Whose moral stain? Hold Democrats accountable on immigration too


PHOTO/Nathaniel St. Clair

Of course, we need to hold Donald Trump and his Party accountable for the deep moral stain of his awful immigration policies. But it doesn’t follow that we must, therefore, rally around the Democrats and work for a “blue wave” in the next election. What Barack Obama and other Democrats did to immigrants is so reprehensible that ignoring it or acting like it wasn’t important is not an option. Democrats must also be held accountable for their morally repugnant actions.

Yes, it really was that bad. My new report, Whose Moral Stain? Obama’s Immigration Atrocities Led to Trump’s, provides a comprehensive review of Obama’s immigration record and how Democrats set the stage for Trump. This article shares highlights from the report.

Obama’s Immigration Record

Rampant family separations. Over 152,000 children lost a parent to deportation in 2012 alone. Each year similar numbers lost parents that way.

At the border, fathers were routinely separated from their children and spouses. Mothers were generally allowed to keep their small children with them but older children, e.g. 11-year-olds, were often detained separately. Small children traveling with aunts or other beloved guardians were taken away from them.

In 2011, an estimated 5100 children pulled from their parents by immigration officials were in foster care. The numbers in other Obama years were likely similar. It was extremely difficult for parents to comply with the reunification plans Child Protective Services (CPS) devises for children in foster care. Distance and incarceration stymied participation in required programs and hearings. Some parents faced the threat of permanent termination of parental rights.

Huge numbers of deportations.

Obama deported over 3 million people. That’s more than all presidents before him since 1890 combined.

He claimed to be ridding the country of dangerous criminals, thereby feeding a false racist narrative about immigrants. In reality, the overwhelming majority of Obama’s “criminal” deportees were guilty of minor crimes like traffic violations, drug possession, and the like. Immigration “crimes” were particularly dominant. In other words, in a classic Catch 22, people denied legal options for immigrating were labeled as “criminals” for coming here the only way they could (illegally), and then that label was used to justify their expulsion.

Between 41% and 69% of Obama’s deportees each year had not been convicted of any crime. Obama set a goal of deporting 400,000 people a year, and immigration agents were pressured to sweep up as many people as they could in order to meet that goal.

Obama expanded the tiny Secure Communities Program established by President Bush in October of 2008 to virtually every local law enforcement jurisdiction in the United States. As a result, local officials everywhere provided ICE with fingerprints—including those of victims, witnesses and others not charged with offenses themselves—and then held undocumented people until ICE picked them up.

Under Obama, ICE also carried out traumatizing raids. Armed agents pounded on doors in the wee hours of the morning, searched houses and whisked undocumented family members off to undisclosed locations.

Harsh treatment of refugees, including sending children and adults to their deaths.

Obama labeled “recent arrivals” a top priority for deportation. That put tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and families who had fled extreme violence and poverty in Central America and Mexico in his crosshairs.

The conditions people fled were directly fueled byU.S. foreign policies implemented by both Democrats and Republicans. Many survived rapes, other assaults, severe deprivation, and other trauma on their way to the U.S.

Obama used expedited procedures to rapidly expel recent arrivals, denying them lawyers and other basic due process rights. “We have already added resources to expedite removal, without a hearing before an immigration judge, of adults who come…without children,” bragged Obama’s Homeland Security chief. “Then there are adults who brought their children with them. Again, our message to this group is simple: We will send you back.” Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that unaccompanied children who made it to the U.S. had to be sent back. “It may be safer [for them to stay in the U.S.] but that’s not the answer”, she said. “We have to send a clear message,” Clinton explained. “Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”

Obama’s deportations sent people to their deaths. At least 83 people deported between January 2014 and September 2015 were subsequently reported murdered. Ten children deported from a New Mexico detention center on the same day as a visit there from the head of ICE, soon showed up dead in El Salvadoran morgues.

Inhumane incarcerations.

Obama established a system of over 200 detention centers across the U.S., more than half of which are privately owned. Many facilities are in remote locations far from legal services and detainees’ communities.

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