Guantanamo Bay has come to represent an unthinkable level of state violence gone global, where laws are suspended and “exceptional” rules are used to justify torture and degradation by the state. As people committed to social justice, we join our voices to the demand to shut down Guantanamo Bay and to dismantle the structures that make it possible!
by Rozalinda Borcila and Daniel Carrillo
(This is the shorter version of a text in AREA Chicago #13: Housing, published in March 2013)
Immigrant detention and the forced removal of “undesirable” migrants are part of a long history of federal, local, and individual practices that criminalize certain (especially nonwhite) immigrants resulting in their overall inequality. Mass detention and deportation intensify in times of “crisis,” in the name of fighting a war, defending the homeland, or protecting good “American” jobs. After 9/11, migrant incarceration has become conflated with the War on Terror—a de facto solution to a politically manufactured crisis. The Obama Administration has unveiled something called “Immigrant Detention Reform”—but it in no way reviews or derails this tendency. Instead, under the guise of offering “improved detention conditions,” such as LEED certified facilities, children’s libraries, and noninstitutional uniforms, an expansion of detention infrastructure is well underway. In this context Chicagoland has become a testing ground for a new generation of detention centers—and for efforts to resist them. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) targeted south-suburban Crete as a possible site but were defeated in the summer of 2012 by a number of community groups. As DHS and CCA shift their focus to Joliet and other possible sites, local organizers are trying to draw on lessons learned during the Crete campaign so that the new “site fight” can be an expression of a more systemic critique of migrant criminalization and containment. We hope our essay will contribute to this reflection.
Migrant detention is currently the fastest growing incarceration industry in the US. In 1996 DHS had the capacity to “house” 8,279 people on any given day; today that capacity has grown to 33,400 captives, a 400% increase. For 2013, DHS requested about $2 billion for immigrant incarceration and received $67 million more than requested. Politicians from both sides of the aisle compete not only in their enthusiasm to exceed DHS funding requests, but also in experimenting with defining “crime” for purposes of immigration law.  Immigration as a political issue is framed by promoting fear of “criminal aliens” such that public safety comes only through increased incarceration and surveillance. Detention and deportation are assumed to be necessary and inevitable. Remarkably, in the corporate media and in political debates, detention is discussed not in terms of prisoners and captors, but as a housing boom, a public/private growth sector responding to the government’s need to “take care” of illegalized populations. This sector is measured in vacancy rates, housing capacity, and bed space.
The euphemistically named Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program is another expanding practice of migrant containment and imprisonment, a form of house arrest that expands detention beyond the physical walls of the prison. ATD, otherwise known as the “Prison Without Walls,” was created in 2002 by Congressional mandate. It involves electronic monitoring, ankle shackles, mandatory curfews, unannounced home inspections by security forces, and other forms of containment. ATD is touted as a cost-effective way for DHS to accomplish its “goals of immigrant detention.” Proponents claim detaining people in “secure housing” costs an average of $166 per day per detainee, whereas the cost of ATD programs ranges from $0.30 to $14 per day per individual. Proponents also claim that ATD represents an improvement in detention conditions for thousands of immigrants who would otherwise be detained in jails and prisons. However, even a quick look at how this program is funded and implemented reveals that ATD has rolled out in addition to, and not as an alternative to, expanded lockup infrastructure. Federal funding for ATD comes on top of already ballooning funding for detention in lockup housing, instead of being a re-allocation or an alternative to it as promoters would have us believe. Additionally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) only targets for ATD those immigrants “whose detention is not required by statute, who present a low risk of flight, and who pose no danger to the community.” Thus, those pushed into ATD would not have otherwise been detained. Detention Watch Network calls this an alternative form of detention—we define it as an expanded form of the prison, which has produced its own distinct, booming market.
The Technology and Economics of ATD
ATD relies on global positioning systems (GPS) as one of its key technologies. Developed in 1973 by the US Department of Defense, GPS was fully operational in the early 1990s. Today GPS technology plays a major role in US missile and bomb attacks. Behavioral Interventions Inc. (BI) was contracted to run the first pilot ATD program in 2004 called Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP). In 2009 BI received a $372 million, five-year contract from ICE to manage the next-generation “ISAP II” program in a number of US cities, including Chicago. BI is owned by GEO Group, the second largest prison for-profit multinational in the US, also operating in South Africa, Australia, and the UK. Other major global players include 3M, Omnilink, iSecure Trac, and Secure Alert. Together these corporations lobbied for an increase in monies allocated to ATD programs. From a 2002 level of $3 million, ATD funding for fiscal year 2012 increased to $72.4 million and is projected to reach $111.59 million for fiscal year 2013, a growth of 3,700% in four years. These same companies lobby for antimmigrant laws and the further criminalization of target communities in the war against the poor.
(Data from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Unlocking Liberty: A Way Forward for U.S. Immigration Detention Policy, May 2012; Sarah Phelan, “Who profits from ICE’s electronic monitoring anklets?” San Francisco Bay Guardian, March 16, 2010; and National Immigration Forum, The Math of Immigration Detention: Runaway Costs for Immigration Detention Do Not Add Up to Sensible Policies, August 2012.)
The Invisible Prison and the Prison Everywhere
Crucial to the government’s practice of migrant detention is a legal fallacy that defines “detention” as a form of captivity that is not imprisonment. A detention center is a prison that is not a prison. The Supreme Court has found that migrants can be apprehended by force and confined “as part of the means necessary to give effect to the provisions for the exclusion or expulsion of aliens” who are to be held in custody “pending the inquiry into their true character and while arrangements were made for their deportation.” This preemptive incarceration constitutes an administrative measure, not punishment for a crime, and is therefore “not incarceration in a legal sense.”  Immigration laws, detention, and deportation thus fall outside the criminal system and its provisions. This space outside allows exceptional opportunity to experiment with forms of captivity and surveillance without restrictions of due process. But while some cages are named prisons and some detention camps, while some captives are named criminals and some are named illegals, the criminal and immigration systems shape each other as well as serving the same political and social function. Criminalization, which has long subordinated Black communities, is being extended to immigrants. The ambiguous nature of migrant incarceration also alters the logic of incarceration and surveillance under the guise of securing the homeland. The immigrant is an experiment in non-personhood, resulting in new forms of the prison and new forms of state violence that in turn serve to shape the domestic penal system. The “housing boom” is not just about market expansion and increased legal exclusion, it is also about how imprisonment as a form of “secure housing” is stretching over all social space.
When the prison is everywhere, it is also invisible as the new norm of social reality. Although we have focused on immigrant incarceration, this case study links to a much broader process of expanding, informationalizing, and generalizing the prison.
Housing a Movement in the Winnable Fight
“There are other means—with proven track records of being much less costly yet highly effective—to accomplish DHS’s goals of immigration detention.” 41 organizations—including the ACLU, American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Friends Service Committee , Detention Watch Network, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Forum, and National Immigration Law Center—signed onto this statement in a letter to Congress’s Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.  As organizers within migrant justice movements, we hear these debates more often than we would like. At all levels of the political food chain—from Obama to NGOs that supposedly advocate on behalf of immigrants—the rhetoric of “cost-effective solutions” to the “immigration problem” has become the norm, reinforcing an ideological investment in market-based solutions for the problems that capitalism creates. When major human rights NGOs advocate for ATD in the name of improved detention conditions, should we accept that this is the lesser evil? When prison contractors lobby for ATD because it is a cost-effective form of incarceration, should we be glad that the state is saving money? What does it mean to have all these players at the same table?
The mainstream immigrant rights movement self-consciously and explicitly makes reference to being the new civil rights movement, while placing itself outside of—and sometimes at odds with—contemporary racial and economic justice struggles as well as current antiprison organizing. This contradiction is evident in how the movement articulates identity and belonging in the effort to push back against the criminalization of immigrants, but not criminalization more fundamentally. The image of the “hardworking immigrant” is often implicitly and explicitly pitted against that of the “criminal” in a bid for acceptance and legitimacy, even while some of the language, tactics, and forms are directly borrowed from civil rights era struggles. In focusing on the winnable fight, the demand for a seat at the front of the bus has come to be in opposition to a demand for racial economic justice; promoting DACA for some comes at the expense of accepting deportation of others; and advocating for electronic shackles replaces the demand for full legalization.
Building a New Home
There are many ways to lose your home to the market—you can be evicted, or you can have your home become a prison. There are many ways for an immigrant rights movement to lose its home—it can be repressed or it can become part of the political structure. Thought it may be considered unreasonable and divisive by mainstream organizations, we must challenge the legitimacy of detention itself—and of the legal construct of citizenship on which it is based.
Displaced, made to appear always out of place, the migrant is assigned by the law of the market to secure housing in all its forms. The cost-effective solution to worker mobility is captive workers, flexibly tethered, whose location can be re-tuned tactically to market advantage. Can we build a border abolition movement, one that seeks to abolish not simply the border but citizenship itself—with its corresponding displaced, tethered and exploited populations?
Let’s make these questions specific and local by referring to lessons learned during the fight to stop the Crete detention center. The No Name Collective, Moratorium on Deportations Campaign (MDC) and Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission came together to challenge the legitimacy of migrant detention not by advocating for “hardworking immigrants” in opposition to those labeled as criminals, but instead by placing detention within a history of mass incarceration. The campaign explicitly defined citizenship as a pretext for capitalizing on the lives of displaced people, and opened up discussions about how citizenship relates to other mechanisms that create unequal and exploitable populations. As it began building relationships with antiprison and antiwar groups, as well as opening up more surprising solidarities with healing justice organizing, the campaign escalated into a massive sit-in in front of DHS headquarters in downtown Chicago.
As we write, grassroots groups are once again building resistance to a possible new detention center in Joliet. Although it is too soon to tell how this effort will evolve, the stakes are high: not only in resisting this specific detention center, but in creating a new foundation, a new home for a migrant justice movement.
For more information and to contribute to this effort, please see www.moratoriumondeportations.org.
1. The legislative framework for the current expansion can be traced to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) of 1996, which increased the number of people subject to detention, expanded “crimes” for which permanent residents and other noncitizens could lose their status, and set a new framework for the undue process that characterizes immigrant incarceration. Congress defines “aggravated felony” for the purposes of immigration law with an expanding list that currently includes shoplifting with suspended sentence of one year, pleading guilty to assault such as pulling someone’s hair, and check fraud. Such an expansive definition allows politicians to inflate the numbers of the “worst of the worst” who are supposedly being deported, and allows President Obama to equate a record high number of deportations with securing the Homeland.
2. Department of Homeland Security. “ICE Factsheet,” “Alternatives to Detention for ICE Detainees.” Last modified October 23, 2009. http://www.ice.gov/pi/news/factsheets/alternativestodetention.htm
3. The Supreme Court ruling in Wong Wing v. United States (1896) clarifies provisions first established in Fong Yue Ting v. United States (1893) that ‘‘The order of deportation is not a punishment for crime…but a method of enforcing the return to his own country of an alien.”
4. “Cut costly immigration detention spending,” December 21, 2011, a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/coalition_letter_to_joint_select_committee_re_dhs_detention_spending.pdf.
The Mission: 3442 W 26th St Chicago IL 60623
For many months we fought to stop the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from building a prison for immigrants in Crete. This was the first time that small community groups faced off the twin giants of the prison industry and the domestic war machine — and we won!! But now DHS is at it again, “negotiating” a new prison with the city of Joliet. Join us for a meeting to share information and begin strategizing how we can resist.
An info-session on the plans for a new immigrant prison in Joliet, followed by discussion on building resistance, next steps etc.
“Immigrant Detention” is the fastest-growing form of captivity in the US. It is a parallel and experimental prison system that targets immigrants (especially poor people of color), who can be incarcerated indefinitely without any due process, access to legal protection or minimal transparency. Every year hundreds of thousands of people are disappeared, and millions more become increasingly exploited and disposable. Detention also represents an expansion and reshaping of mass incarceration in the US — a new form of racial domination that transforms people into “criminals” and “illegals”, second-class human beings whose lives matter only as a source of profit.
We call on oppose detention and deportation. We call on all those who oppose detention and deportation. We call on those committed to anti-prison work, racial and economic justice, counter-globalization and grassroots community empowerment to help build bridges between all these movements.
No Name Collective
Moratorium on Deportations Campaign
Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission
Domingo, 2 de Diciembre, 4:00PM
La Misión: 3442 W. 26th St. Chicago IL 60623
Queridos Amig@s y Compañer@s
Por meses hemos luchado para que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) no construyera una cárcel para inmigrantes en la ciudad de Crete IL. Esta fue la primera vez en donde grupos pequeños y diversos se enfrentaron a dos gigantes de la industria carcelaria y guerra domestica – ¡y ganamos! Pero ahora DHS vuelve a lo mismo, “negociando” una nueva cárcel, pero ahora en la ciudad de Joliet IL.
Te invitamos a que nos acompañes y seas parte de una reunión donde compartiremos información acerca del nuevo plan de inmigración (ICE) y la ciudad de Joliet en construir una cárcel para inmigrantes. Y al mismo tiempo empezar a discutir estrategias en cómo podemos resistir esta nueva cárcel.
Una sesión informativa de los planes de la construcción de una nueva cárcel para inmigrantes en Joliet, seguido por una discusión en próximos pasos a tomar para resistir esta cárcel.
“Detención de Inmigrantes” es la forma de cautiverio de más rápido crecimiento en los Estados Unidos. Es un sistema de prisión experimental del cual los inmigrantes (especial los pobres y de color) son el blanco. Estos inmigrantes pueden ser encarcelados infinitivamente sin un debido proceso, acceso a protección legal y sin transparencia alguna. Cada año cienes de miles de gente son desaparecidas, y cada vez más, millones son convertidos en objetos desechables y sujetos a explotación. Este sistema de detención también representa una expansión y reconfiguración del sistema masivo de encarcelación en los Estados Unidos – una nueva forma de dominación racista que transforma a gente en “criminales” e “ilegales”, crea una segunda clase de seres humanos, quienes vidas solo son importantes como una fuente de lucro y ganancias.
Colectivo Sin Nombre
Campaña Moratoria a las Deportaciones (MDC)
Misión Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
The judge decided not to order Jose’s deportation. In a daze, we got out our cellphones to send updates — but what can we call this? A victory? As we left a building full of people with no lawyers, no support and no chance of a decision in their favor, we reflected on what had just happened. Here are a few stunned thoughts, one day later.
Court is about self-defense — it is not about winning.
And it comes at a heavy price. The judge has to determine if removing the person would cause extreme and unusual hardship to a United States citizen, in this case his son. The judge first specified for the record that the court recognizes removing a parent from a child causes hardship — this is an accepted reality that is stated, formally and cynically, as a given fact. However, he continued, the matter before the court is to determine whether, in this case, the hardship is of a more unusual and extreme nature than that experienced in the normal or average case. And the entirely of that determination was made based on the testimony of the person on trial.
Those lucky enough defend themselves are forced to elevate themselves and their child and their hardship above everyone else, to enter into an explicit agreement with the reality of “normal hardship” as something that cannot be questioned — and implicitly to condone it. This is the nature of the double-violence done to those called “deportable”. We will hunt you down and offer you the option to leave willingly. If you fight, we will hurt you more.
We promised that our solidarity would not repeat outside of the courtroom the violence that is done inside. Maybe this commitment is already a celebration, a discovery and a new first step. The next step in our celebration will take us to Joliet.
(Republished on 6/25/2018 – Originally released to media on 8/17/2012)
For Immediate Release
August 17, 2012
José Herrera, 773-632-9992
Jesús Guillén, 773-297-3019
Immigrant Rights Activists and Members of Moratorium on Deportations Campaign were Harassed by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
ICIRR staff called the police and security personnel to remove them from “Dream Relief Day”
Chicago IL- Members of the Moratorium on Deportations Campaign (MDC) attended Dream Relief Day on August 15, remaining outside Navy Pier to listen to the perspectives of many people who were waiting in line. After thousands of people were turned away by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), who were unable to deal with the numbers of people they themselves mobilized under false pretenses, MDC conducted a small workshop in the grass area and discussed the misinformation around Deferred Action. After a lively Q&A, members of the media who heard this small workshop invited two of our organizers, José Herrera and Jesús Guillén, to give an interview for La Campeona 1500AM radio station. Since media tables were set up for interviews inside the Grand Ballroom, our organizers and two reporters conducted the interviews inside the building. However, almost as soon as they entered, ICIRR staff harassed them, demanded they show their “registration papers” and insisted they leave the building. When the organizers continued their interviews with the press, ICIRR staff called the police to remove them from the building.
“When we arrived to the radio installations where we were going to be interviewed, ICIRR staff approached us aggressively saying that we should leave immediately” stated Jesús Guillén. “Less than five minutes later, another staff member aggressively approached José, accusing him of ‘spreading fear’ ” Jesús concluded.
Our organizers were able to give the interview to La Campeona. However, when another radio station attempted to interview José, the harassment resumed. “When I was done,” Jesús reported, “I looked around to find José, and saw him standing by a reporter, ICIRR’s communications director – Monica Trevino – a security person from Navy Pier, and a Chicago Police officer. ICIRR staff, Monica Trevino, was demanding the police officer to escort us out of the premises.”
We know this is not merely arrogance. It is an attempt at intimidation, because MDC has publicly denounced ICIRR, Representative Gutierrez and Senator Durbin for orchestrating a misinformation campaign around Deferred Action. We warned that thousands of people were being mobilized to attend the event, and to apply for deferred action, under false pretenses, and we also stated that we would hold these entities accountable for the consequences of their misinformation campaign.
Our collective has insisted on accurate and informed analysis of Deferred Action, and denounced the lies, misinformation, exaggerations and deceptive promises that were used to advertise Dream Relief Day. ICIRR used Deferred Action to try and produce a spectacle, mobilizing as many people as possible for their own political gains. When MDC publicly criticized the approach of ICIRR, Durbin and Gutierrez and when we insisted on presenting a different view, ICIRR singled out and harassed our members. This organization receives massive financial contributions, supposedly in order to advocate on behalf of immigrants – yet, in their frenzy to prop up Obama’s image as “immigrant friendly” and to cement friendships with Democratic party politicians, ICIRR does not hesitate to harass other immigrant rights organizers and – incredible – to call the police on an undocumented organizer simply for daring to disagree with them publicly.
“I have been fighting the government’s attempts to deport me for several years. Now, I have ICIRR staff asking me to “show my papers” and then calling the police to deport me from the ballroom” laughed José Herrera, organizer with the Moratorium on Deportations Campaign. “It was all very familiar,” he concluded.
Jesús Guillén went on to pronounce these questions “I wonder what ICIRR’s stance on freedom of speech is? There was obviously lots of media present, but does ICIRR want to control the message so much that they cannot allow people with a different perspective to be interviewed? Do they see people receiving more information than what ICIRR is offering on the same subject as a threat?”
Moratorium on Deportations Campaign, the No Name Collective, José Herrera, and Jesús Guillén demand to see an answer to these questions and a public statement on the reasons for Wednesday’s harassment.
No Name Collective
Moratorium on Deportations Campaign
Activistas Pro-Derechos de los Inmigrantes y Miembros de la Campaña para una Moratoria a las Deportaciones Fueron Acosados por la Coalición de Illinois para Derechos de Los Inmigrantes y Refugiados
El personal de ICIRR llamó a la policía y personal de seguridad para evacuarlos del “Día de Alivio para los Soñadores”
Chicago, IL- Miembros de la Campaña para una Moratoria a las Deportaciones (MDC) asistieron al Día de Alivio para los Soñadores el 15 de agosto, permanecieron a las afueras del Navy Pier para escuchar las perspectivas de la gente que esperaba en línea. Después de que la Coalición de Illinois para los Derechos de los Inmigrantes y Refugiados (ICIRR) no dejara entrar a miles de personas, ya que no estaban preparados para ayudar a todas las personas que exhortaron a participar, la MDC condujo pequeño taller en la grama y discutió la información errónea sobre Acción Diferida. Después de una animada sección de preguntas y respuestas, miembros de los medios de comunicación que escucharon el taller, pidieron entrevistar a dos de nuestros organizadores, José Herrera y Jesús Guillén, para la estación de radio La Campeona, 1500AM. Como las mesas de la radio estaban dentro del Navy Pier, las entrevistas se llevaron a cabo en el salón. Sin embargo, casi desde el momento de entrar, el personal de ICIRR empezó a acosar a nuestros organizadores, pidiéndoles que mostraran sus “papeles de registro” e insistían en que salieran del edificio.
“Cuando llegamos a las instalaciones de la radio, donde nos iban a entrevistar, el personal de ICIRR, se acerco a nosotros de manera agresiva, diciendo que no deberíamos estar ahí,” afirmo Jesús Guillén. “Cinco minutos después, una segunda persona de ICIRR, se le acerco agresivamente a José, acusándolo de ‘propagar miedo’ ” concluyo Guillén.
Nuestros organizadores pudieron dar las entrevistas a radio La Campeona. Cuando otra estación de radio intento entrevistar a José, el acoso continuo. “Cuando termine”, reportó Jesús, “mire a mi alrededor para ver donde estaba José y lo vi junto al reportero, la directora de comunicaciones de ICIRR—Mónica Treviño—,un agente de seguridad del Navy Pier y un oficial de policía. La Srta. Treviño le insistía al agente de policía que nos escoltara hacia fuera del edificio,” aclaro Guillén.
Sabemos que esto no es mera arrogancia, sino un intento de intimidación, debido a que la MDC ha denunciado públicamente a ICIRR, el Congresista Gutiérrez y el Senador Durbin por orquestar una campaña de desinformación sobre Acción Diferida. Indicamos que miles de personas estaban siendo movilizadas para asistir al evento y aplicar para acción diferida de manera engañosa. También aclaramos que mantendríamos a estas entidades responsables por las consecuencias de su campaña de desinformación.
Nuestra colectiva ha insistido en que se presente un análisis certero e informativo de la iniciativa Acción Diferida y denunciado las mentiras, información errónea, exageraciones y promesas falsas que se emplearon para promocionar el Día de Alivio para los Soñadores. ICIRR utilizó la Acción Diferida para montar un espectáculo, movilizando el mayor número de personas para sus propósitos políticos. Cuando criticamos públicamente la postura de ICIRR, Durbin y Gutiérrez y cuando insistimos en presentar un punto de vista diferente, ICIRR señaló y acosó a nuestros miembros. Esta organización revive enormes contribuciones financieras, supuestamente con el fin de defender los derechos de los inmigrantes. Sin embargo, en su afán de mostrar al presidente Obama como favorable a la población inmigrante y de afianzar lazos con políticos demócratas, ICIRR no titubea en acosar otros organizadores pro-inmigrantes e—increíblemente—llamar a la policía en contra de un organizador indocumentado simplemente por atreverse a contradecirlos públicamente.
“He estado combatiendo los esfuerzos del gobierno de deportarme por varios años. Ahora, tengo al personal de ICIRR pidiéndome que les “muestre mis papeles” y llamando a la policía para que me saque de un lugar” comentó José Herrera, organizador de la Campaña para una Moratoria a las Deportaciones. “Se me hizo todo muy conocido” concluyó.
Jesús Guillén prosiguió pronunciando esto: “Me pregunto ¿cuál es la postura de ICIRR sobre la libertad de expresión? Obviamente estaban muchos medios de comunicación presentes, ¿acaso ICIRR quiere tener el completo control de la prensa que no quiere que personas con diferente opinión a la de ellos sean entrevistadas? ¿Acaso ven el que la gente reciba más información que la que ellos ofrecen sobre el mismo tema como una amenaza?”
La Campaña para una Moratoria a las Deportaciones, la Colectiva Sin Nombre, José Herrera y Jesús Guillén exigen ver una respuesta a estas preguntas y una declaración publica sobre las razones de porque fueron acosados ayer.
Campaña para una Moratoria a las Deportaciones
[Para ver video en español aga CLICK aqui]
Risks and Lies in Obama’s “Deferred Action for Undocumented Youth”
“Defer the Bullshit” is our ongoing effort to resist the propaganda around the Obama Administration’s new Deferred Action campaign for undocumented youth. While some youth *may* have a chance at relief, Deferred Action is at best insufficient, and at worst misleading, dangerous and deliberately deceptive. They call it a relief program – we call it an enforcement campaign. As always, Mr Obama is using immigrants as guinea pigs for his own political gains. “DEFER THE BULLSHIT” It is an effort to combat misinformation, dispel the myths – and to demand Mr. Obama use his executive powers for real solutions.
Here is our first video
Based on the “Defer the Bullshit” workshop, this video is a basic introduction to Prosecutorial Discretion, Deferred Action and some of the key risks for undocumented youth who voluntarily apply.
Read our statement Below!
- Tuesday, August 14th at 11:30am, Outside Obama’s Campaign Headquarters (One Prudential Plaza)Immigrant Justice Organizers Denounce President Obama, Congressman Luis Gutierrez and I.C.I.R.R. for Misleading the Public About Deferred Action for Undocumented Youth
Chicago IL. – Members and supporters of the Moratorium on Campaign (MDC) launch a campaign to combat misinformation around the Obama Administration’s new Deferred Action campaign. We hold ICIRR, Congressman Gutierrez and Barack Obama responsible for the lives of youth who, following their misleading statements, will end up in ICE custody or deported.
- Gathering: Knowledge Is Power! – The risks behind the hype. Wednesday, August 15, 8:30-10 AM, Outside Navy Pier
President Obama has advertised a new campaign supposedly granting relief to undocumented youth who meet certain criteria. But Homeland Security documents clearly state: even people who meet all the criteria may be rejected and turned over to I.C.E. There is no guarantee they will be granted any kind of relief, and the government will be able to initiate deportation proceedings against them, at any time. In addition, even if granted, Deferred Action does not represent a legal status or safety from deportation. It simply meas the government may temporarily postpone efforts to remove you.
Undocumented people have been living under conditions of constant terror imposed by this regime’s deportation policies. Any initiative that seems to offer some relief is understandably greeted with great hope. But this campaign promises nothing more than a chance that maybe the government will postpone its efforts to deport people – while exposing them to extreme risks, including the risk of deportation simply for applying! While Deferred Action may be a good option, or the only option, for people already in custody, it is incredibly cynical to bait young people who are not yet in custody and are therefore not yet subject to deportation, promising to postpone actions that have not been initiated against them in the first place.
Mr Obama, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and Congressman Luis Gutierrez have been misleading the public about the benefits and risks of Deferred Action for youth. ICIRR Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Benito stated “We encourage every undocumented youth who fits the criteria to take advantage of this great opportunity to come out of the shadows by applying for deferred action.” We consider it irresponsible to encourage people to apply without appropriately analyzing the risks involved. ICIRR has also stated that undocumented youth would be “free from deportation”. This statement is false: deferred action offers no protection from deportation. ICIRR and Congressman Luis Gutierrez have been recruiting people into a dangerous and uncertain situation for their own political gains.
The document at the root of all the hype is a memo released by Janet Napolitano, addressed to three branches of the Department of Homeland Security. While there has been much propaganda around this new campaign, it is clear this memo is not about justice, it is about enforcement. Further, a Memo is not a law, it is not a pardon or an executive order. And it offers no guarantees. It is a set of instructions from the DHS boss to the people who work in agencies under her command. It outlines a set of criteria for how Prosecutorial Discretion should be applied.
Prosecutorial Discretion has been used in the immigration system for 30 years, and is fundamental to the criminal justice system as well. It allows the authorities to decide on a case-by-case basis how, and if, to enforce laws against people. Discretion can be applied in your favor or against you; it is not based on laws, accountability or rights, but on administrative “priorities” set by different agencies at different times. In the US, this has lead to unchecked powers for prosecutors, police and ICE agents, who act with impunity against poor people, immigrants and people of color.
The new memo outlines a set of priorities in order to better enforce immigration laws through Prosecutorial Discretion. Obama has fashioned himself as the “tough on immigration” president, setting deportation quotas that put pressure or every agency, and every part of the system, to make as many people as possible subject to deportation. But the courts are backlogged, the system is clearly failing and DHS is unable to meet its own quotas. Instead of using his executive powers to provide real relief, Obama is finding “innovative” solutions based in “efficiency” and disinformation. The propaganda encourages youth who have not yet been detained, and who are not yet in custody, to turn themselves in to Homeland security – in exchange for the possibility that Prosecutorial Discretion may be used in their favor and they may be granted Deferred Action.But historically we have seen that Prosecutorial discretion is overwhelmingly applied against, not in favor, of immigrants at all stages of the enforcement process. And recent data show this as not changed even after Mr Obama’s previous campaign touting relief through Prosecutorial Discretion, represented by the Morton memo. Furthermore, Deferred Action offers no protection from deportation. Defer means to postpone, action refers to any action initiated by the government with the purpose of deporting someone. So Deferred Action, even if granted, means simply this: the government will temporarily postpone efforts to deport you, and this postponement can be rescinded at any time. It does not represent status or safety from deportation; and DHS decisions are final with no possibility of appeal.
While falsely promising *maybe* relief for some, the new Obama campaign is expanding enforcement in several significant ways:
- Making more and more people deportable. Baiting youth to turn themselves over to Homeland Security makes more people subject to deportation. This is not only about the risks faced by these youth, who may be deported as a result of applying. We understand that criminalizing immigrants is not really about deporting 12 million people, but about making entire populations deportable, and therefore exploitable.
- Reinforcing the good immigrant vs bad immigrant divide. This campaign promises “maybe” rewards for those deemed by the administration to be like “good Americans” while pushing for more enforcement against all others, who are by default more likely to be categorized as “criminal aliens”.
- Expanding criminalization. The new campaign introduces the notion of “significant misdemeanor”, which is a new and very fuzzy category of crime. We have seen the tendency to expand and make more flexible what constitutes a “criminal alien” for deportation purposes. Every time new language is introduced to “invent” new crime categories, this represents an expansion of criminalization that affects all immigrants
- Social justice movements are buying into the hype and are turning their focus away from demanding real solutions. We are supposed to believe this is a victory and to become facilitators of Obama’s campaign. Just as undocumented youth are “put to work” as unwaged ICE agents in apprehending themselves, social justice advocates and organizers are put to work as recruiters for Homeland Security.
- Our eyes off the prize: keeping us focused on case-by-case solutions pushes demands for justice for all further and further into the background.
We will not be so easily duped. We refuse to be satisfied with case-by-case solutions. Our demands continue to be: justice for all!
No Name Collective
Moratorium On Deportations
Jose Herrera 773-632-9992 (Spanish/English)
Rozalinda Borcila 813-789-0123 (English)
WHEN: Sunday, August 5th , 4:00PM
WHERE: 3442 W. 26th St. Chicago IL – Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission
*this info-session does not offer legal advice*
On June 15, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano released a memo describing a new set of procedures for how “the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should enforce the Nation’s immigration laws against certain young people…”. The Obama administration calls this Deferred Action, and is advertising it as a form of relief and an attempt to make the immigration system “more just.” Despite all the hype, Deferred Action is a tool for enforcement against people, not a policy for people. It does not end the threat of deportation, it does not offer any kind of status or safety from repression. It does however ask people to voluntarily turn themselves in to the authorities and be at the discretion of Homeland Security, who has already proven that this administration’s top immigration priority is locking up and deporting as many poor immigrants as possible.
Join us for an info session that will explain Deferred Action in a realistic way, so that we can confront all the misleading information bombarding us. The info-session will also analyze Deferred Action as the Obama administration’s newest attempt to make false promises to immigrants while in fact expanding enforcement, feeding more people into the mouth of Homeland Security and increasing the criminalization of immigrants. This is a way of capitalizing on immigrants for political gains!
August 15 is when the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to establish an application process for individual cases, and people are being recruited into mass application events without sufficient discussion about the consequences. As people who demand justice for all immigrants, we say – defer the bullshit! We call for a public response to expose this scam and to resist the expansion of enforcement and criminalization.
~~Taller Informativo en “Acción Diferida” – Sin Mierda Alguna!~~
CUANDO: Domingo, 5 de Agosto. 4:00PM
DONDE: 3442 W. 26th St. Chicago – La Mision Nuestra Senora de Gudalupe
*este taller no ofrece asesoramiento legal*
El 15 de junio, la secretaria de Seguridad Nacional, Janet Napolitano, dio a conocer un memorándum en el cual describe como “el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional debe hacer cumplir las leyes migratorias de la nación en contra de ciertos jóvenes indocumentados…”La administración del Presidente Obama llama este procedimiento “Acción Diferida,” y lo está anunciando como una forma de alivio para jóvenes en un intento de hacer que el sistema de inmigración sea “más justo.” A pesar de todas las exageraciones de este anuncio, acción diferida es una herramienta de ejecución en contra de las personas, y no es una póliza en favor de las personas . Esto no termina con la amenaza de las deportaciónes, no ofrece ningún tipo de estatus o seguridad contra la represión. Sin embargo, sí se les pide a la gente que voluntariamente se entreguen a las autoridades, quedando en manos y al criterio del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, quienes ya han demostrado que el arrestar, encarcelar, y deportar ala mayor cantidad posible de gente es la prioridad de la administración de Obama en inmigración.
Únase a nosotros para un taller informativo donde se explicara lo de Acción Diferida de una manera realista, para que podamos afrontar toda esa información engañosa que nos están diciendo. El taller informativo también analizará Acción Diferida como el más reciente intento de la administración de Obama de hacer falsas promesas a los inmigrantes, mientras que en realidad esta ampliando la ejecución de arrestos y deportaciones, alimentando a más personas dentro de la boca del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional e incrementando la criminalización de los inmigrantes. Esta es una manera de sacar provecho de los inmigrantes para obtener beneficios políticos!
El 15 de agosto es cuando el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional se supone debe establecer un proceso de solicitud para los casos individuales, y la gente esta siendo reclutada en eventos y talleres masivos para estas aplicaciones sin la suficiente discusión acerca de las consecuencias. Como personas quienes reclaman justicia para todos los inmigrantes, les decimos – hay que decir las cosas como son, sin mierda alguna! El 5 de agosto, terminaremos el taller informativo de Acción Diferida hablando de como podemos tomar acciones y responder a esta estafa del gobierno, resistiendo al incremento de la criminalización de inmigrantes.
En Solidaridad/In Solidarity,
No Name Collective
Moratorium On Deportations Campaign (MDC)
After months of struggle, plans to build a new immigrant prison in Crete were defeated. There will be NO immigrant prison in Crete IL. We are amazed and inspired by the grass roots organizing that made this possible – from workshops that focused on education, to street actions that turned outrage into defiance.
• The Concerned Citizens of Crete mobilized to raise hell in their community
• MDC, Undocumented families from Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission and anti-prison organizers joined forces on a three day protest march, supported by Chicago Action Medical
• We staged a massive sit-in at ICE headquarters in Chicago – supported by Occupy Chicago and hundreds of anti-NATO advocates
Through all these actions, we showed that we are powerful! With no resources and no staff, hundreds of people came together to confront two giants – ICE and Corrections Corporation of America – and we won!
How do we celebrate this victory?
We hope to organize a public celebration next month, and that you will join us to reflect, share food and dance!! But right now, Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission is in the 10th day of a hunger strike to demand healthcare for undocumented immigrants in critical condition. Right now, we celebrate by showing solidarity with people who are fighting for their lives. Wednesday, June 13 is a march from the Mission (at 10:30AM) arriving at University of Illinois Medical Center (Taylor St and Paulina Ave), and on Friday, June 15th a caravan from the Mission (10:30AM) to several Chicago Hospitals.
To celebrate is to fight. To celebrate is to rise up in defiance, to live with dignity and to accept nothing else. To celebrate is to fight for a world with no cages, no borders, and no profit from the bodies and labor of human beings. We are building this world, we are not begging for it.
We learned in this struggle that we can only win as a sum of efforts, that it takes different communities, each fighting in their own way. Our differences come from unequal power positions – we cannot ignore these differences, we fight to overcome them. We also learned about people power, which comes from our bodies, our lives, our analysis, our voices – with no promise of gain, of political capital, or of organizational self-promotion. We celebrate with renewed commitment, with rage and great joy. The struggle continues!
Moratorium on Deportations Campaign (MDC)
No Name Collective
They attack and terrorize our communities, and then call us a security threat. We have just witnessed a wave of state violence against peaceful demonstrators, and immigrant communities have been under attack for years. The true open, political process is represented by people standing up against the war at home and abroad, by social movements increasingly demanding, and creating, political change through direct public participation. The only “security concern” is a repressive system that criminalizes migration, poverty and political dissent.
We will gather to celebrate people power in nonviolent, symbolic action over state repression. We will not cancel our SHUT DOWN ICE action! In addition, we will remind the Congressman that he endorsed the NATO protests and his father participated in them, as is expected of politicians claiming to be “progressive Democrats”. We demand that he either retract his unfounded, alarmist and misleading statements about anti-NATO and pro-immigrant advocates, or add himself to the list of parties his office considers a security concern. Calling us a security threat incites police violence against us. We consider the Congressman personally responsible for any form of repression or police attack we may encounter as we exercise our right to assemble today.