Immigration Advocate on Immigration Policy: Obama Administration Continues to Break the Law

By Ali Meyer and Craig Millward | June 16, 2015 | 6:33pm EDT
Demonstrators protest at Freedom Plaza in Washington on Aug. 2, 2014, asking President Obama to modify his deportation policies. (Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)

( - Immigration advocate Salvador Sarmiento, the National Campaign Coordinator at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), expressed frustration Tuesday that President Obama’s executive order on immigration hasn’t been fulfilled, saying that Obama and others “continue to break the law.”

“On behalf of the National Daily Labor Organizing Network and folks across the country, we’re here to say we’ve waited long enough,” Sarmiento said at a news conference sponsored by faith and immigrant community leaders to urge Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to implement President Obama’s executive order focusing their remarks on deportation policies.

“We’re here to say that it’s time for the White House, it’s time for President Obama, for DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, ICE Director Sarah Saldana and everybody here that works at ICE headquarters to understand that it’s time to enforce the law, the commitment that they meant,” he said. “They tell immigrant communities you all have broken the law. We tell them you all continue to break the law. You all continue to undermine the only guidelines that you have in front of you.”

“If the men and women of ICE who aim to serve our country don't feel it's important to listen to the president's actions on immigration, we are here today as a faith community to let them know there's a higher power and a higher law that they should listen to,” said Rev. Earl Trent, chairman of the Board of Directors of Church World Services and senior pastor of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church.

“And this higher law says that we all got children. This higher law says we are all our neighbors. It calls upon us to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, to uplift families, to keep them together,” added Trent.

“We’ve been waiting for too long for justice in our communities for immigrants in the United States,” said Sarmiento. “In November, the president and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson in representation of the agency behind me, Immigration and Customs Enforcement made a commitment to the United States people and to immigrant communities across the U.S.  They made a commitment that they would apply discretion after five years of attrition.

“And over two million deportations, unjust deportation, they were finally making a commitment about discretion and a supposed commitment to step away from a quota of 44,000 deportations a year. They made a commitment to end the failed secure communities deportation program, and folks have been waiting for that commitment,” he said.

“So many thousands of families in detention continue to wait, and what have we gotten from ICE?” Sarmiento asked. “Instead of justice, instead of this commitment, we’ve gotten a failure to apply discretion. ICE continues to separate families unjustly, continues to target workers, unjustly.”

Sarmiento also played a role in the fight to help undocumented immigrants attain driver licences in Washington, D.C.

“Families are being broken apart every day by absurd policies,” he says on the website, which was created to “overcome unjust immigration laws.”  

“With so many people suffering, it is unacceptable that we do nothing. It is unacceptable and immoral that the president do nothing. Every day that the Congress has delayed in taking action on immigration, more families have been separated. Now that the session is over, the president must act.”

Sarmiento was joined at the event by Rev. Jeannie Shero of the First Universalist Church of Denver and Arturo Hernandez Garcia, a sanctuary resident.

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