Last week the White House issued three Executive Orders that gravely concern us at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, which serves immigrants in Charlotte and throughout North and South Carolina every day.
These orders expand priority deportations of people seeking legal status to include productive and peaceful immigrants, expedite deportation proceedings to deprive people of an opportunity to fairly present their claims, deputize unqualified, untrained and unwilling local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws, direct federal resources to build an unnecessary and ineffective barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border, and prohibit refugee entry from a selection of countries whose residents are predominantly Muslim without considering whether or not they present a risk to the United States. These orders repudiate fundamental values the United States was built upon by those seeking refuge and freedom from their own oppressors.
Abandoning these principles of granting refuge to people in danger, sending children back to gang violence and abusive homes in Central America, and sending families back to civil wars and despotic governments, is not the America we know and love. We ask that policy makers find ways to protect this country from the real threats America faces with thoughtful and balanced policies that do not conflict with the fundamental values of this country established by immigrants.
We believe that these orders threaten constitutional rights to due process under the law in deportation proceedings, the right to representation and the right to defend oneself.
We believe these blanket policies if continued will:
Adversely affect public safety. Immigrant communities have had a historical distrust of law enforcement, though many police departments have spent years developing stronger relationships. These orders roll back any progress that has been made, and with increased fear of deportation, more crimes against immigrants will go unreported without the protections that were once in place, making victims vulnerable targets, especially victims of domestic violence and their children.
Deny basic rights to due process under the law guaranteed by the Constitution through expedited removal. This process removes the option for individuals facing deportation to challenge their case in court and overrides pending court cases.
Result in broad racial profiling with local police departments being required to inquire about a person’s status and to report any names of undocumented people recorded during routine traffic stops on a weekly basis.
Cause the forced separation of families through deportation and through barred entry into the country. Not all family members have the same immigration status. In many instances, adults in families are undocumented, but their children are U.S. citizens.
Adversely impact the local economy. All immigrants, with or without legal status, pay taxes and contribute to a social safety net they will never reap benefits from. Expanded deportations remove those who have bought homes, opened small businesses, paid taxes and contributed to our community.
Further strain backlogged immigration court systems and other legal resources for immigrants in our community.
This is both a constitutional and a moral issue, returning people seeking refuge to the dangerous and violent situations from which they fled instead of helping them find safety and a better life. Under these orders, the U.S. is no longer a “shining city on a hill,” no longer a beacon to people throughout the world who seek the rights and freedoms that we, as Americans, enjoy.
LSSP’s mission is to pursue justice for those in need. That mission extends to all people regardless of ethnicity, national origin, religion or political beliefs. LSSP is proud to stand with and advocate for our immigrant and refugee communities, in opposition to these Executive Orders.