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Drumbeat for Immigration Reform Grows Louder

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News Accounts Highlight Ineffectiveness of Federal Crackdowns, Broken Immigration System

A series of recent news accounts have demonstrated that our immigration system is broken and in need of common sense reform. The Bush Administration’s recent approaches to immigration policy – including worksite raids and self-deportation programs – have been colossal failures. These new tactics fit neatly alongside existing ineffective components of the broken immigration system, such as a detainee system plagued by medical mistreatment and in some cases death and short-sighted enforcement policies that separate families and place children in peril.

Despite the Bush Administration’s well-publicized immigration crackdowns in recent months, the fundamentals of the immigration debate remain the same. As the Washington Post editorialized today, “the basic legal and economic dynamics that created the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system remain largely unchanged” and practical, commonsense immigration reform is needed “to address the reality of immigration and labor in a globalized marketplace.” The Administration’s immigration raids are designed to grab headlines, not achieve lasting reform nor address the root causes of immigration. These raids, as well as other aspects of the immigration status quo, have also exacted a tremendous human toll.

A report in one of Mexico’s most prominent newspapers, La Jornada, highlighted one byproduct of recent federal immigration crackdowns – a rise in the percentage of orphan children. The report found that, U.S. authorities have deported 90,000 children in violation of international child protection standards. The study also found that “for every three adults deported from the United States, a child of Mexican origin is left in that nation.”

“When I read the report from Mexico of about 90,000 deported children I thought, we, the followers of Jesus, who said, “Let the children come unto me,” should not be deporting children and separating families,” said Rev. Gabriel Salguero of the Latino Leadership Circle, a group of religious leaders dedicated to social justice. “This is a national moral crisis and a tragedy that is crying for the just reform of our immigration system.”

For the population of those detained and not yet deported, a New York Times article found that basic medical services and simple human dignity are often lacking. The article described how a Hong Kong-born immigrant who had a U.S. citizen wife and two American-born sons died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in July, after his cancer had gone undiagnosed and untreated by authorities despite his numerous health complaints. The Times piece followed an earlier Washington Post report which disclosed that internal government documents show a “massive crisis in detainee medical care” in the ICE-administered system, including numerous other deaths.