Gutierrez Kicks Off Nationwide Education Effort on DHS Priorities
Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) announced plans for a September 10 Community Forum on Immigration in Chicago to disseminate information about what President Obama's new prioritization policies mean for immigrants facing deportation.
The Chicago event, which will be held at 10 a.m. at Benito Juarez High School in Chicago, will kick-off a broader effort led by the Congressman to provide accurate and timely information to lawyers, advocates, immigrants and their families as the new procedures are put in place. The Congressman is concerned that immigrants anxious for legal status or facing deportation will fall prey to scam artists promising to sign people up for a fee to a legalization program that does not and will not exist.
"To the community we are saying, 'Be patient and be careful,'" the Congressman said at today's press conference. "We do not want you to fall victim to false promises and those who would exploit your hopes and fears for profit. We will work hard in the coming days to clarify these new policies and get you correct information."
Rumors, misinformation, and outright fraud runs rampant at times like these when a policy has been announced but not clearly defined, so Rep. Gutierrez is working with service providers, legal experts, community-based organizations, and immigrant groups across the country to address the information gap.
Next week in Washington, the Congressman is convening senior officials at ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to discuss how the new policy will work and how Congressional offices that work with constituents whose families are facing deportation can ensure that cases are reviewed. Later today (at 8 and 9 p.m. ET), the Congressman will participate in nationwide conference calls in English and Spanish with tens of thousands of immigrants, advocates and allies to discuss the new policies, part of a national outreach plan. (More information and registration for the conference calls here
On August 18, the Obama Administration announced it would review pending deportation cases on a case-by-case basis to remove certain low priority immigrants from the deportation cue. These include non-criminals and those with deep roots in the U.S. like the immediate family members of U.S. citizens and service members and those who have been living in the U.S. from a young age.
The new prioritization guidelines came after a sustained advocacy campaign targeting President Obama who has increased deportations rapidly and broadened immigration enforcement since taking office. Ever since the DREAM Act failed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate in November 2010, Rep. Gutierrez has been meeting with the President, fighting for reform legislation, traveling the country for rallies and hearing the stories of families being split apart by the escalating deportations. Now the Congressman wants to ensure that immigrants in Chicago and nationwide know the scope of the new policy and what it means for them and their loved ones. Congressman Gutierrez praised President Obama for making taking this positive step forward:
"The President recognizes that too many families and innocent bystanders were getting caught up in his effort to deport serious criminals and he has acted to address that, at least in part," Rep. Gutierrez said at the press conference which was held at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, where he was joined by Chicago immigrant leaders and families who may be able to temporarily avoid deportation because of the new policies.
"The new policies move us in the right direction by targeting scarce law enforcement resources at criminals and gang-bangers and making our communities safer," the Congressman said. "Now we have to take the positive actions of the Obama Administration and make sure it translates into actually protecting DREAM Act students and making sure families are not split apart."