Sunday, August 28, 2011


Hawaii ICE agents nab people off the streets regardless of what Obama has said about changes in policy

by Larry Geller
ICE Special Agent arresting a suspect.

Image via Wikipedia

ICE (federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is allowed to stop anyone at the border and demand papers. The border isn’t just Honolulu Airport and the harbors—by law it is now 100 miles from the actual border. For Hawaii, that means ICE agents can stop anyone anywhere on the islands.

In ethnically diverse Hawaii, it appears that ICE agents are racially profiling Hawaii residents. Some of them, according to a front-page story in today’s Star-Advertiser, are being held in solitary confinement even though they have no criminal history.

Hawaii residents with no criminal records but relatively minor immigration infractions have been pulled from their homes and public places without warning, handcuffed and placed in federal prison cells despite a policy shift nationally focusing on prosecutions of felons and other serious offenders, immigration attorneys say.

Even after the Obama administration reaffirmed a policy shift nearly two weeks ago, local attorneys say they are aware of multiple instances in which immigrants with no criminal records have been arrested and incarcerated because of administrative infractions years ago, such as overstaying a visa or entering the country as a child without the required paperwork.

[Star-Advertiser, Illegal immigrants held on minor infractions, 8/28/2011]

If policy has changed, as Obama announced, then why are ICE agents in Hawaii and elsewhere still stopping and incarcerating these people? The explanation was available to readers in the same paper—on the comics page. Check out Sunday’s Candorville comic by Darrin Bell. I can’t reproduce it here (copyrighted material), but you can just click to see it.

My take: Obama is running for re-election. So he says nice things to gain the Latino/immigrant vote. But that has nothing to do with what he is actually doing.

Racial profiling is wrong and illegal. The President has said he will not be deporting these people. Well, he said he would close Guantanamo. He said he would tax the rich. Anyone who believes what a President running for election says—I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you cheap (water damage).

So whose policy are we going to believe—the President or the ICE agents grabbing people off the streets and locking them away in solitary confinement?

Clearly, ICE doesn’t believe what the President says, either.

In appearing to soften its immigration policy by agreeing to review hundreds of thousands of deportation cases in the pipeline, the Obama administration is either pulling off a big deal — or a big con.

One minute, Obama is insisting that he supports comprehensive immigration reform; the next, he is doubling down on the failed strategy of "enforcement only."

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