On February 18, 2017, Joseph & Hall P.C. partner addressed the crowd at the Defend Our Constitution Rally and March at Civic Center Park. Below is the text of his remarks:
We the People want to form a more perfect union. We the People want to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility. We want to provide for the common defense, general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. For these purposes laid out in the Preamble, we drafted and agreed to abide by the Constitution. To best accomplish these purposes, our Constitution separated powers between our executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and gave individuals inalienable rights. The Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that these inalienable constitutional rights protect all people in this country, regardless of whether they have papers. With this in mind, I want to talk about the deportations of our family members, friends, and neighbors. Early this week, the President tweeted that his deportation crackdown was merely the keeping of his campaign promise, saying gang members, drug dealers, and others are being removed. The Department of Homeland Security released a statement about this crackdown stating that it focused on public safety threats and said that over 75 percent of those arrested were “criminal aliens.” Why then, with this focus on these dangerous criminals, do we keep seeing stories of mothers being deported who have been here for 20 years whose only criminal record related to working without documents? I’ll ask you, will you feel safer if Jeannette Vizguerra is deported and her children are left without a mother? When they label people in their statistics as criminal aliens, we need to ask, what does that mean? Are we talking about literally any conviction? What if they got in trouble for having alcohol back when they were 20 years old? Driving without a license? Littering? Who are these criminals they tout deporting? Where is this newfound urgency to keep us safe by deporting people like Jeannette Vizguerra coming from? Well, President Trump set our new enforcement priorities in an Executive Order. And everyone—literally everyone—who is here who might be removable from this country, is a top priority. I joked with my colleagues that this reminds me of the student who highlights every line in the textbook. If everything’s of top importance, then you haven’t prioritized a darn thing.
And with the stroke of President Trump’s pen on that new order, it is now a top priority to arrest and deport the Jeannette Vizguerras of this country from their families, their communities, and our country. Beyond the new priorities for deportations, there is another nasty little tidbit tucked away in section 9(b) of that same executive order. That section orders the weekly publication of all crimes committed by immigrants. What purpose does this serve? Study after study shows that statistically, immigrants are in fact less likely to commit crimes than citizens. But the weekly publication will serve to whip up hysteria about the “damage” that immigrants are doing. I can think of no other reason for this new publication other than to attempt to groom the general populace to meekly accept the rounding up of their foreign neighbors as unfortunate but probably necessary for the safety of the homeland.
What do we do in the face of this onslaught?
It is time to decide. Are we a country that hides the grotesque deportations of mothers and fathers, the separations of families, and soothes our collective conscience with press releases classifying them as dangerous criminals? Or do we demand better? We can keep families deeply rooted in our communities together and still respect the rule of law. We can continue the slow march announced in the Preamble to our Constitution towards establishing justice, ensuring domestic tranquility, and securing the blessings of liberty for all here. But it requires that Congress get to work. And that won’t happen unless we demand it—consistently and loudly. And if this Congress won’t listen, then we elect a new one in two years. Meanwhile, We the People, must denounce abuses, call out Orwellian doublespeak and propaganda, demand due process and respect for the separation of powers, and give voice to the humanity in all of our neighbors.
Thank you for being here in solidarity.
Criminal convictions often determine whether a noncitizen can be deported from the United States or whether he or she can qualify to apply to stay. In the summer of 2016…
On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” On February 17, 2017, DHS secretary John Kelly issued…
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