Ghosts Amongst Us: Obama’s Legacy of Trauma

September 16, 2011 by

A crisp, nascent autumn breeze whistles through the air. A young girl, of 5-years-old, waits with her mother for the school bus to whisk her away to her first-ever day of school.

She is nervous, not wanting to leave the comfortable confines of her home, where her parents have doted on her from since she can remember.

“When will daddy be back?”, the girl asks her mother. “He went home. Don’t worry, honey, he will be back soon.”, the mother says, fighting back tears in a futile effort to shield her daughter from the truth, a truth that is cutting her up inside: her father is gone, perhaps forever.

This young family of three was achieving the dream that so many associate with the United States of America: food on the table, a small but well-kept house, and a supreme confidence that no goal is too far out of reach.

The dream suffered a fatal blow when the girl’s father was deported to Honduras just a few weeks ago.

The Stunning Hypocrisy of the Obama Administration         

With the 2012 presidential elections imminent, President Obama’s approval rating has plummeted precipitously, dropping to a lowly 38 % as recently as August of this year. When Obama was first elected, he consistently promised he would pass immigration reform. This likely helped him get elected, as many Latinos voted for precisely because of these promises.

According a pew report, 67% of  Hispanic voters cast their ballot for Obama in the 2008 presidential elections. And these votes were important to his eventual victory.

Shortly after the election, a NY Times article stated that:

“Latino voters shifted in huge numbers away from Republicans to vote for Senator Barack Obama…providing the votes that gave him unexpectedly large margins of victory in three battleground states: Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.”

So far, Barack Obama has done nothing to fulfill the promises he made in 2008. Rather, he has arguably done the opposite: under his watch, immigrants have been deported in record numbers. His explanation up until recently has revealed a man who is stunningly transparent in revealing why what he says does not comport with what he does.

When pressed on why no reform has been passed, Mr. Obama delivers the predictable: “I can’t do it by myself. We’re going to have to change the laws of Congress.” The latter admission of defeat is in sharp contrast to his oft-flowery rhetoric:

Comprehensive immigration reform is not only an economic imperative or a security imperative, it is also a moral imperative. (emphasis added)

Voting Time

The 2012 Presidential Elections are upon us, and the Obama Administration has made a public about-face on whether only Congress can stop deportations.

First, on June 17, 2011, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued an internal memorandum listing various factors that should be considered in deciding whether to exercise prosecutorial discretion. In other words, when not to deport an immigrant, even if ICE is legally able to do so.

Specifically, the memo addressed several stages of immigration enforcement, including when to deport an immigrant who already has an order and when to put an immigrant into deportation proceedings before the immigration court.

Second, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a public announcement via a letter Janet Napolitano wrote to Senator Dick Durbin, stating that the factors enumerated in the June 17 memorandum were already being implemented. Importantly, the letter stated:

Together with the Department of Justice (DOJ), we have initiated an inter-agency working group to a case-by-case review of all individuals currently in removal proceedings to ensure that they constitute our highest priorities.

In this same letter, Secretary Napolitano added: “the working group will issue guidance on how to provide for appropriate discretionary consideration to be given to compelling cases involving a final order of removal.”

These two announcements conflict with what reality is for many immigrants, particularly those who have been here for many years but have final orders of removal.

The Immigration Police: Blind Enforcement

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is the branch of ICE that executes final orders of removal. Once an immigrant is detained, ERO will immediately begin the process of deportation. Consulate visits, a travel document, and a charter flight back. All within a couple of weeks, sometimes even sooner.

Without an attorney (extremely expensive, given that substantial time is required to try to stop a deportation at this stage), ERO will rarely exercise discretion; the only time that it will is if a woman is pregnant, or the immigrant is the sole caretaker of a child, or if a child is seriously ill.

Notwithstanding the latter examples, ERO will deport anyone with a final order, criminal history or not.

I have personally seen several examples of immigrants being deported, even though they had extraordinary equities in their favor. What are these equities? One such example: Many have several U.S. citizen children; presence in the United States for over 10 years; and no criminal history. Yet this matters naught to ERO. There is no “prioritizing” of whether an immigrant will be deported once placed in the custody of ERO. It’s a machine.

“We get them in, and we deport them. Sorry, nothing we can do.”, one such officer commented to me.

From my own experience, there has been no discernible difference between whether the Obama administration’s announcement has made a change in immigration enforcement policy.

In removal proceedings, when an immigrant is still before an judge, discretion will and has been exercised, but whether this is a change from the past is not clear.

What is clear is that at the ERO level business is as brisk as usual.

It is of no import to the “moral imperative” touting Barack Obama that an agency under his control has and continues to leave an indelible legacy of trauma upon thousands of families.

In the end, as it so often is in the United States, the moral is superseded by the irrepressible need for our “leaders” to wrestle for the reins of power at the expense of human lives.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Destroying Families Since Its Inception.

July 11, 2011 by

She is 10-years-old, a part of a happy family. But not for long.

At dawn one day,  loud knocks violently shake her out of sleep. She then hears shouts  of “Open up! Police!” Her mother opens the door and several men and women–the word POLICE emblazoned on their windbreakers–arrest her mother, taking her away in a windowless van.  The girl is left alone in her house. The police do not explain to the girl why they are taking her mother away. They just act. They are well-programmed machines, unable to see that their actions are objectively abominable.

In this instance, the “police” are not what one would normally think of as police. They are agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They have the authority to arrest and detain individuals who are not “criminals.” As a result of  ICE’s power to enforce civil immigration laws, this girl’s story is replicated on a daily basis.

It is easy to dismiss ICE’s actions as just “enforcing” the law. But to truly take a side, one must experience the effects of those actions. Naturally, most humans prefer to avoid reality when it is uncompromisingly brutal. Thus, the American public allows ICE to continue to purport that there is any “integrity” left within the enforcement of immigration law to maintain. There is not.

The Kafkaesque World of Immigration

April 29, 2011 by

A fresh breeze swirls upon my face under a spotless blue sky. I am free to do what I please, for I was born in the United States and am thus imbued not with rights but with supreme privileges.

There are no inalienable rights, as us Americans have been indoctrinated to believe from a young age. This can be seen from how our government treats those unlucky enough to be present in the U.S. without the golden ticket of citizenship.

Doubtful?  Look at the illogical and unjust case of Prerna Lal, a law student at George Washington University who was recently issued a Notice to Appear in removal(i.e. deportation) proceedings.

From the source:

 I was sent here alone in December 1998 for a visit. Then, my father lost his job and on the spur of the moment, dragged me here on a visitor visa in November 1999 and placed me in a random high school on an approved F-2 visa

The finer details can be found at Prerna’s blog. Within the United States, Prerna is the only member of her family who does not have legal status. She is also the most accomplished in her family. Yet the United States Government wants her gone.

Under Barack Obama’s administration, bureaucracy has mushroomed to dizzying heights, especially in the immigration enforcement arena. Over and over again we hear the president harp on about how he is dedicated to comprehensive immigration reform. He oozes slick words of how great it would be to pass the Dream Act.  Of course, he’s full of shit.

If Barack Obama wanted to, he could issue the following directive  to John Morton, the head of ICE : “If any Dream-act eligible students are put into removal proceedings, administratively close them for the foreseeable future in the event that the Dream Act becomes law.” This will not happen and here is why:

Behind our president’s smooth rhetoric is a pure populist, a leader who leads based purely on what acts will lead to more votes in the next election. Even assuming the absence of the lead-by-vote motivation post-2012, it is likely that Obama will still pander to the core interests of the Democratic party: to continue holding the presidency beyond 2018.

While the elite twins of power exchange largely meaningless barbs, real people, just like Prerna Lal, are threatened with family separation, detention, heartbreak, and  in many instances a final destination of destitution.

Right now, it is hard to muster up any genuine hope for positive reform to the Kafkaesque world of immigration. Sadly, those for reform are forced to defend rather than attack. Despite the grimness of it all, the battle for justice will continue to be waged, even if victories are elusive. There is no other choice.

Barack Obama, Chief Executive of the Wall Street-Government Conglomerate

April 15, 2011 by

Barack Obama promised wholesale change, loftily promising, amongst many other things,  to reform immigration, healthcare, and wall street

Yet it seems that the much of the “change” that Obama promised is, in fact, the reverse.

On the immigration front, Obama’s administration has amped up enforcement, leading to record levels of deportations.

On perhaps the most important issue, the Wall Street-Government Conglomerate is as active as ever, fraudulently enriching themselves at the expense of everyone whose net worth is below $100 million.

Matt Taibbi of the Rolling Stones did some investigating and, lo and behold,  found that the highest level of government is profoundly corrupt: 

In August 2009, John Mack, at the time still the CEO of Morgan Stanley, made an interesting life decision. Despite the fact that he was earning the comparatively low salary of just $800,000, and had refused to give himself a bonus in the midst of the financial crisis, Mack decided to buy himself a gorgeous piece of property — a 107-year-old limestone carriage house on the Upper East Side of New York, complete with an indoor 12-car garage, that had just been sold by the prestigious Mellon family for $13.5 million. Either Mack had plenty of cash on hand to close the deal, or he got some help from his wife, Christy, who apparently bought the house with him…

It’s hard to imagine a pair of people you would less want to hand a giant welfare check to — yet that’s exactly what the Fed did. Just two months before the Macks bought their fancy carriage house in Manhattan, Christy and her pal Susan launched their investment initiative called Waterfall TALF. Neither seems to have any experience whatsoever in finance, beyond Susan’s penchant for dabbling in thoroughbred racehorses. But with an upfront investment of $15 million, they quickly received $220 million in cash from the Fed, most of which they used to purchase student loans and commercial mortgages. The loans were set up so that Christy and Susan would keep 100 percent of any gains on the deals, while the Fed and the Treasury (read: the taxpayer) would eat 90 percent of the losses. Given out as part of a bailout program ostensibly designed to help ordinary people by kick-starting consumer lending, the deals were a classic heads-I-win, tails-you-lose investment.

It is essential to read the whole article, as it effectively illuminates a horrifying situation: the government of the United States of America, made up mostly by members of the Democratic and Republican party, is  stealing its peoples’ wealth and redistributing it to the mega-wealthy.

Everything else is political theater. Frankly, in our current two-party system, there is no genuine choice in elections. Vote Republican, we lose. Vote Democrat, we lose. And third-party candidates, such as Ron or Rand Paul, are false prophets.

Yes, the Paul-duo are some of the few that deign to ask serious questions of the current power monopoly. But they too play into the “look over there while I rapaciously devour your soul” strategy. Both the Pauls have come out in favor of repealing birthright citizenship, despite the fact that there is little if any evidence that it is good policy to do so. In this folly, the Pauls enable a crucial component of how the conglomerate is untouchable: manipulate human flaws to create blinding populist anger.

After all, it is much easier for the average American to bemoan the “illegal invaders” than to breakdown a multi-layered, incomprehensible back room deal that includes exciting words like “derivatives” and “credit default swaps”.

But it is not just the populist likes of the Pauls that contribute to the status quo.  Tirades against anti-gay marriage,  capitalism, and deregulation are some of the foundational tools for riling up the left just as tirades against illegal immigration and abortion are used to rile up the right.

With such a nice soup of “us v. them” at a perpetual boil,  the powers that be sit smugly in their snappy mansions, condescendingly laughing at the masses.

A simple request: don’t buy the propaganda, it will only postpone the pain to come.

Hofstra Law Students to Assist with Naturalization Process at AILA Citizenship Day

April 11, 2011 by

Media Contact:

Kristen McMahon

Director of Public Relations

Hofstra Law School

516.463.4252

Kristen.D.McMahon@hofstra.edu

www.law.hofstra.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Hofstra Law Students to Assist with Naturalization Process at
AILA Citizenship Day

Hofstra Law School, Hempstead, N.Y. Hofstra Law students will volunteer to help eligible immigrants become U.S. citizens at the annual American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Long Island Citizenship Day on Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., at Hofstra Law School, Room 308.

Throughout the day, immigrants living on Long Island will receive assistance filling out forms and applying for naturalization (citizenship). The event is free and open to the public.

“Hofstra Law School recognizes the great contributions immigrants make to Long Island, our community and, above all, our nation,” said Lauris Wren, associate clinical professor and attorney-in-charge of the Asylum Clinic. “We are honored to now give back to them by helping them to realize their dreams of becoming American citizens.”

Citizenship applicants are asked to bring their Green Card, all passports since becoming permanent residents, all previous home addresses, their children’s addresses, dates of birth, their marriage/divorce history, their Selective Service registration number, if applicable, and any information about arrests, if applicable.  Applicants should go to room 308 at Hofstra Law School, located at 121 California Avenue, Hempstead, N.Y. 11549.

In conjunction with AILA’s New York chapter, several Hofstra Law student organizations are co-sponsoring the event.