The Common Good

Immigration Advocacy Update: Nearing Two Million Deportations

With Easter recess around the corner, immigration supporters are in full force with their advocacy plans. Efforts have taken a two-tier approach: some groups focus on Congressional action for meaningful and broad reform this year, while others are focusing on administration fixes to reduce deportations.

Recently, pressure has mounted on the Obama Administration, as groups attempt to stop the unjust deportations of non-criminal immigrants who have roots in the U.S. The Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) will soon reach its 2 millionth deportation under the Obama Administration. The rising volume of deportations has caused uproar amongst the immigrants’ rights community, as advocates highlight the moral crisis in communities with families facing separation from loved ones. Advocates are urging the president to use his executive powers to ease unjust deportations that cause needless pain and suffering.

This week, allies are participating in the April Week of Action, holding activities across the country that will highlight the personal stories of those who are adversely affected by deportations. The week culminates on April 5 for the National Day of Action for Deportations, where more than 80 cities nationwide will increase their pressure on the Obama administration for their record number of deportations.

The faith community has also mobilized to bring light to the unintended consequences of the record number of deportations. Earlier this week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to the Obama administration and held a mass at the border in Nogales, Ariz. with Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston and several other bishops, calling on Congress to enact immigration reform. Evangelical leaders also held a press call where local pastors shared the painful reality of deportations negatively affecting their communities and churches.

Feeling the constant pressure, Obama ordered Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to review deportation practices.

“The goal is to see if enforcement can be applied ‘more humanely within the confines of the law,’” the White House said.

While advocating for the implementation of safer deportation practices has become the new focus of groups who are less optimistic about immigration reform occurring on Capitol Hill, the sad reality is that long-term solutions lie only within Congress.  

Those who are focusing on Congress want a vote this year and are urging our nation’s leaders to acknowledge that there are 11 million aspiring Americans seeking an opportunity to live justly and peacefully in this country. Prolonging inaction is simply giving into the status quo that hurts our communities, workplaces, and economy and keeps decision makers from enacting meaningful and lasting changes for our country.

Ivone Guillen is Immigration Campaign Associate at Sojourners.

Photo: Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

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