Two leading Latino groups are expressing their dissappointment with the President's decision to send National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, is firmly opposed to President Obama’s announcement that he is sending 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“As we have seen time and time again, efforts to overhaul our broken immigration system have taken a back seat to dramatic escalations of border enforcement including placing troops on the U.S. border to serve in a function for which they have not been trained,” stated LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “What is shocking is that this escalation is coming at a time when border violence and unauthorized border crossings have declined. If we want to solve the challenge of undocumented immigration, it is clear that enforcement alone will not work.”
Over the last two decades, the United States has spent billions of dollars on border enforcement. Since 1992, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased by 714 percent. At the same time, the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border has grown by 390 percent. Interior enforcement has expanded as well, and detentions and deportations are at record levels. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the violent crime rate in Arizona has been declining since it peaked in 1993. It is now lower than it has been since the early 1970s. In the Tucson Border Patrol sector, apprehensions of persons crossing illegally have fallen from 600,000 in 2000 to 241,000 in 2009.
“The fact is that the enforcement benchmarks that conservatives insisted on in 2007 have been met, unauthorized border crossings are down, violent crime is down, and the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has declined,” stated Brent Wilkes, LULAC National Executive Director. “However, instead of following through on their promise of comprehensive immigration reform once the targets were met, we just have ever escalating calls for enforcement. While we appreciate that the President has called for comprehensive immigration reform, we are disappointed that he is trying to appease those whose thirst for border crackdowns and punitive measures for hard working immigrants can never be quenched.”
LULAC is calling upon its membership to oppose several amendments being offered this week to the supplemental war spending bill which will go even further than the President’s border escalation. Specifically we are asking our members to contact their senators to oppose expected amendments by McCain (SA 4214), Kyl (SA 4228) and Cornyn
Meanwhile, the National Council of La Raza also expressed disappointment.
"While we appreciate that the president reiterated his commitment to immigration reform at a meeting with congressional Republicans, taking this step without any concurrent announcement on next steps or even a timeline for a comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system is both inadequate and deeply disappointing," said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. "As we have stated time and again, temporary fixes and patchwork initiatives won't solve the problem. Congress and the administration have it within their power to do what the American people need, to solve tough problems. They need to act now."
The government has already poured hundreds of billions of dollars into border enforcement, and the first year of the Obama administration has seen more deportations than the last year of the Bush administration.
"We are on a collision course of enforcement-only policies and, as experience shows, this will not solve the problem," Murguía continued. "The White House must outline a clear plan of action. And Republican leadership must stop playing politics and do its part to solve the problem."
The urgency of overhauling the nation's immigration system-a federal responsibility-has been heightened by the recent passage of SB 1070 in Arizona, which essentially sanctions racial profiling as accepted police practice and allows individuals to sue law enforcement if they feel that the law is not being fully enforced. Dozens of other states are considering legislation similar to SB 1070. While the law seems popular in various polls-demonstrating a real and legitimate frustration, as well as the need to send a message about federal inaction-many of those same polls show even greater support for comprehensive immigration reform as a solution. Yet many Republicans remain reluctant to cosponsor or support legislation or proposals to fix the problem.
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