- Local activities in support of immigrant communities
- Educating ourselves and others on immigration history and policies; creating an informational pamphlet for distribution
- Monitoring and influencing policies at municipal and county level in order to support immigrant communities
News Items of Interest:
From WNYC, Beth Fertig's story on the up-tick in arrests by ICE between January and May of 2017:
Oct 2, 2017 · by Beth Fertig
Between January and the end of May, 2974 immigrants without legal status were arrested in New York and New Jersey, according to federal data obtained by WNYC. That's an increase of 38 percent compared to the same period last year.
The same level of increase was reported nationally by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in President Donald Trump's first 100 days of office from late January through April.
But it’s a different story if you look at who’s being arrested. The data showed 25 percent of those arrested in New York had no criminal convictions, up from 17 percent in the same five-month period of 2016. And in New Jersey, a stunning 44 percent of the 1395 people arrested between January and the end of May had no criminal convictions. That compares to 24 percent in the same period of 2016.
Advocates for immigrants in New Jersey found those figures surprising and troubling.
"I think the narrative that criminals are the priority isn’t real," said Johanna Calle, program coordinator for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.
There are several theories for New Jersey's big spike in arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal convictions:
1. Changing National Priorities: In an Executive Order signed on January 25th, President Donald Trump overhauled the nation's immigration priorities. Previously, ICE focused on removing immigrants convicted of crimes. Former President Barack Obama had adopted this policy after deciding the nation's limited resources shouldn't be used to deport all undocumented immigrants (Obama deported a record 2.5 million people).
But Trump's order made those who were also accused of or charged with crimes a priority for removal. Critics claim that's too broad and includes many low-level offenses, such as fare evasion. The administration, however, views this as a key component of national security.
2. Less "Sanctuary": Unlike New York, New Jersey requires police to notify ICE if they suspect someone charged with a serious crime is an undocumented immigrant. That hasn't stopped some cities and towns, including Newark and Maplewood, from limiting cooperation through so-called sanctuary policies, however.
3. Cooperation with ICE. Some New Jersey jurisdictions cooperate with ICE more than others. In Ocean County, for example, County Administrator Carl Block said an ICE agent is on-site in the jail. He said the county was asked to do this voluntarily and is not being paid.
When asked if this could have contributed to the increase in ICE arrests of non-criminals — people charged with a crime but still awaiting trial — Block said he had not noticed any increase in ICE activity in his southern New Jersey county. "We don't have that many people that ICE picks up," he said.
The New Jersey counties of Cape May, Hudson, Monmouth and Salem have additional 287(g) agreements permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, but only for their jails.
4. Arresting People at Check-ins. Immigration advocates suspect many of the undocumented immigrants who were arrested this year were detained during regular check-ins with ICE. This would include several Indonesian Christians detained in Newark.
5. Focus on Gang Activity. ICE has said it's making a concerted effort to go after gang members. In May, more than 200 undocumented immigrants in New Jersey were arrested as part of a crackdown on suspected gang members. Many of those had no prior criminal records.
6. Collateral Arrests. Farrin Anello, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of New Jersey, suggested that if ICE is targeting more people overall, it might also be catching immigrants with no convictions. "People that ICE agents just happen to encounter in the course of their work but are not targets," she said.
WNYC repeatedly asked ICE officials in Newark, New York City and Washington, D.C. to respond to these theories and to provide any of their own reasons why so many people without criminal convictions were arrested in New Jersey. The agency did not respond.
Dispatch from Committee Member:
If there’s one thing we’ve learned that 45 is a master at, it is at changing or redirecting the conversation. In the last few days, he has shifted the conversation away from some incredibly serious issues: an escalating crisis with North Korea (caused in part by his rhetoric); the effects of climate change leading to increasing natural devastation (again made worse by his actions); a completely inadequate response to the devastation in Puerto Rico; and the failure of yet another disastrous healthcare bill he promoted - to whether kneeling football players are displaying enough patriotism.
(On healthcare, much of the conversation nationally has shifted positively, in spite of the administration, from healthcare is for those who can afford it to healthcare is a right for all citizens).
In contrast, on immigration, he has been much more successful at shifting the conversation from the positive - comprehensive immigration reform - to rounding up and throwing out as many possible longstanding, contributing immigrants and keeping those from other (mostly brown) countries out if they are not here already (through calls to halve legal immigration, capping the number of refugees to a historic low, and the issuance of travel/immigration bans).
It was as recently as 2012, after Mitt Romney lost the election to Obama, that the GOP conducted a post-mortem analysis of its loss (which included a 44-point loss amongst Latinos) and decided that it needed diversify its base and to pass some form of comprehensive immigration reform. It was in 2013 that such reform - which among other things would have legalized most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country - passed the Senate with a vote of 68-32, including over a dozen Republicans voting in favor http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/immigration-bill-2013-senate-passes-093530. It did not make it to law as it was not brought up for a vote in the House, leading to last ditch initiatives from the Obama administration on DACA and DAPA to temporarily protect those groups with the most political sympathy.
This redirecting of the conversation away from necessary immigration reform - to the scapegoating of immigrants and foreigners for many of the ills of the country - was one of the biggest factors in 45 winning the Republican nomination and hence the presidency. The article, “Trump’s Hardline Immigration Stance Got Him To The White House,” from the respected data-driven FiveThirtyEight site which analyzes why he won the Republican nomination states:
“In 2016, moreover, immigration may have been the issue most responsible for Trump’s winning the Republican nomination. In every state with a caucus or primary exit poll, he did best among voters who said immigration was their top issue.” https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-polls-showing-daca-as-popular-even-among-republicans-dont-tell-the-whole-story/
Now, in contemplating the end of DACA, 45 has again redirected the conversation. The article finds that while DACA itself is popular, even amongst Republicans, anti-immigrant sentiment within the party has gotten stronger and this could doom DACA. “So even though DACA is popular, Republicans would be unlikely to face a backlash among their voters — even their more centrist ones — should they refuse to pass a replacement.”
Therefore, it is up to us to change the conversation back to where it was a few years ago: why we need comprehensive immigration reform addressed at the 11 million (which include DACA recipients) and relatedly, why we need to reform our legal immigration system which fails to admit enough of those workers that the country needs. At the local level, we should support most strongly those policies like state driver’s licenses that would benefit all undocumented immigrants.
Overall, DACA recipients represent just about 4% of the estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants in NJ and 7% of the estimated 11 million nationally. The other 96% of undocumented immigrants in NJ and 93% across the US include:
1) Young people who did not qualify for DACA, because they did not meet the criteria, which include entering the US prior to Jun 2007 at an age of less than 16
2) The parents and other family members of DACA recipients
3) The millions of immigrant parents of US-born citizen children and immigrant spouses of US citizens
4) Millions of workers filling shortages across various industries often requiring back-breaking labor which Americans are increasingly less willing to do, from agriculture to construction to home healthcare to hospitality. These current shortages will only grow worse with an aging US population and falling birthrate. http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/12/news/economy/job-openings-record-high/index.html
5) Those who cleaned up after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and will help rebuild after the most recent disasters: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/7/16243176/harvey-undocumented-immigrants
There are also close to half a million people with temporary protected status, who come from countries at crisis, at heightened risk: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/11/politics/next-daca-tps-temporary-protected-status/index.html.
No one of these groups is more or less deserving than the others, even if an artificial divide has been created between more and less deserving immigrants. And with DACA recipients currently eliciting the most attention and sympathy - not only from the public and media but from the administration itself - most of the 96% in NJ and 93% nationally remain at even higher risk for the most serious outcome: deportation.
This was best illustrated by the largest planned mass deportation to date, “Operation Mega,” to round up to 10,000 people across the country in a week, which would translate to about 500 in NJ. It was put on hold this month only because of the hurricanes and could still occur: http://www.snopes.com/2017/09/13/cancelled-operation-mega/
Already this year, about 5,000 NJ residents have had deportation proceedings advanced against them in court, the vast majority for immigration-only offenses, according to Syracuse U TRAC stats (http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/charges/deport_filing_charge.php). Most have lived here for years if not decades and have close ties with American family members and American employers.
So, we must not allow 45 and his administration to dictate the conversation – we must work towards social justice for all.
Coming Events, Local News, Action Opportunities:
From the Greater Red Bank Women's Inititative, October 1, 2017:
This is an email to announce the partnership of GRBWI's Immigration Social Action Committee with St Thomas Church, Red Bank in establishing the Outreach Ministry at St Thomas. We are delighted and grateful to be joining with Reverend Memba in developing this service.
Our opening event is a Know Your Rights Workshop at 1:30pm on 10/08 at St Thomas Church. Presenters will include Rita Dentino of Casa Freehold, speakers from the ACLU, and legal staff of the Social Justice Ministry.
Other programs to be offered will be Family Emergency Planning, counseling regarding immigration issues, referral services, social gatherings, ESL Classes, potentially hosting the Mobile Mexican Consulate, and other services as the need arises.
Our social action committee has grown. We are a strong and committed group of activists and, of course, we welcome more members! We have a lot of work to do.
Casa Freehold is looking for volunteers. Rita Dentino, the executive director, would appreciate help in staffing the office (having someone at the front desk as people come in), doing office work, working in the areas of wage theft, tenant rights and workplace issues. Training is available. She would also like a volunteer to co-ordinate the volunteer staff. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer or if you have any questions.
UU Immigrant rights conference:
The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry will be having a conference on immigration rights on Oct.14th from 12-6 at the UU Congregation of Monmouth County located at 1475 West Front street in Lincroft. Joanna Calle, the director for New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Rita Dentino from Casa Freehold. and several Red Bank area Dreamers and supporters will also be there to share their experiences. Please register to attend at www.UULMNJ.org or call 973 908 0211. The UULMNJ has always been a voice for justice, equality and compassion. The mission of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey is to provide the comprehensive structure for New Jersey Unitarian Universalists’ non-partisan activism. We work for a socially just public policy in collaboration with like-minded organizations through Education, Research, Advocacy, Witness, and Service. http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51510/c/301/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=8745
Committee Members met with Red Bank Human Relations Action Committee, Greater Red Bank Women's Initiative, and ICE representative Chris Moriarty (Contact info: Christopher.email@example.com and 973 776-325) on August 28th. Moriarty presented a synopsis of ICE history and enforcement activities and 287(g). Minutes available from the committee chair.
GRBWI members also met with ICE Steering Committee in Newark on September 26th, minutes should be available soon.
Committee Members met with the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission on October 2, 2017. Rita Dentino, Executive Director of Casa Freehold and Dina Mansour, Outreach Coordinator for the NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice, spoke. Attendee Ellen Lichtig supplied the following synopsis: Concerns addressed by Dentino included impact of DACA termination not just on the Dreamers but on their families, as they are often the de facto head with drivers license, work permits, legal status; problems with ankle bracelets; use of portable fingerprint machines and needing to make people aware that they can refuse to have fingerprints taken. Mansour addressed the expansion of scope for targeting immigrants under the current policy and the 287(g) program in Monmouth County Corrections facility. She discussed concerns with operations in recent months: ICE agents entering homes without a judicial warrant; and when there is a warrant, making collateral arrests of people not on the warrant; local police asking people where they are from and sometimes detaining or reporting to ICE; pressure on employers to report undocumented employees; presence of ICE in courthouses. A discussion and Q&A followed. There was a consensus that pressure should be put on the Sheriff and Freeholders to terminate the 287(g) MOA.
The Indivisible Bayshore Immigration Committee meets jointly with the Greater Red Bank Women's Initiative (GRBWI) Immigration Committee. Minutes are emailed to members and are available from the committee chair.
287(g) Fact Sheet:
Prepared by Rochelle Borsky of the GRBWI Immigration Committee. The full Memorandum of Agreement is available from the Indivisible Bayshore committee.
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO)
Authority as per: Section 287 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (1996) as amended by the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
Purpose: Selected MCSO personnel are nominated, trained and approved by ICE to perform functions of an immigration officer within the MCSO jail/correctional facilities.
Nomination of Personnel: MCSO nominates and conducts criminal background check on candidates. ICE does an independent review and background check. Candidate must sign a privacy waiver to allow ICE continuous access to disciplinary records.
Training of Personnel: Candidate must complete the Immigration Authority Delegation Program (IADP) taught by ICE officers with a minimum score of 70%. Designated officers remain in their position for a minimum of 2 years with e-mail access to the necessary Department of Homeland Security (DHS) networks and applications.
Costs and Expenditures: The MCSO pays salaries and expenditures for officers during and after training. ICE provides the instructors and training materials. Office space for ICE is provided by MCSO at no cost.
Authorized Functions: 287(g) is designed to identify and process aliens who are amenable for removal within the jail/correctional facilities according to ICE immigration priorities. Under the supervision or guidance of ICE, authorized functions of trained officers Include:
- Power to interrogate any person believed to be an alien about his/her right to be in the USA
- Power to serve warrants of arrest for immigration violations
- Power to administer oaths and take evidence to complete alien processing
- Power to prepare charging documents
- Power to detain and transport arrested aliens to detention centers
Communication: ICE FOD (Field Office Director) meets annually to review status with MCSO
Community Outreach: MCSO will, as necessary engage in Steering Committee meetings and in community outreach with interested individuals.
Release of Information to Media or other Third Parties: Release of information to the media must be coordinated with MCSO and ICE Office of Public Affairs for prior approval before release.
Duration of Current MOA: In force until June 30, 2019 unless terminated by either party.
Links for organizations and information:
American Friends Service Committee https://www.afsc.org/
American Civil Liberties Union https://www.aclu.org/
ACLU People Power initiative https://peoplepower.org/
National Immigrant Law Center https://www.nilc.org/
United We Dream (immigrant youth organization) https://unitedwedream.org
Immigrant Defense Project https://www.immigrantdefenseproject.org/
NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice http://www.njimmigrantjustice.org/
Informedimmigrant.com (for numerous NJ links): https://www.informedimmigrant.com/organizations/#newjersey
Make the Road New Jersey www.maketheroadnj.org
Dreamers+ (Brookdale) twitter acct: https://twitter.com/DreamersPlus?lang=en
Casa Freehold http://www.casafreehold.org/
Informational (educate ourselves and others):
Homeland Security statistics on immigration
Maps etc. explaining national immigration picture
See e.g. Map 20, How to Come Here the Right Way. It shows in more colorful detail what these stats do, it is very hard to become a permanent resident here without family connections. A limited number of very high skilled immigrants may, but if you are not high-skilled, there is no route at all.
On benefits of immigration
TRAC Immigration (Syracuse U.) http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/
Documents, guides, etc.
People Power Action Guide https://peoplepower.org/freedom-cities.html#toc-9model
Pdfs of model county and municipal resolutions, etc. – these will be available via our website. In the meantime you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send pdfs.
From MRNJ: "New Jersey Fights Back: How New Jersey Can Stand Up for Immigrants and the Working Class, Enhance Community Safety and Build a Stronger Garden State for All" http://www.maketheroadaction.org/nj_families_fight_back_a_platform