Yesterday Latino advocates protested outside of President Obama's campaign office, pleading for him to put an end to the Secure Communities program, which partners local law enforcement agencies with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and has led to many deportations of non-criminal illegal immigrants.
The program has been quite controversial for some time now after reports surfaced of it causing the deportation of undocumented immigrants who had not committed crimes and some who were even the victims of abuse.
"They're saying it is to deport criminal immigrants, but in reality, that's not happening," a member of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities activist group said at yesterday's protest.
Although President Obama supports an immigration plan that would grant millions of non-criminal illegal immigrants a path to citizenship in exchange for learning English and paying a fine, his administration authorized the deportation of 392,862 foreign nationals in 2010, less than half of which were criminals, Reuters reported.
United States citizens are at odds about how to address the illegal immigration issue in the country. It is presumed that there are about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country right now, constantly in fear of being exposed and torn away from their families.
The country's lawmakers are also at odds as to how to handle the issue, with a Democratic president who supports comprehensive immigration reform and a House of Representatives controlled by Republicans who are arguing for stricter enforcement instead of reform.
Yesterday's protest took up only one issue, though, the Secure Communities program. The protesters presented a petition signed by 24,300 people that called for the president to axe the program. The protestors argued that the program unlawfully grants local law enforcement agencies the ability to act as immigration officers.
It doesn't appear that the president has released a public statement regarding the protest as of yet. With the ailing economy and unemployment problem, the president has a lot on his plate, but advocates won't let him push aside the immigration issue as the deportations continue.
Source: Reuters, "Latinos protest deportations at Obama campaign HQ," Eunju Lie, Aug. 16, 2011.