Immigrant Advocates Want Action from Obama

By Julianne Hing Mar 04, 2009

Photo by PaisleyPitbull Over eight thousand people gathered in Phoenix this weekend to demand an end to the raids, mass detention and deportation of thousands of immigrants that have swept across the country. The demonstration was touted as a protest against Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s made a name for himself with his special brand of vigilante racism. The multiracial and multi-generational crowd carried signs that read, "We Are Human," and "Arpaio Is Not My America." But the protesters didn’t pin all the blame on Arpaio. They issued a call to President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, echoed by a powerful op-ed published in the Times, to step up and take responsibility for ending the inhumane policies and terror practices that have become all too commonplace in this country. From the op-ed:

Americans who might applaud any crackdown on illegal immigrants, particularly in a recession, should know that scattershot raids and rampaging sheriffs are not the answer. The idea that enforcement alone will eliminate the underground economy is a great delusion. It runs up against the impossible arithmetic of mass expulsion — no conceivable regime of raids will wrench 12 million illegal immigrants from their jobs and homes.

The country is not a safer or better place because one more business and two dozen more families are torn apart outside Seattle or because Sheriff Arpaio has much of Maricopa County terrified. The system under which illegal immigrants labor, without hope of assimilation, is not any less broken. A new report from the Government Accountability Office shows that federal oversight of the 287(g) program has been sorely lacking. So, a question: Are Mr. Obama and Ms. Napolitano in charge or not? Let them show it by ending the raids and Sheriff Arpaio’s abuses. Something has to be done about immigration, but it has to be smarter than this.

It’s time to see if the Obama administration can fulfill the promise of the movement that put them into power.