Monday, June 28, 2004

Washington, D.C. – Raul Yzaguirre, President of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights organization in the U.S., called on the Bush Administration to put an immediate end to immigration raids being conducted far from the border in southern California. “NCLR is alarmed at the raids and neighborhood sweeps being conducted in southern California targeting Latino residents,” stated Yzaguirre. “These raids are terrorizing large communities which include immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens. We’re hearing that many in our community are fearful of leaving their homes, school attendance in several schools is down, and health clinics report that patients are fearful of venturing out to keep their appointments for health services.”

Yzaguirre explained that raids of this type tend to target members of the community based on their “ethnic” appearance, a clear assault on civil rights in an area with a sizeable Latino population. Reports from the community indicate that Latinos in these California neighborhoods are being questioned based on their appearance, accent, or even on the type of clothing they wear. U.S. citizens and legal immigrants are being asked to produce documents to prove that they belong in their own communities. “This is precisely the wrong way to go about immigration enforcement, by terrorizing entire communities of people, largely Americans, whose ethnicity leads some to believe that they look like immigrants,” said Yzaguirre.

“Recent experience with similar enforcement actions demonstrates that raids like this are a bad enforcement strategy and a violation of civil rights,” continued Yzaguirre. He described a similar 1997 enforcement effort in Chandler, Arizona, in which local police and Tucson-based Border Patrol officers conducted a sweep of the downtown area, purportedly to find undocumented immigrants. These activities led to a multimillion dollar lawsuit on behalf of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who were repeatedly harassed and detained by local police officers because they “looked Mexican.” A report by Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods concluded “without a doubt that residents of Chandler, Arizona were stopped, detained, and interrogated by officers…purely because of the color of their skin.” The $35 million lawsuit was settled in the spring of 1999.

“We all accept that immigration enforcement activities need to be conducted, but we will insist that they be conducted in a way that respects our nation’s basic laws and values,” Yzaguirre remarked. “Immigration raids conducted in the interior have long been discredited as an enforcement strategy. They were discouraged in both the Reagan and Clinton administrations because they don’t work, and they inflict enormous damage on the larger community,” Yzaguirre explained. “Indeed, many in the community believe that these raids are being conducted specifically to terrorize California Latinos. We call upon the Bush Administration to put an immediate stop to it.”

“This action is taking us back to the days when some believed that we could deal with the nation’s immigration issue by chasing and detaining undocumented immigrants one at a time. Nobody believes that this is a feasible or desirable way to go about it. Instead, we need larger reforms to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. NCLR continues to work every day with leaders of both political parties to enact comprehensive immigration reforms that create an immigration system that is safe, legal, orderly, and fair,” concluded Yzaguirre. “As we engage in this important policy debate, we cannot allow the nation to go back to the days of terrorizing Latinos in their neighborhoods. We call on the President to stop the raids immediately.”

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Alfredo's Westside Salon is having a grand reopening this month (he is open now). His new website is located at: