Jan 30 1:16 PM

Five things you need to know about immigration in America

Fault Lines is back!

Friday, Jan. 31, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, our new Fault Lines episode, “The Deported: America’s Immigration Battle” airs on Al Jazeera America. 

As undocumented immigrants come out of the shadows to demand a halt to deportations, Fault Lines investigates what happens to families torn apart by a broken immigration system.

Join us as we live-tweet this episode Friday from our main Twitter account, @ajfaultlines.

In the meantime, check out the background reading.

Photo Credit: Josh Rushing

"Deportations creating a generation scarred by parental loss”, Stephanie Woodard for Indian Country Today,” Al Jazeera America, October 24, 2013

"Both Muñoz’s brother and her stepfather were deported within a two-year period — and her situation is far from unique. Approximately 4.5 million American citizens have been born to undocumented parents, and about 660,000 have lost a parent to deportation since 1998. With President Barack Obama presiding over more deportations than any other president — nearly 2 million to date — such separations have left a generation of children with a heavy emotional burden.

Many, like Muñoz, are the only citizens in their families. About 5,100 citizens are in foster care after the deportation of a parent; others are undocumented themselves and can’t visit their parents. Research shows that deportations can lead to a host of trauma-related reactions in children, including generalized anxiety, recurrent nightmares, depression, panic attacks and flashbacks. This doesn’t include other stressors, such as the financial strain of losing a breadwinner, a dearth of mental health services and the anxiety that already pervades many immigrant communities.”

Obama calls on House GOP to pass immigration reform,” Alfonso Serrano for Al Jazeera America, November 25, 2013 

“Despite Obama’s concession to Republicans on Monday, the president said a House immigration deal must include certain elements, including a path to legal status and eventually citizenship.

“If they want to chop that thing up in five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like,” Obama said. “Don’t let the minority of folks block something the country desperately needs. If we don’t tackle this now, then we’re undercutting our future.”

In a dramatic pause, Obama’s speech was interrupted by hecklers who implored him to stop deportations. “Stop deportations — yes we can,” a small group of protesters shouted. The president stopped Secret Service agents from removing the protesters.

“I respect the passion of these young people” Obama said. “But we’re a nation of laws. That’s our tradition.”

The Obama administration announced last week that it would stop deporting family members of U.S. military personnel. The order gives the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials the power to “parole in place” immigrant spouses, children and parents of current U.S. service members, reservists and veterans. Those immigrants may apply to live legally in the United States.

Nonetheless, immigration advocates have assailed Obama’s deportation policy, which is intended to deport only the most serious criminals. They say an overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants are deported for nonviolent offenses like minor traffic violations. Immigration proponents also point out that Obama has presided over more than 2 million deportations — more than any other president.”

Immigration activists shut down Congress,”  The Stream Team for Al Jazeera America, December 13, 2013 

“More than 1,000 pro-immigration reform activists gathered outside of Congressional offices on Thursday, effectively shutting down business in over 100 House Republican offices.

School, church and union groups converged on Washington DC from as far away as North Carolina and New York. Recent polling shows that 63% of Americans support a comprehensive immigration reform, or a path to citizenship for those currently living in the United States illegally. A minority think that immigrants are a “threat to traditional American values.”

The Year in Immigration: High hopes, but no movement on reform”, Haya El Nasser, for Al Jazeera America, December 26, 2013

“For immigration reform, 2013 will go down as the year that wasn’t.

Advocates for a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system that would create a path to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented were full of hope and confidence when the year began.

President Obama had just been reelected to a second term, partly thanks to support from Latinos, Asians and other immigrants. There was hope Republicans would see value in tackling an issue foremost on the minds of this key segment of the electorate and, as polls are showing, something almost two-thirds of all Americans support.

Confidence was boosted in June — the high point for reform supporters — when the Senate passed a comprehensive plan, 68–32.

It was not the package they had hoped for — it included a 13-year wait for citizenship, for example. And border communities were not happy with the plan to double the number of border patrol agents. But it included provisions they had fought for — such as increased levels of labor permits for high- and low-skilled workers, and the DREAM Act, which would give undocumented youths who immigrated as children with their families to the U.S. a way to apply for permanent residence in five years, regardless of their current age.

The momentum was there. But then came the escalation of the conflict in Syria, budget battles, a shutdown of the federal government because of a budget standstill and, to top it all off, the problem-plagued health care reform rollout to provide health insurance to every American.

All of these issues dominated the debate in the House of Representatives at the expense of immigration reform. The Republican-controlled House does not support the Senate plan and was not eager to put the issue on the front burner.”

Immigration police pilot ‘stop and frisk€™’-style raids in New Orleans,” Paul Abowd for Al Jazeera America, January 29, 2014. 

“Federal agents have quietly launched a program aimed at deporting undocumented immigrants who have violent criminal records.

The Criminal Alien Removal Initiative, or CARI, has sparked immigration raids at grocery stores, Bible study groups and parks where immigration agents handcuff and fingerprint suspects on the spot.

The raids have created “a terrifying effect,” said Jacinta Gonzalez, an organizer with the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, which authored a December report exposing the program. “We haven’t seen raids with this magnitude, this intensity and this technology in other parts of the country…

CARI is a nationwide effort that began in May 2012 when ICE boosted the number of immigration “fugitive operations teams” in field offices like New Orleans by 25 percent.

ICE officials told Al Jazeera in an email that CARI “focuses ICE’s limited enforcement resources on identifying, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens who pose a risk to community safety.

But agents are also arresting people like San Martin for violating prior deportation orders — even if those people have U.S. citizen children and no violent criminal record.”

Further Reading:

Interview with Dan DeVivo & Valeria Fernández,Directors of “Two Americans,” Al Jazeera America Presents, October 21, 2013

Photos: Inside an immigration prison”,  Al Jazeera America, December 3, 2013



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