Undocumented immigrants in the Durango Jail walk in chains and shackles to Tent City in Arizona, Feb. 4, 2009. Photo by Jack Kurtz/The Arizona Republic
A group of national civil rights leaders will testify today April 2, 2009 at the US House Judiciary Committee in regards of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement - ICE's experimental 287(g) program and the civil rights abuses caused by such program.
The advocates will demand in Washington, DC, for a federal immigration reform and to end the enforcement of federal immigration responsibilities by local law enforcement.
The hearing will be held at 10:00 AM at the Rayburn House Building, Room 2141, with the participation of U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) who is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Congressman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) the Chairwoman of the Immigration Subcommittee.
Also there will be attending: Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon; Chief George Gascon of Mesa, Arizona; Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Wilcox; as well as leaders from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Puente Movement of Arizona, Maricopa Citizen for Safety and Accountability, CASA de Maryland and ACORN.
Arpaio and his reign of terror
Racial profiling experts, victims of police brutality, police officers and immigrant advocates will meet today in Congress to expose the outrageous abuses of the 287(g) program which grants local police forces the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
The people of Maricopa county in Arizona have suffered some of the worst abuses under what Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) has called Sheriff Arpaio’s “reign of terror.” Under the experimental 287(g) program, Sheriff Arpaio and others like him across the country are granted the authority to enforce federal immigration law.
This program has come under fire after several reports -including a recent GAO report- have revealed an enormous mismanagement of its legal provisions. Under 287(g) local officers divert valuable resources away from fighting serious crime and instead target innocent people -especially Latinos Indigenous and Afro descendant immigrants- and incarcerate them for minor charges as “broken tail lights” and other misdemeanors.
"Local police departments cannot terrorize children and separate families for traffic tickets and expect to preserve the trust of the community they are charged to serve," said Salvador Reza of Puente, AZ. He added, "We call for the immediate suspension of Sheriff Arpaio’s agreements with Homeland Security and the suspension of all agreements with local law enforcement until dignified immigration reform is passed."The abusive actions encouraged by the 287(g) program and other initiatives of the Bush administration, undermine public safety by creating an environment of distrust, where people are afraid to report crimes or to serve as witnesses for fear of deportation.
"We welcome the long overdue congressional investigation into this failed program. Immigration reform is the responsibility of the federal government not rogue sheriffs across the country. We need meaningful federal immigration reform and not failed experiments like 287(g) program. We don’t want to see more Arpaio-style abuses in Arizona or in the rest of the nation” said Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), one of the organizers of the actions against the 287(g) program in Arizona.Advocates all over the US -including religious leaders, workers, community activists, academics, and politicians- are urging the Obama administration to vindicate the rights of thousands of innocent people, who have suffered severe civil rights violations under the Bush failed immigration policies. They are demanding for an end of what is now a civil and human rights crisis caused mostly by the ICE 287(g) program.
"This program is part of our broken immigration system and it does nothing to solve it. It only creates fear, confusion, and grants the legal right to local law enforcement to abuse, and humiliate," said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland, the largest state advocacy group for immigrant’s rights. "This is not the America that we believe in, and we hope that the current administration stop the ruthless practices from the Bush-era," said Torres.The horror stories of detained citizens, abandoned children on side roads, paraded immigrants in chains and shackles, and pregnant women forced to give birth while chained to a bed, illustrate the urgency for the Obama administration to end the Bush-era policies and to pass a dignified and comprehensive immigration reform.