November 10, 2008
LA Immigrant Rights Activists Wrap Up 3-Week Fast to Change US Immigration Policy
Immigration was hardly an issue in the presidential race. But immigrant rights activists have just finished a twenty-one-day “Fast for the Future” to call on President-elect Obama to change US immigration policy. We speak to two people from the immigrant rights community: Alex Sanchez of Homies Unidos and Janis Rosheuvel of Families for Freedom.
Alex Sanchez, Executive Director and founding member of Homies Unidos, a gang violence prevention and intervention program with offices in Los Angeles and El Salvador. He was among the nearly 150 people who participated in the “Fast for the Future.”
Janis Rosheuvel, Executive Director of Families for Freedom, a New York-based organization fighting deportation.
JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to immigration policy, an issue that all but disappeared during the last phase of the presidential campaign. Immigrant rights activists in Los Angeles organized a rally Wednesday, the day after the election, following a twenty-one-day “Fast for the Future.” Noting the crucial importance of the Latino vote in Obama’s victory, they called on the President-elect to stop the brutal raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE.
Independent journalist Fatima Mojadiddy was at the rally and spoke to Raul Anorve from the Institute for Popular Education of Southern California.
RAUL ANORVE: We’re asking for everybody to—for this country to be more humane, democratic. No more—we’re asking for no more raids in our communities. They’re criminalizing our youth. We want a change. And the elections yesterday gave us a little bit of hope to make that change possible.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Under the Bush administration, the country witnessed a dramatic buildup in border security and immigration enforcement. Programs initiated by the Department of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff included Operation Community Shield, that targets immigrant gang members, Operation Streamline and the Secure Border Initiative. Amidst growing complaints of abuses in the system, including reports of deaths of immigrants in detention, there has also been a sharp rise in the number and scale of ICE raids in communities across the country. Over a thousand people were arrested in two of the largest single workplace raids, took place in Laurel, Mississippi and Postville, Iowa earlier this year.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by two guests from the immigrant rights movement.
Alex Sanchez is executive director and founding member of Homies Unidos, a gang violence prevention and intervention program with offices in Los Angeles and El Salvador. He was among the nearly 150 people who participated in the “Fast for the Future.” He joins us from Los Angeles.
And Janis Rosheuvel is the executive director of Families for Freedom, a New York-based organization fighting deportation. She joins us here in the firehouse studio.
Alex Sanchez, the last time we were talking about you, you were fighting deportation. You were in jail, and there was a nationwide movement to free you. Briefly talk about your own experience and then about this twenty-one-day fast that you participated in.
ALEX SANCHEZ: Yes, in 2000, in January, I was arrested by LAPD officers with the sole intention to deport me and not be able to testify as a key alibi of a fourteen-year-old kid that was being tried for murder as an adult. I eventually was processed into deportation proceedings, but the community was in outrage. This was during the same time of the Rampart scandal. So I was able to, with a lot of pressure from the community—and I presented a real solid case in regards if I was to be deported, I was going to be killed by death squads in El Salvador that were targeting specifically deported immigrant youth labeled as gang members or had tattoos. I was able to win my political asylum case after three years fighting it.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Alex, the fast going that’s been going on in Los Angeles, could you tell us who has been involved in it and why?
ALEX SANCHEZ: Well, IDEPSCA has taken a big lead, and RISE. Homies Unidos also took part. And other people, other community leaders, such as Angelica Salas from CHIRLA, and others that took part, individual students, there were elder community leaders, there were people undocumented, there were people that were documented, there were citizens. They all participated, from all realms, because it is an important issue.
We participated because we know that there’s these policies in place that have really made it difficult for individuals to present asylum cases in immigration courtrooms under the assumption that they’re deported—they’re deportable gang members, and that limits the opportunities they may have to seek a real asylum case and be heard.
So, the fast was to bring this awareness into the communities, but also to awake this giant monster that was awakened before but went back to sleep. We’re trying to wake him up and really taking it to the steps of the White House now under a new administration of Obama, in which he is committed himself to really looking out for the immigrant community. And that’s why we’re asking for the demands that we’re asking, for this new administration to actually make—help Obama be successful in legalizing our people, our immigrant people, and keeping our families together in the US... more
Monday, November 10, 2008
Pushing Obama to address immigration policy