Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Nashville call to meet to assess the inhumanity

Immigration attorney and local leader Mario Ramos is calling for a forum to discuss the impact of the cruel 287(g) deportation program attacking Hispanic immigrants in Nashville.

The program was implemented here at the insistence of the county sheriff after three violent incidents involving undocumented workers several years ago. There has not been a repeat of those incidents in such a close string since then. Program proponents credit the 287(g) program. Noted sociologists disagree.

Instead of anecdote, people like Dr. Robert J. Sampson, chairman of the Department of Sociology at Harvard University, have determined that immmigrants, particularly newcomers, bring down the crime rate.


Because these immigrants would lose out on the American Dream if they brought notice to themselves, like in committing a crime. Sampson reached that conclusion after studying violent crime rates for 14 years in Chicago, which has a large Mexican-American population. His study was released in February.

When it comes to crime, the worst serial killer in the Middle Tennessee area, Paul Dennis Reid, was convicted of his heinous offenses because of the testimony of an undocumented worker. He spoke through an interpreter in Spanish. So while three undocumented workers in one string of events years ago took lives, this one man saved many more lives and brought justice to grieving families.

Ironically, the 287(g) program has forced this courageous undocumented worker to move out of Davidson County.

Here is the notice for a forum put out on Ramos' blog:

May 12, 2008

Exodus from Nashville

Dear all,

We need to look at 287g to see if an exodus has already begun from Nashville. The sheriff has deported 3,000 persons; related family members have also left the city. I have personally spoken to numerous clients who have told me they are leaving or have been forced to leave.

In the zeal to uphold the law, 287g has not created a welcoming atmosphere in Nashville. Immigrants are mobile and there are more welcoming places live in the United States.

I suggest that we hold a forum to determine the see if in addition to the 3,000 deported already, how this is affecting immigrants and their families' choice on staying or leaving.

This is the story that needs to be told to those who will listen.
Mario Ramos

Here is how 287(g) works: At a regular traffic stop or in responding to a call for help, Metro Police arrest someone if they do not feel there is enough identification to ensure a person will show up for a court date. It does not matter if the alleged offense is for something incredibly minor like fishing without a license or driving with a malfunctioning turn signal.

The state of Tennessee does not allow for undocumented workers and their families to get driver's licenses, so when they are stopped for traffic offenses, they automatically have no primary form of ID to ensure they'll show up for court dates. So the police look for others things like car registration to establish some chain of local residency.

Once the arrested person is brought downtown, the sheriff's department processes the person's name through national immigration computer software to determine legal status in this country. If found illegally here, they can be deported once federal officials arrive to pick them up.

By the number of people deported in only one year, the program has been quite efficient. However, local authorities have not said how much it costs taxpayers to have officers detain and arrest undocumented workers and transport them downtown. And I'm sure that takes extra gas. The sheriff's department has not said how much it costs taxpayers to house a detainee for a day or two or three while waiting for federal officials to arrive. The sheriff's department has not said how many employees it requires to process the detainees and search the software program.

The Tennessean newspaper did a big story on the 287(g) program several weeks ago. But the cost questions for taxpayers were not investigated. A subsequent editorial on the program was very weak and offered no local leadership to address the crisis tearing apart Hispanic families that have established residences, work histories and a community presence here.

The editorial also offered no relief to Metro Police. Metro Police are NOT the blame here. They are caught between the politics of the sheriff's department and conservative lawmakers and their responsibility to follow the law. Chief Serpas is correct in stating that Metro Police are not breaking up families. In actuality, Metro Police are as big of victims in this political exercise as Hispanic families. I have nothing but the highest regard for the Metro Police, their chief, and their spokesman Don Aaron.

Ramos has a good idea. In a democracy, the greater number of people you can get to show up, the greater impact you make in the minds of elected officials. Please look to Political Salsa for updates on a possible forum.


Jim Boyd said...


"Because these immigrants would lose out on the American Dream..."

Why, when someone on your side of this issue writes an opinion, they can't bring themselves to differentate between immigrants and ILLEGAL immigrants? Could it be that such an identification would knock the wind out of their argument's sails?!?

For my Children said...

I have searched over and over and in Title 8 there is no definition of an "illegal" immigrant. This is a term that lay people use to define a person who has either 1. entered without inspection (a misdemeanor) or 2. a person who is working without a "work" visa (also a misdemeanor). When put in these terms, anyone who speeds on the highway is an "illegal" driver.
"Illegal alien" is a term intentionally used to provoke a response from the uneducated and uninformed, to make them feel victimized. This "victimization" is reinforcement for those who have not acheived their own perceived potential and alleviates their responsibility for lack of advancement. When analyzed, it is doubtful that this "victim"'s aspirations are to be a dishwasher, housekeeper, or any position not requiring formal education or mastery of the English language. Some people...or as you wish...illegal aliens -- would, just for the opportunity, risk death by suffocation, starvation, dehydration, snipers, snakes, and bandits. Objectively, now, what is your level of ambition?