We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Commissioning Service Homily

Commissioning Service
Reflection by Tim Cabe, SJ
Gonzaga House, 26 April 2009

THE GOSPEL (Luke 4:16-21)

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."


I want to make a few comments to those of you who are traveling to our nation’s capital.

First, let me say thank you. What you are doing is extremely important in this moment of moral crisis for our nation. It is critically important that we stand with all the people in our country and around the world who condemn the actions being done in our name: actions which violate international law; actions that violate our Christian ethics and our countries ideals; actions that violate the basic human dignity of our brothers and sisters who have been subjected to detention, extradition and torture. We have gathered here tonight to ask you to go in our name, and in the name of the church that we love, to join in one united voice to say we will not tolerate this inhumanity any longer.

It is providential that you make this journey during this great season of Easter. It is this moment in the liturgical year that gives us hope in the ultimate triumph of the One we follow, triumph over torture and death. It is our Lord, and he is alive and actively working with us His companions in mission. It is the Lord, the one with all power and authority in heaven and on earth who really missions you all this night, to go out and tell our nation’s leaders: “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the good news.”

I am so very proud of you and what you are doing. To me you are the very best of what our church has to offer. You are the church. You embody the vision and values, the ethics of love, the very foundation of what our church is called to proclaim. Make no mistake, you are of one mind and heart with the church’s teaching. In 1994 the Vatican Pontifical Council, Office of Justice and Peace made this clear statement:

In carrying out investigations, the regulation against the use of torture, even in the case of serious crimes, must be strictly observed: “Christ's disciple refuses every recourse to such methods, which nothing could justify and in which the dignity of man is as much debased in his torturer as in the torturer's victim”. International juridical instruments concerning human rights correctly indicate a prohibition against torture as a principle which cannot be contravened under any circumstances. Likewise ruled out is “the use of detention for the sole purpose of trying to obtain significant information for the trial”. Moreover, it must be ensured that “trials are conducted swiftly: their excessive length is becoming intolerable for citizens and results in a real injustice”.

Not everyone will appreciate what you are doing as much as I do. Your family and friends may be very vocal in opposition to your witness. Many of our fellow citizens believe that what you are demanding is the way of weakness and threatens our national security. But recall, too, that those listening to Jesus in tonight’s gospel were filled with fury, Luke tells us, and nearly threw him headlong off a cliff. They were outraged at the audacity of his words. So don’t let that get in the way. Be audacious like Jesus. Be audacious enough to hear and believe that Isaiah’s words are spoken to you: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, because God has anointed you.” Be bold enough to bring glad tidings to the poor. Be presumptuous enough to proclaim liberty to captives. Be confident enough to recover the of sight to the blind who think violence is the way to peace. Be daring enough to demand that the oppressed go free, and brash enough to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Thank you. Thank you for hoping in and creating a better world governed by God’s justice and God’s law. Thank you for being willing to speak truth to power. Continue to allow God’s word and God’s will to guide your every step. And now go in our name, proclaim a new social order based in love.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

If necessary use words

Somebody once said that our greatest fear is not fear itself. I doubt it was a white American male.

Today I posted an entry titled “Confinement.” [Perhaps, the co-editors of this blog will take the post down at their discretion AMDG or remove this letter if similarly inspired.] It opens with a picture in black and white with a head in a box, off center, the remainder of the image hosts a kind of triangle, that I think of as God. The image introduces the memo officially endorsing confinement as an interrogation tactic. Interspersed with the two paragraphs excerpted from said memo  are four pictures of me, including the aforementioned. Each shows me in the nude, tucked in the box.


I published the post today in tandem with a letter I wrote as a missioning for Kairos members going to D.C. or entering a fast of solidarity. They head there to mark the conclusion of the 100 days campaign to close Guantanamo, release the Chinese Uighurs and end torture.


In said letter of missioning I cited from Dorothy Day’s book From Union Square to Rome  where she writes of her shame:

“I felt at first a peculiar sense of disgust and shame at the position I was in, shame because I had been treated as a criminal and made to feel exactly as though I were guilty of the charge on which I had been arrested…”

I am ashamed of my country’s policies of torture. Our separation of truth from law defies the state’s obligation to defend the Common.  I woke with sadness in my heart the day I took the photos, weeks ago, the image of myself in a box seared in my mind from a dream. At the time it had many meanings to me, for instance feeling the pressure of my work and my vocation, but more than anything the longing to create goodness and beauty. Afterwards I cropped the photos and did not know what to do. Then the torture memo’s were released. I sat at Gonzaga House over lunch reading the Times and determined to study them rather than attend the shoddy Arabic class. I felt a wound deepen in my heart as I read the cruel details; it stirred the images of the documentary Taxi to the Dark Side. Then I realized the purpose of the photos: I picked out the containment paragraphs of the memo and chose four of the photos. I posted it. But as I lay to sleep, in my Examen I felt restless and could not sleep without taking down the post.

            I am still haunted by this ghost. The truth is that today I have not focused on my paper as I would have liked. But the ghost vanishes when I look at the photos themselves. My stomach that was just now tense as I thought of the afternoon has now relaxed and I am calm. I gain composure and feel a steel of courage that frees me.

            So it was that I posted it to be in solidarity with both the persecuted and the persecutor who have been exposed. 

            Dorothy Day followed up that comment about getting jailed during the  Palmer Raids speaking of  her realization of solidarity:

 But it was only what I could expect, I thought to myself bitterly, under the present social system, and I thought again of [Eugene] Deb’s words: “While there is a lower class, I am of it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

This creative action was a controlled release of the tension within me and aimed to address and heighten the tension within the world right now concerning America’s deplorable and flagrant human rights violations.

            I fear the backlash against myself and the Society. I am concerned that this will reflect poor judgment on my part and be cause for dismissal from the Society. I am concerned about the reaction from parents of students that I will teach next year. I am worried about what my brother Jesuits will comment. I am aware now that a few had seen the photos during the short lapse of time previously and word had spread to Luke. I do not know how far the word travels, what historians will say, how God will judge or whether the detainees would find any solace.

            Some will say that I am an exhibitionist. Fine, how can I bother having a conversation with someone who will not attempt to define my identity in solidarity with the oppressed? I am trapped in my own body as America is by her record; my whiteness a symbol of oppression. Just as I love myself, I love America and yet I challenge both myself and America to further acts of self-sacrificing love. Might that oppression symbolized by my white skin be contained; at least in the release of the memos, in the publication of this post, we invite the power of the creative spirit into our darkness.

            Is it a cry for help? A cry for attention? Mine is the posture of one who offers satyagraha seeking mercy from a loved one. I aim this at those who would read the blog anyway, my activist community Kairos, as I would prepare for a fast in discernment, so also I have prepared for this act seeking the will of God.

            I am a writer, I miss my community, and am saying goodbye to those who would go to D.C. while I finish my “thesis” on nonviolent protest. I bare my very body to call them to question the integration of the faith that does justice, from words to creative, bodily acts of solidarity.

            As a Jesuit I represent the wider community and even the Church. My own belief here is that a consciencious actor will ultimately represent God’s will, so I stand, naked before God awaiting judgment. Our Western Philosophy has split the differences more than toleration can bear; as Ignacio Ellacuria reasons, we are reality animals. Our actions follow from a unitary act of sensate intelligence. No longer shall we split the knower from the known. I will not divorce my body from my mind, nor perceive my words as purely a mental exercise that have no equal baring on the placement of my body in the space and time of the suffering. My faith draws me out. This is no mere “streaking” or “skinny dipping” as it might have been in the past. I am a Jesuit, a companion of Jesus, and I am freed by a sexuality that allows a bodily resurrection of truth that conquers death.

Birds of a feather

A missioning for Kairos to D.C.

The plane that crashed in the Hudson was "taken out" by a hapless bird that jammed the engine. The first of these bird-strikes happened in 1916 and was seen with great pride as man’s overtaking dominion over the skies. A study released by the FAA Friday shows that pilots report more than twenty strikes per day.

The Pentagon is on high alert. According to the Times April 25, “It operates many aircrafts at low altitude, making them more vulnerable to birds, and many of its planes have a single engine.” The most common species involved in collisions was the mourning dove.

Blessed are those who mourn. In From Union Square to Rome, Dorothy Day wrote of her imprisonment during the Palmer Raids: “I felt at first a peculiar sense of disgust and shame at the position I was in, shame because I had been treated as a criminal and made to feel exactly as though I were guilty of the charge on which I had been arrested…” Then she thought of Eugene Deb’s words: “While there is a lower class, I am of it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God” (Lk 12:6).

As Christians heading to D.C. or entering into a fast of solidarity, we identify with these least victims of oppression; they are like the Chinese Uighurs caught in the snares of death at Guantanamo; they are the Sacco and Vanzetti caught up in the Red Scare; they are the early Christians fed to the lions by Emperor Nero. Like birds of a feather, we claim ourselves as one with the persecuted prisoners of this wretched system.

Christians are known by two words, and these both apply to us here at Kairos. We “come” and we “go."

We come together for a parting blessing on our way to D.C. tonight to recall our purpose. We come together not to be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. We come to do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.We go because we have to help America be America. We are not obliged to finish her construction but we go because we cannot abandon her. 

 We go with blessing from the US Catholic Bishops in Challenge of Peace : “The Christian has no choice but to defend peace, properly understood, against aggression” (73). “We believe work to develop non-violent means of fending off aggression and resolving conflict best reflects the call of Jesus both to love and to justice” (78). 

We go like doves into the sky. We let ourselves be chewed by airliner engines.

Judged a traitor, Ferdinando Sacco wrote to his daughter Ines a letter goodbye. She was only four years old then on July 19, 1927. “I would like that you should understand what I am going to say to you, and I wish I could write you so plain, for I long so much to have you hear all the heart-beat, eagerness of your father, for I love you so much as you are the dearest little beloved one.” It could have been words written by Binyam Mohamed, the British subject ensnared in Pakistan and sent to Guantanamo.

Judged a terrorist, detainees are stripped of their right to say goodbye. Like Paul Tillich said, "Sin is separation." Therefore we go in sorrow to offer this satyagraha: in sorrow for the separation of truth from law and in penance for the regime of torture inflicted on our human family. 

We come together as a sign that God has not forgotten the captives. We go like mourning doves.

-Chris Spicer

Saturday, April 18, 2009


"Cramped confinement involves the placement of the individual in a confined space, the dimensions of which restrict the individual's movement.

"The confined space is usually dark. The duration of confinement varies based upon the size of the container. 
For the large confined space, the individual can stand up or sit down; the smaller space is large enough for the subject to sit down. Confinement in the large space can last up to eighteen hours; for the smaller space confinement lasts for no more than two hours.
 You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him.
 You would, however, place a harmless insect in the box. You would have orally informed him that you would in fact place a caterpillar in the box with him."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Imperial Reach of Barack Obama: Spain, Guantanamo, and Beyond

President Barack Obama's friendship with Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero seems to be saving face for the American centrist who wants to "look forward as opposed to looking backwards." Once again, politics take priority as human rights and international law take a back seat as Guantanamo and Bagram remain open and its architects enjoy the privileges of the power elite.

Spain's Attorney General, Candido Conde-Pumpido, announced that the case against six former Bush Administration officials is a "plaything." Conde-Pumpido, in an AP article, said that prosecutions for torture should only proceed with people who were actually present at the time of the torture. The American men who were facing possible indictment by Spanish investigative judges are considered the architects of torture, not the torturers themselves. Read the BBC story here.

The weak argument put forth by Spain's top law-enforcement official wreaks of political pressure and back-door dealings. The best justification that the Spanish polity can muster to avoid a political quandary with the United States is nonsequitur, illogical, immoral and inconsistent with past human rights violations and war crime tribunals that prosecuted and convicted policymakers as perpetrators. Consider Israel's case against Adolf Eichmann, the "architect of the Holocaust." This is not to compare Nazi crimes against the Jews and humanity with the Bush Administration's war on terror, but that there is international legal precedent for pursuing the masterminds of war crimes, not just those who carried them through. How can there ever be a lasting peace and if those most responsible for creating systems of oppression and machines of torture and indefinite detention in dark prisons are considered innocent?
For a comprehensive understanding of how the U.S. torture regime came to life, check out "Anatomy of Bush's Torture 'Paradigm.'"

While there is a new president in Washington, many of the faces from the Bush Administration remain the same. Let us not be naive enough to think that the Spanish government is not bowing to pressures from its long-time ally. Finally, Glen Greenwald breaks down the Spanish law that makes such investigations possible: "The Differing Views of the "Rule of Law." Maybe former law professor Obama could use a refresher course himself as a reminder of what the great Dr. King said: "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day is like a dead dog

Written to a friend preparing for an Evanston Tax Day Action.
Dear Rosalie,

Tax Day is like a dead dog in the middle of the road. We had better avoid it.

I consider myself a tax resister. Some could call me an evader, and that would be fine. I joined a community to evade the miserable, just as I think we should. The concrete practice of tax resistance seems to only come once a year. However today I came upon a sudden and eery alternative tax-evasion moment.

I was nearing campus on my usual path when I saw a young woman stood aghast looking at the road with her hands holding her cheeks. She had big sunglasses on and I would soon wonder weather she had eyes of strength or not. For the moment, she looked at me obviously paralyzed. But then she asked me to take the dog, to get it out of the way.

I did what a good decent revolutionary does in such circumstances. I studied my prey. It lay morbid, the red guts began to spill as I lifted it the way a mother gruffly grabs her pup's back of the neck. This kind of study can only happen by way of action. I took the transformative action of a revolutionary clearing the road.

Every April 15th we take a look at the road and stop along our usual paths. We sympathize with the victims and take our study of nonviolence with us into action.

No ordinary runner defines the run by such a slow pace. No country that calls itself a peacemaker defines itself for liberty by such ongoing wars. If we call ourselves patrons of warmongers, we only steer straight over the corpses and carcasses lying there, to do second what once was enough. When we cry "Enough" we halt, we empathize with the bereft, the widows, the shocked owners who have never before known death. This is our peace to be made, for we call ourselves Christians.

Keep on keeping on.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama and Guantánamo

Luke Hansen's "letter to the editor" in the April 20-27 issue of America magazine:

In her reflections on our country’s legacy of torture (“Accounting for Torture,” 3/30), Maryann Cusimano Love has hit the mark. We are disciples of a tortured God, and this means that we have a strong moral obligation never to torture, to investigate and prosecute human rights violations and to stand in solidarity with torture victims.

But Love assumes too easily that President Obama has returned us to full compliance with the Geneva Conventions. At Guantánamo, instead of allowing independent human rights organizations to review conditions and the treatment of prisoners, Obama curiously assigned this task to the Department of Defense, the department that is also responsible for operating the facility. Should we trust the architects and perpetrators of torture to investigate themselves?

For the full letter, visit the original Kairos Chicago blogpost.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


With Jesus about to take his last supper with his beloved community, we have the opportunity to reflect on the grace of fasting as a means of nonviolent protest.

Consider the film Hunger for a meditation.
In 1981, amidst an embittered conflict between Northern Ireland and Britain, imprisoned volunteers of the Irish Republican Army dramatized their right to POW status by a hunger-strike. For many it would become a strike unto death. In fact, Bobby Sands accounted for the possibility by arranging with his comrades to start two weeks ahead.

Bobby Sands wrote a secret diary during the first seventeen days of the strike which he kept on his body. The excerpts that follow highlight the humiliation he experienced from guards during those opening days.

Thursday, the 12th day of the strike
"I have poems in my mind, mediocre no doubt, poems of hunger strike and MacSwiney, and everything that this hunger-strike has stirred up in my heart and in my mind, but the weariness is slowly creeping in, and my heart is willing but my body wants to be lazy, so I have decided to mass all my energy and thoughts into consolidating my resistance.

"That is most important. Nothing else seems to matter except that lingering constant reminding thought, 'Never give up'. No matter how bad, how black, how painful, how heart-breaking, 'Never give up', 'Never despair', 'Never lose hope'. Let them bastards laugh at you all they want, let them grin and jibe, allow them to persist in their humiliation, brutality, deprivations, vindictiveness, petty harassments, let them laugh now, because all of that is no longer important or worth a response."

Day 16

"I've noticed the orderlies are substituting slices of bread for bits of cake, etcetera -- stealing the sweet things (which are rare anyway) for themselves. I don't know whether it's a case of 'How low can you get?' or 'Well, could you blame them?' But they take their choice and fill of the food always, so it's the former.

"They left my supper in tonight when the priest (Fr Murphy) was in. There were two bites out of the small doughy bun. I ask you!"

Here he depicts the pettiness of prison guards; a part of him inclines to see them as men on the dole, yet his anger pushes such sentiment aside. In these excerpts we see little of the revolutionary rhetoric that gave him great inspiration in his other writings, smuggled out from the prison and published by Republican supporters. We see a man who despises others, yet allows no one to take from him his capacity to create out of bleak circumstances. The diary itself accomplishes this. He knew that the British would need their "pound of flesh" and he inspired a generation by his acceptance of a mission no one could ask of him.

Not all of us so steadily enter into such commitments. Sands had already participated in a prior hunger-strike. In fact, he and other leaders abandoned negotiations seeing that their previous attempts had only been circuses. Four years of imprisonment and organization work before that, including a prior patch of imprisonment--all steeled Sands' will. Though turning 27 years old on his ninth day of hunger, the fast signified nearly eight years of dedication to the cause of Northern Ireland's sovereign liberty.

We might consider a fast ourselves. For instance, on April 3-5 Presybeterians fasted to discern ways to resolve the world food crisis. Something similar could make for a prayer intention during these days of the Holy Triduum.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Roll away the stone

I gave my Easter list to Jesus tonight at Confession. NO, not a Christmas list, an Easter list. The timing felt right, so I went ahead and gave him one hundred items for the greater good of my planet. The greatest smile came over his wrinkly face. He took a look at it and just beamed back at me--all aglow--with total mystery in his wizened eyes.

I was taken aback, and it felt
piercing in my heart.
The look came at me like one of my mother's when she looks at me as if I were again the little baby who had ear infections; or the kid who jumped off the top stair one day and couldn't cry he was so shocked at being breathless; the kid who had tucked chocolate into his pockets without paying at the register, me.
She knew all my successes and had seen me off at airports. She had all the report cards and gone to all the teacher's conferences; she knew that I could and couldn't do everything I dreamed. It was okay.

For my penance I went to Mary and asked her to put me with her son. She said that she had already, where had I run too? It was okay, he was in the back, and I could go back and find him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Sign of Hope for Victims of Police Torture?

A special prosecutor has been appointed by a Cook County judge to open up the cases of five incarcerated men who allege they were tortured under the John Burge Regime over twenty years ago. Read the Sun-Times Story. The move marks the first glimmer of hope and action after Attornty General Lisa Madigan refused to grant new evidentiary hearings for Alonzo Smith, Eric Caine, Derrick King, Leonard Kidd and Grayland Johnson for over six years. Some speculate Madigan's failure to pursure justice is because of the political quandaries that surround the many "conflicts of interest" in her office and other halls of Chicago's power elite.

While this might be a new journey toward justice for these victims of police torture, it has been one met with many delays and denials. And as was repeated yesterday at Madigan's office by a crowd of activists and Chicago police torture survivors, "Justice too long delayed is justice denied." Shame on you Lisa Madigan for making someone else pick up the human pieces of a broken legal and political system.

Check out the Chicago Reader's Police Torture archive and Northwestern law schools page...

Also, here is audio of Camp Hope's event on torture: Witness Against Torture Forum: From Guantanamo to Streets of Chicago
A presentation by Dr. Marc Falkoff of NIU, Sonia De Santiago, IVAW and former GTMO guard, and Dr. Flint Taylor of the Peoples Law

> Part 1:<http://chicago.indymedia.org/media/all/display/31590/index.php?limit_start=27>&
> Part 2: <http://chicago.indymedia.org/media/all/display/31591/index.php?limit_start=27>

Monday, April 6, 2009

Segregationist Torture

Kairos Chicago stood in solidarity as the remnant victims of hate crime took back their voice today at the Thompson Center. We joined with several other activist groups in Chicago as the cases of 20 men, who remain in prison on confessions elicited through torture, continue to sit on
Atty Gen. Lisa Madigan's desk after a judge ordered her to open them up six years ago.

Evidentiary hearings, that's all we ask for those remaining detainees of Chicago's spree of segregationist torture officiated by John Burge. In orange jumpsuit and hood, the testimony reverberated with the echo of Guantanamo Bay. Just as the Supreme Court ruled that potential terrorists deserve their day in court, so we demand the basic human right of due process applied here at home.

Madigan remains gripped by the paralysis of analysis. It seems she thinks torture too controversial. "Opinions about the use of torture against suspected terrorists also differ widely by party, as has been the case over the past four years. While 43% of Democrats say torture is never justified, 15% of Republicans and 30% of independents hold that view.”(1) In solidarity with the tortured, for both victim and persecutor, Kairos mourns.

Torture nullifies the confession it extracts, so it has no efficiency value. We decry such a thing as "state of the art" coercion; torture is cruel and inhumane. We advocate police forces that care for the Common Good, accept review, do thorough investigation, and communicate with transparency to the public. A mistake has been made, in the name of God, most merciful and compassionate, rectify it! Allow the courts to begin proceedings--ATTN: Executor of the Office of Attorney General "Do your job."

1) PEW Center http://people-press.org/report/493/obama-anti-terror-policies

6 years is too long to wait!
Rally, Press Conference, & Peoples Delegation:
Tell Lisa Madigan that Burge torture victims deserve new trials!

April 6, noon
Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph (at Clark)

For nearly six years, the prisoners and their families, activists, and attorneys having been asking the Attorney General to initiate evidentiary hearings for men who faced electro-shock, suffocation, beatings and mock executions in Area 2 and Area 3 police interrogation rooms.

While President Obama has ordered the closing of Guantanamo Prison due to international outcry over torture, Lisa Madigan has allowed dozens of Chicago police torture victims, all of whom are African-American, to languish in prison in Obama's backyard.

In 2007, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution calling on Madigan to initiate new hearings for all police torture victims. It is now March of 2009 and she has still refused to take substantial action. Even more disturbing, on April 7 2009, rather than grant relief to torture victims, she is hoping that a judge will allow her to pass five of the torture cases to new States Attorney Anita Alvarez.

With Lisa Madigan gearing up for a run for Governor, it's time for her to take responsibility for the Burge torture cases. No public official who condones torture is fit to be in the State's highest office. Join exonerated torture victims, activists, attorneys, and family members for a rally, press conference, and a people’s delegation to Lisa Madigan’s office to tell her:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

King and Cain

Truth long gone
oh, where have you gone
take us with you
to the mountaintop

so it was
every mountain shall be made low
every path made straight
the wicked shall be scourged
and the pan hand made wise.

How we too long with
mopped brow and sad song,
wishing for the moss to dry and blow away,
long verdant beards that hang
dripping off the craggy pines.

still we sorrow.
still h. obama
must dot that name,
must punctuate himself
for propriety, for the april 4th,

sam, won't you let Hozaifa free?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No more Raids!

As a community of faith, let us take hope in a recent turn of events and take action. A Raid in Washington yesterday indicates revised immigration policy under Janet Napolitano.
In my work at Centro Romero I drafted a letter to Obama calling for a moratorium of raids. Contact the White House and submit this letter!

Dear President Barack Obama,

As concerned citizens and members of a faith community called Kairos Chicago, we urge you to revise your immigration policy by ending home and workforce raids.

We recognize steps made in this direction by Janet Napolitano's review of a raid in Washington State last month, releasing the 28 who were arrested and providing them with work permits. This allowed them to return to their families and to have confidence in law enforcement. While this marks a new direction, deep structural flaws remain unresolved.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made a drastic mistake in its National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP). By exercising home and workforce raids ICE unpardonably abandoned its focus on “high priority targets.” In turn, this has led to the implosion of the American family.

ICE abandoned its designated purpose for NFOP during the fiscal years 2005-2008. Congress financed NFOP to target ICE’s top priorities “fugitives that pose a threat to national security,” and “fugitives that pose a threat to the community.” Yet from the top class ICE captured a single fugitive. In the same period, ICE’s records of arrests in the second class show a decrease in efficiency of 55%.

Policy memoranda reveal the stark contrast between original design of NFOP and the actual outcomes (1). ICE Fugitive Operation Teams (FOTs) received direction to meet an annual quota of 1000. The previous quota was 125 and now the same sized FOTs had responsibility for eight times the workload.

In tandem with the pressure of meeting the quota the Bush administration allowed ICE to count any arrest, encouraging the FOTs to abandon their focus on “high priority targets.”

Results substantiate the abandonment of these priorities and the mounted attack on low priority targets. For instance, immigrants with no criminal record accounted for a rising percentage of fugitive arrests from 53% of all fugitive arrests up to 70%. The Migration Policy Institute concluded “the NFOP succeeded in apprehending the easiest, not the most dangerous criminals”(2). Therefore, the actual outcomes of this program wandered far from its original designs.

The consequence of this shift directly effects the family. Arrests to meet the aforementioned quota by and large came from the category ICE termed “ordinary status violators.” Reflecting the overwhelming innocence of those caught up in these raids, a new term was coined by the Migration Policy Institute, “collateral arrests.” It indicted the NFOP: “[It] failed to focus its resources on intended priorities of Congress.” It reported that collateral arrests rose from 22% in 2005 to 40% in 2007. These findings show that responsible adults, mothers and fathers, took the brunt of the policy shift.

In Sum, Kairos Chicago questions the lack enforcement efficiency, the lack of fiscal sense, and the fact that ICE Raids jeopardize the integrity of the family on which this great nation depends. Therefore, we call for a moratorium of ICE Raids.

1) Immigration Justice Clinic News. “Previously secret memos and data show Bush-era immigration raids were law enforcement failure.” Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University. Accessed 2/10/2009.
2) Margot Mendelson, Shayna Strom, Michael Wishnie. “Collateral Damage: An Examination of ICE’s Fugitive Operations Program.” February 2009. Migration Policy Institute.