National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Media

Bellingham, Washington Workplace Raid Creates Crisis for Obama on Immigration

February 25, 2009

Washington, DCOn Tuesday, ICE agents raided a workplace in Bellingham Washington, reportedly arresting 28 people.  This is the first major workplace raid since President Obama took office.  The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy organization in Washington, DC.


The President is clear about his plans for the economy, health care, education, Iraq and Afghanistan; we expect nothing less than a clear, consistent statement of his plan for immigration.


A week after the President told a national Spanish-language radio audience he is committed to fixing our broken immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform, we see another heavy handed workplace raid with ankle chains and helicopters in Bellingham. 


What are Latino and immigrant voters to think?  They turn out in massive numbers and vote for change and yet ‘change we can believe in’ turns out to be ‘business as usual.’


Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and the rest of the Obama Administration should continue the top-to-bottom review they are conducting into enforcement priorities and resource allocation, but that may not be enough.  At a very minimum, until the new ICE Director who was named Monday is in place and an oversight procedure is working, these types of workplace raids should be put on hold.


The hysteria to blame immigrants for our economic woes is already taking root, but it is silly to think we will deport our way out of our current immigration problems.  Twelve million undocumented immigrants – 1 in 20 U.S. workers – are not going anywhere regardless of how bad the economy is, how high unemployment gets, or how much we scare immigrant communities with enforcement tactics. 


The President and his team should say loud and clear how they are going to address immigration reform to strengthen the economy, protect workers, and reestablish the rule of law.  We need to know when we can expect reform to be a priority and what the President will do in the mean time to make sure that immigration enforcement does not do further damage to our economy, erode civil rights, or continue the failed practices of the last Administration that played fast and loose with people’s legal rights.

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