Divided Families Even With Obama’s Executive Action, the Fight Continues: Red MX

Los Angeles, CA.- Although we recognize that the executive action decreed by President Barack Obama will protect some 5 million people from deportation, around 6 million were left out, so migrant organizations will continue the fight until the full rights of migrants and their families are permanently recognized and families are guaranteed to stay together.

From the perspective of the Mexican Network of Migrant Leaders and Organizations (Red Mx), the executive action announced by President Obama on November 20 has the following implications:

1) Deferred Action for Parents of Citizens or Legal Residents will only be in effect for three years.

2) Excludes about six million people including: a) parents of dreamers b) rural or urban workers whose families are in Mexico or whose children are not citizens or residents, c) single people or without children citizens or residents ( including members of the gay and lesbian community).

3) President Obama’s measure is provisional and incomplete and gives rise to the systematic violation of the rights of people who are forced to leave their countries of origin, for which permanent solutions are required and comprehensively fix the system United States immigration.

The positive:

· Expands the range of the eligible population for the Deferred Action for Those Brought in as Children (DACA) program, for young people who arrived in this country before turning 16 years of age and who have been physically present in the country since the January 1, 2010 or before; extends the period of DACA and employment authorization from two to three years.

Allows parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents who were physically present in the country on or before January 1, 2010, to apply for deferred action and employment authorization for a period of three years, through a new program for Deferred Action for Parental Responsibility, as long as they pass required criminal background checks and meet other criteria.

• Expands the use of provisional unlawful presence waivers to include
spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and adult sons and daughters of US citizens.

• The waiver (I-601A) is extended to all eligible family members, which now includes adult children and spouses of legal permanent residents (this requires legislation that defines the term “extreme hardship”).

· For family members of citizens or legal residents who are in or seeking to enlist in the military.

· Support for victims of extortion, forced labor, fraud in foreign employment contracts and victims of human trafficking.

·Reforms to the employment-based immigration system such as the extension of OPT (Elective Academic Training) for STEM (Engineering, Science, Technology and Mathematics) graduates; defines “specialized knowledge” for L-1B (professionals with specialties visa) employees transferred from one company to another; more H-1B (temporary workers with high specialization) in the definition of similar jobs and a new program to attract talented entrepreneurs to the country.

The negative:

· Priority Enforcement Program (Replaces Secure Communities), to deport individuals found guilty of criminal offenses. Until now Secure Communities has been used as an excuse to deport immigrants regardless of whether they have committed crimes or not.

* Program 287g continues, which allows the collaboration of local police and immigration or ICE.

· Excludes parents of Dreamers, farm and city workers without close family members who are legal residents or citizens, and from the gay lesbian community.

· Presidential executive action does not benefit those without immediate family ties but who are members of our community.

It is not yet clear whether parents with final orders of removal or who have re-entered after deportation would be eligible for the program. Apparently, they would be eligible since they do not represent a priority under the new president’s memorandum.

· People who qualify under this executive action, although they will pay taxes, will not have any public benefits such as health services, etc.

The worrying:

New law enforcement priorities will remain focused on hitting migrant communities as the criminalization of our communities in the interior and at the border continues, which will continue to separate families.

Priority 1: Noncitizens convicted of aggravated felonies, suspected terrorists, convicted gang members, and people arrested trying to cross the border.

Priority 2: Noncitizens with convictions for three or more offenses; non-citizens with misdemeanor convictions including driving under the influence of alcohol and people arrested who entered after January 1, 2014.

Priority 3: Non-citizens who have received a deportation order after January 1, 2014. People who entered in 2014 will be subject to strict application of the law.

The grave:

· Increased border surveillance. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to assign an additional 20,000 border agents in addition to further militarization of the border.

· More programs against undocumented migration such as the Criminal Alien Removal Program (CARI), which targets Latinos for detention and deportation, as well as ICE raids.

· Continuation of expedited deportations and Operation Streamline.

· Does not include reforms to the migrant detention system. The administration plans to expand the number of private prisons for migrants. The detention of families will continue; DHS will open a new detention center in Dilley, Texas; detention of asylum seekers will continue.

· More people will die trying to cross the border; More civil and human rights violations are expected in border communities.

The presidential decree does not contribute to rooting out the problems generated by undocumented migration, such as the Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Merida Initiative. The latter has played a crucial role in the failed war on drugs. Mexicans will continue to migrate as long as there is poverty and violence generated by anti-democratic policies in Mexico.

The Red Mx considers that if the president finally took this step aimed at protecting less than half of undocumented families, it was because of the strong pressure that organizations that fight for the rights of migrants have been exerting for more than 20 years.

It is also due to the fact that the 2016 presidential elections are approaching. If the president thinks that with this executive action he will make the Latino electorate very happy, we want to remind them that the Latino vote is worth more than half-fulfilled promises.

Immigration laws must be changed as well as free market policies in order to address the causes of migration and to guarantee the labor, civil and human rights of millions of people in accordance with the assumption that the United States is the most great on the planet.

For more details on requirements, we recommend the public consult the official Spanish site of the DHS.

The Mexican Network was founded in 2007 to coordinate and promote public policies in favor of Mexican migrant communities in the United States and in their places of origin. It is made up of 40 migrant organizations, as well as individuals with leadership in the migrant community in the states of Texas, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, New York, New Mexico and Indiana, in the United States. In the Mexican Republic, it has representatives in Zacatecas, Michoacán, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Puebla Federal District, Guanajuato, Durango, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Veracruz, Tlaxcala and Yucatán.