Saturday, April 23, 2011

MAS Actions speak louder than words, Immigrant communities demand reforms from President Obama


Actions speak louder than words, Immigrant communities demand reforms from President Obama
April 22, 2011 Contact Person: Khalilah Sabra (919) 345-8105 or Khalilah.sabra@masonline. org

Raleigh, NC — In the past few days, U.S. immigration policy has surfaced once again. The high level meeting held on this past Tuesday, as well as the statement made by President Obama during a Facebook-organized town hall meeting, have once more given attention to the fact we continue to function with a deeply inhumane, broken and wasteful U.S. immigration policy. More urgently, however, is the fact that immigrant communities, particularly Arab, African, Mexican, Central Americans nationalities, are literally under a systematic assault. This year, deportations have broken records, with local laws and ordinances becoming highly restrictive and coercing local police to turn into immigration agents. In short, more than ever before, our communities are being blamed for the ills of our society.

Network of immigrant-led organizations across the country, want the president to hear their voices to the renewed national attention to U.S. immigration policy and the way immigrant communities are being treated in the United States of America.”What our communities demand is ACTION. We have had enough meetings and platitudes said by President Obama and many other elected officials in recent years. The sad truth is that after all this, all we get is more punishment,” stated Angela Sanbrano, NALACC’s board president. “As we have been demanding since January of 2009, we urge the U.S. President to provide leadership on these issues. At a minimum, he can minimize the systematic break up of immigrant families, many of which involve U.S. children, by reorienting U.S. immigration policy enforcement by executive directive to focus only on deporting violent criminals,” continued Ms. Sanbrano. “Instead, what we have seen over the past two years is an increase of detention and deportations of people whose only infraction is to be working and paying taxes in the U.S., while lacking immigration status, to record breaking levels. This must stop,”concluded Ms. Sanbrano.

“We have been told many times that the reason why deportations have increased is because the President has no choice but to enforce all existing laws,” stated Juvencio Rocha Peralta, President of the Mexicans Association of North Carolina (AMEXCAN). “However, as we have seen in the case of our financial regulations, environmental laws, labor rights, and weapons trafficking; rigorous enforcement of existing laws have been sorely missing,” continued Mr. Rocha Peralta. “In face of limited resources when it comes to federal law enforcement, we believe that priority should be given to enforcing laws that render the greatest public benefit, instead of focusing on enforcing inhumane and obsolete laws as it is the case with current U.S. immigration law,” concluded Mr. Rocha Peralta.

Arabs and Africans in the United States have been “indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that are unimaginable. The phenomenon of the undocumented workers just shows the desperation of people to find viable employment that is absent in their home countries. Despite the sacrifices that they make to their lives and security, they are forced to take the difficult life of being hunted like criminals,” says Khalilah Sabra, Executive Director of Muslim American Immigrant Justice Center. More than other immigrant groups, wider public perceptions of ‘Arabness’ and Islam rest upon negative images of events taking place overseas (for instance, the war in Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). For many Americans, bombarded with footage of anti-American images, Arabness and Islam represent values and attitudes that are contrary to American ‘values’ and interests and the “other” is treated like the enemy.

“If during the past two years, with Democratic Party majorities in the House and Senate, no common sense driven immigration policy reform was enacted, it would certainly be nearly impossible to expect positive changes coming from the current Congressional session,” stated Oscar Chacón, NALACC’s Executive Director. “It is precisely because of the grim immediate outlook on the chances of passing humane and fair immigration policy reform that it becomes even more urgent for President Obama to take bold leadership in reorienting its current immigration policy enforcement strategy,” added Mr. Chacón. “Specifically, President Obama should reverse the course on the indiscriminate focus on deporting hardworking, tax-paying immigrants, the sending of literally thousands of employee records audits, which leads to massive layoffs of immigrant workers; and his administration insistence on pushing ahead with programs such as S-Comm and 287 (g). Our communities are beyond sweet words and promises. We demand deeds from the president who promised us ‘change we can believe in’,” concluded Mr. Chacón.


MAS Freedom (MASF) is a civic and human rights advocacy of the Muslim American Society (MAS), the largest Muslim, grassroots, charitable, religious, social, cultural, civic and educational organization in America – with 55 chapters in 35 states.

MAS Freedom
1325 G Street NW, Suite 500
Washington DC 20005
Phone: (202) 552-7414
or (703) 642-6165
Toll Free: 1-(888)-627-8471
Fax: (757) 299-9961

For Immediate Release
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