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[ 17. Feb 2007 ]

Have A Heart: Moratorium on Immigrant Deportations

Stop the Deportations!

Boston, MA - This Valentine's Day (14. Feb 2007) morning immigrant leaders gathered at South Station to call attention to the senseless immigration raids that have torn immigrant families apart across the United States of America.

 

Standing before an eight-foot milk carton depicting missing immigrant parents, community leaders distributed postcards highlighting examples of immigrant children living without their parents. This action was part of a national mobilization to call President Bush and members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to declare a moratorium on deportations.

Community leaders asked commuters to open their hearts to the plight of hard-working immigrant men and women. "I believe what is implied is that these man-made laws ought to be consistent with His message of mercy and love," said Patricia Sobalvarro, Director of Agencia ALPHA and Deacon of Congregation Lion of Judah. "Clearly the deportations that are taking place are in contradiction with our moral values because these acts are emotionally killing innocent people that are stuck in the middle of an obsolete immigration system."

Recent ICE raids around the country and here in Massachusetts have created orphans, many of whom are US citizens. Hard-working immigrant parents, productive members of our communities, are being rounded up, jailed, and deported with no consideration for the tragic consequences for effected families, communities, and businesses.

The separation of the family from a breadwinner is devastating emotionally and financially. For example, spouses and children report that they face eviction from their homes because they cannot keep up with mortgage or rent payments or they are forced to go on welfare to survive. Suspected illegal immigrants in detention often suffer health and safety problems in the facilities where they are held.

The number of immigrants in detention nationwide rose from about 5,500 in 1995 to about 200,000 today, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

"The current immigration system is the cause of the separation and suffering of millions of immigrant families," said Patricia Montes of Centro Presente member of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). "We need to create laws that make sense and are enforceable if we are to realize that we are a nation of laws as well as a nation of immigrants."

On December 20, 2006, Inter Press News Service reported that families were still scrambling to get information about their loved ones a week after U.S. immigration agents :: arrested over 1,282 workers twelve days earlier at meatpacking plants in six states in a massive operation targeting people working with false documents. Sixty-five were charged with criminal violations related to identity theft and are currently facing deportation.

The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law notes that the raids did little to promote immigration reform and instead terrorized workers as well as businesses while destroying families. Meat packing is a dangerous job attracting fewer and fewer U.S. citizen workers. If immigrants weren't available, companies such as Swift would have to close, and both meatpacking and the agriculture that depends on it - cattle and hog producers - would eventually move to other countries where labor laws are often bent and salaries are but a fraction of what immigrants earn in the United States.

Every year the economy as a whole creates some 500,000 more unskilled jobs than US citizens want to do, yet the government issues only 5,000 year-round visas for the immigrants who might fill them.

"Until President Bush signs comprehensive immigration reform, there must be a moratorium on detentions and deportations of immigrants whose only crimes are being victims of a broken immigration system," said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

This article by Shu Ohno, MIRA, was published first on 14. Feb 2007 @ :: boston.indymedia.org. MIRA works to advocate for the rights and opportunities of immigrants and refugees. In partnership with its members, MIRA advances this mission through education, training, leadership development, organizing, policy analysis and advocacy.