Saturday, May 05, 2007

ICE "cracks down" on immigrant absconders

This is not the Avon Lady calling. ICE Agents approach a house in Fairfax in the pre-dawn hours to apprehend an immigrant absconder.

What is an immigrant absconder? --An immigrant who refuses to appear for their immigration hearing after they receive their deportation notice. According to today's Washington Post, the number of immigrant absconders has risen steadily since Sept. 11, 2001. The article also points out a few of the major flaws with our immigration system, the most prominent among them that our enforcement resources are vastly outnumbered by the total number of undocumented immigrants. The article notes that ICE will be adding additional fugitive apprehension teams to a total of 75 this year. With that number, they hope to increase apprehensions to 1000 per year. The current (and ever growing) number of absconders is currently estimated to be 636,000. so, if they apprehend 1000 per year, they should be able to clear up this problem in a mere 600 years, plus or minus half a century.

Does anyone else think it time to consider a more feasible solution to this problem?

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

This article and others like it lead me to wonder what and “American” is. Many writers point out that virtually all Americans were immigrants a few generations back and they remind us that by settling here we destroyed the Native American Indian cultures. These facts make an important impression on us but I think there are different observations that might be helpful.
When things seem out of control, as they did in America especially after 9/11, we naturally want to act, to control something that can be identified as the source of the problem. But what do we choose to control? Do we necessarily choose exactly the right thing such that our control efforts really solve our problem? Consider the parallels between the American vs. Immigrant situation and other ills facing our society; child abuse for example, or certain kinds of eating disorders. Rarely is it actually the child’s fault that the parent can’t hold a job, or, if we consider the anorexic’s refusal to eat, rarely is a rigid control of food going to solve their problems in life (unless death is an acceptable solution.) Control of the child or of food is more likely to grow to extremes which parallel the extent of other problems, problems which go unnoticed by, or are even protected by these control efforts. If we do the math it is plan that our efforts to process all the absconders will fail, as you pointed out. This doesn’t seem to stop us and I think that is partly because the battle we’re really being challenged to fight isn’t on the rational level (yet). Going directly to the seemingly obvious connection doesn’t work. The anorexic can understand that good nutrition is essential to her life and will say she doesn’t want to die but still she refuses to eat, the abuser knows his children aren’t to blame any more than he was a s a child but still he lashes out at them. Americans understand that they are also immigrants but that doesn’t stop them from staging these futile round-ups.
I think we need help directing our attention to less obvious connections, not to conflicts between Immigrants and Americans (where we can see that what distinguishes us also defines us) but, going back a step, to connections between our national ideology and our individual sense of belonging. Imagine what would happen if we could each tell a story of how these are connected within our own lives, in our own words. Through this storying we would do more to build a country in which the boundaries were maintained by every individual living within it than we will ever build by defending physical borders. The immigrants have already been working on their stories – they can tell theirs. It seems like we’ve been riding in our “American Story” and have never really gotten out and walked around it so we could put it into words. Doesn’t it seem as if the immigrants have stopped our car and demanded an explanation from us at a border they have every right to patrol, a border that falls well inside us and only thereby inside the U.S.?