President Barack Obama is at the center of a wave of new protests pushing for immigration reform, but some experts say that the protest supporters shouldn’t be pointing fingers at him.
On April 5, the project, Not One More Deportation, arranged protests all across the nation in order to push legislatures to change current deportation policies.
Protests happened occurred in Tennessee, Connecticut and California, and protestors are showing no signs of slowing down as they have shifted their focus to President Obama.
Protestors are calling the president a hypocrite for running on a platform of change when the number of deportations have skyrocketed since he took office.
The number of deportations is expected to hit a milestone number of 2 million since President Obama took office.
“We are calling on President Obama to save hard-working families so that generations of people can help American,” said Paulina Helm-Hernandez, co-director of the immigration rights group, Southerners on New Ground.
While the president insists that Congress has played a huge role in slowing any progress, the protestors insist that President Obama can simply use his executive powers to make a difference.
“The president could simply expand the deferred action program he created for immigrant youth and suspend deportations immediately,” Maru Mora Villalpando, founder of the group Latino Advocacy, told Al Jazeera.
Lydia Webb of The Guardian explained that using his executive powers probably wouldn’t serve the protestors’ interests in the long run.
“If he makes an executive decision, it could easily be overturned by another president wielding the same power, but a law dully put in place by Congress following the correct legal channels would be much more secure,” Webb wrote. “Basically, Obama is playing the long game on an issue where many are looking for a quick fix and it just might be to his credit in the long run.”
It’s also critical that protestors realize that the inflated number of deportations may not actually be deportations at all.
Since the president took office the definition of what is considered deportation has changed.
In previous years, deportations only included those being deported from interior states.
According to members of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigrants who were denied access in border states were considered “turnaways” rather than deportations. Now, that has changed.
Now, all the “turnaways” are also being counted as deportations, which has caused an unusual spike in deportation statistics.
But the Obama administration has kept its promise to stay vigilant on criminals entering the country illegally.
Since Obama took office, the amount of deportees who had offenses on their records, other than traffic violations, has jumped from 31 percent to 59 percent of all deportees.
In addition to pushing for less deportations, protestors are also urging legislatures to make changes to the living conditions for detainees.
Detained immigrants are taking on daily chores for about $1 a day, which has led to strikes at several detention facilities.
“The strikers want more sanitary food and better pay for the jobs they perform in confinement,” Villalpando said.
Reports have also surfaced that detainees at the GEO Group Inc. facility in Tacoma, Washington, who participated in hunger strikes were punished by being placed in solitary confinement.