Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Ghosts Amongst Us: Obama’s Legacy of Trauma

September 16, 2011

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.

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ICE’s Rob Baker Better Hope There Is No God

March 25, 2010

Stop deporting Military Veterans, Obama

In 2009, The United States Government deported 57 immigrant veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Most of the 57 individuals who put their lives on the line for the United States were Legal  Permanent Residents, or green card holders.

Here’s the purported justification for deporting people who have done more to earn their citizenship than the majority of U.S. Citizens:

“If they had gotten their citizenship, they wouldn’t be in this situation,” explained Rob Baker, who oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego and explains that military personnel can become citizens in three years.

“Veterans are on the fast track,” he said.

If veterans do not pursue citizenship, they are vulnerable for deportation just like any green card holder who commits a serious crime. Even some misdemeanors can lead to deportation.

Baker does review every case involving ex-military personnel and he has discretion to keep those veterans out of the deportation process.

Reporter Lauren Reynolds asked Baker, “So you could stop it if you wanted to?”

He replied, “Yes”, but he hasn’t stopped deportation for the 25 or so cases he’s reviewed so far.

Asked why he hasn’t intervened, Baker said, “As a 23 year veteran of the Air Force and Air Force Reserves, I really admire the fact that they served our country. However, these crimes they are committing are very serious crimes.”

He pointed out that the veterans were not immune from the criminal prosecutions that put them behind bars, just as they’re not immune from the laws that apply to all legal immigrants.

Rob Baker–who supposedly really admires the people he deported because they served our country– had the discretion to show his admiration by not deporting the 26 military veterans that he did. Yet, he did not.

Mr. Baker could just be one of those generic bureaucrats that follow the rules to the tee. But based on his hollow justification, it’s more likely that he lacks both logic and compassion.

War can destroy and/or permanently damage a person, both physically and mentally. It is likely that the deported military veterans committed their deportation-triggering crimes due to the horrors(PTSD) they suffered or inflicted overseas in fighting for the United States. See the irony?

Baker claimed that he did not exercise his discretion to halt deportation because these veterans committed “very serious crimes”. Crimes that trigger deportation of green-card holders do not have to be “very serious”. Drug possession, for example, can be the trigger. But that’s not really the point. Baker is implementing the law, like much of the the bloated U.S. government, without acknowledging a sense of reality.

In the U.S., many consider military service to be the greatest of proof of an individual’s support for our country. The percentage, out of all the citizens in the U.S., that serve in our armed forces is very small. Therefore, these military veterans who have indisputably proven their commitment to our nation, and have paid for it through psychological disorders and jail time, are being cast out of the U.S. when in reality they have more of a right to be here than most of the U.S. populous. Put me in the deportation line before them.

Rob Baker is not the source of this tragedy; our system is. The leader of our system is Barack Obama. The deportation of these brave souls, thus, is a wrong committed by our great leader. Every U.S. military veteran that has been deported should be immediately allowed to return to the U.S., and no others should be deported in the future. Otherwise, hopefully a higher being will take you to task for what cannot be described as anything else but a sin.