The Immigration Pressure Cooker

Dear ROPnetters,

The immigration pressure cooker is boiling over – and that’s not always a bad thing.

Two news flashes: ten days ago, President Obama initiated an immigration policy change that will spare many DREAMers (undocumented youth who were brought to the US as children) from deportation.  This is such a huge victory to celebrate.  In the absence of any real proposals for what we really need, comprehensive immigration reform, we are pushing for smaller steps towards fairness for immigrants.

DREAMers have worked hard to get this win, staging sit-ins, risking arrest and deportation, and capturing our admiration by courageously “stepping out of the shadows” in droves as they “come out” as undocumented.  Even though this is a temporary reprieve for just one segment of our undocumented community, the policy change is a huge victory, a hard-won step in the right direction.  An estimated 800,000 youth will benefit.

See more in an Oregonian article here:

And we need to savor that victory, as (Second News Flash) today the Supreme Court issued a less-than-hoped-for decision about Arizona’s infamous racial profiling law, SB1070.  It was a mixed decision, meaning that the court upheld the core provision – the ability of local law enforcement to check papers of anybody in their custody – while striking down other less controversial but still damaging parts.  The provision upheld is widely known as the “racial profiling” provision, because it means that people stopped for even minor or no reason at all (including the crime of “driving while brown”), can be run against immigration databases, and potentially put into the deportation pipeline.

From the New York Times:

“The court unanimously sustained the law’s centerpiece, the one critics have called its “show me your papers” provision. It requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if there is reason to suspect that the individual might be an illegal immigrant.

The three provisions blocked by the majority were: making it a crime under state law for immigrants to fail to register under a federal law, making it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or to try find work, and allowing the police to arrest people without warrants if they have probable cause to believe that they have done things that would make them deportable under federal law.”

The Center for New Community has put together ideas for 5 ways to take action in response to the Supreme Court decision.

The ripple effects of this breaking news will unfold in the coming days and weeks.  Above all, we know criminalizing our immigrant brothers and sisters is a strategy of divide and conquer that every day becomes less effective.  Our real problems, the lack of good jobs, the capture of our political system by the rich and powerful, are coming more to the forefront as scapegoating of immigrants has less and less pull.  A few tidbits:

In a recent Gallup poll, people were asked whether immigration was, on the whole, a good thing or a bad thing for the United States. 66% of Americans said it was a good thing. Just 29% said it was generally bad.

Aother survey found overwhelming support for President Obama’s decision to offer relief to 800,000 DREAMers, voters support this decision at a 2-to-1 margin!

Rural Oregonians’ efforts to build Welcoming Communities are pushing this giant needle towards respect, inclusion, and dignity in the treatment of immigrants in our communities.  I look around the state and am proud of how much we are part of the solution.

Last, for those moved by these recent events: take advantage of this opportunity to communicate with your town  – pull from this ROPnet to write a letter to the editor of your local paper, including your own thoughts.  Forward a copy of the letter to ROP and we’ll post it on our website.

Take heart Ropnetters, we are moving in the right direction.

All my best,

PS: Want to learn more about what Obama’s relief for DREAMers means?

ONE EXCITING OPPORTUNITY that is available in a limited number of rural and small-town communities:  Many lawyers around the state, including our trusted friend Stephen Manning from the Immigrant Law Group, are hosting trainings about what this policy change means, and what it doesn’t mean.  We must all be vigilant of the possibility of scams, or folks wanting to take advantage of these estimated 800,000 DREAMers who may be eligible for relaxed restrictions.


This is such an amazing chance to also bring these DREAMers into your organizations, and give them community support. Let’s act fast!