Most starting to doubt any major immigration reform
Aura Bogado | 11/7/2013, 6 a.m.
October was a busy month on the streets for comprehensive immigration reform backers — but it was quiet in on the floor of the House. While pro-immigrant lawmakers and their supporters keep putting pressure on Congress to pass overhaul legislation, record-setting numbers of detentions and deportations of immigrants continue. But so do actions that challenge the way immigrant communities are targeted.
Thousands of people in about 150 cities participated in mobilizations on October 5, calling for Republicans to move forward on the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. That was followed by a civil disobedience in Washington, D.C., on October 8, in which 200 people were arrested — including eight members of Congress. President Obama has also spent a good amount of time talking about immigration: Immediately after the debt crisis was averted in October, the president made clear, through a series of statements and interviews, that immigration was once again a priority. And time and time again, Obama has squarely put the onus on the House Republicans that he says won’t give comprehensive immigration reform a chance to go through.
But its Obama’s own administration, and not Republican lawmakers, that has deported a record number of immigrants. And activists are also taking that record to task. About 250 people converged in Arizona in mid October to participate in a series of direct actions aimed at shutting down Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations. After returning home from Arizona, activists in San Francisco were inspired to block a deportation bus — all the while calling on Obama to put an end to deportations. It’s rumored that similar actions to stop ICE in its deportation tracks — at least temporarily — are being planned.
October also drew attention to the so-called Dream 30, the group of undocumented youth who very publicly crossed the port of entry at Laredo, Texas. A total of 35 people crossed on September 30. Several of them — including a toddler who is a U.S.-born citizen, and her mother, an immigrant originally from Honduras — were released almost immediately. The rest of the minors and their parents were soon released as well. Last week, an additional 11 from the group were released, but 13 more remain in detention in El Paso. One activist, Rocio Hernandez, was deported to Mexico.
Hernandez was just 4 years old when she arrived in North Carolina from Veracruz, Mexico. She was accepted to Eastern Carolina University, but the state requires undocumented students to pay international tuition rates. “It’s usually $7,000 a semester, but that went up to $15,000 a semester because of my status,” Hernandez explained by phone from Mexico, the day after her deportation. She was unable to apply for federal aid because of her status, and found few scholarships that fit her needs. At 19, Hernandez decided to return to Mexico, despite the fact that she had spent nearly her entire life in the U.S.
She enrolled in school, but soon got a taste of rising violence. Her home was broken into. An aunt was kidnapped and held for ransom — only to be followed by the kidnapping of an uncle as well.