All posts by Ray Garrido

Ending DACA is wrong but inaction by our Congress would be even worse

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program freed hundreds of thousands of young people from the fear of being deported to countries which many of them don’t remember and where they would be in danger. It also gave them the ability to work legally and get an education. I have known dozens of these young people. They all shared one characteristic – hope. They believed they were in a country that cared about them and that was willing to take steps to give them the opportunity to become contributing members. And they did. They went to school, got jobs and started careers. They engaged in their communities. They were realizing the term that has been given to them – Dreamers. Over the last four years KIAC’s legal program has helped many young people realize this dream, and we’ve help them renew their status so they could continue this positive journey.

Now the Administration has decided to exclude Dreamers in our country and has ended the DACA program. This action will have a devastating effect on the Dreamers, their families, friends, schools, and employers. While the authority exists to undo a previous president’s executive order, he could also let it continue. Instead he adds to the fear in the immigrant community by targeting hundreds of thousands of young people for deportation.

We now ask the Congress to undo this heartless act and pass legislation that will restore protection to the Dreamers and provide a way for them to become full citizens of the United States instead of living in a political limbo. There are several bills in congress addressing this.

We at the Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers and in this trying time we will provide support to the dozens of Dreamers in our community to help them through this struggle.

We encourage you to contact your congressional representatives: Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Derek Kilmer.  Encourage them to support legislation that will undo this heartless political act.

Here are their contact links:
Senator Maria Cantwell: https://www.cantwell.senate.gov/contact/email/form

Senator Patty Murray: https://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactme

Congressman Derek Kilmer: https://kilmer.house.gov/contact/email-me

Ray Garrido
KIAC Legal Services Director

A Federal Judge Slams Trump: “Even the ‘Good Hombres’ Are Not Safe”

A fiery opinion denounces a deportation for “ripping apart a family.”

Today, a federal appeals court judge in California rebuked the Trump administration for its zealous deportation policy and for “ripping apart a family.” Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that he had no power to stop the removal of Andres Magana Ortiz, but nevertheless took the time to write a short opinion blasting his deportation as “inhumane.”

“We are unable to prevent Magana Ortiz’s removal, yet it is contrary to the values of this nation and its legal system,” Reinhardt wrote in a six-page concurring opinion. “Indeed, the government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz diminishes not only our country but our courts, which are supposedly dedicated to the pursuit of justice…I concur as a judge, but as a citizen I do not.”

As Reinhardt detailed in his opinion, Magana Ortiz came to the United States from Mexico 28 years ago, built a family and a career, and paid his taxes. His wife and three children are American citizens. His only legal transgressions were two DUIs, the last one 14 years ago. “[E]ven the government conceded during the immigration proceedings that there was no question as to Magana Ortiz’s good moral character,” Reinhardt noted. Nonetheless, in March the government decided to deny Magana Ortiz’s application for a stay of removal while he applied for legal residency status, a process that is still underway, and moved to deport him to Mexico.

Reinhardt took particular aim at the fact, demonstrated repeatedly in the first months of Donald Trump’s presidency, that the administration’s immigration crackdown is not only targeting violent criminals. “President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the ‘bad hombres,'” he wrote. “The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe. Magana Ortiz is by all accounts a pillar of his community and a devoted father and husband. It is difficult to see how the government’s decision to expel him is consistent with the President’s promise of an immigration system with ‘a lot of heart.’ I find no such compassion in the government’s choice to deport Magana Ortiz.”

Fear and Hope

Fear
The intensity of the situation continues to weigh on our immigrant brothers and sisters. We’re hearing stories of kids afraid that they will come home from school to find their parents gone, parents afraid to send their kids to school, people afraid to go to the store to buy food, people not showing up to appointments with service providers – all because of the fear that has been generated by the administration’s executive orders and resulting policies.
Hope
While we can’t discount those fears, we can do something to help people. Since the beginning of February we have given eight Know Your Rights and Family Preparedness workshops covering 573 attendees in Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties. By helping people understand their rights under our constitution, we give them some power when they are confronted by ICE. This knowledge may also help to defend them if they are placed in removal proceedings. By helping them plan, we give them some control over what will happen with their kids and assets if they are detained or deported. We don’t enjoy doing these workshops but they are a necessary and important part of our advocacy.
As we do these workshops we’re meeting lots of people who want to help. Groups are starting up in Jefferson, Kitsap, and Mason counties to support and advocate for their immigrant sisters and brothers. We’re inspired by the response of people who want to organize around immigrant advocacy. We’re meeting with these groups to help them organize and provide training and support.
We are also heartened that several groups are contacting their elected representatives to encourage them to state their support for diversity in our communities by passing Welcoming Community resolutions. It certainly seems like citizen participation is on the rise.
Five dedicated volunteers have just completed the comprehensive overview of immigration law and we expect to apply for their accreditation by the end of the month. This will greatly increase our ability to serve.
So, despite the attempts by some to drive us apart, I am seeing our community respond with energy, support and love. This is what will keep us together and get us through this challenge.
As always we need your support to continue this work. Please consider donating.