Letter To President Barack Obama

El Comité Pro-Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social

2021 S Weller ST

Seattle, WA 98144

August 12, 2010

Pres. Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We wanted to take this opportunity to extend a cordial welcome to you to the city of Seattle for the first time since your election. As you may imagine, we still continue the work we’ve done for years as 2010 marks the ten year anniversary of the founding of our organization. Given our previous mobilization and allocation of social capital in supporting your candidacy, as well as that of other elected officials in the Democratic Party, we wanted to draw your attention to the matter of Immigrant Rights, an issue especially pertinent to our communities.

First of all, we wanted to acknowledge the Administration for their role in ceasing deportation proceedings for family members of those in our communities whom presently serve in the armed forces. Likewise, we also wanted to acknowledge the shift away from undocumented persons who have young children here in the United States. These are important considerations, and as such, are welcome policy changes.

That said, we also wanted to point out the indiscriminate use of Bush-era enforcement mechanisms. Said practices, including but not limited to: implementation of 287 (g), Safe Communities, E-Verify, and dragnet raids, have created added stress to our communities. Granted, a reform that respects civil, human and labor rights may take time to work out, the use of enforcement-only policy, has proven adverse to our communities and the country as a whole, as these actions further corrode the social fabric of our communities and leads toward further economic attrition in an already adverse economic environment.

To illustrate our concerns about this, we will point out two examples at the local level, here in Seattle and the other in the rural community of Brewster, Washington. In November of 2009, a local company Seattle Building Maintenance, owned by right-wing radio personality Peter Weissbach, fired over 200 employees, many of them members of the Service Employees International Union. Not only did this virtual raid hamper organized labor, but also removed 200 workers from their jobs, and in effect creating an adverse economic ripple that will impact the community they belong to.

Later in February 2010, over 550 workers in Brewster, Washington experienced the same ordeal as they were economically displaced. This perhaps had a much more dramatic effect on Brewster’s local economy considering the scale of not only the community, but the firing as well. At a time when we see economic hardship across the country, the absence of 550 workers’ contributions to the local economy worsens the already horrific economic environment in this rural community. As a result of these measures, we see a very direct, very tangible impact. As evidenced, we see this approach as terribly ineffective in ameliorating the social condition in our communities. Further, we feel that like these flawed programs, congressional efforts do us little service.

Just last week a new aid package concerning border security was passed in congress and approved by your administration. This was done, despite evidence indicating that said allocation of funding is unnecessary. As statistical trends note, violence along the border is lower, as is the occurrence of border crossings, largely due to the recession we find ourselves in. Further, allocating this level of funding amidst economic uncertainty is a fallacy in prioritization of programming. We are not in the position to pander politically! And we expect much better from both our legislative and executive branches.

What we propose, is for the use of an Executive Order to mandate that the Department of Homeland Security make E-Verify, 287 (g), Safe Communities, and the tactical use of mass raids and deportations, a low priority. Given the state of our economic environment and the residual negative impact that enforcement-only activity has produced in our communities, we deem it very important to reshift focus away from harassment based on ethnic and racial profiling of people who contribute both social and economic capital to the communities they belong to.

This would be an excellent way to ameliorate some of the already existing conditions. We can’t turn a blind eye as people are continually deprived of their very basic civil, human and labor rights. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

El Comité Pro-Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social

About elcomitewa
El Comite is a social justice organization based in Seattle, Washington.

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