Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Deportation Program Raises Constitutional Flags

ATLANTA, GA (PR) - When the President announced executive action on immigration in November of last year, a memo from DHS Secretary Johnson announced the end to the Secure Communities program because, according to the memo, “the program has attracted a great deal of criticism, is widely misunderstood, and is embroiled in litigation; its very name has become a symbol for general hostility toward the enforcement of our immigration laws.”

However, new forms being distributed for the program intended to replace it demonstrate Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s continued disregard for the constitution and persisting entanglement of local law enforcement in federal deportation policy.  While the White House’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing recommends ‘decoupling law enforcement from immigration,’ the new Pep-Comm program is a continuation of the failed experiment of using local police as ‘force multipliers.’

Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, says “If ICE is determined to violate the rights of Georgians and disregard the constitution than it will be up to local Georgia to protect our communities’ civil rights and reject PEP-Comm in our state. If President Obama wants to make his policies more humane, he would shut off the police-ICE agreements in Cobb and Gwinnett counties and stop enlisting police in immigration enforcement. The people of Georgia should not face double jeopardy simply because this administration still maintains a deportation quota that its agents are charged with meeting.”

The previous program spurred three counties, Dekalb, Fulton, and Clayton, to end the practice of holding people for extra time at the request of voluntary detainers issued by ICE. In January of this year, the Georgia Not1More Coalition sent a letter to the state’s Sheriffs Association and local Sheriffs notifying them of the end of Secure Communities, warning of the persisting problems with PEP-Comm, and offering model policy for counties to adopt. Like cities across the country, localities in Georgia are interested in the integration of those who call it home and prefer to focus on public safety unencumbered by law enforcement’s collusion with deportation pursuits.

A letter released by national advocates today sent to ICE requested a termination of the detainer and notification requests the federal agency sends to law enforcement and expands on the concerns raised in the January Georgia letter based on new details revealed about how the program will operate.

Paulina Hernandez of Southerners on New Ground adds, “The President should build on the forward motion we saw in November by protecting civil rights, ending the cruelty of immigrant detention, and expanding relief to include  lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people who currently face exclusion. Insisting on PEP-Comm will only cause rifts in our local communities and constitutional issues for law enforcement. Georgia counties would be wise to follow the example set by Dekalb, Fulton, and Clayton last year and continue to refuse to be a part of the unjust federal deportation dragnet.”

Father's Day

By America's Voice - In preparation of Father’s Day, we are hosting a live video chat on Thursday, June 18th to hear from family members on both sides of the border, talking about what their lives are like after deportation and what hopes and dreams they have for the future.

The video chat will feature Pastor Max Villatoro, Brigido Acosta, and their family members who will be spending this Father's Day apart.

Pastor Max is an Iowa Mennonite Pastor who was deported to Honduras this year, despite efforts from hundreds of clergy members and immigrant advocates to keep him in the U.S. with his wife and four children.

Brigido is a father of two, and husband to his U.S. Citizen wife Maria. But despite hundreds of people taking action to stop this deportation, Brigido was callously taken from his family and sent back to Mexico in 2013.

Families like Brigido’s and Max's should not be separated by uncaring deportation practices, and they shouldn’t have to live apart forever either. That is why we asked Brigido, Pastor Max and others to come talk about what their lives are like now and their desires for the future.

Join us on Thursday June 18, as we hear a firsthand account from Brigido, Maria, and others who are trying to live their lives across borders due to inhumane deportations.

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