by Kelly Klus
Since I’ve been working at ECIRMAC, I’ve been trying to consciously seek out news about immigration reform—a task for me, that is, unfortunately, easier said than done. With classes, school wrapping up, finals season, I usually find my upkeep of national and global news falling by the wayside.
The rock that I live on isn’t so large; the bubble of my life isn’t so impenetrable that the news about immigration reform in the past two weeks hasn’t squeaked past here and there. I spent the afternoon today looking up ‘immigration reform news’ to supplement and complete the bits and pieces that I’ve heard on the radio and in snippets of the news.
The fact that no real movement has happened to the bipartisan immigration reform bill since last June shouldn’t be surprising, I suppose, based on our political system. The bill, recently passed in the Senate is still being tossed around in the House—even though speaker John Boehner has said, of his GOP party, “I do believe the vast majority of our members do want to deal with this, they want to deal with it openly, honestly and fairly,” (MSNBC.com).
What will happen if immigration reform is pushed back until 2015 when more republicans occupy the senate seats? What will immigration reform look like then—or in 2016 during presidential elections?
Most of what I was reading was focused on political jockeying and party lines: so-and-so said of his party, this pro-reform republican said this, John Doe blamed Obama, Obama’s saying this but doing this. Now, I know this is largely how our politics works with any controversial issue—but the real stories aren’t with the politicians and who’s talking to whom in D.C. The real stories are about real people who are struggling to figure out how to keep their family together and out of a horrific detention or deportation story—ones that aren’t told nearly often enough and certainly aren’t heard by enough people. The real story is that many of the people getting deported aren’t ‘violent criminals and other public safety threats’ but more likely have children and could potentially gain legal citizenship status under the new bill.
One story I did find particularly interesting was in The Atlantic: SpencerAmdur tells the story about how local and state governments in some states havebegun to stop aiding federal immigration police carry out deportations. At a national level, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) depends on local and state jails to detain immigrants as well as interrogates foreign-born inmates in local jails. In the past few weeks, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Denver, and counties in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and California stated that they would no longer be helping the federal deportation system. Without national support at a local level, it will be hard to sustain the astronomical deportation numbers that this country has seen in the past few years.
After reading article after article about what a small group (ahem, of, for the majority, white middle-aged males) were debating about in Washington, it was cool to read about local systems taking matters into their own hands. Amdur’s article offers (both in his writing and the many links he provides) good insight into the truth about the effects and basic human rights’ violation that can come from bad immigration policy. Particularly informative: his link to a study titled “Victim’s rights unraveling: The Impact of Local Immigration Enforcement policies on the Violence against Women Act,” and his discussion about how current policies encourage racial profiling and crime victims to go unheard.
This article echoed many of the conversations that took place in Spanish 232. Hopefully, whether it comes from Washington or is forced to manifestation by local governments, this country will see some big changes immigration laws and policies.