Phoenix I’m going to be in Phoenix for three days helping organizers out who are moving more aggressively against foreclosures and the horror of the new Arizona anti-immigrant law. The Washington, DC Council may have show the way today though for other jurisdictions who are reckoning with the fundamental human rights quandary and basic injustice and racism of the Arizona measure.
Today the Washington Council unanimously responded to a unanimous outpouring of immigrant, community, and labor advocates by reneging on its earlier agreement with Homeland Security’s ICE and the 287g “light” programs that they would cooperate with Immigration authorizes by turning over their local information and database. In Washington at least the decision was non-cooperation. No matter the citizenship status of anyone arrested in the District, that information is staying at home. Essentially DC has determined that in this environment they can no longer trust Immigration authorities and how the blunt instrument of their enforcement will be used against citizens. This is serious, and it’s effective. Secretary Janet Napolitano had previously set a goal of having all communities sign the “Secure Communities” agreements by 2013.l. Forget about that, Madame Secretary.
Importantly the embattled Governor of New York, David Patterson, seems to be carving some new ground as well. He has ordered a speedup in the review of old cases where there needs to be a pardon for minor incidents in order to expunge records for immigrants so that ICE cannot use these misdemeanors and juvenile matters as excuses for deportation. In this way – and with some courage – he is putting New York State squarely in the face of the Obama Administration’s “get tough” political enforcement policy. He also was brilliantly quoted as saying that New York – obviously in contrast with Arizona – believed in redemption and compassion. Wow!
And, President Obama is going to have trouble ignoring the calls to act. When a New York Times sports columnist is even calling for the Major League Baseball’s Commissioner Selig to stand up for his players (30% of whom are foreign born!) against the Arizona immigrant smack down, then you this problem is way tooooo obvious for the President to just watch on TV.
President Obama needs to join the DC Council and the Governor of New York and flatly state that Immigration data is NOT going to Arizona. The United States government does not need to be party to a human rights disaster in the desert, and this is a call the President needs to make now!