En Español Know Your Rights
Source: New York Daily News
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

A New Enforcer’s Old Bush Strategy

Where is
the change?

That’s the
question that came to mind after hearing Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano discuss her priorities for immigration on National Public Radio last
Monday.

"Her
words are truly alarming," said Ana María Archila, co-director of Make the Road New
York
,
a grass-roots organization with offices in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens.

As happened
to Archila, the genuine hope with which Napolitano’s appointment was greeted by
those who understand the urgency of overhauling our immigration laws, is
quickly souring into an old, tired "there-we-go-again" kind of
feeling. Napolitano has quashed any illusions of a fairer and more humane
vision of how to deal with immigration.

Asked how
would she change federal immigration policy, she sounded more like a remnant of
the old Bush regime than a flag-bearer for a new Obama era of change.

"First
of all, the rule of law applies on the border, and we want to make sure that
that happens, number one. That means manpower. That means technology – things
like ground sensors," Napolitano said. Later, she added: "We want to
make sure the rule of law is applied, and it’s applied fairly and forcefully
across the border."

That was
clear enough. However, she wasn’t half as clear when asked about ending the
Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids of homes and workplaces.

"What
we are going to do is really focus on the employers, and make sure that they
are subject to criminal penalties for violating the law," was Napolitano’s
answer.

Great, but
what about the raids? Your guess is as good as mine.

The
question, though, deserved a clear answer. After all, it goes to the heart of
the "enforcement-only" tactics that passed for immigration policy
under the Bush administration.

"What
she doesn’t mention is that the raids have focused on people who are not
criminals and have violated the civil rights of hundreds of families," Archila
said. "She doesn’t mention either how they do nothing … but leave behind
a trail of pain and abuse in our communities."

Previously
secret documents made public last week by the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
confirm Archila’s words.

Even though
the raids were billed by the Homeland Security Department as carefully planned
hunts for dangerous "immigrant fugitives," the documents show that
73% of those arrested since early 2008 had no criminal records. The flashy
paramilitary operations were merely a show to make believe that "something"
was being done about the immigration crisis.

Also last
week, Rep. José Serrano (D-Bronx) released a study – produced by Homeland
Security at his request – revealing that from 1998 to 2007, Homeland Security
deported more than 100,000 parents of U.S.-citizen children.

"Over
the years, I have said many times that our current deportation regime is
inhumane and un-American," Serrano said. "Now we have direct proof
that this is the case."

Yet when
asked what should be done with the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.,
Napolitano said only: "That’s for the Congress to decide."

"It
seems that we can’t expect any leadership from her," Archila said.
"We would like her to say that ICE agents are going to be trained so they
won’t violate people’s rights, that she is going to fix the conditions in
detention centers where people are negligently left to die."

Yet so far
the new Homeland Security boss seems as exclusively focused on repression and
enforcement as the her predecessor .

One has to
wonder: Where is the change?