WASHINGTON (PAI) - The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), an advocacy group for low-wage workers, an AFL-CIO ally and an outspoken activist organization in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, has formally asked the federal government to stop all deportations of all undocumented people.
In a 44-page legal document, NDLON says current deportations, now approaching 2 million under the Obama administration, run counter to U.S. history, have broken up at least 100,000 families and damage the U.S. economy.
It wants the Department of Homeland Security to basically ban deportations of any of the 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. President Obama previously ordered DHS to suspend deporting the "Dreamers," undocumented youth brought to the U.S. by their parents. There are some 3.5 million Dreamers.
Deportations are a key sore point between the AFL-CIO and other advocates of a path to citizenship for all undocumented people and Obama. Stopping deportations could also prompt congressional passage of comprehensive immigration reform, NDLON contends, as the deportations affect people eligible for coverage under reform.
"Immediate suspension of deportations for this broad class of individuals is not only within the president's authority, it is also the best way to move our nation toward a legislative solution to the immigration crisis devastating our nation's families and inhibiting our nation's economic vitality," the group's petition to DHS says.
Congressional Republicans who oppose comprehensive immigration reform have shown signs of budging on some parts of the issue - but not citizenship-if deportations and enforcement rise and are top priority. The petition tries to stop that hike.
"The United States is in the midst of massive, unprecedented and failed deportation experiment that is anomalous in our nation's history and in tension with our identity as a nation of immigrants," NDLON told DHS. "Our current mass deportation policies do violence to immigrant families and workers and to the American economy." It gave examples of the impact of deportation on several individuals and their families.
"The narratives also demonstrate how vast recent expansion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ("ICE") programs such as Secure Communities, which entangle our deportation and criminal justice systems, are in large part responsible for the current surge in the number of deportations. The petition further demonstrates how the nation's enforcement priorities have gone awry," NDLON adds.
Past presidents used discretion to set priorities for immigration enforcement, too, NDLON's petition notes. And Obama and DHS would not break the law by stopping deportations, it contends. His "discretion not to enforce a law against private parties" -the undocumented-is different from "his discretion not to follow a law imposing a mandate or prohibition on the executive branch. The former is constitutionally protected, the latter is not."
Photo: National Day Laborer Organizing Network Facebook page