Travis County, Texas, has one of the highest deportation rates in the U.S. thanks to the local sheriff’s voluntary cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. An average of 19 immigrants a week are deported here. Stopping the deportation dragnet in Travis County would mean stopping the potential detention and deportation of thousands of Austin-area residents. Grassroots Leadership, in coalition with other groups in the Austin-area, is making that happen by engaging in direct action, community education, and dialogue with local elected officials.
The #19TooMany Campaign
"One of the underpinnings of Rick Perry’s long-shot bid for president is that his 14 years of governing a state with a 1,200-mile border with Mexico gives him unique authority on immigration issues.
Then, less than a month ago, real estate mogul Donald Trump entered the race with what seemed a few ill-chosen words on the subject and stormed to the front of the crowded GOP pack, his position strengthened by the tragic July 1 shooting death in San Francisco of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, allegedly by Francisco Sanchez, a five-time deportee from Mexico who eluded being deported a sixth time because he found himself in a 'sanctuary city.'
Bob Libal, executive director of the Austin office of Grassroots Leadership, which backs sanctuary policies, said that no community in Texas fits that description of a sanctuary city.
'We are not a sanctuary city,' said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. At the same time, Acevedo said, 'Most major city police chiefs believe that in an era of limited resources, we are not immigration agents, we’re not ICE.'
The crucial distinction between San Francisco and Austin is that Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton, who runs the jail, cooperates with ICE when they ask that a prisoner they suspect of being in the country illegally be detained for extra time, while the sheriff in San Francisco does not." Read more about Rick Perry reprises sanctuary cities issue on a national stage
"Dozens of people rallied outside the Travis County Jail Tuesday evening, calling for an end to programs where local law enforcement share information about inmates with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Cristina Parker, immigration projects director for Grassroots Leadership, says 19 people are deported each week in Austin and Travis County as a result of information sharing programs. Right now, local law enforcement share inmate information with ICE, and ICE can then decide whether to deport the inmate. 'This is being felt in neighborhoods all across Austin and we want the leaders of our county, and our city, and our community to know that we care about this issue and we're going to fight for it,' she said." Read more about Protest Calls to End Deportation Information Sharing
A Texas sheriff has blown the lid of the federal government's new deportation program, admitting that it's just like the disgraced "Secure Communities" program.
Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton has faced intense local pressure to opt out of S-Comm but has been vocal about his support for S-comm and working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in general. The sheriff and ICE have even been eager pen pals.
So you can believe Sheriff Hamilton when he says that the "Priority Enforcement Program" or PEP-Comm, which is supposed to replace S-Comm, is just the same thing with a new name.
Read more about "All they did was change the name," Texas Sheriff exposes PEP-Comm deportation program
Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General released a report chronicling a number of egregious practices taking place at the one of the world’s largest for-profit prisons. Reeves C
Private prison companies GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) recently released proxy materials revealing million dollar compensations for their top executives. Both documents included charts that reflected salary figures, stock awards, option awards, among various other means of monetary compensation. Read more about While mothers and children languish in detention, private prison companies reveal million dollar compensations for top executives
Despite evidence of abuse and her status as a survivor and a pending U Visa application on file, Yolo County (CA) District Attorneys have advanced racist, anti-immigrant, and sexist tropes to paint Nan-Hui as an abuser, leading to what has been a seven-month separation of mother and child. If she is deported, this separation will become permanent.Read more about Humpday Hall of Shame | Stop the deportation of Nan-Hui Jo
A Priority Enforcement Program, aka PEP, replaces the controversial Secure Communities program—which encouraged local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration law. It looks like under PEP, ICE detainers will be replaced by a notfication system among other things.
Cristina Parker, spokesperson for the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, which helped lead the charge in Texas against the unpopular Secure Communities program, says that her organization and others who have fought against the program for years are celebrating its demise. S-COMM was the reason that many immigrants were deported for minor misdemeanors or traffic infractions.
Parker says they are pessimistic, however, about the new program and eagerly awaiting more details on how it will be implemented. “ICE doesn’t inspire confidence in how it follows directives. It’s a rogue agency. And this really sounds very similar to the first day of S-COMM,” she says. “That’s kind of where we’re at now but we’re trying to be cautiously optimistic.” Read more about Obama’s Immigration Reform: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
We have a big challenge at Grassroots Leadership. There is a lot of work to be done, and fighting a billion dollar for-profit prison industry is not easy work. But there is also much to be thankful for. The hard work of Grassroots Leadership staff, volunteers, and allies is really helping change the world to make it more just. Here are a few of the things that we at Grassroots Leadership are thankful for this year.
1. Organizing Wins #ImmigrationAction, & Those Who Continue to Push for #Not1More Deportation! Read more about 9 Reasons Grassroots Leadership is Thankful Today!
"Local immigrant advocates applauded last week's executive order by President Barack Obama shielding millions from immediate deportation – particularly given the action's potential to dismantle the Secure Communities program that's already banished thousands of people from Travis County.
Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator forGrassroots Leadership, shared in the elation. She joined a group of some 30 demonstrators in front of the Capitol the day after the announcement in calling for even broader protections. 'S-Comm creates community distrust,' she said, quoting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. 'That's what we've been saying all along! We feel vindicated.'" Read more about The End of S-Comm? Presidential order protects millions, Limits ICE detainers
Leaders in Travis County, especially Sheriff Greg Hamilton, have the chance to lead the way for Texas and renounce S-Comm as a harmful practice. But they haven’t — yet. We have the numbers to know that S-Comm is wasteful. We also know that it rips families apart unnecessarily. And yet we continue to comply...even in this progressive county. We should be able to take back our community from a terrible federal program that doesn’t meet our standards, as many others have already.
Traditionally liberal states like Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware and California are leading the way in the rejection of S-Comm. But so too are counties in places like like Doña Ana County in New Mexico and the parish of New Orleans—who changed their policies after they were sued for detaining someone without cause. Even Butler County, Kansas and Hall County, Nebraska—both in staunchly conservative states—and are taking initiative by deciding not to comply locally. Almost all of the counties in Colorado have decided not to comply with S-Comm.
While the Austin City Council is taking steps towards pushing the program out of our city, the County's policy remains on the wrong side of history. Just last night, Austin City Council proposed ammendments to an interlocal agreement about booking people at the local jail—but it remains up to the County to sign it.Read more about Progressive Austin is falling behind on S-Comm