NNIRR Commentary - Obama’s Executive Action Is a Historic Step – But We Need Fairness and Justice for All


Stop Detentions and Deportations, Roll Back Militarization of the Border

A reprieve from deportation—even a partial and temporary one—for millions of immigrants is a significant development and should give momentum towards more humane, inclusive immigration legislation. President Obama’s executive action will not even embrace the majority of the undocumented, but his Nov. 20 announcement is surely to the credit of the growing alliance of grassroots community groups and allies who have been calling for months—and years—for an end to detentions and deportations and the separation of immigrant families.

This is the consistent message we have heard from our members and allies.
. This historic action is a far cry from the more sweeping immigration policy changes that are needed, and it certainly does nothing to address “root causes” of migration.  The executive action does not end Operation Gatekeeper, and the U.S. policy of “zero tolerance” towards undocumented immigration. It does not end the border policy of “detention through deterrence” and Operation Streamline, which denies due process and expedites imprisonment and deportation of undocumented border crossers.

But it is the kind of executive action that has been urged for years, not just as a stop-gap political tactic, but as a key strategy to address the consequences of our flawed immigration system: the existence of millions of immigrants without opportunity to immigrate safely or to regularize their status.

While we understood this executive action would be limited in its scope, we are very disappointed that the administrative relief will leave the majority of undocumented immigrants at risk for deportation. In fact, undocumented parents who risked re-entering the U.S. after deportation in order to support and be with their children may be among the “felons” that Obama has identified as priorities for deportation, among the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have been “criminalized” by harsh and punitive immigration laws. Moreover, millions of immigrants who have been deported in past years—most on immigration violations—have obviously missed this opportunity.

While Obama spoke directly about the “values” of this country when he pitched his executive action—the tone and message in the executive action proposal left many of us cringing with his emphasis on going after immigrant “felons”, subjecting people to “criminal background checks” and “cracking down on illegal immigration” at the border. Again, that problematic messaging about  “good” immigrants and “bad” immigrants with no accountability for the "criminalization" of immigrants imposed by punitive immigration enforcement laws...

Click here to read the entire commentary...

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At NNIRR we’ll be focusing on border policy in coming months—and years. Stay tuned for our call to join the pledge in support of human rights at the border, in honor of International Migrants Day on Dec. 18.


Click here to go to NNIRR's website page for more information and ongoing updates on the Obama’s executive action. Read NNIRR's Open Letter to President Barack Obama on the eve of his announcement.

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Ferguson: #BlackLivesMatter

NNIRR stands in solidarity with so many in this country standing up for justice and against racism in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown, and the subsequent trial and grand jury decisions. We are, and have been, a part of that movement for all human rights, for racial justice, against police brutality, on a reliance on policies of criminalization and mass incarceration. This is a common agenda. Change, reform of the criminal justice system is connected to the work for immigrant rights. Indeed, a big part of our work for human rights at the border is a fight against the use of deadly force by policing agents, their lack of accountability and ability to act with impunity. This needs to be taken up as a pressing and urgent issue to save lives, including the lives of children, as we engage in a fight for much-needed critical reforms and for justice, and human dignity.

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