Campaign to stop unjust deportations

As the U.S. Congress reconvened Monday, Nov. 15 for the lame-duck session, a broad coalition of immigrant community and faith groups and elected officials announced the launch of a campaign to send thousands of letters, along with pens, to the White House, so the president can take executive action to move the nation toward a fairer and smarter immigration system.

The so-called “Stroke of a Pen campaign, led by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), also calls on Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to deliver on his campaign promise to pass the DREAM Act during the lame duck session.

The lame duck session provides a critical window of opportunity to see DREAM become law. In September, when act came up for a vote and just missed, some 335,000 calls flooded Senate offices to urge passage of the measure, which represents significant, broad-based support for the measure.

Under the Obama administration, the NYIC claims, “deportations have reached an all time high, surpassing the records set by the Bush administration, with nearly 400,000 people thus far this year, and the continued expansion of enlisting local law enforcement officers as immigration agents.”

Despite the claims of the Department of Homeland Security, these broad-based enforcement tactics are as likely to target hard-working immigrants as those who pose a threat to public safety: a recent review of one such program, Secure Communities, found that 79 percent of those deported under the program either had no criminal record or only low-level offenses such as traffic violations,” the NYIC said.

The NYIC’s pen campaign builds upon a campaign organized by civil rights leaders in 1962 to pressure President Kennedy to deliver on his promise to end housing discrimination. Then, civil rights leaders organized the “Ink for Jack” campaign and flooded the White House with pens, leading the president to sign the anti-discrimination policy.

Today, sponsors of the “With the Stroke of a Pen” campaign urge President Obama to take urgent administrative action to justly fix our broken immigration system.”

“The looming change in the Congress should not stop President Obama from enacting critical reforms to our immigration system,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “After years of failed attempts at passing comprehensive immigration reform, we need executive action immediately to place a moratorium on deportations and to end the enforcement of our broken immigration laws by local police departments.

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