by Sharada Jambulapati, ’12, Aracely Mondragon, ’13 + Holly Fetter, ’13
Today, John Morton is the keynote speaker at the Stanford Law School’s 2nd Annual Immigration Compliance Symposium. This man is the Director of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the government agency responsible for arresting, detaining, and deporting thousands of immigrants a year.
Since Obama took office, ICE has deported 1.2 million immigrants. That’s more than any other president, including George W. Bush. Imagine that the entire population of Bush’s current hometown, Dallas, Texas, was forcibly removed from this country. 1.2 million people, gone.
This isn’t an issue of abstract, criminal bodies crossing borders. This is about real lives being destroyed by bureaucrats like John Morton.
It’s about families being separated, children being left behind while their parents are sent back to their country of origin. In the first half of 2011, the federal government removed over 46,000 mothers and fathers of U.S.-citizen children.
It’s about women being arrested, detained, and deported just because they call the police for help while being abused by their partner, and the police officer then checks the victim’s immigration status before arresting the perpetrator. Victims of physical abuse at home and in the workplace are thus less likely to seek protection. There is an 18.8% chance that an undocumented woman will call the police in a domestic violence situation, compared with the national average of 52%.
It’s about immigrants dying in privately-owned prisons after they are arrested for committing (sometimes petty) crimes. Since 2003, 129 people have died in detention while the prison corporations profit off their abuse and pass laws to strengthen immigration enforcement in order to fill their prison beds.
It’s about fathers dying at the border after trying again and again to be reunited with their children. Approximately 500 people die trying to cross the México-U.S. border each year. That’s more than 1 death per day.
John Morton, we implore you to stop detaining and deporting innocent immigrants in the name of national security. There’s blood on your hands.
So you’d think I’d be done writing
Cansada de mi cantaleta
garganta seca, hecha un desierto
So you’d think I’d forget now
But my memory just won’t let me
Cuz everytime I hear the letters ICE
My stomach turns and I remember
And everytime I hear deportation
I think of handcuffs on my father
And though I try to look away
My mind still sees them
Cuz everytime I hear immigration
I think of invisible chains on my mother’s ankles
Tying her to someone’s dirty toilet
And everytime I hear Arizona
Something inside me cries out a little longer
And when I think of iron bars
I think of loved ones
And you’d think I’d be desensitized
Numb to the injustice
But then something within starts itching
Scraping up inside me
Threatening to bleed, an eruption
So even when you’d think I’d be over it
Well I just can’t be
Cuz I don’t have the privilege of forgetting
And we don’t have the luxury of not feeling
Cuz you see this isn’t about me
It’s about one, two…
It’s about erasure
it’s about humanity
(it’s about interdependence)
this is about trying to keep on living
Is the United States really deporting the so-called “hardened criminals” that ICE claims? If you are interested in learning more about ICE and current immigration policies:
- Watch Lost in Detention
- Read more about 287(g) programs like Secure Communities and others.
- Learn about the abuse that takes place inside ICE facilities
- See how organizations protect detained immigrants’ rights
- Understand the role of private prisons in ICE detention facilities
- Visit the Detention Watch Network
Sharada is a senior majoring in International Relations and a founding member of the Stanford Immigrant Rights Project. Aracely and Holly are juniors majoring in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and members of Las Hermanas de Stanford.