Sunday, July 17, 2011

ICE leaves police in the cold

Boston Globe Staff Writer – 16 July 2011

BOSTONIANS SUFFER more aggravation from neighbors who steal their parking spots during winter storms than they do from illegal immigrants. In a border state like Arizona, the term “unlawful immigrant’’ might conjure up the image of a drug smuggler. Around here, it’s more likely to evoke the valedictorian of a local high school whose parents entered the country illegally when the kid was 3.

The Boston Police Department blundered in 2006 when it rushed to participate in the federal Secure Communities program, which matches the fingerprints of anyone arrested locally with those in federal immigration data banks. At the time, officials from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised that the matches would be used only to take action against illegal immigrants charged or convicted of serious crimes. Mayor Menino, therefore, blew his stack when the Globe published a story earlier this month showing that 183 of 352 immigrants deported from Boston since 2008 had no criminal records.

On Thursday, ICE director John Morton came to Boston to clear the air. But it’s still a little hazy, like nearly everything connected to federal policy on illegal immigration. Morton apologized for his predecessors who gave the false impression that only violent criminals faced deportation under the Secure Communities program. But he was adamant that the program could not be restricted solely to “serious offenders.’’

He said that 55 percent of the 352 illegal immigrants deported from Boston had criminal convictions. The remainder fell equally into the following three categories: those arrested after illegal reentry into the country; immigration fugitives who had ignored deportation orders; and people who had overstayed their visas.

Morton also said that miscommunication between ICE and local police left the false impression that the Secure Communities program is voluntary. It’s not. The target date for nationwide implementation is 2013, he said.

This isn’t going over well in cities where immigrants make up a significant percentage of workers, customers, classmates, and friends. Urban dwellers don’t want their police force to be perceived as de facto immigration agents. It undermines the image of successful cities as expansive and accessible. And police worry that crime victims and witnesses in immigrant neighborhoods won’t come forward for fear of deportation.

Boston Police commissioner Edward Davis said he tried to communicate his concerns to Morton on Thursday, but the ICE director was “cavalier’’ and “pretty dismissive.’’ Now Davis wants to break with Secure Communities. But he isn’t sure how that is even possible.

There is no obvious way short of refusing to send the fingerprints of people arrested in Boston to the FBI data bank. And no police commissioner in his right mind would risk overlooking a minor offender here who might be wanted for a heinous crime in another state. ICE has cornered the local police, who can’t prevent the FBI from forwarding the prints to the immigration data banks.

But it may not be as grim as it appears. There is recent evidence that ICE has heard the complaints of police and public officials, including Governor Patrick, who wants no part of detaining illegal immigrants for ICE’s administrative purposes. A recent ICE memorandum to its field office directors and special agents states that “it is against ICE policy to initiate removal proceedings against an individual known to be the immediate victim or witness to a crime.’’

Another ICE memo on “prosecutorial discretion’’ lists 19 factors to consider when deciding if deportation is warranted. The agency looks to be in no particular rush to kick out primary caretakers of sick relatives, pregnant or nursing moms, victims of domestic violence, people with serious health conditions, immediate relatives of US soldiers, minors, the elderly, and others who fall into sympathetic categories.

This is a good start. But ICE is still undermining the credibility of the police and making city officials look small-minded by implicating them in the deportation of illegal immigrants for administrative violations.

“What part of the word ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?’’ is the usual comeback to anyone who see shades of gray on the subject of illegal immigration. Bostonians could confront these hardliners with a question of their own: “What part of the word ‘communities’ don’t you understand?’’


I had just finished reading this article when I received a call from one of the young undocumented Irish with whom I work on a daily basis. He informed me that another member of the group was stopped for making a left turn where he was not supposed to. He claims that he did not see the sign. The police officer asked for his driver’s license whereupon he gave the officer an Irish license. He was taken to the police station and charged with several traffic violations including driving without a valid driver’s license even though his Irish license was a valid one. His immigration status was checked through ICE and he was found to be undocumented. He is currently being detained for possible deportation as an undesirable alien. We have several influential people working on his behalf but the sad truth is that he will most likely be deported for nothing more than a simple traffic violation. It was the first encounter that this young man has had with the police since he arrived in the United States.

Does a simple traffic violation warrant deportation when we have violent criminals walking our streets? I certainly do not think so but I would welcome the opportunity to respond to others with opposing points of view.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Adams: Orange parades will have role in united Ireland

By Noel McAdam - The Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order marches would have a place in a new united Ireland, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said today.
In an speech to the British Irish Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in Wales, he insisted republicans had no desire to conquer or humiliate unionists.
The veteran party leader, who recently appealed through the Belfast Telegraph for the Order to open talks with Sinn Fein, said the genuine fears and concerns of unionists — including their sense of Britishness — needed to be explored in a meaningful way.
And he also told the gathering in Swansea, made up of MPs, members of the regional Assemblies as well as elected representatives from the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, that the people of Britain have a duty “to themselves, to unionists in particular, to the Irish in general and even to the world” to give their opinion on Irish reunification.
“We need to look at ways in which the unionist people can find their place in a new Ireland. In other words it needs to be their united Ireland,” the West Belfast MP said.
Sinn Fein’s vision of a new Ireland was where unionists have “equal ownership” with respect for cultural diversity, and political, social, economic and cultural equality because nationalists and republicans did not seek to deny the rights of others.
“The real distinction that we have always drawn is between justice and privilege. Justice for all and privilege for none. This means, for example, that Orange marches will have their place in a new Ireland, albeit on the basis of respect and co-operation,” he said.
With the main focus of the two-day event on the recession, Mr Adams argued that in economic terms the border is more than just an inconvenience — it is an obstacle to progress.
“While its adverse affects are most clearly felt in the communities that straddle the border, it also impacts negatively throughout the island. The reality is that the economy of the North is too small to exist in isolation.
“There are some who suggest that because we live in a period of severe economic difficulty that Irish reunification should be put off for the foreseeable future. In fact the opposite is the case,” Mr Adams went on.
“There is now a need, more than ever, for the island economy to be brought into being in the fullest sense, and for the political and administrative structures to be instituted with that in mind.”


I wonder if this new enlightened point of view has been discussed with the residents of the Garvaghy Road or the Lower Ormeau Road and other areas where these obnoxious displays of Loyalist triumphalism have caused grief and mayhem for generations. I would venture to guess that the Catholic Nationalist residents in these areas would have quite a different opinion about acceptance of these parades and the anti-Catholic, anti-Irish bigots who conduct and participate in them. There is certainly reason to question the wisdom of accepting these parades without drastic changes in the manner in which they are presently conducted or, for that matter, allowing them at all.

McGuinness slams Orange Order parades

By Staff reporter – Belfast Telegraph

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has accused the Orange Order of refusing to make a contribution to the peace process.
In a stinging attack on the Orange Order, delivered at the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown on Sunday, the Sinn Féin leader said the Order must deal with the issue of contested parades.
“In the course of the past 15 years there have been many important contributions to the peace process. The IRA made significant contributions. So too the loyalists. So have many political parties and governments. However the Orange Order, the cement which for decades held the unionist regime together, has refused to make a contribution. That has to end. The leadership of the Orange Order can no longer abdicate its responsibilities,” he said.
Mr McGuinness also suggested that republicans would no longer be prepared to act as stewards during parades at flashpoint areas while the Orange Order refuses to negotiate with residents.
“Now is the time for the Orange Order to step forward. There are hundreds of Orange Parades each year. Only a few cause controversy. The days of republicans stretching ourselves and our communities to maintain calm in the face of sectarian provocation cannot last forever. It is now time for the issue of contested parades to be dealt with once and for all.
“That means the Orange Order making its contribution to peace. It means a declaration from the Orange Order that in future they will no longer seek to force parades through catholic areas and risk bringing violence onto our streets,” he said.
Mr McGuinness said if the Orange Order do not engage with local communities it will be regarded as “an abdication of their responsibilities.” He also called on unionist political leaders to confront what he described as “its own ideology of inequality.”
Responding to Mr McGuinness’s speech, an Orange spokesperson said; “The Orange Order is working very hard to make its parades more family-friendly and welcoming, particularly to tourists, and these remarks from the deputy first minister are extremely unhelpful."
Elsewhere in the speech, Mr McGuinness also criticised armed dissident republican groups.
“Activity by small militarist factions will not advance the cause of Irish freedom. It is worth remembering that the United Irishmen did not choose armed revolt as their option of first resort. 'Thinking' republicans have always sought alternatives to armed revolt to achieve freedom. And so it is today. Whatever their motivation they offer no realistic alternative to the strategy pursued by Sinn Féin,” he said.

Orange Order Membership Oath

The Orange Order - even though it has influence in many parts of the world - is in reality a Northern Ireland phenomenon. Part of the phenomenon is that there is a belief deeply rooted within it that it is an instrument in God's hands for the preservation of His Kingdom. An instrument in God's Hands to keep 'popery' at bay and to maintain religious liberty. The advertised qualities of an Orangeman make very impressive reading..

"An Orangeman should have a sincere love and veneration for his Heavenly Father; a humble and steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, believing in Him as the only Mediator between God and man He should cultivate truth and justice, brotherly kindness and charity, devotion and piety, concord and unity, and obedience to the laws; his deportment should be gentle and compassionate, kind and courteous; he should seek the society of the virtuous, and avoid that of the evil, he should honour and diligently study the Holy Scriptures, and make them the rule of his faith and practice; he should love, uphold, and defend the Protestant religion, and sincerely desire and endeavour to propagate its doctrines and precepts; he should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Popish worship; he should, by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments, and the extension of its power, ever abstaining from all uncharitable words, actions, or sentiments, towards his Roman Catholic brethren; he should remember to keep holy the Sabbath day, and attend the public worship of God, and diligently train up his offspring, and all under his control, in the fear of God, and in the Protestant faith; he should never take the name of God in vain, but abstain from all cursing and profane language, and use every opportunity of discouraging these, and all other sinful practices, in others; his conduct should be guided by wisdom and prudence, and marked by honesty, temperance, and sobriety; the glory of God and the welfare of man, the honour of his Sovereign, and the good of his country, should be the motive of his actions"

Please see the comment on this page from Gerry Adams regarding Orange Order parades. Also, it would appear as though the Deputy First Minister of the Stormont Government’s attitude toward the Orange Order bigots has certainly changed significantly since the Smithsonian “love-in” on the National Mall in Washington, DC in 2007. Perhaps Mr. McGuinness and Mr. Adams should come to some kind of agreement to clarify their positions and end the confusion that these opposing points of view project to the Nationalist community. “Are the Orange Order “good guys or bad guys”?

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Minor offenders snared in immigration program aimed at serious crimes

By Maria Sacchetti – Boston Globe Staff

Lizandra DeMoura, 18, is facing deportation to Brazil after a traffic arrest in May. She came to the United States as a child.

One early evening in May, a Boston police officer arrested Lizandra DeMoura for traffic violations and driving without a license. In another city, she might have been booked and released for a court hearing. But in Boston, the 18-year-old was jailed overnight, taken to court, and handed over to federal immigration agents, who hauled her away in chains.

Now she is facing deportation to Brazil.

“I felt like an animal,’’ DeMoura, who has lived here since she was a child, said in a recent interview in her lawyer’s office in Boston, wearing an electronic monitoring device around her ankle.

Her case - one of three to emerge in recent weeks - lies at the center of the contentious debate over Secure Communities, a federal program pioneered in Boston that uses fingerprints supplied by police and other law enforcement agencies to detect illegal immigrants.

The cases disprove for the first time claims by Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis that the federal program, as implemented by the city, is only being used to root out serious criminals.

After the Globe presented him with these examples last week, Davis urged US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt deportation proceedings against them. Davis said Boston joined the program to sweep out violent criminals, and would withdraw if cases such as DeMoura’s are widespread.

“I’m disappointed with what I’m seeing,’’ Davis said, adding that he has asked the immigration bureau to review the noncriminal cases.

Though critics of illegal immigration encourage police to enforce immigration law, Davis said he only wanted to target criminals. A broader net, he said, would discourage ordinary immigrants from reporting crime. “I don’t want people to feel that they have to fear the police, no matter what their status is.’’

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to questions about Davis’s concerns. But spokesman Chuck Jackson said the agency recently announced changes to Secure Communities to more tightly focus it on serious criminals, including a new advisory committee that will make recommendations about whether the US government should pursue immigrants stopped for minor traffic violations.

Jackson pointed to several cases that he said Boston police helped bring to light. These included a 2009 case when Boston police helped find a Jamaican man, a violent gang member with a drug conviction. He had illegally reentered the country after being deported, a federal crime, and is now serving 57 months in prison for that offense. He will be deported when the sentence is completed.

Officials launched Secure Communities in 2008 to automatically check the fingerprints of everyone arrested through immigration databases. The computer system alerts Immigration and Customs Enforcement when someone is here illegally, and the bureau decides whom to detain for deportation. The program, piloted in Boston in 2006, has expanded to more than 40 states. Boston is still the only Massachusetts community participating

Catching serious criminals is the bureau’s stated top priority under the program, which federal officials plan to implement nationwide by 2013 as mandatory even for states that object. But officials have said that anyone under arrest who is here illegally could be deported.

Because of concerns about racial profiling and high numbers of noncriminals being deported under the program, Governor Deval Patrick last month followed the governors of New York and Illinois in rejecting Secure Communities for state law enforcement. Massachusetts, however, turns over convicted criminals to Immigration and Customs Enforcement once their sentences are served.

Federal statistics show that 183 of 352 immigrants deported from Boston since 2008 - or about 52 percent - had no criminal record, this is much higher than the national average of 29 percent.

“If the goal is to get the bad people off the street, nobody can object to that,’’ said DeMoura’s attorney, William Joyce, a former Boston immigration court judge who is fighting her deportation. “The problem is they don’t seem to be getting the right people.’’

Supporters say Secure Communities has become a valuable tool in fighting crime. Since 2008, the program has deported 30,000 violent Level 1 criminals nationwide, including murderers and rapists, and thousands of others convicted of lesser crimes. In Boston, the program swept out 96 such criminals and 73 more convicted of lesser crimes.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors stricter controls on immigration, said she believes cases such as DeMoura’s are the exception. Had Secure Communities been fully deployed, she said, it might have prevented the brutal rape of a Rhode Island woman in 2008 by an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, or this year’s savage murders of a Brockton woman and her son in which police indicted a man from Ecuador. Both men had past arrests.

“The benefits that the program offers in being able to more easily find all of the really serious cases far outweighs the very tiny risk that a sympathetic case might get caught up in the system,’’ she said. “Though the case might seem sympathetic, they’re still here illegally.’’

Advocates for immigrants say that in Boston, Secure Communities makes immigrants afraid to report crime. The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, an umbrella group, and others have urged Boston to withdraw from the program.

“End the program. It doesn’t work,’’ said Heloisa Galvao, executive director of the Brazilian Women’s Group in Allston. “We had this idea that Boston was friendly to immigrants. . . . This program, it tells the opposite. We really feel betrayed.’’

The Globe documented three cases of immigrants stopped for minor traffic violations and then arrested on charges such as driving without a license, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. All were picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and none had criminal records. In each case, charges were dismissed or the person was found not responsible.

Lindomar Da Silva, a 36-year-old laborer who came to America 10 years ago from Conselheiro Pena, a small town in southeastern Brazil, was stopped in April for turning into a Burger King without signaling.

Da Silva said he spent several days in jail and had to pay a $5,000 bond to the federal government - money he hopes they will return to him.

The episode was in stark contrast to an encounter with the State Police the year before, when another driver rear-ended Da Silva in Everett. Court records show that Da Silva was issued a citation for driving without a license and released. He said he never heard from federal immigration authorities.

Now he is fighting deportation in federal court.

“There are more cases happening here [like mine],’’ Da Silva said. “There are more people in the jail, people like me, but they didn’t have money to get out.’’

Also in April, police stopped Leonardo Machado, a construction worker from Brazil, for having a broken brake light and arrested him on charges of driving without a license. His voice faltered as he recalled a sudden swarm of police officers around the truck and his subsequent delivery to federal immigration offices in Burlington.

He said he was so traumatized by being put in chains that he signed a voluntary deportation order agreeing to leave the United States at his own expense.

“I think it’s better I go back to Brazil,’’ he said. “ I don’t want to be here anymore.’’

DeMoura said she is terrified that authorities will send her to Brazil, where she does not speak the language. But she also feels lost in America, where she is ineligible for a driver’s license and college scholarships. Feeling helpless, she dropped out of high school and took a cash-only job as a secretary.

She had lived a quiet life until that night in May, when she borrowed her mother’s car to drive to a friend’s house to print out dance instructions for a church performance. A police officer in Charlestown stopped her for allegedly going through a stop sign and speeding at 40 miles per hour. She was arrested on traffic charges including driving without a license.

She spent the night sobbing on a concrete bench in a Boston jail. The next day a judge dismissed the charges and immigration agents took her to their Burlington headquarters for processing. They affixed a tracking device to her ankle that was finally removed almost two weeks ago. The device made it hard to ride her bike.

Now, she is making plans to return to school and trying not to think about her future.

“It just scares me a lot,’’ she said, twisting tissues in the lap of her yellow sundress. “I’ve been here all my life.’’


Two weeks ago I sent out an article pertaining to the Secure Communities Program which is already in practice in certain locations and the E Verify Program which is voluntary in some locations. U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Judiciary has been putting forth great effort to pass legislation making the E Verify Program mandatory for all employers before hiring any employee. If enacted, Rep. Smith’s bill would levy heavy fines on any employer who hires an employee, for any type of employment whatsoever, who is not authorized to work in the U.S. This would deal a devastating blow to a very significant number of undocumented residents who are employed in menial jobs such as migrant farm hands, housekeepers, kitchen help etc. which would, most likely, be rejected by U.S. citizens or legal residents with work authorization. While it is true that many of these hard working people who are prevented by their undocumented status from paying taxes on their earnings, actually do contribute to our economy when they purchase the necessities of life for themselves and their families. It must also be remembered that the children of most undocumented residents are actually U.S. citizens. Perhaps simple Christian Charity should govern our treatment of the vast majority of these people who merely seek to provide for themselves and their families and live with the hope that someday they will be able to resolve their legality and take their place as productive citizens of the greatest nation on earth.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America