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This Week in Immigration En Español

April 06, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas

March 28 – April 3, 2009


This is the first of a weekly series of immigration news roundups featuring Spanish language media in the U.S.  For those of you who can’t read Spanish, this will give you a flavor for what is being covered.


During this week, immigration news in Spanish language media focused on current and future enforcement actions and enforcement policies.  It was fueled by reports that DHS is rethinking how it conducts home and workplace immigration raids, focusing enforcement operations on abusive employers and criminals rather than undocumented workers.


1.    EFE (One of the largest Spanish-language newswire services in the U.S.) reported on Tuesday about the release of 13 immigrant workers detained during the Bellingham, Washington raid in February and the article questioned whether this signals a potential shift in policy for how ICE conducts immigration enforcement. The article is appropriately titled: “For many, the Million Dollar Question is Whether a Moratorium on Raids will be issued”


Napolitano is very aware that she is in the unviable position of walking through a mined field.


The [immigration] raids which caught thousands of fugitive immigrants under the Bush Administration has brought the public scolding of religious, community and civil rights leaders.


…But as polarized as the country is when it comes to immigration, these raids have also become the cause célèbre of conservative groups who demand rigid actions against illegal immigration.


…In the meantime, DHS is currently reviewing policies related to the arrest, detention, and deportation of undocumented immigrants. Anonymous sources at DHS told the press that in the next few days or as soon as this week, DHS will issue guidelines on how to redirect its enforcement focus towards employers who illegally hire undocumented immigrants. If this is true, this would mean a 180 degree change in policy as DHS will target its enforcement action towards businesses and not undocumented workers.


…”This is about smart and effective immigration enforcement, the approach that has characterized immigration enforcement until now has not made any indent on the dysfunctional immigration system” said Doug Rivlin, spokesperson of the National Immigration Forum.


"Instead of random and arbitrary raids, ICE should focus its scarce resources on the true dangerous criminals that threaten our national security. These are very complex issues and [Secretary Napolitano] has to find the perfect balance” he stated.

Para muchos, la pregunta del millón es si habrá una moratoria a las redadas, March 31, 2009. Translated by Katherine Vargas



2.    La Opinión (the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S. based in Los Angeles, CA) described the inhumane conditions suffered by hundreds of immigrants at a detention facility in California with a story headlined “Without Showers, Water, Mail nor Lawyers.”


They [detained immigrants at the facility] do not have access to soap, potable water, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, a change of clothes or even showers


…It is a shame that immigration officials treat immigrant detainees as if they were animals”, criticized Ahilan Arulanantham, Director of the Immigrant Rights Project of the ACLU.


In response, Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for ICE sent a written statement stating that


Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has ordered a comprehensive review of all detention practices in the country…DHS and ICE are committed to offering a safe and humane treatment to all detainees.

Sin Duchas, Agua, Correo ni Abogados, April 3, 2009 Translated by Katherine Vargas


3.    Prensa Asociada (Associated Press) reported in Spanish on the negative consequences of Washington’s inaction on immigration reform.  Namely, that there is greater pressure (and confusion) on local governments to enforce federal immigration laws.  The headline is “Concerns of Water Access for the Undocumented.”


Hundreds of undocumented migrant workers in the Collier County agricultural town have been greatly affected by the local Water and Sewage Department’s new regulations which restrict access to potable water to only those with valid identification. Barbara Mainster, the Director of Redlands Christian Migrant Association highlighted the dire consequences of such regulations and noted that this stresses the need to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Preocupa Acceso de Indocumentados al Agua Potable, March 31, 2008


As long as Leadership in Washington evades their responsibility to fully address our immigration problems through comprehensive immigration reform, we will continue to hear more reports about the overburdened detention system, a lack of direction on immigration enforcement actions at the local level and confused agencies who failed to fulfill their primary duty to ensure public safety.



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