Join the New York Immigration Coalition’s “With the Stroke of a Pen” Campaign! (The letter is at the end of this text).
President Obama promised to address comprehensive immigration reform during his first year in office. But two years on, Congress is at a standstill, paralyzed by partisan politics.
And under the Obama administration, deportations have reached a record high, surpassing the records set by the Bush administration: nearly 400,000 deportations in 2009, with that record already surpassed this year. Most of these deportations are of hard-working immigrants and family members, not of those who pose a threat to public safety. We are talking 1,100 people a day.
Under the current administration, programs that turnlocal police into immigration agents have proliferated—even though law-enforcement officials across the nation have said that enforcing immigration law impedes their ability to combat crime. Such programs destroy police-community relations, divide communities, and compromise public safety.
Yes, we will continue to work with allies in Congress to advance comprehensive immigration reform and partial fixes such as DREAM Act (for young people who came without status as children) and AgJobs (for farm workers).
But the President could providesomereal solutions to our immigration crisis with the stroke of a pen.
The President, and his Department of Homeland Security, could choose not to cast a wide net and thereby avoid deporting the very people the President says should be allowed a chance to come out of the shadows and earn a path to citizenship.
The President, and his Department of Homeland Security, could choose not to enlist local enforcement agencies (police, state troopers, corrections departments) as immigration agents—a trend that has caused immigrant communities to fear the police, torn communities apart, given rise to profiling, and harmed the economy.
Here’s what you can do:
• Go to www.PenCampaign.comto send a personalized letter and a pen to the President,urging him to use the pen to sign executive orders that reverse the trend of ever-expanding and ill-targeted enforcement;
• Go to www.PenCampaign.comto make a contribution to support the With the Stroke of a Pen campaign; and/or
• Sign on as an organizational sponsor of theWith a Stroke of the Pencampaign, and commit to sending 50 pens/letters or more to the White House. To find out more about sponsorship, please contact Christina Baal: firstname.lastname@example.org; 212-627-2227 ext. 246, at the New York Immigration Coalition,137-139 W. 25th St., 12th fl., NY NY 10001
In 1962, when President Kennedy had still not delivered on his campaign promise to end housing discrimination “with the stroke of a pen,” civil rights leaders organized the “Ink for Jack” campaign and flooded the White House with pens, leading the President to sign the anti-discrimination policy.
Today, when so many critical issues remain caught in Washington gridlock, administrative action by the President can begin to address at least some aspects of our nation’s immigration crisis. The President has spoken out against the Arizona law (and filed suit against it); he has spoken of his commitment to immigration reform. But he needs to do more, because while Washington dithers, millions suffer: families are separated, human and financial resources are squandered, the economy stagnates, and we’re no closer to fixing our broken immigration system.
A few years back, people who think immigrants are the problem sent bricks to Congress urging them to build a wall along the southern border. Hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of migrant deaths in the desert later, our immigration system is still a mess.
Let’s take a more productive approach: send pens to the White House so the President can use them to sign executive orders that lead the way to a smarter, fairer immigration system. Here’s why:
• 12 million: The estimated number of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
• $1.5 trillion: The estimated increase in gross domestic product projected over 10 years as a result of comprehensive immigration reform that includes legalization of undocumented workers and provides for the future flow of legalworkers.
• $2.6 trillion: the amount in GDP projected lostover ten years as a result of a deportation-only policy.
• 93.3%: Increase in budget from 2002-2008 for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Enforcement:from $7.5 billion in 2002 to $14.5 billion in 2008
• 1,200%: Increase in deportations 1990 –2008 (from 30,000/year to 360,000/year).
• 3.5 million: Increase in population of unauthorized immigrants, 2000-2008, at a time of increasing enforcement; exposes the fault lines in the argument that beefed-up enforcement is the solution to our immigration problems.
• $18,302: The current estimated cost of deportation per person deported.
• 387,790:Number of deportations in 2009, the first year of the Obama administration–a record high, an increase over Bush’s numbers, more than a thousand a day; and that rate is even higher in 2010.
• 30:The number of years it would take to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants at the current rate of 1,100 a day.
• 30 and 574: The number of states and local jurisdictions, respectively, that have signed on to “Secure Communities,” which involves local law enforcement officers in immigration enforcement; the Department of Homeland Security contends that Secure Communities targets criminals.
• 79: The percent of individuals deported as a result of Secure Communities who do not have a criminal record or have only low-level offenses such as traffic violations.
• Five:The number of years it takes a legal permanent resident to bring his/her child over.
• 2010:The year the visa comes through for a person from the Philippines sponsored for a green card in 1987 by his US citizen sibling.
• 85: The percent of immigrant households that are mixed status(citizen and noncitizen living together); meaning theundocumented can’t be extracted wholesale, they are part of our communities.
• 1070:The Arizona bill # signed into law by Governor Brewer, which more or less declares open season on undocumented immigrants. And legal immigrants. And anyone who looks like an immigrant. Or sounds like an immigrant.
• 1500:The number of state anti-immigrant ordinances passed in 2007, when Congress failed to pass immigration reform legislation.Isthis what we can expect if Congress and the White House keep pushing this off—amultitude of Arizonas?