Casa De Maryland took to the streets yesterday to protest the Obama Administration’s failure to implement immigration policy that would keep undocumented immigrants who fit certain criteria safe from deportation. And, those activists took to the streets right outside of the DC headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (a.k.a. ICE.)
Famously known in our advocacy world as the “prosecutorial discretion memo,” ICE Director John Morton stressed in a note to his department in June 2011 that undocumented immigrants who pose little to no threat to others or national security would be categorized as low enforcement priorities. In laymen’s terms, that means that ICE agents shouldn’t waste their time and departmental resources on deporting hard-working, law-abiding residents.
It sounds pretty straightforward, right? But not to all ICE agents, who are still arresting and deporting mothers, spouses and DREAMers.
Reporting on the protest, from WAMU:
Another protester, Helia De La Cruz, has been separated from her children — who are American citizens — while she fights her deportation charges.
I was denied permanent residency. I want to be heard again,” she said through a translator. “I want to be with my children. and it’s very difficult to be with them.”
Maryland Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Md.) joined the protesters in Washington, saying cases like De La Cruz’s have become all too common.
“We have record numbers — record numbers — in this administration of deportation and breaking up of families,” Gutierrez said.
She wants police to focus on “real criminals — murderers, rapists, and oh my goodness, I’m going to be the first one that’s going to support that,” she said.
Gutierrez is an immigrant from El Salvador. It was easier to gain citizenship back in the ’70s when was naturalized. Nowadays, she says, the path to legal residency is murky and deportation practices are even less clear.
That is particularly true as ICE agents around the country are going rogue, refusing to adhere to guidelines that John Morton and DHS are doing a poor job of implementing. Deportation practices are even more confused by the fact that the Obama Administration has deported more immigrants than the Bush Administration – a fact that is difficult to stomach given the Administration’s claim of its pro-immigrant stance.