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.

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.

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