"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Are we Ready to March Seven Times?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Once again the Obama Administration has shown its contempt for the Latino community and its lack of political will to fix the immigration reform problem facings our country. In an obvious show of Para-military might, President Obama allowed over 800 police and law enforcement agents of ICE and other federal law enforcement agencies to conduct a series of raids throughout Arizona.

Reports from the areas raided describe a frightening scene as federal, state, and local police moving in to arrest and detain undocumented immigrants who allegedly were involved in illegal human trafficking of undocumented immigrants in the shuttle service industry.

Kat Rodriguez of Derechos Humanos called the federal raids “a massive show of force, with helicopters, dozens of agents, police vehicles, and weapons, assaulting our community in a fashion never seen before.” A show of force whose sole intention was only to intimidate, create fear and panic.

These raids are rapidly becoming the calling card of the Obama’s Administration efforts to enforce old and antiqued immigration laws. Instead of pushing for reform, we find the President more comfortable recycling the brutal enforcement polices of the Bush Administration.

President Obama who recently claimed to support the Schumer/Graham framework for immigration reform has allowed the federal government to use all of its enforcement tactics and arsenal to continue to crack down on undocumented immigrants. In fact, this administration has a worse human rights record than that of the Bush Administration when it comes to immigration enforcement and treatment.

Senator Harry Reid’s claim last week to have 56 votes in the United States Senate to move immigration reform forward seem to ring hallow compared to the Obama’s Administration’s show of disrespect to the Latino community by allowing over 800 law enforcement agents to descend on places of employment and disrupt and destroy innocent families and personal lives.

The President who claimed to have as a national key priority the issue of immigration reform has simply allowed the Department Of Homeland Security to become the Department of Fear and Bigotry.

While our President claims to be on the side of the Latino community in fixing the immigration problem, he has has allowed his Secretary of Homeland Security to become the master oppressor by allowing the largest display of federal law enforcement to suppress and intimidate our community.

Just last week in Dallas, Latino Evangelical faith leaders called upon the President to join with them in fixing the immigration problem. In a fairly soft spoken attempt at trying to rally this President to their side, the soft ball approach to the Obama Administration instead has been answered by what many are calling a complete lack of accountability by the President authorizing one of the largest raids against undocumented immigrants of his administration.

It is time to stop pretending as if this President is going to reward our community for voting for him and that we began to demand accountability of this President’s policies against creating familial separations, destroying families, and endearing itself to the evil forces of bigotry, fear, hate, and discrimination.

We need to stop counting the number of votes given to this President during the last election, and start counting anew the ones that will vote for true change and hope, not broken promises and phrases of false expectations.

While this Administration is quick to condemn the human rights violations of other third world governments, it is time that the American people understand that a government that can and will violate the rights and constitution freedoms of some will not hesitate to use that same force against others. It is time that we stood up and demanded accountability of this President and his polices of oppression.

Immigration reform leaders in Arizona are calling the massive federal raids “a new low in the Obama Administration’s lack accountability.”

We need to send the message to the President and Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. that we are no longer going to listen to the false promises of immigration reform that come from the shallow halls of government. The half- hearted attempts to placate our efforts to find immigration reform will not be acceptable, and we must demand accountability using the mid-term elections as a means by which to register our displeasure and anger.

In Arizona where the state legislature just recently passed SB1070, a bill that essentially allows any law enforcement official who may have “a reasonable suspicion” to question anyone in the state whom they suspect may not have the proper documents to determine their immigration status is a difficult pill to swallow.

Police will have the right to stop and question anyone even if no other law has been violated. If there is “reasonable suspicion,” that you may not have the proper documentation, racial profiling will become the norm and you will be questioned.

It is under this climate of evil and anti-Latino attitudes that the President Obama ordered the largest single immigration raid in any state. President Obama has allowed governmental bureaucrats to enforce policies of the past, and has refused to implement humane and just policies that do not separate families and create fear and uncertainty in the Latino community.

He has allowed ICE to do as it pleases in enforcing its own misguided interpretation of national immigration policies to arrest, detain, and ultimately deport not hardened criminals, but men and women who support their families and whose sole attempt is to live within the framework of our United States Constitution

It is imperative that Latino Evangelical leaders reevaluate their support of a President who refuses to acknowledge that this country must fix it immigration policies and stop violating the civil rights of Latinos.

When we allow laws that encourage racial profiling and that allow the police to stop and question any person under a racial profiling standard, we are allowing our country to slide rapidly toward the brink of becoming a police state

A few years back, Latino Evangelical pastors refused to acknowledge that we would
be facing laws that allow racial profiling, where police would be raiding homes, where Gestapo type police gangs would raid workers at their jobs, where detention facilities would be big business incarcerating and detaining undocumented immigrants without due process, and where families would be separated and destroyed by our government.

We now know that we live under a government where Gestapo type police raids are becoming the norm, where big business detention contracts are routinely approved by the government without any regard to who is being jailed, where more and more undocumented immigrants in detention are being threatened or intimidated to renounce their right to due process and as a result more immigrants are being deported, and thus allowing a government that instead of nurturing families, is out to destroy them.

The raids in Arizona only demonstrated that unless we come together and demand accountability, we will surely lose this battle against the evil forces of hate and fear.

Yet, once again last week we have found that those who claim to be our friends and allies in this fight for justice and immigration reform do not share our values or beliefs.

How then can our faith leaders pretend that the policies and governance of this President are in agreement with our vision of justice and righteousness? How can we allow this government to destroy more and more families and not raise our voice in opposition to the current policies of this government?

What will it take to create within the Latino Evangelical Church the passion to stand up for ourselves and fight for justice and righteousness?

Perhaps the best summary of the events of the Obama Raid are left to Isabel Garcia of the Tucson-based Coalicion de Derechos Humanos who said, “Instead of bringing in the Department of Justice to investigate the immigration abuses and uphold our rights, the Obama Administration sics the ICE police on our communities.”

And instead of another national gathering in Washington, D.C. to march for immigration reform again, maybe it is time we gathered together instead to demand that this President stop the raids. That he instead commit to join our fight for justice and righteousness by pursuing a policy of finding a solution to the broken immigration system that allows the fiasco that occurred in Arizona to not happen again.

Perhaps it is time that Latino Evangelical leaders take the lead of demanding Presidential accountability and stop meeting in the big house, and instead marched around the walls of the White House seven times, prepared to trumpet our demands of accountability and for righteousness judgment.

Is it time to march seven times around the walls of injustice and fear?

Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972.


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