From Oregon to New York, Law Officers Just Say ‘No’ to ICE

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Photo by NYC Council/William Alatriste

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Photo by NYC Council/William Alatriste

Last week the New York City Council passed legislation, 41-6, stopping the New York Police Department and the New York City Department of Corrections from honoring detainer requests from ICE, unless they are backed by a federal warrant.

“Today is a historic day. After five years of work, New York City will put an end to the collaboration with ICE that damages immigrant families and hurts our communities,” said Javier Valdes, co-executive director of Make the Road New York told the Immigrant Defense Project.

After campaigning for the last five years, our affiliate Make the Road New York, has seen a great victory

Further, ICE has been evicted from maintaining operations at Rikers Island Correctional Facility, drawing a strict and clear boundary between ICE and local authorities.

While congress has failed at the federal level to enact comprehensive immigration reform, local jurisdictions from Oregon to New York have taken matters into their own hands to ensure the fair and equal treatment of all of their community members.

In April, a federal court ruling by Judge Janice Stewart in Oregon ruled that holding immigrants in jail extra time at the request of ICE is not required by law. Sheriff Daniel Staton of Multnomah County, along with sheriffs in Washington, and Clackamas counties quickly announced that they were opting out of ICE holds, and quickly informed leaders at our affiliate Center for Intercultural Organizing, of their decision.

Within a week, nine more counties in Oregon, then others around the country, joined them in making similar announcements.

And while it was the ruling of a federal judge that ultimately pushed city and county law enforcement to change their policies, it was the activists throughout the country who made the ground ready for the change. For years, organizers and brave community members have fought to show that ICE holds are not mandatory.

However, without federal reform, people are still being detained, families are still being torn apart, and children are going hungry when their providers are needlessly jailed.

The call to action still remains: Comprehensive immigration reform is needed, and it is needed now.

Learning Experience: Two Bachelors Degrees and Deep in Debt

In my family, going to University was never a question. My sisters and I were raised with the idea that higher education was our ticket out of poverty. Like our peers, we clung to the American dream of graduating and establishing careers that would allow us to fulfill our dreams of traveling, building a family, owning a family home, and eventually retiring in comfort. What we didn’t count on was the crippling debt we would have to surmount.

I graduated in June from Seattle Pacific University. After working full time for the last four years, I earned two bachelor’s degrees, and roughly $140,000 in debt.

I was so steeped in the ideology of higher education that when the bills came in for tuition, books, and housing, the fear associated with the prospect of not having a degree to my name exceeded my anxiety at my mounting debt. So much so, that when the grants and scholarships that I had received began to run out, my mother consented to take out parent-plus loans to keep not only myself, but also my two elder sisters in college, under the condition that we would repay the loans in her name.

Some of my peers were not so lucky and had to drop out. Six months later they were working minimum wage jobs attempting to repay the loans they had been able to take out – still without their degrees. Read more

“We Say They Can Stay,” Native American Leaders Protest Immigrant Detension

By Simmi Bagri
Alliance for a Just Society

ICE Protest-1cropThe annual Alliance for A Just Society’s Advanced Native Organizers Training, was sponsored by the Praxis Project and hosted at the  Alliance’s office in Seattle this month, drew leaders from tribes and organizations from around the country. They came from as far as Virginia, Alaska, South Dakota, and New Mexico, and as near as Oregon and the Yakima Valley.

They brought with them their history, their culture, and stories of the injustices being faced in their communities. They brought an array of unique perspectives on issues ranging from fighting for food sovereignty to challenging the destruction of native lands through construction of oil pipelines. Read more

The Penalty for Being Poor – Prison

By Simmi Bagri
Alliance for a Just Society

Imagine being poor. Then imagine that the depth of your poverty is compounded because you committed a minor infraction. You can’t pay your ticket. You go to court and are put under a probation monitoring service – more fees and fines. You can’t afford bus fare, so you walk everywhere. You can’t afford food, so you go hungry.

Then imagine being put in jail because you can’t pay the fines. Your life has been criminalized, and infrastructure that ought to allow you to you to make amends and move forward, traps you. You can’t escape it. Now you can stop imagining, because that is exactly what is happening across the United States today

Earlier this month the Human Rights Watch released a report titled “Profiting From Probation: America’s Offender-Funded Probation Industry,” which describes a probation model that incentivizes private for-profit companies to prey on low-income misdemeanor offenders.
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