How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Hundreds at 'Occupy ICE' rally in downtown L.A.

Photo by Corey Moore/KPCC

"Occupy ICE" protesters in Los Angeles, December 15, 2011

KPCC's Corey Moore reported on today's "Occupy ICE" protest in downtown Los Angeles, organized by labor, civil and immigrant rights groups. It's one of a slowly growing number of immigration-related Occupy protests, similar to one that took place in San Diego last month.

Hundreds joined the rally, according to the story, protesting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Secure Communities fingerprint-sharing enforcement program and the separation of mixed-status families as the federal government has carried out record numbers of deportations. A march concluded at the downtown federal building, where ICE has an office.

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More immigration-Occupy synergy as 'Occupy ICE' comes to L.A.

Photo by DB's Travels/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A sign at the Occupy L.A. camp, October 2011

Several posts lately have explored the immigrant rights component of the Occupy movement, at least in California, where Occupy protesters in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have counted immigration among the many issues they've taken up.

Last month, protesters in San Diego mounted an “Occupy ICE” rally organized by the local janitors' union. The Service Employees International Union has joined with with other labor, civil and immigrant rights groups to do the same in Los Angeles today, with a march to the downtown federal building, which houses a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

In spite of recent immigration-related Occupy protests in New York and Alabama, perhaps nowhere has the Occupy movement - initially accused of being too white - been as involved with immigrant rights activism as in California. Late last month, as police prepared to remove the protesters' camp outside City Hall, Occupy Los Angeles leaders put together and posted a list of “grievances not addressed” that included this request:


Obama administration's new deportation policy being applied unevenly

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A man is prepared for a deportation flight bound for San Salvador in Mesa, Arizona, December 2010

A series of recent posts on Multi-American highlighted how a new deportation policy announced in August by the Obama administration, which promised to potentially spare thousands from deportation, was being applied unevenly.

Homeland Security officials announced that they would review the deportation cases of some 300,000 immigrants deemed a low priority for removal, among them young people who arrived here as minors and had no criminal record. But people who meet the criteria for leniency have continued moving through the deportation pipeline. One prominent recent example was Matias Ramos, a UCLA graduate and student activist who in September suddenly found himself wearing an electronic shackle and informed that he was to be deported to Argentina, where he was born.

Ramos was granted a last-minute temporary reprieve, as have other potential young deportees who have been the focus of social media campaigns by student activists and advocacy groups. But while some like these have been spared, others who meet the criteria and have similar backgrounds and similarly clean records continue to be deported.


'Lost in Detention' online: Government documents on sexual abuse allegations, more

Photo by Mauricio Rabuffetti/AFP Getty Images

A guard stands outside one of the tent-like structures at the Willacy Detention Center in Texas, May 2007

PBS Frontline has followed up last night's "Lost in Detention" special on the immigrant detention system - and the policies landing a growing number of immigrants in it - with additional materials online.

The Frontline website has posted a series of government documents related to more than 170 allegations of sexual abuse in the last four years, with the largest number of abuse compliants coming from the Willacy Detention Center, a privately operated detention center in Raymondville, Texas that has been nation's largest. Built from Kevlar domes and commonly referred to as a "tent city," it was announced in June that the facility was losing its U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, and will instead be housing foreign-born "criminal alien" inmates for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.


Report: Secure Communities affects U.S. citizens, too

Art by José Luís Agapito/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A new report examining Secure Communities, the immigration enforcement program partly responsible for the Obama administration's record number of deportations, reveals some of the demographics, immigration status, and other key details about who has been arrested and deported under the program since it began rolling out in 2008.

Secure Communities allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jails to be shared with immigration officials, who are notified when prints match immigration records. The idea is to net undocumented immigrants and deportable legal residents with criminal records, a stated goal of the Obama administration.

But as noted in the report by the UC Berkeley Law School, U.S. citizens are affected by the program in more ways than one might think. Citizens have been arrested, and to a much larger degree, have had family members deported. According to the report, nearly 40 percent of the people arrested by immigration authorities under Secure Communities have been the spouses or parents of U.S. citizens.