Stop the Raids and Deportations!
Oppose ICE’s CAP Program
The “Criminal Alien Program” (CAP), administered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is used to screen people held in prisons and jails before any conviction has taken place. People jailed, often for minor traffic offenses, have their fingerprints and personal information turned over to ICE. ICE can they have the individual detained and deported, even when no crime has been committed.
CAP is responsible for 48 percent of all immigrants deported, a number that includes many who have lived and worked in the country for years. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, ICE charged 67,000 immigrants through the CAP program, a figure that more than doubled the following fiscal year to 164,000. In FY 2008, CAP agents charged 221,000 noncitizens.
ICE says CAP’s focus is to remove “dangerous criminals.” In fact, the majority of those deported have been stopped for misdemeanors, including traffic violations. There is widespread evidence that racist profiling is used, with people who look Latino arrested for minor violations instead of getting the usual ticket or simply being warned about a broken taillight.
Many people charged are not criminals at all. An October 2009 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report found that 57 percent of immigrants identified through the CAP program in FY 2009 had no criminal convictions, up from 53 percent in FY 2008. Another recent study showed that the majority of immigrants placed under an ICE detainer were arrested for a misdemeanor as their most serious charge. In 2008, 58 percent of the detainers were placed on those charged with misdemeanors, up from 38 percent in 2007 and 34 percent in 2006.
President Barack Obama’s budget will increase funding for CAP and similar programs. DHS has specifically stated that it will “strengthen enforcement activities,” claiming they are targeting “criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety.” The facts make clear that it is not criminals who are being targeted but immigrant workers and their families. DHS has a goal not of ending CAP and its unjust profiling and deportations, but of increasing deportations by four percent over the next year. $1.6 billion is being dedicated for just this purpose.
The CAP program and ICE detainers are also mechanisms to integrate federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. When a person arrested is merely suspected of being an immigrant, local officials notify ICE. ICE then interviews the individual and usually has them held on a detainer. This means that no matter the outcome of the case — the person can be found innocent, or released with a fine, or parole — they are held for an additional 48 hours for ICE. ICE officials then commonly act to deport the person, even when no crime had been committed, or a misdemeanor occurred.
Immigration violations are civil, not criminal matters. But through CAP, immigrants are being criminalized, local police officials are used for civil immigration enforcement, and ICE increasingly gains more authority within the prison system. In this manner the program serves to eliminate the distinction between criminal and civil law, and the separation of local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement. The result has been broad racist profiling, a massive increase in deportations of workers and splitting of their families, and broad impunity by ICE and local officials to terrorize immigrants and whole communities.
What is the “Criminal Alien Program” (CAP)?
CAP is a program administered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that screens inmates in jails, identifies deportable non-citizens, and places them into deportation proceedings. CAP is one of fourteen federal/local law enforcement programs under the umbrella of ICE ACCESS (Agreements in Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security). CAP is active in all state and federal prisons, as well as more than 300 local jails throughout the country.
How does CAP work?
State and federal prisons, as well as local jails, that participate in the CAP program share information about their inmates with ICE and allow ICE agents access to penal facilities in order to interview suspected deportable immigrants. Local law enforcement agencies provide ICE with a list of people who have been arrested and booked into jail (not convicted), and ICE agents then interview the arrestees. The operation of CAP varies among participants, with local law enforcement using a variety of methods for collaborating with ICE. For instance, some jurisdictions have ICE agents located in the jails, while others allow telephone or videoconference, rather than in-person interviews with ICE. Some counties give ICE 24/7 access to the jail, while other localities limit ICE agents’ access to the jail to certain hours or days of the week. Some local jurisdictions may report to ICE every day, while others report more infrequently.
After ICE interviews the arrested person, they may place an immigration hold (known as a “detainer”) on those who are suspected of being deportable. A detainer lets the jail officials know that ICE requests custody of an individual once local jurisdiction ends. The detainer power lasts 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays), which means that once local charges are complete (when charges have been disposed of through a finding of guilt or innocence, when charges have been dropped, when bail has been secured, or when a convicted individual has served out their sentence) ICE agents have two days to take custody of the individual.
How many immigrants are identified through CAP?
According to DHS, CAP is the program responsible for the largest number of apprehensions of undocumented immigrants. In fact, 48 percent of all deportable immigrants identified by ICE in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 were apprehended through CAP — more than the 287(g) program, Fugitive Operations, and the Office of Field Operations combined. In FY 2006, ICE charged 67,000 immigrants through the CAP program, a figure that more than doubled the following fiscal year to 164,000. In FY 2008, CAP agents charged 221,000 noncitizens.
Are immigrants identified by CAP “criminals?”
DHS purports to focus its “jail status check” programs on immigrants with serious criminal backgrounds. According to DHS, “The [CAP] program ensures the safety of our citizens as well as the national security of the United States by removing dangerous, often recidivist, criminal aliens before they engage in additional criminal activity.” However, data from Travis County, Texas show that CAP identifies immigrants with a broad range of criminal histories. When any noncitizen (or person suspected of being a noncitizen) arrested in Travis County is booked into jail, his or her personal information is collected and shared with ICE. This process occurs regardless of the charge against the arrestee — whether it is a misdemeanor, a traffic offense, or even if the person is a victim of or witness to a crime.
DHS statistics show that a large percentage of immigrants apprehended under CAP are not criminals at all. An October 2009 DHS report found that 57 percent of immigrants identified through the CAP program in FY 2009 had no criminal convictions, up from 53 percent in FY 2008. In Travis County, a majority of immigrants placed under detainer were arrested for a misdemeanor as their most serious charge. In 2008, 58 percent of the detainers were placed on those charged with misdemeanors — up from 38 percent in 2007 and 34 percent in 2006.
Does CAP only identify unauthorized immigrants?
Contrary to public perception, CAP does not only identify undocumented immigrants. Legal permanent residents and other legal visa holders may be deportable for serious crimes as well as for minor violations and misdemeanors, and non-citizens may even be deported retroactively for past criminal convictions. In other words, CAP identifies legal immigrants as well as unauthorized immigrants who are deportable based on a current crime or a prior crime. [An estimated 5 percent of those detained are citizens, with some also deported and having to fight to return.]
Brent Wilkes, executive national director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, speaking at a press conference March 8, recalled the words of candidate Obama who promised to include immigration reform in his first year as President. Many Latinos believed him. Wilkes added, “But one thing they never believed in their wildest dreams is that President Obama would have a record like this, where he surpassed the Bush administration in deportations," Wilkes said. "It is unconscionable to have over 387,000 deported in the first year of an Obama presidency, and our community is angry."
Not only has LULAC, one of our country's Latino civil rights groups, been deceived, but more and more Latinos are coming to the realization that Candidate Obama is not President Obama. Candidate Obama promised to push reform, and President Obama has forgotten his promise.
It is hard to believe that under the Obama Administration, more families of undocumented immigrants have been separated and deported. On any given day, more than 32,000 immigrants are in detention under President Obama.
For a community that believed Candidate Obama, and supported him with more than 70 percent of their votes, the Latino community has been sorely disappointed and hurt by the promises made by Barack Obama while he was a candidate.
More than 5.5 million U. S. citizen children have at least one parent who is undocumented immigrant. The Obama Administration has no shame when it comes to destroying families by deporting them, but what is worse is the number of undocumented immigrants detained who have committed no crime other than a civil violation of illegally crossing the border. Undocumented immigrants are being held for a civil violation no more serious than running a red light or failure to stop at a stop sign.
We were deceived by Candidate Obama when he promised to deal more humanely with the issue of undocumented families being separated, detained, and deported. In fact, during the last year of the Bush Administration, his administration deported 120,000 less undocumented immigrants than the total 387,000 deported by President Obama in his first year.
Wilkes says our community is angry about being lied to about the immigration policy Candidate Obama promised he would follow as President. His Administration has been far more enforcement heavy than any Latino civil rights group could have imagined. But is being angry enough?
Under pressure of the March 21 demonstration planned for Washington, D.C., President Obama finally met with New York Senator Chuck Schumer and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham about the federal legislation they are working on [which reportedly includes a biometric identification card for all workers]. While this was a good PR move, no one seems to know what the Schumer/Graham immigration reform legislation will look like. Will this be a case where immigration reformers are so desperate to see a reform bill go forward that they will accept whatever Schumer/Graham propose? The Gutierrez CIR-ASAP bill [introduced in the House] is one many Latino immigration reform activists claim is enforcement heavy and have refused to support. Will this be the same situation with the Schumer/Graham attempt at immigration reform as well?
How can we support federal legislation on comprehensive immigration reform if we don't know what is in the bill?
As the thousands gather for the March 21 Comprehensive Immigration Reform demonstration in Washington, D.C., let us hope no one endorses federal legislation that Schumer/Graham and President Obama propose unless we have had an opportunity to weigh in on the specifics of the bill. Just because we want comprehensive immigration reform now, does not mean we should accept anything handed to us.
After the promises made by Candidate Obama, let's make sure we do not just accept his word anymore. We need to make sure our concerns and issues are included in any federal legislation on comprehensive immigration reform. We do that by making sure our fingerprints are all over any proposed reform bill.
I have known Barack Obama since 1986, when we were both community organizers. I am still organizing on the streets of Chicago, and what I see in the Latino community makes me fear that the president is oblivious to the pain wrought by our broken immigration system. It could have a profound effect on the 2010 and 2012 elections.
It did not have to be this way. For a brief moment last year it appeared that Obama might realign the modern political map, cementing the Latino vote into the Democratic coalition by speaking plainly to the American people on the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
Instead, he squandered a political gift handed to him by the Republican Party's nativist wing — and its anti-immigrant rhetoric — during the 2008 campaign. Candidate Obama promised to make immigration reform a priority during his first year in office, and the Latino vote surged to 10 million, from 7.8 million in 2004, and swung eight percentage points toward the Democrats.
Latinos gave 59 percent of their vote to John Kerry in 2004 but gave Obama 67 percent in 2008. The immigrant Latino vote expanded from 52 percent for Kerry to 75 percent for Obama, enough to deliver Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida — and arguably North Carolina, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
But since taking office Obama has pursued a policy of increased deportations. The president's tin ear for Latino passion on this issue was clear to us in Chicago during his short tenure as our U.S. senator.
After he went into politics, Obama and I worked collegially on issues as diverse as health care for working families to citizenship for new Americans. But we last talked in September 2006, after I publicly criticized his vote as our new U.S. senator in favor of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Obama was shocked at the visceral anger the fence vote caused among his closest Latino allies. At a meeting for damage control, Carmen Velásquez, founder of the Alivio Medical Center for the uninsured and the closest thing to the patron saint of the Mexican American poor, refused to shake his hand. Obama apologized for not understanding the intensity of their feelings — but clinically explained that the vote was necessary to restore public confidence in immigration enforcement.
Yet Obama did not prioritize the issue last year. To permanently affix the growing Latino vote to the Democratic coalition, he needed to call consistently for Congress to pass immigration reform. Instead, the issue got a brief mention near the end of his State of the Union speech, and Democrats are getting cold feet ahead of the midterm elections.
In its first year, the Obama administration was on track to deport some 400,000 immigrants — far more than during George W. Bush's last year in office. On the anniversary of Obama's inauguration, Hoy, the Spanish-language newspaper in Chicago, ran a full-page picture of the president on its cover under the headline "Promesa Por Cumplir" ("Unkept Promise"). The sense of betrayal among Latinos — especially immigrants — is palpable, just as it was after Obama's 2006 vote on the border fence.
As president, Obama has followed the cerebral strategy that increased enforcement will win support for immigration reform. But if there is no serious progress on the issue, many disillusioned Latinos will stay home in November. Others will decide that because Democrats cannot deliver on immigration reform, they might as well vote Republican on the values issues. Depressed Latino turnout in Illinois may well cost the Democrats the Senate seat that Obama once held.
And if the Democrats are cowardly on immigration when they have large majorities in the House and Senate, how will they feel after taking some losses in November? What will Obama's 2012 campaign promise to Latinos be? "Trust me on immigration reform. This time I really mean it?” He might as well say adios to those electoral college votes.
Obama must lead the charge for immigration reform by telling Americans the truth: that tough, fair and compassionate immigration reform is necessary for America's economy and national security, and not just for Latino voters.The writer, a community organizer in Chicago since 1977, is executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. His e-mail address is email@example.com. Published in the Washington Post.
20,000 March to Oppose
More than 20,000 people marched in the streets of Phoenix, Arizona January 16 in the first mass mobilization of the year, calling for an end to raids, deportations, the criminalization of undocumented immigrants and whole communities. They demanded the passage of immigration reform legislation that affirms immigrant rights, including providing legalization for all.
Arizona is a focal point in the struggle for immigrant rights as it is home to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose deputies make frequent raids into the communities. People arrested are bound and shackled and marched through the streets. Racist government profiling is taking place with impunity. The protesters chanted and marched for three miles, demanding an end to raids and that the rights of immigrants be respected. The march rallied people in the region and also had national support, with organizers and caravans coming from California, Illinois and Washington, D.C.
The 20,000 strong march went to a five-jail complex administered by Arpaio. It includes an outdoor jail known as “Tent City,” where hundreds of immigrants have been detained in rotten conditions. People who had been jailed were among those who spoke at the rally. One woman told of having her jaw broken by deputies during her arrest and like many, she was denied proper medical care.
Arpaio, and others like him nationwide, have been put into action by the federal government. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) organizes a program, known as a 287(g) agreement, which authorizes local police agencies to enforce federal immigration law. The federal government provides funding for additional officers, such as the additional 160 officers for Arpaio. It provides backing for his actions to brutalize immigrants, jail and deport them, often for no crime. Many are stopped for minor traffic violations and instead of being ticketed are jailed then deported.
Participants also brought out that the action was important not just for Phoenix but also for Arizona and the country as a whole. Phoenix is being used as a testing ground, to see how far ICE and local police forces can go in dehumanizing and criminalizing whole communities. It is used to justify similar actions nationwide. Protesters made certain that it was clear the people are rejecting this direction of the federal government and instead defending rights, including immigration legislation that affirms immigrant rights.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We have reached a new phase in the struggle for justice and dignity in Maricopa County, Arizona and in other communities suffering severe civil rights abuses due to the failure of United States immigration policy.
The nation has watched with disbelief as Sheriff Joe Arpaio has carried out a systematic reign of terror disguised in the name of immigration enforcement, but directed against all communities of color in his jurisdiction. In the process, he has become a symbol of abuse, bigotry, and intolerance. The Obama Administration's recent endorsement of Sheriff Arpaio – through the renewal of his 287(g) authority and its expansion of local immigration enforcement initiatives proven to cause racial profiling – is an affront to this nation's struggles for equality and justice.
Not since the days of Bull Connor has this country seen a public official abuse his authority in order to terrorize and intimidate communities based on the color of their skin. The hatred and extremism that Sheriff Arpaio breeds is felt from Phoenix to Washington DC. It is an extremism that, left unchallenged, threatens to disrupt communities, destroy lives, and undermine bedrock constitutional protections for us all.
On January 16, the communities in Arizona will come together with the support of people from across the country to turn the tide. By endorsing the march, your organization will join the people of Maricopa County in their historic call for justice.
· Termination of Sheriff Arpaio's 287(g) contract, which grants him federal immigration law enforcement authority.
· An end to the controversial 287(g) program, the so-called " Secure Communities" initiative, and others like them that spread racial profiling and civil rights abuses across the nation.
· An end to criminalization of migrants and communities of color in the name of immigration enforcement.
· An end to family separation.
· The passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that provides legal status and political equality to undocumented immigrants.
· Restoration of constitutional rights to all people.
We encourage organizational delegations from all over the country to JOIN US along with thousands of marchers including civil rights and labor leaders such as Dolores Huerta and artists like Zac de La Rocha and Linda Rondstat. We ask that you march in Phoenix, Arizona on January 16 to demand that the federal government restore constitutional protections and peace to families in Maricopa County and across the nation.
For questions or more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org