Obama Is No BFF of Latino Immigrants or Civil Liberties

His Criminal Alien Removal Initiative is brutal and hypocritical.


roger jones / Foter / CC BY-NC

The administration this week appealed the block that a conservative Texas judge known for his hawkish views on immigration placed on President Obama's executive action handing deportation relief to 4.7 million undocumented aliens. This may make it look like the president is the second coming of MLK, valiantly striving to protect these oppressed immigrants from coldhearted Republicans. The reality, however, is that the president, who has deported over two million people, is perfectly happy to throw immigrants under the bus when it suits his political purposes.

There is no better example of this than a highly underreported but nasty little program called the Criminal Alien Removal Initiative (CARI) that the administration fathered in early 2012 to boost its sagging deportation numbers — and the president's re-election prospects that year.

As the name suggests, the original purpose of the program was to snag potentially dangerous illegal immigrants. But that wouldn't have been enough to meet DHS's annual 400,000 deportations target, which Congress prescribed and the president cheerfully accepted. Hence the program was transformed into a broad witch hunt against Latinos, especially in New Orleans, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents quietly joined forces with law enforcement officials in Jefferson Parish and other suburbs to launch a particularly noxious stop-and-fingerprint effort three years ago.

Here's how it worked: Local police and ICE agents in unmarked vans and plainclothes would park themselves outside grocery stores, apartment buildings, parks, neighborhoods and — on one occasion at least — even a Bible Study group in Latino-heavy areas, and confront whoever they wished, demanding to know their immigration status. They'd handcuff and detain them in the vans — without a warrant or formal charges or allowing them a phone call, much less legal representation — and forcibly fingerprint them with a high-tech mobile unit.

They'd then run the fingerprints through federal databases, a process that would sometimes take hours, during which detainees couldn't leave to pick up their children or get to their jobs. All those flagged as undocumented, even if they had lived basically crime free, would be dispatched immediately to detention facilities to await deportation. Once, authorities beat up a man till his knees bled through his pants — and then yelled at him when he tried to wrap his legs in toilet paper, according to a New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) report.

Such ICE raids — that agents jokingly referred to as "hunting" expeditions — terrorized the New Orleans Latino community, whose sweat and tears rebuilt the city after Hurricane Katrina. Families lived in mortal fear of being torn apart at any moment. Fathers and mothers, many with American children, became afraid to go out to work or get groceries.

By ICE's own admission, 75 percent of those caught in these dragnets were eventually released because they were either U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Of the immigrants targeted for deportation, the NOWCRJ report found, few were serious criminals who fit the program's original criteria. Most were just undocumented workers with minor infractions — such as unpaid traffic tickets — or previous deportation orders against them.

CARI's harshness far exceeds even President Bush's notorious SECURE communities program (now rolled into the equally bad Priority Enforcement Program). SECURE requires local law enforcement authorities to send Uncle Sam the fingerprints of all arrestees — American, immigrants, white, black, Latino — for a run through federal databases. Those folks who can't get ICE clearance are supposed to be detained by local authorities till federal agents whisk them away for deportation, regardless of how trivial the original crime or whether they are even found guilty. Many communities are now refusing to acquiesce to such ICE-holds. However, as awful as SECURE is, it at least refrains from engaging in systematic racial profiling. Not so with CARI.

What's more, SECURE scans fingerprints only of those who are duly arrested. CARI, on the other hand, engages in pre-arrest fingerprinting without a warrant or probable cause, basically eviscerating the Fourth Amendment's protections against illegal searches and seizures.

Following massive protests by civil rights activists in New Orleans, ICE abandoned its indiscriminate raids last year. However, notes Fernando Lopez of NOWCRJ, that doesn't mean that Latinos are now free from ICE harassment. Agents still show up at Latino homes on the pretext of looking for some criminal immigrant and then question whoever is home about their immigration status. So long as these people refuse to answer, they are fine. If they do answer, maintains Lopez, then ICE can fingerprint them on the spot and take them away if their status doesn't check out. ICE calls these unfortunates "collaterals."

Although CARI has been most aggressively deployed in New Orleans, it is a nationwide program. It is not clear what kind of tactics it relies on elsewhere, but an American Civil Liberties Union investigation found that in North Carolina, ICE agents and local authorities collaborated to establish seatbelt "checkpoints" and detained Latino drivers for interrogation, even when they were wearing their seatbelts.

So why did President Obama, a constitutional lawyer and an alleged champion of social justice, initiate such a cruel program? Politics. He was having a hard time keeping his deportation numbers up in 2012 and he didn't want Republicans to call him soft on immigration in an election year.

Restrictionists have adopted Obama's monster child wholeheartedly, and want to give it extra funding. This means that eliminating this awful program anytime soon would be hard. And given that "amnesty" is already a four-letter word among Congressional Republicans, the only hope of putting undocumented workers out of CARI's reach would be through executive action to defer deportation and hand them temporary work permits.

President Obama has pushed just this — less to protect undocumented immigrants and more to protect Democratic chances in 2016 when a rising Latino population will make immigration an even bigger swing factor than in 2012.

But should the administration fail to persuade a higher court to overturn the judge's block on Obama's executive action, or on the off chance that this action is declared unconstitutional, Latinos will be stuck with CARI without any hope of relief, a far worse situation than before the president assumed office.

Should that happen, they should blame not just their restrictionist enemies — but also their cynical friend in the White House who has so cavalierly played politics with their fates.

A version of this column originally ran in The Week, where Dalmia writes a weekly column. You can find her archive here.

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  1. You can’t fool me, Stormfront poster who’s pretending to be an Indian woman to make immigration boosters look insane.

  2. Why does it sound like you’re more offended by the intent than by the illegal methods?

  3. OT: New national GOP poll – Rand Paul stuck at only 4%.

    PPP’s newest national Republican poll finds a clear leader in the race for the first time: Scott Walker is at 25% to 18% for Ben Carson, 17% for Jeb Bush, and 10% for Mike Huckabee. Rounding out the field of contenders are Chris Christie and Ted Cruz at 5%, Rand Paul at 4%, and Rick Perry and Marco Rubio at 3%.


    He is working his ass off too. Scott Walker isn’t.

    1. Scott Walker won’t comment on how hard he’s working or where his butt is.

      1. By not answering questions Walker is appealing to the rabid anti-media conservative base.

        He has stumbled upon a strategy.

        1. I don’t really have much problem with Walker, I just find him to be, especially in comparison to Paul, such a middling pol. Seeing him get the nomination would be like knowing Trent Dilfer has a Super Bowl ring and Dan Marino doesn’t.

          1. The interesting thing that will not get an honest discussion here is this – why is Rand Paul doing so poorly when he is obviously doing all he can to broaden his appeal?

            1. Well, I wouldn’t put too much stock in a PPP poll, it’s essentially the polling wing of the Democratic Party, has proven to be unreliable in the past, and the Dems would much rather see Walker than Paul (who would threaten their hold on young people, blacks, etc.).

              Having said that, it’s certain that the conservatives, both their big talking heads and the many small loud voices here and elsewhere, have been less than excited about Paul (for the same reasons) and Bush and are hoping they can coalesce behind Walker to get a ‘true’ conservative nominee. The push behind him is enormous.

              1. PPP was #1 in reliability 2012.

              2. Agreed, he is a decent team red candidate though as far as his record goes.

                with that said I will still vote for myself for all offices every election because that’s who i feel is best suited to be in charge of my life.

                1. I will still vote for myself for all offices every election because that’s who i feel is best suited to be in charge of my life.

                  That sounds like “sovereign citizen” type talk to me. Send in the SWAT team! /sarc

            2. Paul isn’t “broadening” his appeal. Which is to say, he’s not pandering to the left.

              He was noticed by the media when he campaigned against drones and made some comments about how big government causes racial strife. That’s about it. The left and the various NBC channels are either indifferent to him or don’t like him.

              Scott Walker is a good candidate, and he spearheaded a right to work movement that rallied conservatives. Even libertarians paid attention.

  4. Shrieking and tarding, so early in the morning. It’s so unbecoming.

    1. Don’t you have a boot to lick?

      1. I’m gonna dispel a few myths, a few rumors. First off, the retarded don’t rule the night. They don’t rule it. Nobody does. And they don’t run in packs. And while they may not be as strong as apes, don’t lock eyes with ’em, don’t do it. Puts ’em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming “No, no, no” and all they hear is “Who wants cake?” Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

        1. Yes. We get it. This chat room is only for your narrow band of Team Red proponents.

          1. “Let us turn the whole country into a socialist fairyland by the joint operation of the army and people!”

          2. Why the fuck it keeps shreiking team red at us in a place that consistently rips apart both sides of team be ruled is beyond me.
            Statists gunna hate i guess

            1. Progs love their straw men.

    2. Is it just me, or does the stink of desperation that hangs around Shreek seems to be a bit more pungent of late ?

  5. You mean finding, coercively rounding up people, sending them to camps and then forcibly expelling them from the country is going to involve procedures that are going to be expensive, government expanding and fraught with violations of civil liberties? Who could have saw that?

    1. Apparently less than half of Congress.

      But then we already knew they were idiots savant or evil.

    2. Technically we already pay for the REX84 camps which consist of 800 detention centers across the US which were supposed to be used for that express purpose.

  6. Senate Republicans may have found a deal to avert a looming shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security this Friday.

    Well, that’s unfortunate.

    1. But predictable.

    2. Most of the DHS personnel is considered as “essential”, so even after shutdown they would still patrol our borders and airports. Their pay would be delayed.

  7. This article fails right out of the box.

    So, explain to me, Shikha: how exactly does granting a temporary injunction to examine the constitutionality of Obama’s executive order amount to having “hawkish views on immigration?”

    1. Nice try. The article doesnt claim that the injunction was the result of hawkish policies, but that the judge ordered the injunctions and has a history of hawkish policies. Get the difference? To be fair, a citation for the claim would have been nice, but the claim is not internally inconsistent.

  8. The first problem to tackle is that Obama isn’t consistant on immigration policy. He shifts on it with the political winds. If he would take a position and frickin’ stick to it, then its plusses and minuses could be debated.

    Obama is hardly alone in this.

    There are arguments to be made in favor of open borders. There are arguments to be made in favor of closing the borders and expelling illegal immigrants. What there is no moral argument for is saying one thing and doing another, which has pretty much described immigration policy for the last several decades.

    The laws have to change. At a minimum they have to change to something that CAN be enforced, more or less. This “leave the tangle of election year claptrap on the books and enforce it on a basis of pure expedience” nonsense must stop.

  9. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is wha? I do……

  10. OMG, arrestees have their fingerprints sent to the Federal government. You might be surprised that all arrestees for many decades had their fingerprints sent to the Federal government. The only thing new is that DHS reviews the fingerprints that every law enforcement agency sends to the FBI after arrest.

    1. You have no fucking clue what youre talking about. You just like putting random words together just for fun, dontcha?
      ICE holds are (or more accurately were) new. They have caused a demographic shift in many localities as random brown ppl who cant be “verified” clog up jail cells.

  11. The real question is why you want alien criminals in the United States?

    1. Nice website btw, you statist cop-worshipping lunatic.
      We want immigaration reform because we LOVE terrorists. We want law enforcement reform because we LOVE rapists and murderers.
      Are you happy now? Then go crawl back into the asshole of the internet where you came from.

  12. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  13. Start working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.
    ……………. http://www.Work4Hour.Com

  14. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail


  15. Reason has me convinced (after a zillion articles on the subject) that America is so evil and terrible to immigrants that no one would ever want to come here to live, EVER!

    Oh wait?

    How about an article that explains how unfettered immigration will lead to the implementation of Libertarian principles in our government. If you have already written it, I missed it under the mountain of immigration grievance articles.

    You have already told me over and over and over and over and over again how terrible we are and I have accepted that given all the evidence of dwindling immigration. So, I would love to hear something new like how Libertarians plan on converting the masses of immigrants, in which poll after poll shows they prefer big government and central planning, to the Libertarian way of thinking. It would be great to know given that you haven’t even convinced Americans yet.

    Please explain or direct me to the explanation of your bullet proof plan for individual freedom and limited government through massive third world immigration. I can’t wait to be enlightened.

  16. Totally compatible with all other BuckyBall sets!Each set comes with a little carrying case too.each buckyball is 5mm in diametercube: 1 ?” high x 1 ?” wide x 1 ?” diameterFor adults only. ? These are so super strong, they should be kept away from children.

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