By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, March 25, seven undocumented Alabama residents and supporters locked themselves together in front of the entrance of the Etowah County Detention Center as part of a national campaign demanding that President Obama use his executive authority to stop deportations.
The group announced in a press release that their blockade started at 10 a.m. on Monday at the INS facility at 827 Forrest Ave, Gadsden, AL 35901.
Evelyn Servin of Russellville said, “I decided to take action today because I am no longer afraid to speak up. My family and I have endured the pain and emotional trauma family separation brings, and I am here to tell President Obama to stop the deportations. I will continue to work tirelessly until no child is torn from his father and no husband is taken away from his wife like my husband was taken away from us. Alabama is no longer afraid and will not continue to live in the shadows anymore.”
David Comparan of Dothan stated, “I personally know the feeling of being separated from my family by deportation because my father was deported. I’m here to say that the President can and needs to stop deportations today.”
Gwendolyn Ferreti Manjarrez of Tuscaloosa said, “I am tired of having my community criminalized because we are immigrants. I am tired of living with the fear that my family or any family can be torn apart at the seams for living our everyday life. We are increasingly criminalized and our people are unnecessarily questioned, harassed, detained and deported because of Congress’s and the President’s unwilingness to stop this injustice. Our communities are hidden away in jails like Etowah Detention Center, and I’m part of the action because I refuse to have our pain ignored.”
The Obama Administration claims that under their administration the U.S. government locks up and deports more immigrants than ever before. The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) continues to call on Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship. They are also calling on President Barack H. Obama (D) to halt the 1,100 deportations per day they say are happening. The Obama Administration claims that it will surpass the 2 million mark on deportations.
The ACIJ said in a written statement, “Two million is too many. Members of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice believe that the President has the legal authority and the moral obligation to stop separating families by taking administrative action, while still continuing to pressure Congress to take action on immigration reform.”
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama disputes the numbers that the administration has released. Sen. Sessions said,
“It is astonishing that the President would order an ‘enforcement review’ not for the purposes of repairing enforcement but weakening it further. According to ICE’s own published statistics, the vast majority of those removed from the country have been convicted or involved with a serious crime. Illegal immigrants in the U.S. who don’t meet the Administration’s ‘priorities’—even if they come into contact with immigration enforcement—are largely exempt from federal immigration law. And approximately two-thirds of removals last year were in fact not deportations at all but were instead of apprehensions of those interdicted crossing the border. This lawlessness is a large factor in the decline of wages for Americans, immigrant and native-born, alike. President Obama should demonstrate more concern for struggling American workers of all backgrounds. Indeed, in addition to decimating current immigration law, he is pushing to double the number of foreign guest workers who companies bring in to take jobs. This latest action further demonstrates that the Administration cannot be trusted to enforce any immigration plan from Congress. Congressional Democrats, who have helped empower this state of illegality, must be held to account for their actions.”
Sessions continued, “In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson admitted this week that the Obama Administration’s deportation statistics are vastly inflated: more than half of the claimed deportations are actually individuals who are apprehended in the process of trying to cross the border and thus are not in fact deportations at all, and should not be counted as such. In 2013, roughly two-thirds of removals fell into this category and were not deportations. Furthermore, ICE’s statistics reveal that a full 82 percent of interior removals in 2013 were convicted criminals. Overall, ICE reported that “98 percent of the agency’s total removals were convicted criminals, recent border crossers, illegal re-entrants or those previously removed by ICE.” In other words, virtually all of those removed had committed serious offenses in addition to their illegal presence in the United States. As a corollary, this means that the Administration regards those who work illegally in the United States, or who choose to illegally overstay a visa, to be largely immune from federal immigration enforcement (absent the commission of an additional serious criminal offense).”
Since the 2011 passage of HB 56, immigrants in Alabama have organized politically to fight anti-illegal immigration in courts and legislatures.
To learn more about the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice visit their website: