Dr. Alexandra Piñeros Shields
Time to cut ICE funding
A few months ago, we received a call for help from a woman in one of Lynn’s churches. Her husband had been picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a Sunday morning as he drove down the Lynnway with his 8-year-old son. He had a pending immigration application and had been showing up to all his appointments with the immigration judge. He owned his own business, employing four U.S. citizens, paid taxes, and was active in church. Why would ICE arrest someone who had followed the law, filled out the forms required, and had a pending case?
In this climate of demonization, scapegoating, and violence toward immigrants, ICE acts with impunity as though it is above the law. Even when immigrants complete applications, show up for appointments, ICE hunts hard working members of our community, rips them from their families, imprisons them in detention centers, of which over 70 percent are for profit. And they want more of our tax money!
We know our community. Undocumented immigrants are our aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors. They sit in the pews with us during worship services. Their children are our children’s classmates. They care for our infants and toddlers. They care for our grandparents in nursing homes. They contribute to our economy by shopping downtown and paying taxes. I know of at least four locally who run businesses and employ U.S. citizens. I also know being undocumented is an administrative offense, not a crime.
We have an economy that is dependent on immigrant labor. Immigrants represent 15 percent of the population of Essex County but constitute: 19 percent of manufacturing workers, 19 percent of general services workers, 18 percent of arts, recreation, entertainment, accommodation and food service workers, 16 percent of professional, scientific, management, administrative workers, and 15 percent of construction workers. ICE anti-immigrant actions affect both legal and undocumented immigrants, since most immigrant families are mixed status families. When immigrant workers are affected, so is our local economy.
A public defender shared that ICE took her client in the hallway of a court house as he waited to be called for his hearing before a judge! Across Massachusetts courts, immigrants are following the rule of law, showing up for court, only to be taken by ICE before they can speak to the judge! We are proud that our nation is founded on a constitution that guarantees the inherent dignity of and due process for every person. ICE violates our constitutional protections and acts above the law every day in courthouses, people’s homes, and the streets of Lynn. They keep overspending to feed their habit of violently targeting immigrant families.
During the last year, as thousands of U.S citizens struggled to rebuild from hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters, Congress approved a transfer of over $200 million from the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bail out ICE’s overspending.
It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on the abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system. Now Congress must take the next step and cut funding to ICE.
Dr. Alexandra Piñeros Shields is Executive Director of the Essex County Community Organization and Professor at Brandeis University.
Let’s stop demonizing
Last week, while questioning the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during his confirmation hearing, Senator Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, drew a parallel between that agency and the Ku Klux Klan. I was astounded to hear these remarks come from a sitting senator.
I must admit a bias: in the early 1990s, I worked for what was then known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). In my time there, I served alongside many of the men and women who would go on to become today’s ICE agents. I know these folks and their families well. They are a diverse group, coming from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. They have worked hard to get the jobs they hold, and many have served in the armed forces. They often learn at least one foreign language to better communicate with the communities they serve. They care about safety and decency.
Many began their careers in immigration enforcement long enough ago to remember when both Bill and Hillary Clinton were railing against the influx of what they called “illegal aliens” into our country, and when many on the right were advocating for more immigration, not less. They’ve seen the tides shift over the years, as politicians conveniently trade their principles for votes and headlines.
Each ICE agent I know has one mission in mind: ridding our streets of dangerous criminals who have come to our country illegally, or noncitizens who have violated the terms of their stay in the United States by committing serious crimes. I have never met an ICE agent who gets up in the morning filled with malice, motivated to snag an innocent, law-abiding, hard-working undocumented person who is simply seeking a better life for her family.
This is not to say that there are no instances of bad behavior on the part of ICE. But to judge the entire agency by its worst examples would be as wrongheaded as it is to judge all immigrants using only the ugliest behavior. Neither are evil—neither is as bad as the worst anecdotes about them. And the sooner we stop demonizing, the better off we’ll be as a nation.
We can’t come up with solutions without a sober analysis of the problems. Trying to draw absurd parallels between terroristic hate groups and law-abiding civil servants won’t solve anything, and ultimately delays the remedies our nation so urgently requires.
Anthony Amore assembled a lengthy career as a security expert and ran unsuccessfully for Massachusetts Secretary of State this year.
Trump is right, now more than ever
Immigration to our nation is a privilege, not a right. Those who live here, or seek to do so, must respect our law, and recognize the inalienable rights of those who do.
I am an unapologetic conservative, with great love of family, country, and our constitution. I’ve practiced law in Saugus for 32 years, and spent three years of my life running for Congress, always choosing right over politically expediency. The price of freedom requires compliance with laws ordained and maintained for the common good, whether or not people, as individuals, agree with them. And that includes our immigration laws, which have been largely ignored for far too long.
Everyone with a good heart, and every nation, wants to help the some 3 billion people on earth who live in abject poverty; but no nation, America included, can do it alone. We have a process in place to do our share, imperfect as it may be.
Already some 22 million people illegally flout our laws and siphon countless billions daily in government benefits. Activists pressing for wide-open borders patently disregard the rights of lawful residents, display utter contempt for order, and often use violent means to defy the rules. No nation can survive with such disdain for law, as anarchy invariably results. Even now, chaos looms as thousands denigrating the rule of law have organized to rush our border; intending to invade by force, if necessary, with scorn for our lawful processes.
President Trump has it right, now more than ever. The Wall must be built; the border secured; and this madness stopped dead in its tracks. Respect for our nation, our people, and our law must be restored.
The thousands who have already snubbed their Mexican asylum and organized with intent to disregard our law cannot be allowed to enter or advance to the front of the line under any circumstances. Such would signal surrender to lawlessness, reward criminal behavior, and encourage invasions without end. Our people, not lawless invaders, have the right to make the rules, and those who won’t live by them should never be welcomed here. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and to that end our resolve must be absolute.
Unless we command unyielding respect for law at this moment in history, we will never conclude a fair and permanent solution to the immigration crisis which already exists within our borders.
Bill Hudak opened his Saugus law office in 1986 and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010.