UULMNJ’s Immigration Task Force is launching a letter writing campaign to President Obama, encouraging him to more closely follow his own Administration’s immigration policies. Their goal is to have members of NJ UU congregations deliver 1,000 letters to him by Inauguration Day, January 21, 2013. For more information, see below.
And after you have sent a letter, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you have taken action. Thank you.
To: Immigration Justice Advocates
From: UULMNJ Immigration Task Force, Ted Fetter, Chair
RE: Background for 1000 Voices for Immigration Justice – A letter writing campaign
We are Unitarian Universalists, building upon our heritage as advocates for the rights and dignity of all.
We invite you to join our letter writing campaign to President Obama imploring him to take immediate steps to implement detention and deportation guidelines that were formulated early in his first term.
The sample letter attached focuses on these two areas of immigration policy that we think were not sufficiently implemented: detention and deportation. The administration has promised humane treatment and careful discretion, but in far too many instances, the reality has been just the opposite.
In 2009, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano announced a package of reforms for immigrant detention, and committed to increase the use of Alternatives to Detention (ATD). A 2012 report shows that the number of immigrants monitored with ankle bracelets, in-person reporting, and curfews are increasing, but it is very slow and small. Still, more than 34,000 immigrants are being held in secure detention, at great cost to the government and, more importantly, at great cost to families through forced separations and loss of income.
Here in New Jersey, more than 2000 immigrants are being detained. Most of these persons pose no danger to the community. Past experience with ATD shows a 93% rate of appearance, so there is little danger of flight. In short, it is both more humane and much less costly to the government to use ATD much more than is now being done.
Greater use of prosecutorial discretion to select certain undocumented persons for removal or deportation was a major initiative of the Obama Administration in June 2011. The key provision was to prioritize persons for removal who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security, certainly a reasonable objective. But there are many instances in which immigrants have been picked up and detained for removal just because their identities and places of residence are known; just because they are easy to find and to deliver.
Here in New Jersey we have seen the unreasonable selection of certain Indonesian refugees who have been in the United States for a decade or more, and ICE is moving against them. In short, there is not enough discretion being used in local cases around the country.
In the second Obama term, our hope is that there will be a hallmark of progress toward justice for immigrants by focusing not only on new policy but also on better implementation of existing immigration policy.