PHOENIX — Latino activists in Arizona responded Friday to President Barack Obama’s calling for a review of the processes and procedures used by the Department of Homeland Security in deportations of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
“(Obama) has asked new Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do an inventory of the department’s current practices to see how it, the department, can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney read from a statement following a meeting between pro-immigration reform organizations and the President this week.
Members of the Black and Brown Coalition in Arizona responded by thanking the president for the decision to review but also said that more action is needed because there is no “humane” way to deport people.
“He has called for a committee, a process to determine a more humane way for us to be deported,” said Alfredo Gutierrez, member of the Maricopa Community College Governing Board. “It illustrates that this president simply doesn’t understand that there is no humane way to destroy a family.”
Under Obama’s administration, more than 2 million people have been deported and Gutierrez scolded the president for failed promises on immigration reform and the reduction of deportations. However, Gutierrez said Obama can repair his legacy with, what he called, one “simple step.”
“It’s time to do one simple thing, if we are to believe (Obama) after all these promises, all unkept, if he is to win back any level of trust from our community,” Gutierrez said. “He has to take one simple step: Stop the deportations, and stop them now. After that, he can investigate humane ways of doing whatever he wants, but stop the deportations.”
Civil Rights Attorney Antonio Bustamante echoed the need for a halt to deportations but laid the blame for the lack of action on the shoulders of Congress and legislators who have not passed comprehensive immigrations reform.
“We have a situation where we have a Congress and legislators…but it will not move on what the people of this nation want,” he said. “So this president will try to stop the pain and suffering.”
The coalition also extended an invitation to Secretary Johnson to come to Arizona and see firsthand the result of deportations.
“We have been the epicenter of immigration abuses and we want (Johnson) to listen to our families,” said Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. “I think he will get a clear view of what we need to do.”
Wilcox said she wants to see the halt of deportations of all non-criminal immigrants until the review is completed.