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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Secure Communities is a threat to Liberty

Secure Communities is a threat to Liberty

 

Secure Communities and other repressive immigration policies should not be signed into legislation in Massachusetts, nor anywhere else for that matter. The intent of this program is to prevent criminals from returning to the streets by utilizing a federal biometric information sharing system that uses fingerprints to determine immigration statuses of arrested “criminal aliens“. The latter word choice, used by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is in itself rhetorically accusatory and derogatory in nature. The consequences of such legislation will disproportionately and negatively affect the already marginalized and criminalized immigrant community. The facts demonstrate that the majority of immigrants are not criminals but people who are attempting to create opportunities in a country founded on such idealistic aspirations.

It seems injudicious that the Obama Administration is promoting platforms aimed at targeting the very immigrant community that he campaigned on supporting. A couple of months ago, I wrote an article highlighting the successes of the Obama administration, which I approve of and proudly support. Yet despite Obama’s accomplishments, I would be foolish to blindly approve of all his policies – or in the case of immigration reform, the lack thereof. I was fortunate to attend a pro-immigrant event on April 3rd hosted by Centro Presente, a statewide immigrant rights group which featured U.S. Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez from Obama’s home state of Chicago, Illinois as well as Representative Michael Capuano of Massachusetts. Immigrant woman, children, students and activists shared their powerful stories of oppression and harassment by ICE agents and employers to a packed audience in East Boston’s La Casa de la Cultura. Gutierrez, a U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican decent and avid supporter of the Dream Act, stopped here as part of his 20-city Campaign for American Children and Families tour.

 The Congressman read a quote from a 2008 speech made by Obama that read “When communities are terrorized by ICE immigration, when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing…the system just isn’t working, and we need to change it.” Gutierrez was strategic in pointing out that Obama has not changed this reality but has instead assisted the federal government in creating a tyrannical and undemocratic infrastructure that consequently separates families, one that falsely perpetuates stereotypes of immigrant criminality. Under the current administration, 400,000 immigrants have been deported, more so than the previous administrations. In August of 2010, $600 million was allocated to secure the U.S. Mexican border while oppressive immigration policies such as Secure Communities are serving to hinder progressive immigration reform.

Perhaps Obama is taking the cautious, less controversial position in hopes of getting re-elected, but it is critical that we hold him accountable for the promises made during his Presidential campaign. What’s more is that such promises resulted in a substantial share of the Latino(a) vote. As constituents, it is our duty to hold our politicians accountable for the promises made and to remind them of such assurances. Immigration reform is a matter of promoting harmonious human relationships that are in line with justice, freedom and democracy. Sounding more like a community activist than a politician, Gutierrez revealed that he is often asked about his advocacy for immigrant rights given the fact that he is Puerto Rican and therefore a U.S. citizen. After describing the socio-political realities of U.S. / Puerto Rico relations, he concluded his speech by saying that ‘when we hear each other as brothers, we will be successful” in creating social justice. In other words, he is taking the position that although we may share different socio-political histories, we are bonded to one another because we are human. As the great Reverend Martin Luther King said in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  It is time for us to stand together and demand that immigrants are afforded the same opportunities that have made the United States a symbol of freedom and opportunity for generations.