By Megan Burks
White House Says It Will Halt Some Deportations
The White House announced yesterday it will sift through a backlog of 300,000 deportation cases to weed out “low-priority” deportations. The cases will be dropped, clearing and awarding work visas to those brought to the U.S. as children or netted for minor offenses.
The move follows criticism of President Obama’s record on immigration; under his command, the Department of Homeland Security has deported nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants.
Recent reports show many of those deported were stopped for minor traffic violations and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Secure Communities, a federal program that taps local law enforcement data to nab undocumented criminals. The program was initiated as a way to deport dangerous criminals.
Thursday’s announcement set off a chain of questions directed at the White House’s Twitter account. Most pointed to the shortsighted nature of the fix, which provides no path to permanent legal status for those cleared and does little for those not facing deportation.
Jose Antonio Vargas, who admitted in the New York Times earlier this year he is undocumented, asked whether those living in the shadows should seek arrest to be considered for a work visa. His comments and others called for Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons who attend college or serve in the military.
A Look At Deportation Cases That Could Be Dropped
A new report [PDF] by the American Immigration Lawyers Association takes a look at several minor cases brought to court under Secure Communities—the kind that will likely be pardoned in the coming months. It introduces readers to people turned over to immigration authorities following routine traffic stops and some considered to have been targeted by law enforcement for deportation.
In September 2009, Ms. A had just dropped her daughter off at school in California when she was pulled over for making a right turn on a red light. Right turns on red were prohibited during certain hours, and the restriction had been in effect for 30 minutes when she was stopped. When the police officer saw Ms. A, he told her,“I know you are illegal” and questioned her about her immigration status. Although she did not admit to being out of status, the police officer contacted ICE and detained her at the roadside until an ICE officer could pick her up. She was issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) and released so that she could pick up her daughter, who is a U.S. citizen with learning disabilities, from school.
Ms. A, who is from Mexico, was not charged or convicted of any crime and she has no criminal history. She is currently in removal proceedings. She is applying for asylum and cancellation of removal.
Nearly 70 percent of the cases studied for the report were initiated following minor offenses. Defendants had no criminal history.
@Multi_American is a great source for immigration news and studies.
Educators Call for Holistic Community Healing
Today, Emily Alpert of Speak City Heights partner voiceofsandiego.org posted a link to an article about school reform in Camden, New Jersey. Camden rivals Detroit for the nation’s worst poverty and violence. It’s no surprise schools there are failing.
For school reformers, Camden is a prime candidate for the kind of community transformation they think good teachers and principals can achieve. They say poverty has been more of an excuse than an actual hurdle holding teachers back. Focusing on what goes on inside schools should single-handedly improve conditions outside the classroom.
“If we get this right, most of our other problems will fix themselves,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told The Hechinger Report.
But teachers in Camden have covered little ground. Even charter schools there are failing. Now, “educators and experts are questioning the reformers’ tactics and asking whether the single-minded focus on schools has become an excuse to avoid the hard work of addressing poverty.”
Educators are calling for the burden to be distributed across social services—schools, hospitals, law enforcement and nonprofits should work together. This is the kind of holistic approach taking in root in City Heights. Mobile clinics offer healthcare on school campuses and nonprofits provide leadership curriculum, plant schoolyard gardens and host after-school programming.
But poverty and violence persists in City Heights. Schools have seen significant gains in recent years, but 22 schools in and around the neighborhood are considered failing, including two charter schools. Is City Heights headed in the right direction? Do partnerships and reform measures need refining? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Follow Emily Alpert @emilyschoolsyou.
Boy in McDonald’s Interviewed on National Television
Finally, Daveon Tinsley, the boy who was with mid-city police officer Jeremy Henwood in McDonald’s moments before he was gunned down Aug. 6, appeared on NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams.
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