by Christine Neumann-Ortiz
“I’m writing this with a heavy heart. My husband is on an I.C.E hold currently being held in Dodge County. He is my husband of fourteen years and father to our four beautiful children. Our oldest is six and our youngest is only fifteen months.
I am at a loss why this is happening to our family. I and our children are all U.S citizens, yet we seem to have no rights either. My poor children have no idea why their father who tucked them in every night isn’t able to come home. Now they are only able to see there loving father through glass. How do explain to my fifteen month old while he is screaming and crying that his dad can’t touch him?”
National Fight: Stop the Separation of Families! Stop the Deportations!
This May Day falls on a critical year, as the US Supreme Court will be ruling whether or not Arizona’s SB1070 law and copycat laws like Wisconsin’s AB 173 law violate the US Constitution.
Jaime Martinez, whose wife wrote the letter above, was recently denied prosecutorial discretion by ICE because he re-entered the US following a removal. He re-entered the US to be with his current US citizen wife of fourteen years. They have four US citizen children, all under the age of seven, and he is the sole provider for the family. His wife, a disabled factory worker suffers from carpal tunnel which will make it very difficult for her to be in the workforce again. He has no criminal record, and has established meaningful ties in the US and in Manitowoc, WI.
We must continue to put pressure on the Obama Administration to stop the separation of families when a loved one faces deportation. There has been a decline in the number of deportations in the last six months, due to new guidelines and a review of pending deportation cases; prioritizing resources on individuals who pose a serious threat to the community.
However, there is little evidence that these cases are being better targeted towards serious criminals. According to Transactional Record’s Access (TRAC) figures of all filings in Immigration Court for the first quarter of 2012: 24,073 individuals were being deported because of re-entry charges, while 8,884 were charged with other immigration violations. In contrast only 1,300—just 3.3%-were sought to be deported for aggravated felonies.
State Fight: Reclaiming Wisconsin
Last year, 100,000 people marched on May Day in Milwaukee to send a strong message to Governor Walker that “Wisconsin is not Arizona” and to stand in solidarity with public employees whose right to bargain collectively was taken away by the Walker Administration. While we succeeded in keeping AB 173 marginalized in committee during this legislative session, in 2011 immigrant youth were stripped of their right to pay instate tuition rates to attend a public university or college, and life-necessary pre-natal care for undocumented mothers was also taken away in the budget process.
In addition, the Republican majority and Governor Walker are waging an unprecedented assault on working class families, through massive cuts to public education and Badger Care, while passing huge tax breaks for big business. Wisconsin is experiencing the slowest job growth in the nation and the Walker Administration is attacking the rights of low-income US citizens to vote by passing the most restrictive photo ID requirement in the country.
On May Day let’s march to keep families together, to stop the criminalization of immigrants and the poor, to restore driver licenses and instate tuition, to hold elected officials accountable to good job creation, instead of cuts to public education and Badger Care, and to defend the right to vote!
This post is also available in: Spanish