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At the end of May I began to receive phone calls from a Washington D.C. area code and some private numbers. At first it was just in the evenings, then I began to receive calls throughout the day. I don’t normally answer calls from numbers I do not recognize and they did not leave a voice message. Curiosity finally got the best of me in early July, so I answered a couple of those calls and learned it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and President Obama’s reelection campaign that had been calling me.
The call from President Obama’s campaign went something like this: An overly enthusiastic voice asked, “May I speak to Jacquie?” Jacquie, I am calling you because we are in urgent need of your support.” I patiently listened to the caller as she explained how crucial the November election was and how valuable my financial support would be to take the House of Representatives back from the Republican majority, keep the Senate majority and to ensure President Obama is reelected. I listened to her entire, well rehearsed, and urgently delivered script.
When she finally paused to ask how much I would contribute to President Obama’s reelection campaign, I politely explained that in spite of the President having my absolute support, I would not contribute financially to his campaign. Not because I was financially unable to (in fact I recently got a nice raise), but because I refused to financially support an Administration that has utilized the failed ‘Secure Communities’ (S-Comm) program that has normalized an indiscriminant mechanism for putting a record number of immigrants on the path to deportation with virtually no oversight from Congress and an ever increasing and unquestioned budget.
Since the federal immigration program S-Comm secretly began in 2008, the Obama administration has deported more undocumented people than President George W. Bush did in his eight years in office. Originally designed to detain and deport immigrants who commit serious violent crimes, it has ballooned to one of the most costly, inefficient and dangerous immigration enforcement programs we have seen.
With over 1 million people deported, at a taxpayer cost of $23,000 per person and thousands of immigrants detained in for-profit detention centers across the country at a taxpayer cost of $5.5 million per day, this program is easily and unquestioningly funded by Congress with little to no oversight in spite of report after report of its massive failure. It’s a failure because, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s own numbers, 70% of people deported do not fall under the original intent of the program. Instead, they are the immigrants who are arrested for minor crimes: misdemeanors, traffic violations and minor citations. It is important to note that the people arrested were not always convicted in a court of law as the U.S. Constitution guarantees. These are our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, students and victims and witnesses of crime. They are hardworking people who are the fabric of our communities—people, who, for all intents and purposes, are as American as any one born on U.S. soil.
For the last couple of years I have been receiving heartbreaking e-mails, text messages, tweets, and Facebook appeals asking for $5, for $10, or any possible amount to help bail out Undocumented and Unafraid DREAMers arrested for publicly denouncing S-Comm. Arrested for publicly saying what I believe so deeply at my core, “Stop separating families! Stop the destroying our communities! End S-Comm and 287(g) programs NOW!” To date I have contributed over $150 dollars to the organizations working to defend arrested DREAMers. Unfortunately there is no doubt I will continue to contribute more money as long as President Obama’s Administration continues to implement S-Comm across the entire country next year. And as long as that is the case – those are my hard earned dollars the President’s reelection campaign will not receive from me, no matter how many “urgent” phone calls and e-mails I receive.
As an immigrant there is no question where my financial contributions will go. Before I support a political reelection campaign, I will support my family. I will support my brothers and sisters on the No Papers No Fear tour whose goal is to travel through states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia to bravely “come out” as undocumented while on their way to the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina on September 3rd.
I will offer financial support to bail out the undocumented protesters arrested during Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Federal trail in Arizona that alleges he and his department have institutionalized racially profiling Latinos in their jurisdiction.
I will share the stories of undocumented youth who infiltrated detention centers after being arrested and are gathering and distributing the stories of countless other detainees who are supposed to be a low priority for detention and deportation.
There is no end in sight to these nightmares because of the insidious link between for-profit detention centers and federal immigration enforcement programs that funnel millions of taxpayer dollars into businesses that profit on the backs of detainees housed in their detention centers.
I have my own urgent message for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and President Obama: Until my family stops being the target of your failed immigration enforcement programs, I will not send you a dime. This is a message that the President and his advisors should take seriously because although you might take my vote for granted in California, you need my financial contribution for campaigns in battleground states like Florida, Nevada and Ohio where every dollar matters. While I firmly believe a Mitt Romney presidency would be a disaster to this country—the larger disasters are communities terrorized by immigration enforcement programs that deport innocent people. Therefore, defending my family will always be my first priority.