As a member of the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ) advocacy committee I volunteered to draft a statement IF the U.S. Supreme Court did not decide in favor of President Obama's Executive Order. Here is the statement that I had hoped that I would not have to write.
Statement on United States v. Texas Decision
Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice – IMIrJ
June 24, 2016
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR OREGON
AND THE U.S.
June 23, 2016 could have been a historic day for more than 5 million undocumented persons in the United States - but it was not. The U.S. Supreme Court, with only eight members, tied 4-4 on President Obama’s Executive Order to expand deferred action on childhood arrivals (DACA) and for parents whose children are U.S. citizens or permanent residents (DAPA).
The Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice joins our allies and friends across the nation in dismay and disappointment over this ruling that will create fear and heartache for millions across the country who risk having their families torn apart due to our broken immigration system.
But we also pledge our commitment, energy, and passion as people of faith and conscience to ensure that families are not divided and that children have the chance to complete their education. We know that we are called to welcome the stranger and protect all families.
Deferred action is not a pathway to U.S. citizenship. It would provide children enrolled in school the opportunity to complete high school and enter college without fear of deportation. The Executive Order recognizes that children are not responsible for the decision to migrate to the United States.
More than 11, 000 Oregon children and young adultshave benefitted from the original DACA decision in 2012. The Supreme Court’s indecision does not affect this program. Individuals eligible for this program may still apply. More than 63,000 Oregonians would have been eligible for expanded DACA and DAPA. Now this will not happen because the Supreme Court’s indecision returns the case to the lower court that upheld the state of Texas challenge to the President’s order.
The Executive Order of 2014 sought to provide “relief” to 5 million undocumented people living in fear of deportation. They are the farm workers, harvesting our food, women taking care of the very young and elderly, and men in construction jobs building new homes and office buildings. They are contributing to the wealth of our society, and they are raising their children as Americans. There are an estimated 120,000 undocumented persons in Oregon.
We join the call for President Obama to make sure that families and communities are kept together by declaring a moratorium on deportations immediately.
The member faith communities and individuals of the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice believe that no human being is illegal and that the inhumane deportation of children and families must end. We will continue to raise our voices for the safety, welcome, and dignity of all immigrants and refugees. We will never cease to challenge unjust laws. We will never cease to love our neighbors.
For two excellent articles about the U.S. Supreme Court and the meaning of a 4-4 tie non-decision as well as an update on Central American refugees caught in Mexico from this Sunday's New York Times, (6/27/16) www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/opinion/sunday/the-supreme-courts-silent-failure-on-immigration.html?_r=0 and by Nicholas Kristof, www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/opinion/sunday/obamas-death-sentence-for-young-refugees.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fnicholas-kristof&action=click&contentCollection=opinion®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection
The U.S. Presidential contest is extremely important and will determine whether we have ever achieve real immigration reform and a recognition of the contribution of immigrants to our society in the past, present and future.
Stay tuned for more blogs on this important issue!
A CELEBRATION, A VIGIL AND A SUPREME COURT 4-4 DECISION ON PRESIDENT OBAMA'S EXECUTIVE ORDER TO BRING RELIEF TO 5 MILLION UNDOCUMENTED PERSONSA
A CELEBRATION - JUNE 19TH WITH FRANCISCO AND DORA AGUIRRE
On Father's Day we celebrated the great news that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had dropped the prosecution against Francisco! This means Francisco is no longer facing prison time and an unjust criminal reentry charge. Now, it’s up to us to double-down on our efforts and get ICE to end its harassment of Francisco Aguirre and his family.
It was a bittersweet celebration as ICE immediately served him with a “Notice of Intent to Issue a Final Administrative Removal Order” (FARO), a little-known maneuver in which an ICE agent orders a non-citizen to be deported without even the limited judicial oversight provided by immigration court.
Francisco, Dora and their two daughters lived in sanctuary the fall of 2014 for three months. The struggle continues to ensure that the entire family can remain in the United States. Read more about his story at unidosconfrancisco.com/
A VIGIL FOR REFUGEES FLEEING VIOLENCE
The Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly was in Portland, Oregon the week of June 18-25, 2016. Rev. Allison Harrington, Pastor, Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, AZ organized a vigil outside the convention center to remember immigrants and refugees whether they are crossing the Arizona desert or the Mediterranean sea to reach a safe haven.
We prayed and sang and remembered but most importantly pledged to keep up the struggle to ensure that Central American children and their families would be welcomed in this nation of immigrants.
. THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2016 - THE SUPREME COURT DOES NOT DECIDE!
I am in Condon, Oregon with a good friend Susan. We worked together in the 1980's in the first Sanctuary movement WHERE churches provided safe haven for Central Americans fleeing civil wars as well as advocating to stop U.S. military aid to the "contras" in Nicaragua. We were listening to MSNBC commentary on the sit-in in Congress when they announced that the U.S. Supreme Court had a 4-4 tie on the President Obama executive order of "administrative relief" for about five million undocumented persons living in the United States. Thus, the lower court ruling would prevail and the executive order would not be implemented.
I felt sick at heart as I thought of several families in my community who would have benefited from a 5-3 in favor of the Obama action. This immigration case or better known as DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and DAPA, Deferred action for Parents of Children who were either US citizens or had permanent residence status. It was a bold step on part of President Obama who has deported more people in his seven plus years of office than any other President.
TO BE CONTINUED IN NEXT BLOG ENTRY:
PCASC, the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, sponsored a presentation last Friday (June 3, 2016) by Professor Moises Gomez from the University of Central America in San Salvador and also, the Jesuit Salvador Migration Network on the "root causes of migration." The evening began with music by LOLO, a local Salvadoran musician singing canciones/songs of El Salvador. Songs that remembered the 1980's civil war and the struggle for human rights in El Salvador.
After a brief summary of El Salvador's history and a reminder of the exodus of Salvadorans to the United States in the early 1980's, he addressed the current causes of migration.
First and foremost, is family reunification.
There are more than 2.5 million Salvadorans living in the United States today. About 200,000 are covered under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as a result of the 2001 earthquake in El Salvador. TPS does not mean that they can stay indefinitely in the USA but have to reapply every two years for an extension. Families are divided and in particular, for the children they want to be reunited with their families. This was the case of Francisco Aguirre who spent four months living in sanctuary in Portland, Oregon in 2014. He was able to bring his son from El Salvador but his son could not stay. When his son returned to El Salvador he was murdered by a drug gang.
Secondly, the neo-liberal project that privatizes public services and multi-nationals that pay low wages contributes to the high level of poverty in the country. Maquilas, for example, may provide jobs but at a low wage. The Economic conditions of the country are another factor that pushes people north. Moises explained, "Salvadorans have always been migrants. Before we went to Costa Rica or Panama for work, but now the favorite choice is the United States."
And the third factor is the violence - from drugs, from corruption as well as structural violence e.g. the child who dies from hunger because of lack of food.
The United States response to migration is a militarization of the problem. Beginning with Plan Merida in 2008 to combat and disarm drug cartels in Mexico, the United States now is implementing the Central America Security Initiative (CARSI) to stop drug cartels and the flow of migrants.
Moises shared that in 2015 - 68,000 Salvadorans mostly young people were deported from Chiapas, Mexico. The Plan Frontera Sur is militarizing the Mexico-Guatemala border to prevent migration from the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).
The latest U.S. response, the Alliance for Progress, provides $750 million to the three countries over a five year period. "But," Moises pointed out, "50-60% of these monies are going to military equipment in some form or another." Both Guatemala and El Salvador have a very tragic history with their military that have been primary violators of human rights. Moises sees that the Salvadoran police are increasingly being "militarized," as part of the effort to control the drug cartels.
WHAT WE NEED and WHAT WE SALVADORANS CAN DO:
El Salvador businesses need to pay the taxes necessary to meet our social needs. "We don't want to be dependent on the United States." Last year $1.75 million (USD) was not collected in taxes. We are capable of taking care of ourselves but we need you in the United States to work with us .
WHAT WE CAN DO AS FRIENDS OF EL SALVADOR
When asked "what gives you hope?" Moises responded that the solidarity movement or people to people movement during the 1980's did stop U.S. military aid to El Salvador and ultimately, closed down the School of Americas, where the majority of military officers from Central America were trained. He added - "Noone thought that these two actions were possible, but you did them." We need to do more of the impossible NOW to change the lives of migrants and our companeros/brothers and sisters in El Salvador.
Here is a wonderful quote from Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
"When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He or She starts with an impossibility."
Join me in doing the impossible - to bring justice in our immigration system during this Presidential election year!
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?