Immigration Reform is Once Again the Topic of Conversation

On January 28, the Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake) presented their principles for new legislation[i].

President Obama spoke to high school students the next day outlining his plan.  Both begin with “enforcement first.”

While I whole-heartedly support Comprehensive Immigration Reform, I am very concerned about the prospect of more militarization on the border. Drones are an expensive and dangerous (they can be armed) means of surveillance of the US-Mexico border.  There are currently 6 drones and 124 planes present on the border.  How much more enforcement do we need?

The effects of current US economic and military policies around the world need to be addressed for true comprehensive immigration reform.  The Free Trade Agreements, Extractive Industries and large scale Development projects have impoverished and displaced many families in Latin America.  The push and pull factors are as important as the status of the undocumented sisters and brothers among us.  One reality will not be resolved without dealing with the other.

The response of the Obama administration has been enforcement with an emphasis on deportation.  More people have been deported (cost $12,500/per person/per deportation) in six years than all who were deported before 1997[ii]. Go here to see a running count of how many people are being deported under President Obama.

Once again police and military training and assistance for Latin American countries bring unnecessary force as small farmers resist land takeovers and mega projects by large corporate interests.  Under the guise of the “Drug War” and “Anti-terrorism” security forces are growing in size and scope.  We remember how this played out thirty years ago: repression, low-intensity war, death squads, and thousands fleeing for safety.

One of our IFCLA partners, the Alliance for Global Justice, has put together a Border Militarization Study Guide.  I am going to follow the classes, perhaps you will too.

The Border Militarization Study Guide

Click here to watch this short, informative video of a visit to the border by the Alliance for Global Justice Board of Directors to learn about the impacts of border militarization.

[ii]Mapping the Shift from Border to Interior Enforcement of Immigration Laws during the Obama Presidency.Social Scientists on Immigration Policy, Jan. 25, 2013.

Contributed by Marilyn Lorenz, Program Coordinator for the Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America