Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Raids Send Wrong Message As Senate Stalls

"People shouldn't live in fear. We should be able to figure out what we're doing about immigration on a national level without people worrying about their safety." - Reverend Jim Manship of St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven, Connecticut

Government Should Focus on Legislation, Officials Say

As the Senate stalls on a federal immigration reform bill, local and national officials point to recent federal raids in Portland, Oregon and New Haven, Connecticut as an indication of the need for national legislation.

Following last week's raids in New Haven, Connecticut, Senator Lieberman's Office stated that, "...the senator believes this raid represents another very good reason the Senate should pass comprehensive immigration reform" that would provide persons who are undocumented with a path to citizenship, according to spokesperson Leslie Phillips, the New Haven Register reports.

In an official statement following yesterday's federal raids in Portland, Oregon Mayor Joseph Potter said, "Our nation would be better served if this kind of energy was focused on creating a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship; addresses the immigration backlog that keeps families apart; and provides a safe and legal way for workers to enter our country and be productive workers and taxpayers."

"Immigrants provide more than mere labor in our community. They have long enriched our history, our culture and our city," said Mayor Potter.

Mayors of Portland and New Haven Criticize ICE Conduct

Both Mayor Potter of Portland and New Haven Mayor John DeStafano, Jr. criticized the conduct and policy by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcements (ICE).

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. called last week's federal immigration raids on residents of Fair Haven a "symbolic act of intimidation" following passage of a city plan to provide municipal identification cards to residents regardless of immigrant status.

The federal raid occurred only 36 hours after the New Haven Board of Aldermans approved the plan by a vote of 25 -1. The plan intends to give immigrants better access to city services and to help the police confirm their identities should they become targets of crime.

Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Russ Kanoke called the suggestion that the raid was linked to the city's policies "bogus," the Yale Daily News reports.

New Haven plans to continue with the program for the identification cards, according to Kim Matos, community services administrator for the city.

Connecticut Representatives Request Response from DHS

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff dated June 11, 2007, Senators Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), and Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) requested detailed information about the conduct and timing of the raid in New Haven.

"Several aspects of the enforcement operation have raised concerns for us, the mayor of New Haven, and many residents in Connecticut," the legislators wrote in the letter. >To read the full text of the letter click here.

City Officials, Clergy, & Residents Show Community Solidarity

Community members in both New Haven and Portland continue to organize rallies, meetings, and legislative advocacy in response.

"People shouldn't live in fear. We should be able to figure out what we're doing about immigration on a national level without people worrying about their safety," said Reverend Jim Manship of St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven, Connecticut, the New Haven Independent reports.

According to David Amdur, an AFSC Project Voice network member based in Danbury, "There has been so much work here over the past years that immediately the city, grassroots groups, churches, elected leaders were all able to come together and take action to help the families that were hurt, provide assistance for those who were taken, and show broad, multi-racial community solidarity."

"We must denounce these gross and on going violations of human rights, while we continue to organize for the long run," said AFSC Project Voice New England regional organizer, Gabriel Camacho.


(1) Support the the March in Fair Haven on June 16th
3:00 pm on the Corner of Grande Avenue and Front Street
For More Information Contact: Pastor Emelio Hernandez (410-9407), Victor Gomez (675-1009) Junta (787-0191), ULA Fatima (479-2959) or ULA John Jairo (606-3484).

(2) Sign on to AFSC's Statement Calling to End the Raids

>To sign on to the statement click here.

AFSC believes that fixing the nation's broken immigration system, not the continuation of federal immigration raids, should be the primary policy goal of Congressional leaders and the Administration. We further call on ICE and other immigration authorities to adhere to policies that ensure the fair treatment and respect for the civil and constitutional rights of all detainees, access to legal counsel, and the ability to stay in close proximity to their loved ones.