Congressional hearings on Immigration Enforcement began today. A BIG THANK YOU to the Phoenix NewsTimes for their LIVE Blogging of the DOJ Hearings. I've listed Congressman Nadler's announcement and a summary of PNT's Live Blogging below.
from Congressman Nadler's office:
Joint Hearing on the Local Enforcement of Immigration Laws
Washington, D.C. - The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration,Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, and theSubcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, will hold a joint hearing on Public Safety and Civil Rights Implications of State and Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws. The hearing will be co-chaired by Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Jerrold Nadler and will focus on wide-ranging allegations of racial profiling in connection withthe Immigration and Customs Enforcement's 287(g) program. The hearingwill also examine allegations of unconstitutional policing and immigration enforcement tactics by Sheriff Joe Arpaio in MaricopaCounty, Arizona.
LIVE Reporting: 4/02/09
-- California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who is chairing the hearing, has just made her opening remarks. "It's important as we try to enforce the law, that we follow the law," said Lofgren. "And that's what this hearing is all about."
-- New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler made his remarks after Lofgren's and those of a member of the Republican minority. Nadler suggested that an unnamed law enforcement entity (Maricopa County) might have to have its 287(g) status yanked. He mentioned this agency's "retaliation against reporters," and stated that it should not be "open season on someone who looks foreign to someone else."
--Ranking Congressman Lamar Smith from Texas, has just gone through a list of cases where people were killed or raped by illegal aliens.
--Congressman John Conyers, chairman of the whole House Judiciary Committee addressed the hearing with his opening remarks. "Immigrant bashing is a pretty popular sport, unfortunately, in some areas," he noted. Conyers suggested that brown is the new black, as far as racial profiling goes.
Live Witness Reporting: 1st Panel
1. Julio Cesar Mora, 19, testified to the U.S. House judiciary committee that in February, two sheriff’s office SUVs pulled over the vehicle he and his father rode in. Mora is a US Citizens and his father is a permanent legal resident. Mora was driving his father to work at HMI Landscaping in Phoenix, when his car was stopped more than 100 yards from the business. They were detained, zip-tied, and made to wait for three hours while their papers were gone through. During their detention, Mora's father, who is diabetic, was not allowed to use the restroom, and was only allowed to urinate next to a car. Mora, too, had to use the restroom. He was accompanied by deputies, still zip-tied. He had to urinate with his hands bound in front of him. `What's the matter, you can't find it?'" he said the deputies asked him, as he fumbled. "I didn't understand why they trapped us like that," Mora wondered to the committee. "They patted us down and tied our hands together with zip ties, like we were criminals." New York Representative Jerrold Nadler questioned Mora about MCSO deputies wearing ski masks at the February HMI raid, and whether they told him and his dad that there was a raid going on.
2. Next up was the emotional testimony of Antonio Ramirez, a Maryland community activist, who held up a copy of the U.S. Constitution, and declared that he would die for this country, that he believes in this country, and that he wants to be treated like any other person legally in the United States, instead of being singled out for scrutiny. Representative Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, asked Ramirez what he would say to Trenchant, who lost his daughter because of an undocumented migrant. Ramirez answered that he knew what it was like to lose a loved one, but that he was not a criminal.
3. Following Ramirez, came Professor Deborah Weissman, of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill law school, who helped author a comprehensive study of the 287(g) program in North Carolina. The study concluded that the 287(g) program is fatally flawed, and should be ended. She spoke of more than one redneck sheriff in the Tar Heel State who has made racist comments and threats regarding Mexicans that, she says, Joe Arpaio wouldn't say on his worst day. She also gave the example of a university professor who was racially profiled because he was Hispanic.
4. Ray Tranchant then gave his sad testimony. His daughter and her best friend were killed by a drunken driver who was also an illegal immigrant.
--King insinuated that Mora's dad should have informed authorities about the undocumented people he was working with at HMI.
--Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez pointed out that the Irish and Italians were labeled as bringing crime to this country, just as Mexicans and other Latinos are now. He also attacked King's suggestion that Mora or his father should be checking people's immigration status at work.
Live Witness Reporting: 2nd Panel
1. David Harris, Professor of Law at University of Pittsburgh: wedge driven between law enforcement and undocumented residents because of the 287(g) program, as it makes immigrants afraid to talk to the police about crime in their communities, and that endangers us all. He also talked about the inevitability of racial profiling under the 287(g) program.
2. Hubert Williams, President of the Police Foundation: among illegal immigrants, the crime rate is five times lower than in the general population. He insisted that police need to balance their responsibilities in law enforcement with protecting civil liberties, and that there needed to be trust between the police and the immigrant community.
3. Mesa Police Chief George Gascon: discussed the negative impact of the 287(g) program on community policing. "Increased political pressure on local law enforcement to reduce undocumented immigration coupled with the Federal deputation of local police to enforce federal immigration statutes is jeopardizing sound and well-established policing practices," warned Gascon. "The constitutional concerns created by the current state of affairs should be troubling to all of us," he continued. "In some cases it is setting the police profession back to the 1950s and 60s, when police officers were some times viewed in minority communities as the enemy." His statement also included more than one veiled swipe at Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
"Often poorly conceived and politically motivated enforcement efforts are placing officers in harms way," stated Gascon, "leading to accusations of police misconduct."
Gascon talked first about Arpaio's sweep in Mesa, harshly criticizing the sheriff for "paying back a political favor" by going into Mesa. He talked about the lack of communication with the MCSO over its raid on the Mesa library seeking illegal cleaning staff. He descibed the video of the raid, with "large numbers of sheriff's officers in tactical gear storming two buildings." Congressman Lofgren and others will receive and review the video in detail. (Republican Arizona Congressman Trent Franks came to Arpaio's defense, calling criticism of Arpaio a "witch hunt" that's actually aimed at America's immigration policies. He said Arpaio had personally assured him that he was not racially profiling. --LOL)
-- Congressman Nadler addressed something the controversial Kris Kobach, law prof and shill for nativists, had said in his testimony about the SPLC's letter calling him out. "Never in my life have I heard the SPLC called a `spurious institution,'" said Nadler, warning Kobach not to interrupt him. He praised the SPLC's work, and told Kobach if they did not like what the SPLC said about him, "You can sue them if you want."
Live Witness Reporting: Closing--
ANTI Republican Congressmen Ted Poe (TX), Steve King (IA) and Trent Franks (AZ) did not challenge the honorable Police Chief of Mesa George Gascon for his truthful statements about Sheriff Arpaio's Racial Profiling tactics in the Latino neighborhoods nor his abuse of detainees. Instead, they put on their McCarthy masks and grilled him about a non-issue, his airline ticket. Gascon did not burden the taxpayers and responded his inexpensive coach ticket was paid for by an Immigration Reform group. Childishly, Poe asked, "You gotta dance with the one that brung ya." Gascon recounted his resume, his service in the armed forces, and with the Los Angeles Police Department saying, "I take offense to that sir. I don't dance with anyone." The issue, of course, was a red herring. They could not refute any of the charges of Arpaio's Racial Profiling abuses. Ultimately, the Republicans were running defense on the 287(g) issue, and not too well.
Final: Phoenix New Times did an interview with Police Chief Gascon after his testimony. I will be updating this blog once that interview is published.
1. U.S. House 287(g) Hearings: "Immigrant Bashing" is a "Pretty Popular Sport"
2. Testimony: MCSO illegally detained father, son
3. U.S. House 287(g) Hearings: First Round of Witnesses Includes U.S. Citizen Harassed by Joe Arpaio's Men