcome Here……GO HOME…..

We are here tonight to lend our voices, our messages, and our commitment to carry on a dialogue for PEACE through Understanding which needs to once again become loud enough so that all members of our community can hear it.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation. 

We will drown out the voices of those who cling to hatred and bigotry, and we will continue to work…together…to achieve Peace through Understanding.

In order to honor all who have come before us, and all of those who have lost their lives struggling to find safety and freedom, we will now hold a time of silence for reflection, and to strengthen our resolve to do all that we can to exert our collective influence upon local, state, and national leaders to address the needs of not only these children, but of all of this nation’s newest arrivals……

(Moment of silence) 

To borrow from the poetic words of Emma Lazarus that are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, we say: “Give US your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free…..Here they should find safety and comfort, and be Welcomed…..

 

AFL-CIO Wants To Help All Workers With Executive Actions On Immigration

AFL-CIO Presents a Panel Discussion on Advancing Workers’ Rights through Executive Action on Immigration

 This afternoon, the AFL-CIO hosted a panel discussion on the need for President Obama to advance the rights of workers by taking executive action on immigration. Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO, was joined on the panel by workers and pro-immigrant allies.

Karla Vegas, Legal Director for the Worker Defense Project (a project of the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network), highlighted the perils that immigrant workers face.

“The labor movement is driven by its mission to ensure workers have good jobs and fair treatment. This cannot be fully accomplished without immigration relief for the millions of undocumented workers who labor in not only unjust, but dangerous, working conditions.”

Since April of 2013, the AFL-CIO has been working alongside grassroots groups to push for administrative relief to stop the government from using deportations as a weapon against immigrant workers and their families. There are currently 8 million immigrants, five percent of the labor force, who are working in the United States without documents. Their vulnerable position makes them a target for unscrupulous employers who exploit these hardworking men and women by using them as cheap labor, in turn suppressing wages and conditions for all workers.

Reyna Sorto shared her experiences as an undocumented worker.

“I worked in a company named Tito’s Contractors for 10 years and 10 months. My job there was as a laborer, separating recyclable materials. Although my work was physically heavy on me I always gave it my best effort; I have always been very proud of doing my job as a woman. At the same time I also had to endure a lot of sexual harassment in my workplace; working even when I was sick out of fear of losing my job, and almost losing it in 2008 when I got pregnant.”

Lorella Praeli of United We Dream highlighted the legal significance of executive action.

“In line with many legal scholars, UWD fully believes that the President has the constitutional and legal authority to defer action on individual cases and confer employment authorization to millions on the grounds of prosecutorial discretion. The President has a historic opportunity to show courage where Republicans showed cowardice by starting the process that only Congress can finish.”

The panel also included Matthew Ginsburg, Associate General Counsel of the AFL-CIO, Emilio Garcia Lagunes, a member of the United Steel Workers, Jayesh Rathod of American University’s Washington college of Law, Charles Kamasaki of the National Council of La Raza, Nadia Marin of the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network, Andrea Mercado of the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance and Sonia Ramirez of the Building and Construction Trades Department.

A Vigil For Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

Vigil

Over the past several weeks there have been “visitors” to the Exit 6 overpass on Broad Street in Nashua holding signs and trying to gain support from passing motorists. Their Anti-Immigrant messages have been hateful, incendiary and ugly carrying non-welcoming sentiments and expressing strongly worded opposition to our newest community members.

Hate is not a message that solves problems. Bigotry and racism demean us all.

I think these folks must be “visitors” because Nashua and the surrounding area are Welcoming Communities, where we embrace and celebrate our differences.

In order that those hate-filled messages are not perceived by others as speaking for you or me, we are planning to hold a Vigil at Nashua City Hall on Thursday, August 28 from 5-6:30 pm. I hope that you will all be able to join us there, and bring with you messages of Acceptance, Welcoming, and Tolerance.

A Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

When: Thursday, August 28. 2014

Where: Nashua (NH) City Hall Plaza

Time: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

For more information contact: Sylvia Gale (557-8417)

 

You can also RSVP to the NHLN Facebook Event here.

Granite State Rumblings: America Has Always Welcomed Refugee And Immigrant Children

Image by NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan

Image by NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan

As a child I remember my mother speaking German when she was upset or frustrated. I guess she thought that swearing in German was better than swearing in English in front of my sister, brother, and I. But we soon caught on to the words and I still use them myself at times.

When I asked her how she knew German, she told me that her father’s family was from Germany and many of her aunts and uncles speak German, having learned it from their parents. I think that was probably the first time that I realized that the United States was not where everyone was born.

My cousin Jim is the genealogy expert on the other side of my family. He has traced the roots of my father’s family from the first steps in America back to Ireland for the Kelly’s (my grandfather) and Germany for the Zulauf’s, (my grandmother). Many of my relatives came here as children. They went on to work in factories, some became farmers, teachers, nurses, while others started new businesses in this country and employed their relatives and neighbors, and many went into the armed services, protecting the country they now called home.

Migrant children have been coming to this country for many years. Back when my relatives made their way to America there were people here who called them the same names that we hear the children from Central America being called today – “invaders,” “disease ridden,” “job stealers.”  Some were confronted by signs on shop and factory doors that said, “Irish need not apply.”

I am saddened that my relatives, especially the children, had to endure this name calling and bigotry. But, I am proud that they stayed, worked hard, and educated themselves, and gave me a family history to be proud of.

I am embarrassed that we as Americans, all of us immigrants, have forgotten our own family histories. Seeing grown-ups screaming at terrified children for wanting nothing more than a better life repulses me.

The daughter of Dallas Judge, Clay Jenkins, said to him as he was explaining to her that all the children were being detained at the border for her security and protection, “But daddy, these aren’t people, these are children.”

And this is a humanitarian crisis. I hope we start to address it humanely, for the sake of the children.

GROWING UP GRANITE

New Hampshire has a diverse refugee population. The New Hampshire Refugee Program (NHRP) operates under the New Hampshire Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs. Here is information about the program from the DHHS website.

The primary goal of the Refugee Program is to assist refugees in their quest for economic self-sufficiency and successful integration. The NHRP is funded through the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Refugee Program staff work closely with the two New Hampshire voluntary resettlement agencies (volags), Lutheran Social Services and the International Institute of New Hampshire, as well as other area partners to support refugee integration.

These nonprofit voluntary resettlement agencies (volags) receive US Department of State, Bureau of Population and Migration funding and agree to resettle a number of refugees at the start of the fiscal year based on their capacity to provide services for new arrivals and the number of refugees coming into the U.S. Additional money is provided to states by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide self-sufficiency services. These services include:

  • Case Management: Resettlement agencies facilitate and coordinate a variety of services including housing, healthcare, referrals and general support services as refugees transition into their communities.
  • Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA): Funds are designed to assist refugees during their 8 month, initial resettlement period. All refugees are entitled to Refugee Medical Assistance for their first eight months in the US. To be eligible for RCA, however, a refugee must be ineligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other cash support programs.
  • English as a Second Language: voluntary agencies collectively provide over 90 hours a week in English Language Training. Other public and private organizations provide additional ESOL in communities throughout New Hampshire. Classes are designed to help refugees achieve competencies in key linguistic areas, preparing them to meet their everyday language needs at work and in community life.
  • Employment Services: These include an assessment of vocational skills, job development, job placement and follow up services with local employers. The hard work of refugee employment counselors has made New Hampshire a model state for refugee resettlement. Refugees often find full-time employment within the first two or three months of arrival.
  • Preventive Health: The primary goal of the Preventive Health Program is to prevent and control problems of public health significance among incoming refugees, with emphasis on those health problems that may create barriers to self-sufficiency. The program ensures that refugees have access to health education, case management and interpreter services.
  • School Impact: This program targets school-aged refugees to support successful integration and academic achievement. The contractors also work closely with refugee parents and school personnel to discuss/resolve issues relevant to children’s school performance. The program provides a multitude of services that include leadership development, counseling, academic support, after school activities, parent training and cultural competency training for school personnel.
  • Services for Older Refugees: Older Refugees are often isolated from the mainstream community. The goal of the Services for Older Refugees program is to help older refugees access services available to mainstream older citizens. Contractors work with senior centers to develop culturally appropriate activities and improve cultural competence. Contractors also provide individualized case management to older refugees to resolve barriers to well-being, such as health access, transportation and housing issues. Finally, the project assists older refugees prepare for and achieve citizenship.

Learn more about Refugees and how they got to New Hampshire. experience.

Jerry DeLemus: Fear and Hate Mongering In New Hampshire

Today Foster Daily Democrat published a story about how Tea Party activist, organizer for Glenn Beck’s 9-12 project, and right wing whack-a-do Jerry DeLemus held a protest on a highway overpass to protest illegal immigration.

“The goal is to make the American people aware that there are people opposed to illegal immigration,” said event organizer Jerry DeLemus during the protest. “And also let our government know.”

DeLemus was taking part in a national day of action to protest what he is calling  “illegal immigration” of children from Central America.

“The solution,” said DeLemus during the protest, “is that our federal government and our state government should follow the law.”

So which law exactly would you like them to follow?

The one that takes these children into custody, puts them into a detention facility until they can receive a deportation trail to determine if or when they will be deported.

What mister fear and hate monger does not say, or does not simply understand, is that these children are not living in the United States illegally. They are walking up to border agents and asking to be taken into custody.

These children are walking hundreds, if not thousands of miles, to claim sanctuary from the horrific death and violence in their own countries. Many of them were sent here by their parents who would rather send them to the United States, knowing they may never see their child again, than to raise them in their home country.

These are innocent children who have nothing but the clothes on their back. Some of them are less than five years old.

This is a humanitarian crisis, not a function of illegal immigration.

Where is your humanity Jerry? Are you so self absorbed and full of hate for these little children that you would rather see these kids dropped off on a street corner in some Central American country with a pat on the head, saying “good luck,” as you walk away.

It is evil and disgusting that someone could even think like that.    Jerry is just another example of an ignorant racist Tea Party Republican who thinks, “America needs more patrolling of the nearly 2,000-mile-long border,” to fix this crisis.

 

More people patrolling does not stop the children from coming Jerry, it would just make it easier for the kids to turn themselves in.

AFL-CIO President Trumka On The Humanitarian Crisis At The Border

The humanitarian crisis of families and children fleeing violence in Central America and turning themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents has brought out both the best and the worst in our nation.

Alarmingly, in places like Murrieta, California and Vassar, Michigan, we have seen ugly reminders of racism and hatred directed toward children. The spewing of nativist venom, the taking up of arms and the fear-mongering about crime and disease harken back to dark periods in our history and have no business taking place under the banner of our flag.

On the other hand, around the country we have also seen a tremendous outpouring of compassion and concern for the plight of these women and children.  We are proud to say that local unions have joined with faith and community groups to collect needed supplies, provide shelter and support, and call for humane treatment.

The situation along the border is a refugee crisis that requires a humane, lawful response and must not be politicized.  The labor movement calls upon national and community leaders to respond to the crisis in a manner that meets our obligations under U.S. and international law, and comports with basic human rights and American values.  This means ensuring full due process and providing the additional resources necessary to ensure the well-being and fair treatment of children and refugees.  It also requires taking an honest assessment of the root causes of the crisis, including the long-term impact of U.S. policies on immigration, trade, and foreign affairs.

We cannot lend credibility to Republican assertions that a refugee crisis is proof that we should continue to deport hard working people who have been contributing members of our society for years.  These are simply new excuses to justify failed policies. Lifting the pressure on immigrant workers was needed before the child refugee story developed, and it is no less urgent today.  The Administration must act now to keep all families together, uphold our standards as a humanitarian nation, and advance the decent work agenda necessary to improve conditions both at home and abroad.

Groups Sue Federal Government Over Failure To Provide Legal Representation For Children Placed Into Deportation Proceedings

Gavel

Editor’s Note: This post comes from the American Immigration Council 

Washington D.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today Immigration Policy Center logofiled a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government’s failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.

Each year, the government initiates immigration court proceedings against thousands of children. Some of these youth grew up in the United States and have lived in the country for years, and many have fled violence and persecution in their home countries. The Obama Administration even recently called an influx of children coming across the Southern border a “humanitarian situation.” And yet, thousands of children required to appear in immigration court each year do so without an attorney. This case seeks to remedy this unacceptable practice.

“If we believe in due process for children in our country, then we cannot abandon them when they face deportation in our immigration courts,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone.”

The plaintiffs in this case include:

  • A 10-year-old boy, his 13-year-old brother, and 15-year-old sister from El Salvador, whose father was murdered in front of their eyes. The father was targeted because he and the mother ran a rehabilitation center for people trying to leave gangs.
  • A 14-year-old girl who had been living with her grandparents, but was forced to flee El Salvador after being threatened and then attacked by gang members.
  • A 15-year-old boy who was abandoned and abused in Guatemala, and came to the United States without any family or friends.
  • A 16-year-old boy born in Mexico who has lived here since he was 1 year old and has had lawful status since June 2010.
  • A 16-year-old boy with limited communication skills and special education issues who escaped brutal violence exacted on his family in Honduras, and who has lived in Southern California since he was 8 years old.
  • A 17-year-old boy who fled gang violence and recruitment in Guatemala and now lives with his lawful permanent resident father in Los Angeles.

All are scheduled to appear at deportation hearings without any legal representation and face a very real risk of being sent back into the perilous circumstances they left.

While the Obama Administration recently announced a limited program to provide legal assistance to some youth facing deportation hearings, this proposal does not come close to meeting the urgent need for legal representation for all children whom the government wants to deport. And there is no guarantee that additional funding proposed by the administration yesterday will materialize or meet the overwhelming need. In the meantime, children continue to appear alone in court every day.

“While our law firm, and others around the country, provide free legal services to children facing the injustice of appearing alone in court, we can help only a small fraction of the children in need,” said Theo Angelis, a partner at K&L Gates LLP.

Kristen Jackson, senior staff attorney with Public Counsel, a not-for-profit law firm that works with immigrant children, added, “Each day, we are contacted by children in desperate need of lawyers to advocate for them in their deportation proceedings. Pro bono efforts have been valiant, but they will never fully meet the increasing and complex needs these children present. The time has come for our government to recognize our Constitution’s promise of fairness and its duty to give these children a real voice in court.”

The complaint charges the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Office of Refugee Resettlement with violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge. It seeks to require the government to provide children with legal representation in their deportation hearings.

“Deportation carries serious consequences for children, whether it is return to a country they fled because of violence and persecution or being separated from their homes and families. Yet children are forced into immigration court without representation – a basic protection most would assume is required whenever someone’s liberty is at stake. Requiring children to fight against deportation without a lawyer is incompatible with American values of due process and justice for all,” said Beth Werlin, deputy legal director for the American Immigration Council.

“It is simply unacceptable that children are forced to stand alone before an immigration judge, pitted against trained attorneys from the federal government,” said Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Any notion of justice or fair play requires that these children be provided legal representation.”

The case, J.E.F.M. v. Holder, was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Wash.

More information about this case is available here.

Understand The Lie That 36,000 Criminal Aliens Were Released By ICE

(Image by Sasha Kimel)

(Image by Sasha Kimel)

Understanding ICE’s Release of Immigrants with Criminal Convictions
By Wendy Feliz at American Immigration Policy Center

Understanding the complexities of immigration law and its intersection with criminal law is not easy. Over the past month, a flood of reports about enforcement policies and deportation data have compounded the confusion. Some of these reports were clearly designed to derail genuine and productive conversations around immigration policy reform. Case in point, this week the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) issued a paper that claims over 36,000 “criminal aliens” were released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

It’s important to understand a few key issues underlying this report:

First, it’s difficult to assess the methodology of their data collection or analysis because CIS makes none of it publicly available. There are no footnotes in the document, or citations of any kind. All of their data comes from “a document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies,” which they don’t provide or describe. The chart in the report says nothing more than “Source: ICE.” The article then goes on to draw even more conclusions about the document that are based on “separate information” that is never discussed or identified.

However, even for those who are unwilling to challenge the integrity or value of the CIS “data,” it is still important to understand the following:

While all of the 36,000 they refer to may be foreign-born, by no means are they all unauthorized or “illegally” in the United States. In fact, many of them are likely to be legal permanent residents or green-card holders. So it may not even have been determined whether they can or should be deported from the United States. The offenses they committed may or may not even be grounds for revoking their green card and deporting them. Until that determination has been made, the use of alternatives to detention is not only consistent with the Constitutional principles and values that are the foundation of the judicial system in the United States, but it makes economic sense as well. DHS spends $5 million dollars per day (nearly $2 billion per year) detaining immigrants at a cost of $159 dollars per person, per day (fiscal year 2014). For people who have homes, family, and other ties to the community, who are unlikely to flee, and who pose no threat to the community, alternatives to detention are smart and effective. The test for detention should be an individualized consideration of public safety threat and flight risk, not a one size fits all rule that covers all immigrants.

Next, all the people identified in the CIS document appear to have paid their fine or done their time for their criminal offense. However, since they are foreign-born, after completion of their criminal sentences they are turned over to immigration authorities who determine if their offenses should result in deportation. Many of these people are legal permanent residents (including those who have been here for many years and have family here) who have a right to a hearing before they lose their status. Immigration proceeding are not meant to be, nor should they be, criminal proceedings. In fact, the justification for the lack of due process in immigration proceedings is that they are civil, not criminal. The demand for harsh detention and punitive treatment is completely at odds with what the immigration system is supposed to be. If we are going to treat these people like criminals, then CIS should be equally adamant in demanding full due-process rights. Not surprisingly, they are not.

Also, the overwhelming majorities of these convictions are for minor offenses and include things like tax fraud, disturbing the peace, traffic convictions, and other minor crimes that would be classified as misdemeanors for natives, but which for immigrants are often classified as felonies. Wild accusations notwithstanding, we know next to nothing about the true nature of the offenses or the potential threat that these people pose. DHS should be vigilant about protecting communities from those who truly pose a threat, but that is accomplished by looking at the facts, not by making decisions based on labels or fear- mongering.

Moreover, just like in the criminal justice system, the immigration laws contemplate that many individuals going through the court system can remain home while those proceedings are pending. All of these individuals were released under supervision because of basic Constitutional principles that apply to all people. The Supreme Court has affirmed that the United States cannot lock people up indefinitely after they have served their sentence. For those facing the possibility of indefinite detention, the Court has made it clear that there must be a process to review these cases and release people who can be safely released. However, for those who pose a “special risk to public safety,” they can continue to be detained.  All of the cases in the CIS report appear to have been determined to be cases where this exception does not apply.

Finally, there is nothing in the CIS paper which indicates that DHS has terminated proceedings or exercised any kind of prosecutorial discretion in these cases. Being “released” from custody doesn’t mean people are “set free.” They are released after paying a bond, under an order of supervision, with an ankle bracelet, etc. while DHS can and does continue to pursue a case against them.

There is no question that our current immigration laws and policies are broken, and the status quo is unsustainable. However, inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations are not going to get us an immigration system that is good for our economy, good for families, and that keeps our country safe. That will require our elected officials to move past political rhetoric and posturing and start debating what reform should look like. We can and should have laws that are fair, sensible, and humane – laws that are consistent with our Constitution and our values, and that will keep our country safe and improve our economy. The only question that remains is when will Congress act?

Small Gathering Of People In Nashua Talking About May Day, Immigration, and Voting

“Your Vote is Your Voice” — Rep. Sylvia Gale (Nashua)

Sylvia Gale and many others gathered to celebrate May Day and to push for immigration reform.

Before you vote, Gale said, make sure you know where they stand on the issues that matter to you.  Watch her short speech here.  Special thanks to ProfJoseph4855 who recorded it.

Video Description

Published on May 2, 2014

A great assembly of concerned folks rallied at Nashua City Hall on Thursday, May 1, 2014 to call for immigration reform so that hard working families can stay together without fear and that worker’s rights are extended to all, including immigrant families seeking a better life for themselves and their children. State Representative Sylvia Gale and champion of immigrant rights Eva Costello Stefani address the crowd.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
― Emma Lazarus [Statue of Liberty]

AFL-CIO Calls For An End To Deportations, Projects Stories Of Deported Workers On AFL-CIO Building Wall

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

Display highlighted deportation crisis’ impact on immigrant workers

(Washington, DC) Last nightthe AFL-CIO and its pro-immigrant allies highlighted the cost of the deportation crisis by way of a 90 by 60 foot projection of a video onto its downtown headquarters.  The event highlighted many speakers from inside the labor movement.   Workers from every trade coming together to call for an end to deportations, calling for Speaker Boehner to bring the Senate passed immigration reform bill up for a vote.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka summed it up perfectly when he tweeted, “Why is the labor movement all in to stop deportations? Because deportations hurt workers, families and America

Tefere Gebre an Executive Vice President with the AFL-CIO stated,”No father or mother should leave their house in the morning and worry they won’t see their children again.” He continued in his speech (which is in the video just below) that “This is a moral issue.”

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler stated, “We can’t stand by and let one more child be torn away from their parents!”  Shuler called on everyone to come together to make his happen.

Others called on the President to use his power to stop the deportations now.  People on stage were joined by people in the crowd “SÍ SE PUEDE” which loosely translates to Yes We Can.

The video, featuring the stories and names of deported immigrant workers, will be projected onto the AFL-CIO again tonight, May 1st, as well as tomorrow, May 2nd, from 8:30pm to 11:30.

However, if you are not in the Washington D.C. area, you can see the video here.

Everyday over one-thousand hard working aspiring Americans are being deported while Congress sits in gridlock.  These people are being torn away from their families, their friends, their neighbors, and their homes.  Many of these immigrants have been waiting for over a decade to be given the chance to become Americans.

President Obama has the power to stop this, and he should use it.  If Congress will not get off their butts and do something about these deportations, the President should.